If you are coming to Thailand to live for six months or more – chances are you will want to lease or rent a condo or house and get greater value over living in monthly accommodation. Condos and houses are more luxurious than the standard apartment, usually fully furnished and come with all the mod cons of your home country – only much much cheaper. Assuming you have decided you want to rent or lease your own condo or house – lets look at how to go about this.
OK. first let’s make a distinction in what is an Apartment VS what is a Condo. (I assume you know what a house is)
Apartment: In Thailand this refers to a monthly accommodation complex that you rent on a monthly basis. All the units in the complex are usually owned by the same person or company and standardized to look the same. Most can be rented on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Apartments generally come equip with a bed, a TV, a writing desk and a closet. Some will have basic kitchens and the more elaborate have separate bedrooms and kitchens.
Condo: In Thailand this refers to a unit that is individually owned within a condominium complex. Condos usually have larger areas, and are fully furnished including a bathroom and kitchen. While it is possible to rent a Condo for 3 months, more typical is a minimum 6 month lease, with a discount in price for longer term rentals.
In a Nutshell
Over the last 5 years there has been an increasing number of newly constructed buildings aimed at foreigners. This includes both luxury condos and gated communities of houses. These complexes more and more are being constructed with gyms, swimming pools, community areas, convenience stores and a few restaurants located within the facility or close by. Many of the newer communities fill the 49% foreigner owned quota (everything must be 51% Thai owned) and while Thais own the majority they are able to rent to westerners. One of the benefits of living among other westerners is the formation of housing associations that ‘motivate’ owners and property managers into taking action on maintenance.
There are of course older places, that are available for cheaper rent. These places (both homes and condo’s) usually lack the western kitchens and features that you are used too, and have fewer westerners living there. . While these cheaper places are available this article will assume you can afford the US$250 to get the basic luxury accommodation option.
With the massive amount of building taking place over the last few years, and older places being remodeled, there is an abundance of both Condominiums and Houses available
There are 3 areas in Chiang Mai where the majority of new arrivals tend to populate, depending on their specific requirements, but mostly because of the number of other expats living in the local community. Obviously there are Expats spread around the city, many choosing to live in the more remote areas, (because they like solitary living or moved in with a Thai person); and sometimes because they want the peace and quiet.
The Nimman area is located to the east of the old city, and is a thriving and more upmarket area of town. This is the prime location chosen by the digital nomad community and has many better quality condos occupied by expats. Close to everything, including 3 shopping malls and many supermarkets the Nimmanhemin (Nimman) area and it’s surroundings is an inner city type vibe. Mostly Condo’s in this part of town, many new developments finishing each month waiting and ready for lease or purchase.
Hang Dong Area
The Hang Dong area is located just a 10 minute drive from the Old City and the Nimman area. This area is popular with retiring expats because of the many Moo Baans (gated community developments) and rural vibe. Beautiful housing developments with lakes, club houses and gyms are located here, along with many large home improvement stores.
Chang Kang Area
The Chang Kang area is located close to the Ping River, which has long been a favorite location for western styled restaurants and night life. It is also close to the red light district, and the tourist oriented Night Bizzare market. This area of town is populated by many single men, and has a much larger local population that speaks English.
Obviously there are many other places where you can choose to live, The areas above are just a guide, but it is suggested that before you commit to a long term lease, you spend a month or so in a monthly apartment closer to the main city and then explore the various areas.
A 30 sq.m Condo with kitchen and modern amenities will start at around 6000 baht (US$180), increasing in size to 45 sq.m you are looking in the 9000-12000 baht range. (US$270-360) per month. Larger 80-120 sq.m 2 bedrooms places are around 18000-25000 baht (US$549-760). One of the first things many new arrivals notice (especially from America) is how small the condos are here compared to where they are from. You very quickly adapt and begin to enjoy the smaller units, with less cleaning required, ease of getting around from kitchen to bathroom etc. Price will often depend on the extra facilities of the condo, Gyms, Pools, Massage and location will all add to the price.
Renting a condo or an apartment in Chiang Mai will provide you with greater access to amenities and better security. Most complexes will have electronic key cards, security guards and CCTV monitoring, it can be difficult for visitors to reach you without arranging to meet them in the lobby. Condo’s will often also have gyms, shops, pools either inside the complex or located close by to service the people living there.
Living in a condo provides a greater social life, with the opportunity to bump into and get to know the other 50-500 tenets living there (depending on the size). Staff at Condominiums will often help you with bills or letters that you do not understand in Thai, and are used to dealing with westerners and any of the little and niggling complaints we might have.
Condos can be leased for shorter periods of time (3 months plus) with the price in rent going down the longer you stay. For example a 12,000 baht a month place for 3 months, might be 11,000 for 6 months and 10,000 for the year. Condos are usually located in the heart of the action, just a short walk to your local community and the activities you will spend the majority of your day doing.
Houses are available in the inner suburbs and city itself, and these tend to be older (often Thai style) and can start from as low as 5000 baht maybe 8000 baht for a two bedroom. The further out you go the bigger and newer the houses become with more western features. Many expats decide that they want to rent a house in a Moo Baan (gated community) which are usually located in the Hang Dong and surrounding areas. Older styled houses are found closer to the city areas (and also outside the city) which are smaller and basic sometimes with a yard, but usually close to the neighbors.
Renting houses in Chiang Mai is a better value for money often for the same price as an inner city condo you can get a 3 bedroom house with gardens, patios, and if located in a Moo Baan, community pools, gyms and club rooms. The city is only 10-15 minutes away and usually you have tropical scenery around to view.
The house offers you space!, either for yourself and your family or if you decide to get a live in maid or home help. Many come fully furnished, others do not, and you will be expected to take out a longer term lease (most are yearly).
Living in a house allows you to potter around in the gardens, and not sacrifice having to live in a minimalist style (you can fit more ‘stuff’ in a bigger house compared to a Condo).