When I first decided on buying an apartment in Bangkok, the reaction from others was not very supportive. “Are you Nuts?”, “that’s dumb” backed by jargon of “never buy, always rent” and “never put money into Thailand more than you’re willing to lose”. At the same time I couldn’t quite find a definitive answer on why not? It was more of a general, expat paranoia where they feel everyone in Thailand is out to swindle them. There were other potential investments I’m sure, lesser risk and higher yields, but I was buying for lifestyle, and for me it paid off well. Five years later, before I turned 30, I am living in Bangkok, semi-retired, with no debt or rent to pay. My apartment is worth almost double the initial investment (taking into account exchange rates) and the alternative option, investing back home in the UKs ‘booming’ market, would have seen my investment halved. It was back in 2008 when I first invested in buying an apartment in Bangkok and I was just in time for the global financial crisis, known in Thailand as the Burger Crisis (due to origins in the US).
My investment was in an off-plan condominium, where construction hadn’t yet started and I would make monthly payments for more than a year. Simple. Then the Global Financial Crisis hits and I start s***ting myself. At the time many of the major Thai developers were financed by American banks, Raimon Land by Lehman Brothers, Major Development by AIG and no-one looked safe. Construction slowed, deadlines were missed, the British pound took a major hit and having already paid one third of the apartment there was no backing out. While I did take a slight hit with currency exchange, I like to see it as a gain on the first third of my investment, rather than a loss on the rest. So I weathered the storm and came out the better.
For me, the worst part of living in Bangkok is the traffic, so my first priority was finding a location near both the rail networks in the Asoke area. I decide on high-end development knowing most my time would be spent at the apartment. No matter how depressing things are outside I will always have my own slice of luxury to retreat to. I buy through reputable companies and realtors to stay safe and opt for a cheaper unit in a luxury condominium. While views and rooms don’t quite compare to penthouse suites, we do all share the same luxury communal facilities, and with plenty of time to spare I am one of few to make the most of them. As a single, fun-loving bachelor (at the time) I also go with a simple one bedroom unit which is perfect for me as less people come scrounging for stays.
Unlike buying houses and land in Thailand (which isn’t legal for farang), buying an apartment in Bangkok is not a problem and relatively simple. You give them money, they give you an apartment. Other than the butt load of paperwork there’s not much more to it. Throughout the process I am the UK only arriving to Thailand for the final inspection, transfer and move in. Admittedly I was like a kid on Christmas as it was coming to completion date pestering the management “is it there yet? Is it there yet?” to the extent where I feel they moved me in to shut me up. I was first to arrive at the condominium block, months before anyone else showed up. The place was completely empty. Every night I’d be on the silent rooftop, drinking whiskey, watching over the Sukhumvit skyline, “it’s all mine”. I would say buying an apartment in Bangkok was the second best decision I’ve made in my life, the first being the decision to travel to Thailand in the first place. Now, other than annual maintenance fees, and the usual bills, my only immediate responsibility is to feed the cat. I can now live a simple life in one of the world’s greatest cities. For more comprehensive details on the process check here on our Live Less Ordinary website.