House Hunting

I decided towards the end of last year that I wanted to move. The house I’m living in is getting increasingly run down, and the new neighbours are truly neighbours from hell. I also decided that I wanted to move to Bangkok – closer to supermarkets that stock Western foods and with cinemas that show films in English. However, I don’t like living in large cities, so I needed to find a house in a moobaan on the fringes of the city. Thanks to the wonders of the Interweb I was fairly readily able to come up with a shortlist. Next was to spend a day visiting the likely suspects.

The first moobaan I visited was in a strange location. To explain: many main roads in Thailand have smaller roads running parallel to them on both sides (known as “frontage roads) for local traffic. Often these roads are one-way. This moobaan was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and small villages, off such a one-way frontage road. To get onto the frontage road I had a nightmarish drive through a series of complex junctions in very heavy traffic.

At the sales office I was greeted with a cold drink and there was some discussion about the type of house I wanted. Then it was onto an electric cart to view a few houses in various stages of development. None of them was quite what I wanted. (I was particularly keen to have a bedroom to use as a study since I spend way too much time in front of the computer.) The sales agent then suggested a house type that wasn’t on the website. And it was cheaper than the two house types I’d short-listed. It had a downstairs study – perfect.

The moobaan was quite attractive. The gardens of the completed properties were very pretty. The roads curved and the properties were varied so the place didn’t look too regimented.

The next moobaan I visited wasn’t right for me. None of the properties was quite large enough, though on the plus side it had a communal gym and a clubhouse.

The visit to the third moobaan started with a shock: there was a kerfuffle amongst the security guards at the gatehouse: there was an enormous (and I’m told poisonous) snake which soon slithered off into the gutter.

I must say, I loved the setting. I could have had a house overlooking a large pond (and I love living close to water). However, the study was pretty small, and the developer very inflexible. (This particular developer is Thailand’s largest, so can do as it likes.)

All the houses I looked at had features in common, such as lots of windows (I’m going to spend a small fortune on window treatments) and tiny, inconvenient kitchens. Rather than usual cabinets, the work surfaces are Thai-style, made of concrete, tiled. And there’s nowhere for an oven.

To be more precise, each property had two kitchens (both tiny): an outer kitchen for preparing food, then an inner one (with good ventilation) for the actual cooking. (The toxic fumes released by frying garlic and chillies together is quite overwhelming.)

Something for me slightly strange was that you were expected to keep your washing machine outside. What’s to stop the neighbours climbing over the fence and using your washing machine whilst you sleep?

Anyway, a week later I was back at the first moobaan paying a reservation fee for a house that will be completed at the end of May. (Thai builders, unlike British ones, do actually complete on time, so I’m told.)

When finished the house will look something like this (minus the large garden):

House in Bangkok

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