Thailand has everything you want from a holiday paradise – golden sandy beaches, year-round warmth, exotic cuisine and culture, friendly people and a low cost of living. It’s also easy to get to from anywhere in the world and has close and friendly ties with the West.
Thailand was part of the “hippy trail” from the 1960s and a backpacker standby since the ‘80s. Don’t think it will be in any way grungy though; these days it has a superb tourist infrastructure and the kind of luxury villas we used to associate with sparkling colonial favourites like Singapore.
Thailand is an 11-hour flight from the UK, but being a similar distance from Australia and New Zealand too it’s a fascinating meeting place for the world’s tourists and adventurers, helping to attract globetrotters like David Beckham, Kimi Raikkonen and Damien Hirst. You don’t need a fortune to buy here, however, apartments in tourist areas of Thailand start at around TBH2million (£40,000 as of February 2016).
Thailand has the same population as the UK but in an area twice the size. The mainland sits in the IndoChinese peninsula between Laos, Cambodia and Burma. There are property buying locations here, notably Bangkok itself at the mouth of the Mekong River and the beach resort of Pattaya nearby, but also Chiang Mai further north near the border with Burma. Already a tourist hotspot, the north is likely to be boosted by Burma’s turn to democracy in 2016.
Most foreign property buyers head for the south though, to the Isthmus of Kra that curls around the Bay of Thailand and includes the island of Koh Samui. On the western side is the Andaman Sea, including the island of Phuket, where the celebs tend to buy their villas.
The British are the biggest buyers, though there are Australians too, and Scandinavians looking for an escape from those dark winters. You certainly know where you are with the weather in Thailand. In Phuket you have daily maximums of around 31-33ºC all year and it rarely dips below 20ºC. The rain, however, virtually non-existent from November to February falls as monsoons both in May and in September/October.
In Thailand foreigners cannot buy freehold property except through a company. Most buy a 30 year lease which is automatically renewable two more times, making 90 years. Like in any purchase, ensuring you have a specialist and independent property lawyer will iron out any problems or worries.