Longer term accommodation on Koh Tao – 2019 update

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Longer term accommodation on Koh Tao – 2019 update

Koh Tao is a well-known tourist destination, so of course offers a myriad of fantastic accommodation options that are extremely well-priced compared to an equivalent style of room or hotel in other locations around the world. But how does it work if you want to stay here longer term? If you are coming for professional dive training, you will be looking for an option for at least a couple of months. As glamourous as it seems to get to stay in a hotel for an extended period of time, the excitement can quickly lose its appeal. If you have ever had a job that requires a lot of travel, or had to stay away from home and in a hotel for a longer period of time you’ll understand what we mean. Sometimes you just need a couple of home comforts in your home away from home.

Finding long-term accommodation on Koh Tao

The great news is that not only is Koh Tao a short term holidaymaker destination, but it’s also somewhere that people come to stay longer term. A lot of this population is made up of people just like you coming for Professional level diver training. Additionally, Koh Tao attracts a large number of digital nomads – who, if they had the choice on work location WOULDN’T pick a gorgeous tropical island as their base if they could?! Not to mention all of the ex-pats who are effectively living here on a permanent basis – the large numbers of Dive Instructors and all the other ex-pats who have made their life working on Koh Tao.

A lot of bungalows on Koh Tao come with a sea view included!

Therefore aside from the nightly accommodation options, there is a buoyant market for great value longer term accommodation options. Having your place longer term not only helps with making you feel more relaxed, but it will also help save you money.

The budget

If we make a simple cost comparison at the budget end of the market, a simple fan bungalow or room with en-suite bathroom will cost you 500-600 THB per night. Over the course of a month this works out at 15,000-18,000 THB. If you were to rent a similar place up front for a whole month, you can pay as little as 7,000 THB plus bills. True your monthly rental may not be directly on the beach, but it could be as little as 2 minutes’ walk away. At the top end of the market, if your timing is right, you can find pool villas that cost 5,000-7,000 THB per night available for a monthly rate of around 40,000 THB per month – less than 1/5 of the nightly rate.

So how do you find these awesome deals? Koh Tao is a transient island, and therefore turnover of property is pretty rapid. You really need to be here to take advantage of the best deals. It’s very rare that longer term accommodation gets reserved from home prior to arrival. Any that does, tends to attract a premium since it is often through an agent rather than directly with the landlord. The other reason not to book from home is that you don’t really have the chance to scout out the local area. If you have not been to Koh Tao before, you might not realise the gorgeous bungalow with the panoramic sea view that you booked from home is in fact a 1 hour walk from where you wanted to be and up a steep hill where the road is not surfaced and you don’t plan to / can’t ride a bike.

What to do in advance

Your first point of action is to book a place for your first couple of nights. If you have a long journey and possibly some jetlag, having somewhere lined up to crash when you get here is reassuring. At Master Divers, we are happy to help with this. We can easily book somewhere for your first nights and we can use some of your diving deposit to secure it so you don’t have to worry about the hassle of additional bookings.

Customer service Master Divers style!

Believe us, 2 days is more than enough time to secure something longer term since your research actually can start before you get to Koh Tao. At the time of publication, there were several Facebook groups that list available property that are worth to join ahead of your visit:

This way you can keep an eye on the market, get a good feel of what is available, and research what you can get for your budget. This means that when you do come to look at options in the flesh, you can already know if the place you are looking at offers a good deal or not.

What to do when you are here

The first thing to do is to ask the Instructors, Divemasters and Professional Trainees at your dive centre. Word of mouth works really well and these people will know right away (or with a quick message or phone call to their landlord) what property is available. This has the added benefit that the location is effectively pre-screened. If an instructor already lives there, you can expect the landlord is fair, the location quiet and convenient, and the property offers good value for money. You’ll also have an instant connection with neighbours which can be reassuring if you are living overseas for the first time.

Could this be the view from your new home?

Beyond this, it takes a little bit of legwork. You might first want to spend an hour or two walking around the local area to get a feel for locations, distances and amenities. Now is the time to make appointments to see the properties you have had your eyes on in the Facebook groups. Take a little time to look at a few places. It’s tempting just to take the first one you see that is OK, but usually there is quite a bit of choice so it’s worth to have a good look around first before you commit to anywhere.

The process

Once you decide to take a property you have seen, you can expect that you can move in right away. As part of the price you should check exactly what is and what is not included. Bills are the first thing and usually cover water and electricity – there’s no mains gas on Koh Tao. If these are extra, check how much the average tenant has been paying extra per month. For a single person with a “normal Koh Tao lifestyle” – fan room, a couple of efficient showers per day, and quite a number of meals eaten out or takeaway, you should not pay more than 1,000 THB extra per month for all bills. This will be higher if you cook and wash up a lot at home, or run an AC unit. You should also check what rates you are paying per unit for water and electricity.

  • Water – 200-300 THB per unit of water (1,000 litres) is fair except if you live far from Mae Haad or up a steep hill where this will cost more.
  • Electricity – There are also 2 types of electricity supply on the island. The first is the government electricity. This normally costs 3 THB per unit direct from the Electricity Company, however many rentals will charge around 10 THB per unit to cover the landlord’s additional costs to maintain poles, lines and meters on the property. Many properties also have Private electricity which costs a little more. This can be useful when the main government electricity goes down so you can normally switch supply, but this is a lot more expensive. Expect 16-30 THB per unit for this so if you have this service, make sure you don’t forget to switch back once the cut is over!
  • WiFi/Cleaning – Other things to check if they are included are WiFi or laundry and cleaning services – many properties include a cleaner once or twice a month and most have WiFi included at no extra charge.
Maybe you even adopt some pets with your new bungalow!

When you come to move in, there are no background checks to speak of. We have never heard of tenants being asked to provide references or to sign contracts like you would expect in other parts of the world.  You should be asked for a copy of your passport, entry stamp and TM6 card – that’s the arrival card you complete when you enter Thailand. You should also expect to pay 1 month’s rent up front as well as a deposit or the room – this is usually 1 months’ rent, but more expensive places it’s probably 5,000-10,000 THB. Landlords understand that is a lot of cash to present at once, so normally they are happy for you to pay this over a couple of days, just discuss the payment plan when you ask to rent the property.

When you leave

It’s normal to expect to give 1 months’ notice to allow the landlord time to plan for another tenant. So if you plan to stay just 1 or 2 months, you should let the landlord know when you move in that this is your likely timescales. It’s also good courtesy to keep your landlord up to date with your changes of plan. Don’t forget to get back any deposit you paid. Unless you have done something really bad, we have hardly ever heard of a landlord holding a deposit back, so can expect a nice little windfall when you move out.

We hope this helps give you some points on how to rent when you are here.
Do you have any more top tips we can add?


This is an updated version of the 2012 blog post about longer term accommodation on Koh Tao. You can find the original post here.

Photo credits: private, unsplash.

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