Ari Culture

Is Ari Getting Too Expensive?

You might have heard your Thai friends talking about the increase in the price of pork earlier this year. Caused by African swine fever, the higher pork price created higher demands on other meat products resulting in increased prices on most menus. You may have noticed prices on menus being overwritten on bits of masking tape all over Ari. I’m not sure if the swine flu is gone now, but those inflated price tags sure don’t seem to be going back down but rather more expensive.

พี่จุ๋ม ร้านก๋วยเตี๋ยว อารีย์

These days, we start packing up at 10 pm – no reason to waste the gas to heat the pot. And things are so expensive these days, which cuts into our profit. Same as everything else. Prices seem only to have gone up and up in the past few years.
Joom, Night Noodle Stall, Opposite Noble Reform

Can middle-income people still live in Ari? is it too Expensive?

Most of the people who are affected by this are street food vendors and street food dependents like me. Generally speaking, by “like me”, I mean, urbanized people, first-generation educated families who fork out to go to work on the BTS and pay 8,000 baht in rent as the cheapest place they can afford in Ari. This higher cost of living means having less to no disposable income. For some people, living here makes them steadily poorer.

No, it’s not an exaggeration. In 2020, the Bank of Thailand revealed that 86.59% of Thai citizens had less than 50k baht in their accounts. What surprises me is the fact every time I hear there’s a new condo development around here, a sweeping 40-60% of the units are sold within the first day. It’s like this country can’t make its mind up if the economy is good or bad.

It’s the 86.59% that have been told that to achieve a decent living, they have to work hard to own or rent these properties near BTS stations. And, it’s the same group of people that let out a sigh of despair when they see the prices of food, rent, and travel going up yet again.

I was born and raised in Soi Phiboon Wattana, Thailand’s first-ever  housing estate. It was developed in 1956 as a residential project for the nearby government workers. That’s why my grandad was able to buy this piece of land with a 2-storey wooden Thai house.
Bo, Researcher

You may already know that Ari was once a remote residential area peacefully inhabited by old money. The house owners (and their offspring) often tell me that, unlike other neighborhoods, the more well-off original Ari-ians are not taking the bait to sell off their lands, and thus are holding off Ari from being swiftly gentrified. Bangkok Metropolitan Land Office appraises the land value in Phahol 7 at 150K baht per 4 sqm. So you’ll need around 6 million baht to buy a piece of land to build a 160 sqm house in Ari neighborhood, is it expensive? Clearly, not something a person with less than 50k in their bank account would do.

That leaves only the big corporations to buy up these properties for development. Time changes and the economy changes, the old money loses its land. Big houses are replaced with high rises with 800+ units. Never mind the more crowded streets, it’s their income that matters. People who can afford 40k rent wouldn’t mind if the street food price has gone up from 40 to 80 baht. They might even demand a restaurant that caters to 400 baht per meal, as an extreme example.

Is Ari missing something?

About a week ago I posted a question on Facebook asking for suggestions as to what facilities Ari needed. Many answers cried out for parks and recreational space, which is something that is lacking in every neighborhood in Bangkok, anyway.

While living in a green neighborhood full of parks would be my dream come true, one harsh truth about creating public spaces is that they increase the value of the land. I’m not an expert, but what comes with a better quality of life is a higher price tag and that drives away people who can’t afford it. Maybe we need parks that are designed for everyone. Not instagrammable parks, but ones that are designed for everybody, so that a motorcycle taxi rider can rest in the shade and a 28-YO advertising creative can hang out in the same space.

Om, Owner of Hor Hidden Cafe

Ari is great for cafe-hopping and Instagramming, but beyond that, there’s not that much to do here.
Om, Owner Of Hor Hidden Cafe

For me, gentrification isn’t simply about a city being developed or houses being knocked down. It’s about income disparity, which I think can be both positively and negatively affected by projects initiated by city offices. By understanding this cause-effect, we might hope that public spending may lessen this divide. We have seen it before in other countries in the world. Maybe it’s not unrealistic to expect the Bangkok office to tackle gentrification for the first time?   

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