It’s important that you become familiar with Thailand’s property laws if you want to buy there. If you want to avoid potential pitfalls, your safest bet when buying a property in Thailand is to buy a condominium unit.

Under Thai Law, foreigners may own:

  • A condominium unit.
  • A building (as distinct from its land).
  • A registered leasehold of up to 30 years for titled land and/or building.

Long-term leases of land are the most common way to purchase a house and land in Thailand for foreigners today.  As long as it is registered at the Land Office, the current law permits a 30-year lease with a prepaid option to renew for a further two periods of 30 years each and lots of people have successfully done that. With a reputable real-estate agent and experienced attorney, you should be able to find your small piece of tropical paradise.

Many expats prefer long-term rentals. There is a wide variety of houses and condos available throughout the country for at a fraction of the monthly rental cost you would pay in the U.S. Most condominiums come with fitness centers, pools, and 24-7 security. Monthly condo fees are usually included in the rental price but be sure to verify this with the owner or realtor.

Chiang Mai

Dubbed “the Rose of the North,” Chiang Mai is one of the country’s most culturally rewarding regions. It’s brimming with golden temples, teakwood houses, dragon sculptures, and intriguing alleyways…this truly is traditional Thailand.  Beyond the city, Chiang Mai province is a mosaic of white-water-rafting rivers, jungle blanketed mountains, and hill-tribe villages.

With artisan traditions going back centuries, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s arts and crafts center. Its major drawing cards are its hand-loomed fabrics, teak furniture, silversmithing and metalwork, woodcarving, lacquer ware, papermaking, and ceramics. It’s also good for hunting down both genuine and replica antiques.

It also has a fantastic choice of restaurants. Along with the hundreds of local Thai eateries you will find a host of other world cuisines somewhere in the city.

The wonderful open-air design of many of these restaurants is what visitors love the most. A wide assortment of sidewalk cafes can be found along most of the city’s colorful streets.

Whether you live inside the old, central walled city, along the banks of the Ping River or in one of the modern condos in the trendy Nimmanhaeman district, you will be soon discover why so many expats have chosen Chiang Mai as their second home.

Property samples in Chiang Mai

  • City center – Fully furnished, 678-square-foot, one-bedroom condo with one bathroom and pool in Riverside Condo. The condo is arranged with a large living room, western style kitchen including fridge, hotplate, oven, hood and microwave, large bedroom with dressing area and en-suite bathroom. The Riverside Condominium includes 24 hours security and swimming pool. Price:  $60,000
  • Close to city – New modern, two-story house, for sale. No common fee. Convenient location only 5 minute to the city near Big C  and Chiang Mai Airport. Three bedrooms, Three bathrooms, 1,900 square feet.  Price: $80,000
  • Fully furnished, two-bedroom condo with one bathroom and pool in Sky Breeze Condo. This 1,076-square-foot condo unit is located near the center of the city. Monthly rent: $444

Bangkok

Known to local people as Krung Thep (the “City of Angels”), Bangkok is a huge sprawl of over 10 million inhabitants. With one foot in the past and the other firmly in the present, this vast metropolis is Thailand’s capital. As you’d expect, Bangkok is home to government ministries, the police and military headquarters, and also the most prestigious universities, schools, and medical facilities.

It’s impossible to sum up what Bangkok is about. In truth, the city can be whatever you want it to be. On the one hand, it’s a metropolis of steel-and-glass skyscraper office blocks, fabulous hotels, and modern, multi-storied malls. On the other, it’s a city of choking traffic, noisy bars, and sleazy, rent-by-the-hour rooms.

But not every visitor comes here to indulge in the twin vices of sex and shopping. Bangkok is also a city of oriental splendor—a royal city complete with over 400 Buddhist temples, countless spirit houses, floating markets, weathered Chinese shop houses, and the awesome Grand Palace of soaring roofs and gilded spires. Take your pick!

