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To share or not to share?

We all know the wise old sayings, such as ‘two heads are better than one’, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and ‘no man is an island’, which suggest that we as human beings are quite insufficient alone and we need others close to us to help us think, get over problems or just to be around so we don’t feel lonely.

However when you combine these expressions and compare them to ones such as ‘a man’s home is his castle’, ‘don’t invade my territory’ and ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ then we get quite a contrast in the personality and make-up of the average person.

So here is the conundrum, is it better to be alone or better to share your space with another?

Well of course this depends what context it is in, most people will eventually find a loyal and loveable partner of the opposite sex and form lasting relationship, which may not last a lifetime, but will often last long enough so that they move in with each other and perhaps get married. And of course there are others who will follow the same path with someone of the same sex.

However what happens when you are not in love, are not attracted to each other and have no intention of forming a lasting partnership, and yet however are ‘forced’ into living with each other in the same property?

This is a scenario that appears often in the Western world, where most of us farangs come from. In fact many of us have been placed in this situation at one time or another, whether at University, or our first job away from our home city, or our first apartment after leaving home, or when we leave our countries and start a new life in a big intimidating city like Bangkok. It is here when the scenario can become reality.

When you first move to a new city, it may be comforting to feel you can move in with someone you know, perhaps you were friends back at home or have met via the internet, but you feel it will be nice to have their company when you move to Thailand and experience the cultural shock, Thai food, and unusual nigh life like Pat Pong or Nana offers. Also of course it may be a cost saver, and a way for you to have your own private guide to help you learn about the city.

But beware, as the downsides can easily outweigh the plus sides, more about that later.

Let’s look at economics first:

It is usual that in the West when we live in cities like London, New York, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt, Madrid etc that we have to share when we first move to the city. Most of us are not fortunate to own our own homes in big cities like this, and especially when we have just moved there, or we are foreigners with a specific finite time ahead of us for living in that city. Perhaps we are on a 2 year contract, we are not sure we want to buy in this city as we do not understand the Real Estate market.

In the West the price of property and rental prices are so high in ratio compared to our income, that we are indeed ‘forced’ to share. Couple that with the lack a decent accommodation in a city like London, then really it makes sense to share to cut costs and live somewhere decent and close to your work.

However when westerners come to South East Asia, unless they are going to live in Singapore, then there really should not be the same issue with costs and locations, as many of South East Asia’s big cities like Bangkok have great relatively low cost condos or apartment to rent right in the heart of the city. With good quality international standard apartments starting at 10 000 Baht/ month to rent (that’s under US$300/month, even by today’s rates) it makes accommodation affordable. And more importantly it makes living in the city centre of Bangkok, in districts and area such Asoke, Petchburi, Sukhumvit, Silom, Sathorn & Ratchadaphisek easily accessible to those who want live alone.

So unlike London where a typical house-sharing scenario would set back a person US$1 200/ month, just for a bedroom and use of a shared bathroom, kitchen and living room, we can see that for one quarter of that price it is possible to get a self-contained Studio Apartment within about 5 minutes walk of the BTS or MRTA lines in Bangkok.

This makes the necessity to share much lower, and therefore the reason to share then is based on social and not economic choice. However I would caution the idea to choose a house-share, apartment-share or flat-share, or whatever terminology you use, as becoming a house-mate is not always a good way to go.

I know of several young men who have come over to Thailand, to teach English after doing a TEFL course and found that sharing has not worked out the way they wanted it to.

Often they choose big old properties in quite good locations, so that enough of them can have some room and of course so they can all be close to the bars, discos and nightlife Bangkok has to offer. However just like in my old student days in Exeter University, invariably things do not go according to plan. People run out of money, renege on promises they made, or lose their jobs and have to start borrowing. And that is the very crux of why property-sharing is such a bad idea, as you are then not only reliant on your own survival skills, but those of others, if they go down they bring you with them, in the form of losing deposits and getting evicted.

All this seems totally unnecessary when like I mentioned before a good well chosen property, all be it a Studio or a small One Bedroom condo or apartment, can let you relax and enjoy the time you spend in your home rather than worry about, whether the rent will be paid, the TV will be available to watch your show or the bathroom will be available for you to have a shower.

My suggestiom….’go it alone!’

About Amorn S

Amorn Suramongkol is passionate about Thai real estate and writes useful and informative articles for aimed at helping Bangkok's expats find homes and settle in to the capital.

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