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Apartments vs Condos

The difference between apartments and condos may not be that clear, especially since the word is interchangeable to have the same meaning in many countries. Yet, here in Thailand the main difference is that in an apartment building, or a serviced apartment complex for that matter, the owner of the building owns all the units in it and so you will be renting from the building owner. This is in contrast to a condo building where the condos will normal be sold to private buyers and you would be renting from one of these owners.

In reality this may seem to be a minor difference that would not affect your day-to-day living as a tenant, however the two types of properties will offer distinctly different lifestyles.

First is regarding services. In a condo you will usually be responsible for paying for satellite TV, Internet, water, electricity and other services directly with the service providers. In an apartment you will find that if these facilities exist they are normally included in the rental price. This may offer a saving of several thousand baht, or at least would warrant similar consideration.

Still, in an apartment, although it may seem services are free or included in the price, you must also consider the fixed nature of them. That is to say that, for example, Internet may be on a building wide network and may suffer from slower speeds if many people use it. Not only that, but in an apartment building you may be precluded from setting up your own internet system since the wiring in the rooms may not be the same as a typical standalone condo unit which will have a telephone line and ADSL line as standard. Therefore you might wish for a better service but not be able to install one.

The same goes for the cable TV. You may find the package is cut down or with a fixed set of channels and you have less choice in terms of the channel make up than you might have if, for example, you were renting a condo and got in touch with True Visions or another cable provider directly.

So, before taking the extras for granted, it is important to check the range of channels available on the in-built TV package, and also to check carefully the maximum speed of the internet and the maximum number of users that will share it at any one time.

Another thing to look out for is to have an engineer on-site for extended hours. If there is a problem with the Internet or TV in the early evening you would not want to wait until the following day to have it fixed. Most serviced apartments have 24-hour security staff, and some have 24-hour reception, but not so many have engineers round the clock.

With services in mind the next thing to be careful of is electricity usage. With a condo you will likely receive the bill directly from the electric company and pay the going rate, which is about three to four baht per unit. In a serviced apartment the norm is for the building management to bill you directly at a rate that they deem fit. Expect to pay around five or six baht in the most conservative establishments, but be aware that in some places, especially those advertising cheaper rental rates, the electric usage can be billed at a rate that is as much as 18 baht per unit. They will rent the rooms out inexpensively knowing they can make the rest of the rental amount up from the price difference you pay in electricity usage. Thus it is key to ask about the rate for electricity. You could save costs by not running the air conditioning but it would be a shame to live in fear of using too much electricity and receiving a high bill for it. A good thing to check for in newer apartments is for the inclusion of energy efficient appliances.

The same billing consideration goes for water usage, although this is typically a much smaller bill amounting to just a few hundred baht per month and so the deviation can be small.

Next is the attention given to shared facilities such as the swimming pool, coffee shop, gymnasium, lobby area etc. In a condo it is the job of the Juristic person and the management team to take care of all of these common areas. They are employed to do this on behalf of the condo owners as a kind of co-operative entity.

In an apartment the benefit is that the owner of the building will also be looking after all shared facilities. They may have more of an incentive to make things work well than the Juristic person who will
not be directly interested in condo tenants as would an apartment building owner.

Since an apartment building owner will also be taking care of everything in the rooms as well as outside them, you can be rest assured that things such as air conditioning maintenance or pest control are followed up rapidly and with people who are on-site. This may be a different situation to renting a condo where the owner lives far away, though they may employ an agent to take care of immediate needs.

Another benefit of living in an apartment building is you can change rooms relatively easy, if the building is not fully occupied. There may be a charge for doing this whilst still within the contract period, but this should be a minor amount to cover the re-issuance of the new contract. It might be you have outgrown your current abode but still like the building - with a serviced apartment you should be able to change rooms just like you might want to do in a hotel.

Finally, also as per hotels, there is the word"serviced"that may be noted in the apartment space, namely serviced apartments. These are not normally serviced in the same way that a hotel room is, i.e. with a maid every day. The norm is that you can order maid services at your convenience whether it be once a week or a few times per week. Of course you could also order outside maid services to take care of a condo, with many agents offering this facility.

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