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Bangkok's top expat spots

A recent survey identifies the four areas in the city most preferred by foreign residents

Spectrum, Bangkok Post / 20 March 2011 - While some have suggested that the Bangkok condominium market is oversupplied, there are still many buyers keen to purchase luxury condominiums as an investment, who are expecting income from renting their units to expatriates in Bangkok. If you are one of these, you may find a recent survey from Jones Lang LaSalle useful. The survey of expats looking for top-end condominiums for rent in Bangkok identifies the four most preferred residential areas as Sukhumvit, the central business district, the southern fringe of the city and Rama III riverside.
The Sukhumvit area included in the survey covers Soi 1 to Soi 63. This has long been the largest expatriate residential area in Bangkok and remains so today. The area contains the largest concentration of rental properties, and also offers the expat community a wide range in terms of quality and rates. This, together with easy access to the BTS system, accounts for much of the success of the rental market in this area.
Sukhumvit is also attractive to expats because of its diversity. There are numerous hotels and major office developments. Most sites along the main road are lined with retail establishments catering to residents and tourists.
This makes Sukhumvit one of the longest retail strips in Bangkok.
There are now more than 3,200 top-end condominiums in completed buildings in the Sukhumvit area. Rentals range from 20,000 to 25,000 baht a month for studio units to between 150,000 and 200,000 baht for four-bedroom units.
Central business district: This covers the area between Phloenchit and Rama I roads, bounded by Sathon and Witthayu roads to the east and Si Phraya and Phaya Thai roads to the west. There are more than 2,400 top-end condominium units in this area.
For most expats, the area is probably the ideal residential location, particularly in the northern part along Soi Lang Suan and Phloenchit, Ratchadamri and Witthayu roads. This area is regarded as the core of the city's central business district, providing easy access to commercial, shopping, healthcare and entertainment centres, expressways and both mass rapid transit systems. While this area accommodates many commercial and residential high-rises, it is relatively green as well, with the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Lumpini Park, embassies and first-class hotels providing a lot of foliage.
But the relatively high rents have kept this area off-limits for many expats, who may opt to rent condominiums in locations near the area that offer acceptable proximity to their offices and decidedly more affordable rates.
Rentals of top-end condominiums in the area range from 30,000 to 35,000 baht a month for studio units to between 180,000 and 250,000 baht for four-bedroom units. A separate study of the Bangkok apartment market by Jones Lang LaSalle shows that apartments in the Sukhumvit area enjoy an average occupancy rate of more than 90%, while apartments in the area have an occupancy rate of 85%.
Southern fringe of the city
The city's southern fringe covers parts of Sathu Pradit and Charoen Krung roads, and Yen Akat, Nang Linchi, Chan and Narathiwat roads. Close proximity to the central business district and relatively low rental rates attract tenants.
Some expats find the area inconvenient in terms of accessibility, however, as most condominium buildings are located in narrow sois. There are only about 60 top-end condominium units in this area. Rentals range from 12,000 to 20,000 baht a month for studio units to between 90,000 and 150,000 baht for four-bedroom units.
Riverside Rama III
The riverside area along Rama III Road is the fourth most popular residential location among expats. In recent years, the area has been transformed from a mostly industrial location to a major residential area. There are more than 1,700 top-end condominium units in this area.
The living environment is pleasant as these properties are along the river, yet for many expats this area is less attractive than the other three due to a limited choice of quality projects and the lack of a metropolitan lifestyle. There is a dearth of fine restaurants, upscale entertainment spots, modern shopping malls and other expat social haunts.
The recent opening of the Bus Rapid Transit system has improved the attractiveness of the riverside Rama III area, but for many expats, it is not yet a familiar mode of transport.
Rentals of top-end condominiums in the area range from 14,000 baht a month for studio units to between 80,000 and 100,000 baht for four-bedroom units.
When looking to purchase a property as an investment, location should always come first in the selection criteria. Having said that, buyers should remember that there are other factors to take into consideration, such as how much rent can be expected from the property, whether the purchasing price and related costs, such as management fees and furnishings, allow for an expected yield, and most importantly, whether the property is marketable.

About the Author
Naporn Tansakul is the head of residential sales and leasing at Jones Lang LaSalle. Readers may contact her for advice on investing in condos by email at