Unless you are Thai, without help, you will become a victim of dual pricing for any rental house. There are agents who specialize in rentals for foreigners and believe me when I say they charge premium prices, you can do better without them.
If you tell us what you need as a starter home and the area you want to live in, i.e, city center, outside of town, in the hills, number of bedrooms, how much you want to pay, etc before you arrive a staff member will check what's available and have a list of places to show you when you arrive. Our staff member will negotiate the price before the landlord sees you are a foreigner to ensure you get the Thai price.
The rental price of homes has a lot to do with the location. Obviously the city center is going to be the most expensive. The further from the city center you choose the cheaper the houses become. Furnished houses tend to be quite pricey and if you intend to rent long term I would recommend not renting furnished but rather buy the furniture you need it is not difficult to find people to move it for you and basic furniture is not that expensive if you know where to shop. Another factor affecting the price would be whether or not it is in a gated community with a security guard. I would not place a lot of trust in these "security guards" as they are not trained and most are quite lax. As a rough example, a 2 bedroom house in the city may be as high as 15,000 - 20,000 baht per month and a similar property 5-10 kilometers outside the city may rent for 3,500-10,000 baht or less.
BUYING A HOUSE
Though as a foreigner you are not allowed to purchase land there are a few ways that you can buy a house. One is to buy in a Thai person's name (risky at best), though some protection can be gotten by having a lawyer draw up the appropriate documents. Another option is to lease the land (you will need a lawyer for this) you can buy it in the name of a limited company (again, you will need a need a lawyer) finally it is possible in some villages to purchase land with no title deed then build your house (many people do this). If you need a lawyer be aware that there are many available but most may not have your best interest at heart and will overcharge you (that pesky dual pricing) however, we can help you in securing the services of a good lawyer. If you want to buy a condo however that is much easier but a poor investment over the long term. The only real obstacle here is that the building must be owned 51% by Thais. There are two main reasons that condos are poor investments; 1: over the years the holding companies are not known for maintaining the building or its amenities, 2: Thais do not like to buy second hand condos.
An important thing to note about renting is that many Thai landlords do not like to pay the full tax and they will ask you to state a figure less than your actual rental if you ever get a visit from a city official asking you how much rent you pay. If this is not something you are prepared to do, expect to pay a higher rent that allows the landlord to get a fair income from his property. As I am sure you can see, this arrangement saves both you and your landlord money.
This is Ketmanee Lakeside Villas, a luxury home development in Chiang Rai. Click the image below for more info.