Thailand - Property
Sal and Glen’s 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house, a walk away from the beach in Phuket. It could be purchased for US200,000. It has a pool and is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and the sounds of running water.
Foreigners can legally, and easily, purchase an apartment anywhere in Thailand, but they cannot own land and houses.
However, foreigners manage this restriction in many ways, including:
- Buying the land in the name of a Thai person, usually a friend or someone they think they can trust, then leasing it back for 30 years with an option to extend. Some developers already offer house sales using their own 30-year lease option.
- Starting a Thai company in which the foreigner can own up to 49 per cent of the shares and then buy and own land through the company.
Clearly, there can be problems when you use a scheme to circumvent the intention of the law. So if you want to have a larger private area, perhaps with your own garden and pool, our advice is to rent a house. Alternatively, rent or buy an apartment. Apartment ownership is much more straightforward.
Sal and Glen who live in Phuket were not concerned about owning a house.
For foreigners to be eligible to purchase a condominium in Thailand, they must present proof to the Land Department that the funds have been remitted from overseas in foreign currency (as demonstrated by a valid Foreign Exchange Transfer Form from a Thai bank). Foreigners can acquire up to, but not exceeding, 49 per cent of the total floor area of the combined condo units.
Adam, a motorcycle enthusiast and an artist, moved to Chiang Mai about ten years ago from Sydney’s eastern suburbs. He inherited some money, had a property rented in Sydney, and figured he’d be able to enjoy life in Chiang Mai—a place he had been visiting since the mid 1970s.
Since then, Adam has made some good money from investing in properties in Chiang Mai. He bought a condominium for A$50,000 in central Chiang Mai and has bought, renovated and sold two other condos as well.
‘I just love it here,’ Adam said. ‘I feel relaxed—maybe it’s the Buddhism.’
Adam was smart with his move and his experience provides a good model for many people, especially retirees, who decide to live in a foreign country. He initially rented a shophouse because he did not know what living in Chiang Mai would be like; whether it was dangerous, too corrupt, or just plain boring and not his thing.
‘I figured I could leave that shophouse and everything in it if I had to; if anything went wrong,’ he said.
In central Chiang Mai two bedroom apartments, like in this complex, are being offered for less than US$100,000
It was only after he was sure that he wanted to stay in Chiang Mai, and understood the legal and property ownership structures, that he decided to buy himself an apartment. And only after that did he start to invest in property.
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All photos courtesy of Hunter Sotheby's International Realty