Bangkok - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Two main options. - Live downtown in a nice apartment - tons of restaurants nearby, etc. Soak in the vibrancy of Bangkok. - Or live in the gated community of Nichada. Far from Bangkok. I would simplify as: imagine you are working in Washington, D.C., would you prefer to live in DC itself, or a close suburb like Arlington or Alexandria? If so, then go for a downtown Bangkok apartment. Or, would you prefer to live in a homogenous, gated community somewhere far from the city and have a long commute (like Ashburn, Virginia)? If that's your cup of tea, then you should live in Nichada. - Feb 2023

I live in Nichada, which is a community in the suburbs of Bangkok. On average, it takes me 45 minutes to get to the US Embassy. It can take as little as 30 minutes, and as long as 2.5 hours depending on traffic. While I was initially worried about the horror stories of the commute from Nichada, I found that the typical circumstances that contribute to terrible traffic are often predictable (rain storm, large event going on downtown, or last friday of the month) and can be avoided. Additionally, my colleagues who live downtown often have terrible traffic/commutes themselves for the same reasons - meaning: the nights it took me 2.5 hrs to get home to Nichada, it took my downtown colleagues 2 hrs to get home. The benefit of living in Nichada is the size of housing (largest in the housing pool), which are generally all 4 bedrooms, with each bedroom having its own bathroom. Some houses have a large den that can be used as an additional bedroom. Most all have maids quarters. The houses all have some bit of yard, and yard size varies. None of the yards are 'great' by American standards but are the best yards you are going to get in Bangkok. Many folks with dogs appreciate the fact that they have a yard and there is a dog park. The housing here centers on the International School of Bangkok, which is in the center of Nichada. Almost all families that live here send their kids to ISB. - Jan 2023

Bangkok is a major, sprawling metropolis (think New York in scope/size). U.S. Embassy housing falls into two main categories. First is large single-family homes in a gated community, in Nonthaburi Province, which (depending on traffic) is between 30-75 minutes' drive from downtown. This housing is large, you get a small yard, and it's within walking/biking distance of one of the best U.S.-curriculum schools, ISB. But the downside is you're not really living in Bangkok: it's an artificial world. In my opinion, you'll find yourself missing out on what most people know Bangkok for: it's vibrant restaurant, cultural, and downtown scene. Some people who come to Bangkok choose Nonthaburi for its proximity to ISB, or they really are adamant on having a single-family home. But more often people intentionally choose the second category of housing, which is apartment/condo housing downtown. The second category is housing that's downtown, primarily scattered among dozens of apartment buildings anywhere from a five-minute walk to the U.S. embassy, to a 30-40-minute car, subway, or bike commute. The apartments generally range from two to five bedrooms in size (some can be fairly large and most include live-in maid quarters), with some quite modern, with others feeling more dated (think 1980s) in interior. Most embassy housing is rented so amenities and furnishings will vary quite a bit from place to place, but there are a few units that are USG-owned and serviced by the embassy (think much more responsive maintenance, but older buildings). Almost all buildings have a pool of some sort, and the fancier buildings have gyms, party rooms, and other amenities. Most apartments don't allow dogs so if you have a pet the embassy will place you in a smaller subset of the housing pool. Bangkok's very large housing market constantly fluctuates so the housing pool changes quite a bit. While most people seem to be quite happy with housing, there is an occasional dud housing unit or landlord so the embassy has moved people around on occasion. - May 2022

We are in the suburbs of Bangkok in Nichada. Embassy housing is undergoing some changes this year. When we came in, we were appointed a single-family detached home with a yard. This year, they've changed the requirements and are putting families with only one child in apartments within the gated community. Families with two children are being placed in two neighborhoods with slightly smaller homes. The living space is still much more than at many posts but I think it's important for people to know this as they come in, as it may determine whether they want to live this far out. - Aug 2019

We live in a three bedroom apartment that is huge for a family of two. My commute to work is short because I live very close to the embassy so I walk to work, rain or shine. Housing size is based on family size and it seems most people get one bedroom for each family member and one additional. There are also separate quarters for nannies who live-in or need a place to rest during their breaks. Note that nannies' quarters have a bathroom but no hot water; unfortunately, this is the norm. - Jun 2018

Downtown apartment with adequate space, a balcony, near the BTS. There are basically two types of housing--downtown apartments or Nichada, the gated community surrounding International School of Bangkok. - Apr 2017

We have a large, 3BR/4BA apartment in central Bangkok, with a balcony. Almost all of the embassy housing is good-sized and centrally located. There is also a "suburban" neighborhood located somewhat outside the city center where larger families tend to live, and shuttles provide transportation (about 45-60 minutes one-way depending on traffic). Otherwise most central USG housing means a 25-35 minute commute via skytrain or subway. - Nov 2016

Embassy housing is either city based or outside the city in "the bubble" known as Nichada Thani, where we live. People choose Nichada because the houses are beautiful and spacious, (many are brand new), the community is gated and safe, and Internatiional School Bangkok is inside the gates. The school is the heart of this community, so if you have kids, this is a great place to be. Embassy workers take the free shuttle in the morning into the office, with a commute of about 35 - 45 minutes. If you go later you can sit in traffic forever. Bangkok traffic is absolutely some of the worst on the planet. Don't even try to figure it out. There is no rhyme or reason. - Aug 2015

