When I lived in Bangkok from 1996 to 2011 I stayed in rental apartments along Sukhumvit Road, in a duplex I’ve totally forgotten the name of on soi 22, Baan Adissara on soi 35 (opposite Emporium) and Mukdha Living Place on soi 59 as well as a couple of places out in Laksi, close to the Don Muang airport, including a government housing complex called Kan Kayha Laksi, where I lived for about 2-years with no A/C or hot water. I must have been mad! (During that time, Don Muang was the main airport, Suvarnabhumi International not yet having been built.) The last years leading up to my 2011 return to the UK I bought a 55m2 2-bed apartment in Prime Suites Condominium on Sukhumvit Soi 18, which I sold when I left the Kingdom for almost double what I paid for it. I loved that flat and lived there while I was with my ex-husband. It was small but just right for 2 people, and the area was no short of fantastic. Until the last year or so, it was near perfect, but events during those last couple of years made it almost unlivable.
Since I returned in late 2014, I’ve been living in rental properties just out of the city, in a managed gated community called Nichada Thani, as I work in the Pakkret-Nonthaburi area where Nichada is situated, just off the Chaengwattana exit of the tollway, neighboring Central Changwattana and Impact Arena, and a stone’s throw from the river which provides a fun alternative for getting in to the city on the green flag boat and the unique Koh Kret, (Kret Island,) which is a famous river island populated by the Mon Tribes people renowned for their skilled pottery work. (Well worth a visit for some local culture and wildlife.)
This past year, until fairly recently, I also kept a small studio apartment at Pipat Place in the Silom / Sathorn area which I used as a convenient city center bolt-hole for times when I wanted to be in amoung the chaos of everything. I rented this small apartment downtown as that’s where most of my social life is focused and where most of my friends are, but I discontinued the lease on it as I just wasn’t using it as much as I expected, and not nearly enough to warrant the 15,000 Baht (334 pounds) monthly rental. Living in suburbia, I thought I’d need a city pad to escape to at weekends, but taxis are cheap and although it’s like playing roulette to find one who can drive well I can usually chill out in Bangkok traffic, sat in air-conditioned comfort. Besides, the times when I do feel an urge to stay in the city, I have a selection of friends with who I can stay, or I can take advantage of a good hotel for a little pampering.
Being removed from the city and in a managed, gated community such as Nichada Thani has definite benefits. The main one for me is the peace it affords, with construction carefully monitored by the developers who are mindful to keep their tenants happy. With Nichada Thani being such a large gated community, activities of neighboring communities and developments outside the gates have little impact or affect on residences within. Some properties in the south of the community can hear the local mosque’s atmospheric call to prayer, and on very rare occasion, people somewhere outside the gates burn off rubbish a haze from which can waft over the project with a smell which reminds me of late October in the UK, when the evenings close in and private homes start regular garden bonfires leading up to Guy Fawkes night. Now that the Environmental Impact Agency (E.I.A.) is so prevalent, this occurrence really is incredibly rare.
When I was living in Prime Suites on Sukhumvit 18, in the pre-EIA years, I suffered over 2-years of construction as a quintessential single story wooden Thai house adjacent to me was converted into a hotel 4-meters from my bedroom window and balcony ultimately replacing my far reaching views of the beautiful Bangkok cityscape with a glass wall. Most nights towards the end of the construction (and for at least 6-months) loud construction activities would continue until as late as 4am. Having to wake up at 6am for work, it seriously jeopardized not only my work performance but my sanity. I believe it was a contributing factor to my leaving the country.
Another huge benefit for me is not having to commute. From my Silom bolt hole, I would need to wake at 6am and get on the road by 6:30 to beat traffic, which can be pushed back over an hour by living closer to my work. In the mornings, getting out to Chaengwattana is quick enough, taking around 20 minutes, but evenings getting back in to town can be unpredictable. It usually takes less than an hour door to door, but on a rainy Friday night at the end of the month when everyone’s just been paid, it can take a couple, if not longer. Some years ago it took me 5 hours to get home to Sukhumvit Soi 18 from Chaengwattana, 4 hours of which were spent between Sukhumvit Soi 3 and 20. That evening I successfully ordered pizza to my car!
If you’ve got kids or pets, living in a community like Nichada Thani is of huge benefit as the roads are quiet and monitored so they can be let loose on their bikes without supervision, and without being mown down by idiotic drivers. The quieter roads also mean pets which run free like cats are much less likely to become roadkill, and it’s a beautiful environment to walk or jog (with a large central lake) so walking dogs can be a real pleasure. I see many dog walkers when I take my early evening exercise round the lake, just before sun down. A hazy sun sinking low in the sky, casting long shadows over a 60-acre lake is a soothing backdrop while exercising, and despite the humidity of exercising outdoors, I find it much more preferable to working out in a gym. (Mind you, if you rent from the developers themselves, membership to the state of the art Clark Hatch Nichada Club is inclusive, and both fully equipped, air conditioned gyms afford sweeping lake vistas.)
Rental prices once you’re not so central are less too, and despite there being few 1-bedroom apartments found in most gated communities, if you’re not adverse to flat share it can make enjoying a larger apartment very affordable. As a guide my 85m2, 1-bedroom apartment in Nichada and Natakorn Lake Condominium (known as N1N2) feels huge and rents full rate at 36,000 Baht/month. N1N2 is the most recent and lake-centered project within the community but you can get 2-bedroom apartments of over 111m2 in the older Tropical Condo at only 34,000 Baht/month and there are always better deals to be struck when you deal direct with the developer and not an agent.