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Attention Expats: Tips on living in Bangkok?

Travel Forums Asia Attention Expats: Tips on living in Bangkok?

1. Posted by emilyemily (Budding Member 82 posts) 6y

emilyemily has indicated that this thread is about Thailand

I'm planning on moving to Bangkok this coming November 2010, and will be spending around 8 months there taking Thai language courses. I am looking for any possible tips you may have after living or spending a good amount of time in BKK. I've travelled through Thailand several times before, but travelling and living in a place are completely different!

Just a couple questions I have:
-What were your general living expenses? I'm looking for a 30sq meter studio or a very small one bedroom in the Sukhumvit area, hopefully around the Sukhumvit 20s-30s, as my language school is in that area. What can I expect to pay for such an apartment, with basic amenities? Did you have a difficult time finding a good apartment, how long did it take you? I know finding an apartment in, say, New York can be a hellish, several-month long ordeal... I'm wondering if it's the same in BKK? Did you find basic expenses, such as groceries etc., to be easily accessible and fairly cheap?

-If I can't find a place in Sukhumvit, can you recommend any other bustling, central neighborhoods of Bangkok that are nice to live in, and hopefully close to the SkyTrain so I can commute?

-How easy is it to get around with only very basic Thai skills? Of course, in the tourist areas, language is no problem because everybody speaks English.. but how about the rest of the city?

-Also, any general tips, advice, recommendations on daily life in Bangkok would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

2. Posted by nin_hydrin (Budding Member 19 posts) 6y

first of all, i'd like to tell u that i'm not professional in finding apartment.

i just know some tips and hope they would be useful for u.

-many apartments in bkk don't have kitchen, so you should ask staff of that apartment first in case if u want it.

-if you don't like any apartment insukhumvit, you can try somewhere near bts sky train or mrt underground train. How near is it? For me, I like apartment where i can just walk or take a motorcycle taxi (in reasonable price) from bts to the apartment.

-about grocery, you don't have to worry about it because we have 7-11 shops in every soi (they're kind of small road connecting with main road). Anyway, i think buying stuff in 7-11 shop is comfy but a bit more expensive. What's more, you will find only smallest-sized of goods there. If you have time, you just go to tesco lotus, big c, tops or any supermarket in department store. You will get better price ;)

-if you want to buy some electrical goods, you should not buy it in tesco lotus or big c. I found they are cheap, but quality is poor even they have good brands. I think because there are many grades for these goods. The managers of these supermarket have to find cheap goods to sell but don't concern much about quality. I suggest you buy electrical stuff in department store and ask for warranty. Oh! I have bought stuff in Lotus with warranty, but when I asked to claim this thing with them. I found it more difficult and got bad service from staff there

-don't worry about language. If u get lost or want any info, you just walk to someone around you and ask. If that person cannot speak English, they might run away from you . But if you are lucky, that person might try to ask help from another who can speak English for you. In my idea, you may try to ask from undergraduate students. Many of them has pretty good English. They have to wear uniform, so you can notice them quite easily. They are in white plain shirt with dark long trousers or jeans (for guys) and dark skirt (for girls). Girl students also have symbols which show the university they study on their shirt, you just need notice. This may help you get away from cheating people. ;)

Wish you have good time here and Happy new year

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1587 posts) 6y

Quoting emilyemily

I'm planning on moving to Bangkok this coming November 2010, and will be spending around 8 months there taking Thai language courses. I am looking for any possible tips you may have after living or spending a good amount of time in BKK. I've travelled through Thailand several times before, but travelling and living in a place are completely different!

Just a couple questions I have:
-What were your general living expenses? I'm looking for a 30sq meter studio or a very small one bedroom in the Sukhumvit area, hopefully around the Sukhumvit 20s-30s, as my language school is in that area. What can I expect to pay for such an apartment, with basic amenities? Did you have a difficult time finding a good apartment, how long did it take you? I know finding an apartment in, say, New York can be a hellish, several-month long ordeal... I'm wondering if it's the same in BKK? Did you find basic expenses, such as groceries etc., to be easily accessible and fairly cheap?

-If I can't find a place in Sukhumvit, can you recommend any other bustling, central neighborhoods of Bangkok that are nice to live in, and hopefully close to the SkyTrain so I can commute?

-How easy is it to get around with only very basic Thai skills? Of course, in the tourist areas, language is no problem because everybody speaks English.. but how about the rest of the city?