If you want to live in the city, commute times will vary depending on what time you go to work. If you work at the U.S. Embassy then generally you will arrive around 7-7:30 - in which case, driving isn't too bad at that hour. Note: parking is limited, if you arrive after 7:30 you will have a hard time finding a parking place. If you live close to a BTS or MRT station then you may use this method, however the Embassy is a bit of walk from both and by the time you arrive at work, you will have had your "second shower" of the morning (sweat). The BTS and MRT are also both very crowded in the morning. If you have children then you may have the option of living out in the suburbs in very nice (but far from the city) villas. The U.S. Embassy offers shuttles to and from these compounds, but traffic in the afternoon can be quite bad so it may take a while to get home. There are very few townhouses in the city that a few families get to live in. They are very nice, but some families complain they are too small compared to the villas. There are international schools close to the suburban housing compounds and downtown as well. I don't have children so I can't say which schools are better. - Aug 2014

For the embassy community there are two options: downtown in an apartment (most are high-rises around the Sukhumvit or Sathorn areas); or outside the city in a suburb called Nichada where the ISB school is located. The Nichada community, I've been told, is like living in a country club community with golf carts, minus the golf course. Downtown is lively, with the fantastic sky train systerm getting you to most key points in the downtown area, and a large number of nursery, preschool, primary and secondary schools abound. - May 2014

Lots of high-rise apartments with common areas (pool, playground, gym, tennis courts, basketball court). Houses in Nichada Thani are large but have very thin yards and old playgrounds from what I saw, and the commute is long. - Oct 2013

Majority of the community live downtown, but some also live outside in the Nichada Thani. Described as a country club neighborhood, Nichada is quite a commute from bangkok, but those who move there rarely leave as it contains everything you could possibly need. An American school, malls, Starbucks, salons, etc. Residences downtown are mostly spacious apartments, spread throughout the city. - Jul 2013

All are great -- most are downtown with great views of the Bangkok skyscrapers. - Jun 2013

Apartments in the city, houses outside the city. - Jul 2012

We are in embassy housing- a large, 3-bedroom apartment close to public transportation. Our building has a small but fine gym, a tennis court, basketball court, a small soccer area, a pool, a playground, and an open area for leisure. We find it very comfortable. In the city, everyone has apartments. Families often choose to live in a gated community outside the city -- which I hear is very nice but has an awful commute. - Oct 2011

I live in a condo close to the city centre. It costs me $220 a month. Not bad considering it has a swimmiing pool, gym, 24-hour security, shop, table tennis, and basketball court. Accommodations in Thailand are very cheap. - Aug 2011

U.S. Embassy employees live in high rise condos near the Embassy or in stand along houses out in Nichada near the International School of Bangkok. Most people are very happy with the housing as it is modern and comfortable. - Jul 2011

Classic decision: to live downtown or in the expat bubble a/k/a Nichada Thani (about 30 minutes on a lucky Sunday to 1.5 hours North of the city depending on traffic!) If you choose city, I've seen some subpar housing, some decent housing, and at least one fantastic apartment near the Embassy. It also depends on your personal priorities and style. Personally, I wish we lived downtown. Many find Nichada to be akin to winning the lottery - it is like a country clubw/ children running about, Starbucks, and mothers in tennis skirts and golf carts. Still, it's compound style living which is not for everyone, folks know your business, and you are a long commute away from the Embassy. Convenient for school if you have kids and wonderful if you have a dog to walk! I also kind of like that we mix it up here. It isn't just officers, for instance. We have every level of Embassy personnel in our little subdivision, Regent, and I quite like that for the most part. - Feb 2011

The embassy houses people in several parts of the city. If you live in town, you'll be in a pretty large apartment, most of which are near the BTS Skytrain. A number of families live in homes located outside the city, nearer some of the international schools. They often drive to work or take the embassy shuttle. This does cut down on their ability to participate in after work activities. We had two cats with us and had no problem with our apartment allowing them, although we heard that fewer buildings accept pets than in the States. - May 2010

Within the city most people live in high rise apartments. Outside of the city the staff tend to live in houses but the commute is much greater. - Apr 2010

I live in a condo high rise, next to the subway and skytrain, near center of Bangkok - Jan 2010

For expats there are basically two options: If you choose to live downtown, then for the most part it'll either be condo or apt living. There are some houses, but not that many. The second most popular option is an area out in Nichada Thani (the suburbs north of Bangkok): 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on traffic. Nichada Thani is a gated community of roughly 3,000 expats who are all there for one reason, and one reason only. And that is solely because that is where ISB (International School of Bangkok) is located. - Jul 2009

The whole range. Rent an apartment in the city (location, location, location, $$$) or house in between or in the country. I rent an affordable two story house in a beautiful Mooban (Gated community) that is one of the nicest in BKK. - Apr 2009

There is lots of available housing of all types. We live in a new apartment tower, but friends live in housing developments here in the city center. There are also older Thai houses and apartments available at a fraction of the price of a place in New York and much less than most other US cities. Most buildings or housing developments have a pool, a playground for the kids and security. I recommend that you live close to where you work because the traffic is still quite bad at rush hour. While most U.S. Embassy staff and Americans working for other companies live in Nichada north of the city (30 minutes no traffic, 90 minutes or worse at peak rush hour), we chose to live near the city center to be closer to my wife's office and our children's school. We do not have the benefit of the shuttle service which conveys most Americans to their jos at the Embassy (the US Embassy here is the third largest in the world, so we're talking about a lot of personel). We really like where we live. There is so much to do. - Feb 2009

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