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Are you considering retiring in Thailand but not sure how to proceed when it comes to property matters in the Land of Smiles?

We have everything you need to know right here in this comprehensive guide

Let’s get it straight right from the start. You don’t need us to tell you how beautiful, exciting, economical, and relaxing it is to retire in Thailand. We reckon that you already know all the big pluses of living in Thailand as an expat retiree and that’s why you are reading this guide.

Finding a place that you can call your home in this South East Asian country is just as important as getting your retirement visa and it’s inevitably one of the first few important tasks you have to sort out when you want to enjoy your golden years in Thailand.

There are a number of options to consider and if you don’t feel confident in approaching this task by yourself you could use a concierge service to help you find a property but make sure to get plenty of references and check them out thoroughly before parting with your hard earned cash.

First of all, let’s look at the different options available for you in the land of smiles.

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What Options Do You Have for Property and Real Estate?

First, you have to ask yourself whether you want to rent or buy a property in Thailand to facilitate your retirement living here. Let’s look at these two options:

Property Rental

This is the easiest way to find your abode in Thailand as an expat. You can rent any type of property ranging from condos to townhouses to pool villas and anything in between. It’s easy to find rental properties in all major Thai cities and even the lesser known cities up North will have rental listings you can look at.

Property Purchase

Buying a property in Thailand can be a complex journey, and it’s always best tackled if you have legal advice or the help of an experienced real estate company. If you have done a little bit of research, you will realise that there is an abundance of property sale listings in most Thai cities which you can find online. It’s also really hard to miss those giant billboards advertising real estate placed along crowded streets.

Because there are so many different things you have to look out for when it comes to property rental or property buying as an expat retiree, we will tackle each option in more details and drop some tips along the way for you to make a savvy move in the real estate market. But next, let us look at the locations you can choose to live in Thailand.

Choosing Where to Stay in Thailand

Now, this may not seem as easy as you think because Thailand has such an eclectic mix of cities that any expat retiree will feel spoilt for choice. What might be one man’s meat is another man’s poison so there is no one ultimate right choice, so to speak. But we’ll make it easy for you and list some popular cities by categories:

For Retirees Who Embrace City Living & Support from a Huge Expat Community

  • Bangkok
  • Khon Kaen
  • Chiang Mai

For Retirees Who Love Beach Towns & being around Fellow Expats & Foreign Tourists

  • Pattaya
  • Hua Hin
  • Phuket

For Those Who Seek Tranquillity Living & Lots of Green Spaces

  • Chiang Rai
  • Udon Thani
  • Korat

How to Rent a Property as an Expat Retiree

After you have decided on the location in Thailand that you want to settle in, the next step you have to do is to search for your ideal rental property either online or through the help of a brick-and-mortar real estate company.

You can go as cheap as renting a 3000 THB apartment in the suburbs or as expensive as renting a 100,000 THB landed house in the heart of the capital. One thing is usually constant though, and that is the landlord will make you sign a time contract which might be at least 3 months and as long as 2 years. This usually does not pose a problem since you are looking to retire in Thailand, so you will not be hopping from property to property.

Tip to note
“If the rental period is more than three years, the rental agreement has to be registered at the Thai Land Department in whichever province the property is situated in. ”

Most rental properties will also require a 2-month deposit in addition to the first month’s rent. That means if you want to rent a 15,000 THB condo unit, the first payment you have to make is 15,000 x 3 = 45,000 THB. The 2-month deposit will be returned to you when your rental lease is completed or not renewed. Make sure all these terms and conditions are stated clearly in your rental contract.

Tip to note:
“For most rental properties, partial or complete furnishings will be provided in the property, which means all you have to do is move in with your luggage.”

You also have to know that in arguably all types of property rentals, you as the tenant are liable for the water and electricity bills. Water bills are relatively cheap and you will probably pay between a range of 100 to 400 THB, depending on your usage. Electricity bills are considered cheap if you compare to foreign country standards and can vary between 500 to 5000 THB.
It’s important to point out that if you are interested in a rental property, always make it a point to visit the property in person so that you can be sure of the current state of the property and the amenities available.

How to Buy Property as an Expat Retiree

Now, this is the tricky part but just to make things easy for you to understand, here’s a list of options you can consider and some accompanying notes:

Buying Condominium Units
You can buy a condo under your name if the condo development features less than 49% of expat owners. This condo will be fully owned by you. When buying condos, you have to make a small initial deposit (eg. 10,000 THB) as a “booking” fee, and at times a bigger deposit (eg. 100,000 THB) to seal the deal.

It’s very difficult to get a property loan for expats in Thailand so most likely, you have to pay it in cash. The problem is that you cannot pay directly from your bank in your native country. Instead, you have to set up a Thai bank account (favourites are Kasikorn Bank and Siam Commercial Bank) and arrange a telegraphic transfer from your home country’s bank to your Thai bank account.

It’s important to remit the currency in the foreign currency proprietary to your native country as well as state that the remittance is for purchasing property. Your funds should arrive around 2 working days and you also need to ask for a Tor Tor Sam (Foreign Exchange Transaction Form) from your Thai bank so that you can register for your condo title successfully at the land office. This will also act as a backup proof that your money was remitted in so in case you want to end your retirement in Thailand later on, you can sell the condo and move your money tax-free out of Thailand.

Tip to note:
There are other taxes for the property purchase which you need to pay such as stamp duty fees (0.5% of property sale price) or the transfer fees (2% of property sale price), so always make it a point to check with your real estate agent or the condo owner.

Buying Land and Houses
A simple rule you need to know is that foreigners are not allowed to own freehold land and houses under their name. That means if you are looking to buy land to build a house or simply buy a landed property, you have to consider other alternatives such as:

  • You can invest 40 million THB in Thailand and own up to 1 rai of land
  • You can put the property or land under a local Thai person’s name such as your spouse or friend
  • You can acquire a 30-year lease if you want to buy land and build a house on it, and can get a construction permit under your name

Tip to note:
As you can see, it takes a lot of money to be able to own a landed property in Thailand and most of the alternatives feature high risks because you have to go through a Thai entity to assume ownership. Out of these alternatives only the 30 year lease is considered to be the safest purchase approach.

Because buying a landed property requires a lot of tact, capital as well as reliance on trustworthy legal advisors or real estate companies, it is not recommended for expat retirees unless you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

In fact, do you know that most of those who are on retirement visas in Thailand either rent their property or buy a condo unit to facilitate their retirement lifestyles here?

You can easily understand why because both these options are much more accessible to expat retirees. But one thing is certain, for all expat retirees who have called Thailand their new home, the allure of retirement living in Thailand certainly lives up to its promises!