-Also, any general tips, advice, recommendations on daily life in Bangkok would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

You could just stay in hotels for a couple weeks and look over some suggestions for apartments. Don't expect the same type of apartments you can get in your own country. I wouldn't sign up for any apartment sight unseen. If you have an apartment near the Skytrain route you will be able to get around pretty easy and cheap. Other expats living in Bangkok can give you some advice. Maybe Thonglor will be okay for you. Use the Thai Visa Forum for apartment hunting and recommendations too!
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/Real-Estate-housing-house-land-o-f59.html
http://classifieds.thaivisa.com/real-estate/apartments-to-rent/classified-bangkok.html
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/index.php?cx=partner-pub-8062882927723374%3Ayme0y5mls18&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=Thonglor+apartments&sa=Search&autocom=search&siteurl=www.thaivisa.com%2Fforum%2F

Now is the time to make sure you have debit cards that will work in Thailand if you haven't done so already. I use Mastercard and Visa from US credit unions that work okay. You also have to notify your bank that you will be using their cards overseas or the withdrawal may be denied. I opened up an account in a credit union because they pay for some of my ATM charges when I am overseas plus sell travelers checks without any commission charges. I get my pension checks sent to my credit union account account in the US and make the withdrawals in Thailand.

I can switch funds from my bank to my credit union using the internet if I need more cash in that account. I pay bills that I still have in my country by the internet too! You can set up these changes before you leave home. If you do not have online bill pay set up through your bank that might be something to set up now and get used to paying for stuff.

As far as language skills go there are expats that have lived in Thailand for years with probably fewer language skills than you have now. You can always carry a small English to Thai dictionary that keep with you and if necessary just point to the word you need and the Thai person can read it and understand what you want.

You have to figure out what to do if you get sick. Perhaps some travelers insurance would cover you for your time in school. Some of the foreign students in your class might have some suggestions for lodging. Bring any prescriptions you need with you and make sure the specifications are clear in case you have to get a refill from a Thai pharmacy.

Thai Visa Forum is used a lot for expats living in Thailand, give that forum a look.

Stay safe.

4. Posted by emilyemily (Budding Member 82 posts) 6y

Thank you to both of you for your reply!

Good tip, Nin- I'll have to make sure to look for a kitchen when apartment shopping, it's something I figured would be included but good to know that it isn't always included! Also, I agree with buying electronics from electronic shops- over the summer I bought an expensive pair of headphones for my iPod at a Big C in Krabi, and they broke within 2 months! So I will be sure to pay more for better quality at a department store next time.

Karazyal- My good friend Google.com introduced me to the ThaiVisa forums, and it's been a great help on a number of levels! I've been browsing apartments online just to see what the market is like, and it seems to me that there are alot of pretty NICE apartments, in nice buildings with lots of facilities, and a surprising number of vacancies- do you think this is true? I mean, I'm paying $850/month for a genuinely crap, tiny studio in a bad part of Los Angeles, and from what I'm seeing, there seems to be a limitless supply of small, but modern and nicely furnished studios in nice parts of town for half that. My dilemma is just trying to figure out what area of town would be the softest landing-spot, so to speak, for someone relatively new to the country. That's a much better idea to stay in a hotel while looking for apartments in-person, I will definitely do that. I'm just used to the craziness of trying to find places in big US cities, where you have to put in a deposit even to see a place!

Do you know if it is possible to set up some funds in a Thai bank account, IE Bank of Siam? International ATM withdrawals for me end up costing about $6 per transaction, and that adds up very quickly when you're on limited resources like I am Or do I have to be an official resident to do that?

I hear though, that Thai hospitals are quite nice, and I can't afford insurance at the insane rates here in the US, so I'm hoping to be able to set up a less expensive health insurance plan once I get there. How have your experiences been with the Thai medical system?

Thanks again for all your advice!

5. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1587 posts) 6y

"Do you know if it is possible to set up some funds in a Thai bank account, IE Bank of Siam? International ATM withdrawals for me end up costing about $6 per transaction, and that adds up very quickly when you're on limited resources like I am Or do I have to be an official resident to do that?"

I hear though, that Thai hospitals are quite nice, and I can't afford insurance at the insane rates here in the US, so I'm hoping to be able to set up a less expensive health insurance plan once I get there. How have your experiences been with the Thai medical system?"

Yeah, you can set up a bank account but you may have to try a couple places first. I know some frequent travelers who have accounts in Thai Banks. A debit card from a local bank will save you some money. Thailand Guru and has some info on this:
http://www.thailandguru.com/thailand-baht-money-transfer-banking-accounts.html
This link also has some more info on bank accounts:
http://www.thaiwebsites.com/bankingservices.asp

Sometimes one branch is more friendly and accommodating than other branches. I would check with the banks closest to where you end up living. You can bring cash with you too and use that to open your account. I think the limit is around the equivalent of $20,000 US but your country may have their own regulations concerning cash you take out of your country.

My credit union account allows me to take out at least $1000 US in Thai baht a month before they stop paying for my ATM charges. That is even after the new 150 baht per ATM surcharge. Some ATM's allow you to take out 20,000 baht at one time, however your limit is what your home bank sets. I have a $500 per transaction per day limit on my account. Check with your bank on what your maximum daily withdrawal is. One big withdrawal means you get twice the amount for the same 150 baht surcharge. Credit unions are a good thing if you can find one in your own country that pays your overseas ATM charges.

Except for prescriptions the only medical type stuff I have had to use is dental care.

Good luck.