House hunting in Pattaya: 2015 vs. 2010

Construction News

My wife and I decided to buy another house in Pattaya.  The house we bought in 2010 is rented out via a long term contract and that is good as we do not live in Thailand.  A few weeks holiday per year has been the norm (we are too young to retire or even qualify for a retirement visa).  Now that we are back in Thailand for a longer period the wife wanted her house not too far from the first and, more importantly, the family.

Over four weeks this year we scoured Pattaya for a house that met our criteria, three beds, two baths, unfurnished, potential to rent when we are out of the country, a yard for the three-year-old to run around and a playground nearby so he could interact with other kids.  Simple or so we thought.  Initially, our budget was set at three million baht – tight but doable we thought.  Knowing that budgets always get stretched, a low anchor point was a good starting point.

Living accommodation in Thailand appears to be getting smaller as property prices rise.

House prices appear to have risen approximately 20% since our last purchase while room sizes have decreased the same amount, if not more.  The unfortunate relationship, to us, can be seen by house hunters taking along a tape measure and measuring the sizes of rooms in an old project versus new projects.  Land sizes that averaged around 90sq.-wah in 2010 seem to have shrunk to 70sq.-wah in 2015.  Bedrooms that were at least 12sqm now appear around 9sqm, but then it could be me.  Property developers and agents would have access to the data.  Anyone (Land Department, Real Estate Agent, or Academic) interested in doing a conference paper?  I would love to crunch the numbers.

There are a few developers that have kept with sensibility and have larger sized rooms however the prices for these are steep.  Townhouses are priced similarly and are even smaller than single units.  One townhouse we visited had a kid’s bedroom approximately two by three metres.  Barely enough for a single bed, small table and wardrobe!

Developers appear to forget that though Thais are physically smaller than Westerners, humans are getting bigger.  Even the roadways seem smaller.  Use the measuring tape while house hunting.

A small family home is shown under construction at a housing project in Thailand. (Photo/Wikipedia commons)

Interior decorators, however, seem to be doing a good job filling the spaces with essential items.  The show houses are well done.  The mix of colors and items are nice.  Many houses seem to be built to live in the week and go somewhere else on weekends.  Visitors can stay in a hotel (which may be a good thing for those who have family or friends who take open invitations literally).

However, the decorators and developers seem to have missed that people have children who do not like to be confined and need space to run around.  There are small parks and play areas nearby, but these could easily get crowded.  Kids need time away from TVs, monitors, and screens.  Play areas are important.  Teenagers and adults need multipurpose courts to exercise and socialize positively.  One’s daughter interacting with a boy out in public is much different than they interacting indoors.

Developers still have all the essentials in their properties but are not looking towards the future of these developments.  Children, teenagers, and even adults need space inside as well as outside.  Reminds me of where we lived in the Middle East.  Little parking (two car family – what’s that), play area (go to a mall), children (leave them somewhere or let the maid worry about them), and overall quality is poor (looks good and has the essentials, what more do you want?)  The older developments in the Middle East are spacious affairs.  Now developers (builders) appear to say, “let us pile everyone in.”  What indoor play areas exist are limited.

Eventually my wife and I settled for a five million baht place in a new development, still in construction outside town.  However, the experience has shown us that the making of many social ills is happening literally and figuratively in front of our eyes.  Will we consider another house in 2020?  Who knows.