First Impression of renting in Bangkok

When I arrived to Bangkok at the end of August, with the intent of settling there for three months, I assumed I had everything in the bag.

After all, it wasn't my first time living abroad -- I'd lived in Shanghai for almost a year back in 2009; I'd been to Thailand (and to Bangkok) several times. I "got" Bangkok and, more importantly, I got "the expat thing."

Or so I thought.

Serviced appartment

"You do know," my friend Pin informed me, as we were on our way to see the first of many potential apartments he'd found for me, "that if you're not willing to sign a lease, your options will be very limited, right?"

I rolled my eyes. "Surely, you're joking." Why on Earth, I thought as I fearfully awaited Pin's response, would a country without crosswalks, food sanitation standards and a constantly-working emergency services number require someone to sign a lease to rent an apartment?

He wasn't joking. "But the good news," he said, smiling, as we walked into the lobby, "is that you can stay someplace like this without signing any lease. You can stay as little as one night if you want."

Unfortunately, this particular dwelling -- and all that Pin would show me that night -- was a serviced apartment, which is a type of housing that is decidedly corporate and is, essentially, a glorified hotel. (Or un-glorified: The elevator door of the first property nearly crushed me to death!)

The old strategy: Craigslist

In any case, after a week of searching unsuccessfully with the help of Pin and other Thai friends, I ended up retreating to the old, faithful strategy I use to find housing back in America: Craigslist.

As luck would have it, a Japanese expat had listed her two-bedroom apartment, located near the Phloen Chit SkyTrain station, at a very affordable price: Just 16,000 Thai baht per month. Even better, she was not only willing to do a short-term rental; she required it!

The listing was already weeks old by the time I replied to it, but I nonetheless help out hope that it might still be available.

And it was! One week later I moved into the apartment, which provided me a panoramic view of central Bangkok to complement my convenient location.

The moral of this story is that while it is good to have the assistance of local friends at your disposal while living abroad, sometimes it is best to go with your own instincts when trying to situate yourself in your adopted home country. You just might know what's best!

Robert Schrader is a writer and photographer who, in addition to Thailand, has been to more than 50 countries all over the world. He is the editor of the popular travel blog Leave Your Daily Hell, which contains travel guides, budget travel tips, trip ideas and award-winning travel photography.