The condo we wanted was unavailable and too expensive — we still got it

We’re back in Bangkok for a month or two and currently staying in a hotel. We plan to travel to Europe in March so need a condo for the next 1–2 months. In the area we want to stay, most condos either require 6-month minimum contracts or are simply too expensive.

Ah, the joys of condo hunting.

We’ve lived in Bangkok many times on and off over the years so know the areas we want to stay in. This time we want to stay in one particular small district and have checked out almost all the condo buildings here.

Some have reasonably priced condos for rent but the owners only want long-term tenants. Others that accept short-stay tenants cost more than we want to pay. They don’t seem particularly good value for money at the moment.

We have a nice hotel room though that’s 40 sqm and in a perfect location. It’s also reasonably priced, so we kind of resigned ourselves to staying here. It’s not perfect but it’s fine for a month or two.

Yesterday morning we went for a coffee at one of our regular haunts. The café is on the second floor of a very nice condo building. We went to view a condo there a few years ago. It was quite expensive and they wanted a minimum stay of 6 months. As we already knew this we didn’t bother checking this time.

This is where the story gets interesting. To get to the café you have to walk up some steps. Residents have access via the condo building. Non-residents are not allowed into the condo part of the building.

A few years ago my wife needed an operation on her ankle and needed to use crutches for a few weeks. We still went to this café but it was a struggle for her to get up the steps. The manager of the condo noticed this and we could use the residential entrance instead, so this is what we did while she was on crutches.

This meant we got to see the manager regularly and got to know him. Even years later we still chat to him when we see him.

We’ve been away for the last two years but now that we’re back in Bangkok we visited the café again. The condo manager saw us and asked where we’d been, where we were staying, what our plans were.

We mentioned that we were staying in a hotel nearby and that we were planning to travel to Europe in March. He then asked why we don’t come to stay there instead of a hotel. He said there were two condos available.

We pointed out that we couldn’t commit to 6 months, which is what we were previously told was the minimum. He said not to worry about that. He knew us so he could make an exception for us. He said he’d also give us a good deal.

So he showed us the available rooms. One was a beautiful corner unit that would usually cost around $1,200 a month including bills. He let us have it for around $650 a month all in. He’s also ok with us only renting for a month, to begin with. We can then extend monthly if we want. He even said he can arrange for weekly at the end if we need to leave mid-month.

And all this because we happened to have got to know him because of my wife’s ankle injury.

The condo is 50 sqm and cheaper than the hotel. It also has a nice fitness room and rooftop pool. We’re moving in on Tuesday. Awesome.

It’s not the first time in Bangkok that we’ve got special deals like this. Unlike in the West, Asia is more about who you know and the connections you make. Even connections like this will get you special deals. Thais like doing business with people they know.

Sometimes, maybe often, it really is all about who you know not what you know.