The primary purpose of our trip this time was to find a place to live, an apartment in downtown Bangkok. It looks like we finally got that done today, in a low-rise, ultra-modern place called Park Thonglor (ton-lor, the h and the g are silent).
The choices for rental property in downtown Bangkok are pretty open. We looked at everything from a 450 cubic meter townhouse to a 150 cubic meter apartment. There are bigger and smaller, high rise and single family. Most of these places though, required a pretty serious re-calibration of our expectations.
For instance, in the USA social events, family visiting and most everything else centers on the kitchen. US kitchens are correspondingly spacious and very well equipped. But in Bangkok a maid/cook is paid about $200 to $250 US per month to come in 5 days a week to keep the house clean and cook the meals. To make this an even more attractive option, the compensation packages provided to Ex-pats by US employers invariably provide an allowance toward the housekeeping expense. In other words, the maid/cook is free to us. In such an environment, the kitchen takes on much less importance because no matter how well equipped, it is the cook’s job to prepare the meals and clean up afterwards. So do you need a dishwasher? No. Do you need a 6 burner stovetop? No. And in fact, the more of that stuff you have, the more it costs you to have your meal because electricity to run appliances is very expensive. It’s cheaper to let the maid clean the dishes by hand. Same deal for a clothes dryer. It’s cheaper to have the maid Line dry the clothes in her quarters (all the apartments have maids quarters.)
So with a bit of re-calibration, we settled on a place that is less than half the size of our home in Houston. Since it is such a long trip from the US to come visit us in Bangkok, we figured we needed only one spare bedroom (instead of 3.) And since the apartment has a fitness center, fully equipped with weights, treadmills, stair steppers, steam room sauna etc. we don’t need a room for that. We also have a garden with Coi ponds, gazebo’s, panoramic views, waterfalls and a pool, all without good old Mike having to pull a single weed. We did look at much larger places, but in the end, we decided that less in more in this case and we think we made a pretty decent choice. Time will tell.
So the primary purpose of our trip is complete, and after a little fussing with details like security deposits and rent (in advance) we’ll be ready to move in around November 1.