Rent in Thailand: Low-Cost, Low-Commitment, Little Responsibility

When we first stepped into Doi Ping Mansion, one of the smaller condo complexes in Chiang Mai, we felt right at home. Our wonderful one-bedroom apartment, near the famous Night Bazaar, costs us less than $600 a month. And we are a five-minute walk from the banks of the Ping River, which lazily winds its way through the city.

Our modern living room came with a wraparound leather sofa, a 40-inch LED TV, and a matching entertainment stand and coffee table. It is also big enough to accommodate my home office space, off to one side. The incredible lighting—we have a dozen recessed ceiling lights—is one of the main reasons we love this place.

The small kitchen is separated from the living room by a counter with a couple of bar stools. If we need more dining space, we can always move out onto our screened-in balcony, which overlooks a few pleasant nearby buildings and plenty of leafy towering trees. A sliding frosted door leads into the spacious bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. It came with a king-size bed and ample built-in closets on two of the walls.

There is a nice, small outdoor pool, where the residents gather on a daily basis to swim and chat. There is a good mixture of expats and local Thai residents, who regularly hold get-togethers for any excuse that arises. The condo management recently threw a party to thank everyone for putting up with the inconvenience of renovating the entrance foyer!

This isn’t our first rental here. Our first rental home in Chiang Mai was in an older, Thai rural neighbourhood near the edge of the city. It looked great in the online pics and only cost $650 per month. And it was great in real life! A huge property, beautiful gardens, full-time gardeners and a built-in support system (our landlord’s uncle and grandmother had houses on the same large property).

But after a few months, we realised it was about twice as big as we needed. The only time we ever used the upstairs floor was when we had visitors. And, of course, there was no hint in the pics of the small farm and noisy roosters next door. Fortunately, our one-year lease gave us the right to leave at any time with one month’s notice; a nice clause to have if you can get it.

That is the great part about renting when you move abroad. If you end up disliking your new abode, it is easy to pack up and move somewhere else. We also don’t need to worry about the extra expense of buying furniture, maintaining the property and/or paying taxes.

In Thailand, as throughout the rest of Asia, most rental properties come furnished, complete with large flat-screen TVs. If high-speed internet is one of your priorities, be sure to find out which company (or companies) will deliver to your condo or house, and what plans are available. Not all internet hosts provide service to all places.

Yes, it is possible to buy property here but most expats choose to rent for all of the above reasons.

Finding a house or apartment, which will suit any budget, is easy wherever you find yourself in Thailand. Although it is usually a good idea to rent through a real estate agency, less expensive places can often be found by directly contacting owners. It is important to have a signed lease in English for whichever route you decide to go down.

Typically, you will need to pay the first and last month’s rent, as well as a one-month damage deposit when you sign the lease. Moving in always costs a little money, so be sure to have some extra cash available when you first arrive, so you can buy those items you want to change or can’t live without. It is also not unusual for property owners to be open to purchasing or changing items as well. Tenants have even been known to add walls or install new flooring with the owner’s permission!

We have been renting in Asia for eight years now and have no regrets. With the inexpensive monthly costs, minimum responsibilities when things go wrong, and ease of moving around, we wouldn’t want it any other way.

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