Looking for a place to rent in Bangkok can get confusing. In many countries, the term ‘condo’ is synonymous with the word ‘apartment’. However, in Thailand, and particularly in Bangkok, they are two distinctly different things.
A condo typically means a privately-owned unit in a condominium building owned by a management company. Condos also can refer to newer buildings with amenities like a swimming pool and fitness centre on the premises, although this is not a strict rule. There are plenty of perfectly lovely condos in older, but still well-maintained buildings. The overriding definition is that the units in the building are owned by single persons or companies that buy the unit for residential use, or as an investment.
An apartment generally refers to a unit in an apartment building. One company or person can own the buildings. In Bangkok, the trend is going away from constructing apartment buildings in favour of building condominiums whose units can be sold individually. This is the reason that apartment buildings are generally older.
Serviced apartments are the one new type of apartments that are still being built by developers. They usually are owned by a management company or by a hotel-affiliated company.
The Pros and Cons of Condos
Each of these types of accommodations has its pros and cons. The rental costs are generally higher in a condo, but the higher cost may be justified by the location, access to public transportation, and the amenities included on the condominium’s property.
You’re also usually locked into at least a year’s lease. Condos owners will charge you for the utilities you use on top of the rent you pay. By law, they can only charge the market rate for these utilities.
The Pros and Cons of Apartments
A basic apartment that is not serviced is generally cheaper to rent than a condo. It won’t offer many if any, amenities. But you’re more likely to find an apartment that will agree to a shorter lease. Many apartments offer month-to-month accommodations or six-month leases as well as yearly leases.
The problem occurs with ‘service fees’. These are additional costs the apartment owner charges on utility rates. By law, there is a specific limit to the amount owners can charge over the basic rates, but many owners exceed this limit. Because of the short lease advantage of these accommodations, many tenants agree to the increased utility charges.
The serviced apartment is geared to the renter who is looking for temporary accommodations for a month to a year. These are premium apartments costing well over what a comparable condo with the same amenities would cost. They’re also cleaned for you regularly; hence, the name ‘serviced’.
You should look carefully at all costs of renting a condo or apartment and look at several different examples of each before you make a decision on renting accommodations in Bangkok.