Property samples in Bangkok

  • Sukhumvit – Modern, one-bedroom condominium. This 540-square-foot, fully furnished unit provides excellent amenities including a swimming pool and fitness room. Price: $101,000
  • Sukhumvit – Two-bedroom. fully-furnished condominium. The 840-square-foot unit includes a fitness center, sauna, swimming pool, kid’s pool, minimart, and laundry service. Price: $132, 000
  • Silom/Sathon – A two-bedroom, 1,240-square-foot condominium located in a prime luxury residential area in the center of Bangkok. This is a low-rise Bangkok condominium located on Yenakart Road. Each unit is carefully designed to be more spacious for the relaxation and comfort of the residents. Facilities include swimming pool, exercise room, 24-hour security guards, electronic key card and CCTV.  Monthly rent: $1,250

Hua Hin

With a five-mile-long sandy beach lined with restaurants and shops, Hua Hin is a seaside city of around 50,000 people on the upper-western side of the Gulf of Thailand.

Many expats prefer to settle in the smaller communities and rural countryside to the north and south of the main town center.

Unlike Pattaya, the more famous Gulf of Thailand resort, Hua Hin provides a quieter, more relaxed environment where the nightlife and other forms of entertainment are rather more genteel.

For much of its history, Hua Hin traditionally focused on domestic tourism rather than the international trade. But that’s changing fast. Proximity to Bangkok…new, international-standard hotels…restaurants built on stilts in the sea that now cater to foreign, as well as Thai tastes. Hua Hin is becoming more high profile.

Property samples in Hua Hin

  • Four miles south from city center – Attractive two-bedroom villa in private road with similar houses around ten minutes drive south of town center. Quiet respectable area. Primary school within walking distance.The house has a spacious living room and open-plan kitchen with breakfast bar. Main bedroom has good sized modern bathroom with shower and glass sink. Second bedroom also large with double bed. Guest bathroom (also with shower) off living room. Pretty garden and private driveway. The house is in a quiet area and has good privacy. Price: $86,000
  • 23 miles south of city center – Two-bedroom, very attractive Thai style villa set below the mountains. Mountain Breeze is situated in a private road with magnificent views of the more than 2,000-foot-high mountain peaks of Sam Roi Yot.  Just a half mile from the white Dolphin Bay beach with outdoor life at your doorstep and golf only three miles away.This house is a charming Thai style villa. Its open and airy planning gives full right to the magnificent scenery. Large panorama windows leading to the extensive pergola covered veranda with beautiful scenery of the green mountains of Sam Roi Yot. Built with energy saving features and to a very high build standard.  Price: $100,000

Koh Samui

Although only 13 miles wide and over 15 miles long, Koh Samui is the country’s second largest island after Phuket. It lies off the eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, around 400 miles south of Bangkok.

Around a million tourists visit Koh Samui every year. Hard to imagine now, but in the 1970s it was little more than a backpacker’s hangout. Think wooden huts, hammocks, and bucket-drop showers. Since then, its development into a fully-fledged tourist destination with luxury hotels, spas, and boutiques has been rapid. And real estate prices are catching up fast.

Although most properties are sold as vacation homes or investments for rental returns, Samui fits most requirements for long-term residence. There are several hospitals including the renowned Bangkok Hospital Samui and the Samui International Hospital. The Central Festival Samui Mall describes itself as ‘the most complete and largest lifestyle shopping complex in Samui’.

Property samples on Koh Samui

  • A 65- square-foot, one-bedroom condo with seaview. Located in a resort with exceptional amenities and privileged access to Bang Rak Beach just across the road.  Large, free-form pool, fitness center, bar/restaurant, free shuttle service, laundry and dry cleaning service, yoga classes. Price: $163,000
  • A 1,300 square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in a quiet residence. Nicely decorated, there is a luminous open plan-living room with a terrace facing the large pool and the garden. The ground floor is combined with a mezzanine where is the kitchen fully equipped. On the second floor, there are two bedrooms with bathroom en-suites. The master bedroom faces the pool and has a private balcony. There is a private covered parking with a direct access to the apartment. The residence offers two large pool, gym and security. Price: $187,000
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