$240/mo. Thai House
$240/mo., 3 Bedroom Thai House

Finding accommodation in Thailand, especially accommodation in Chiang Mai, is the least of your problems. For example: that’s my place in the picture on the right. It’s brand new, has 24-hour security, and it’s on a quiet, wooded, hillside street near the university. I pay $240/month for it, fully furnished with a large, bright bathroom, air-conditioning, a bedroom, study, kitchen, living room and unlimited cable Internet. You may not be able to tell from the picture but, like most contemporary Thai buildings, it’s built of reinforced concrete and so is cool and quiet year-round.

The security guys, who operate out of the gatehouse you see on the left, handle all kinds of tasks, including ordering take-out food for me when it’s raining.

I could buy a condo like it for $100,000 but why would I tie up that capital when I can rent for so little? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense financially so I’d need a compelling motive to buy. Condo shopping/hunting is one of the most popular activities at our workshops. We look at  promising locations, styles, ages, and prices. And in case you’re worried, we can show you apartments starting at $80/month. If you want to dig into the whole Thailand accommodation thing, download our special report, cleverly titled Accommodation in Thailand.

Accommodation in Thailand is cheap and of high quality. But unless you have a strong personal reason for owning property in Thailand I suggest that you wait 12 months before buying anything. As Nancy and Roger’s video (below) points out, high quality rentals are cheap, plentiful, and often new construction. There are two reasons why new rentals are abundant right now.

  1. Many of Thailand’s elite are making money in its booming economy and prefer to park their money in property.
  2. Thais, like most Asians, do not like accommodation that has been previously lived in. Too many ghosts or spirits (phi) from the former occupants. That can make selling your condo difficult. Who wants to deal with a farang ghost? You never know what farangs will do…

And you cannot own land in Thailand unless you are a Thai national. So that rules out buying a house. You could put it in a Thai person’s name, but that is precisely the same as giving it away and then hoping that the recipient will give it back. People make this mistake frequently here and it continues to baffle me. Perhaps they are hypnotized by the low prices.

Following the great crash of 2008, buying real estate seems to have gone from being a Get Rich Quick scheme to a fast way of losing your shirt. The real estate markets across the US and most of Europe are in the doldrums and there are few signs of prices recovering any time soon. So buying real estate anywhere in the world right now must be a bad idea, right? Wrong.

You just need to choose the right places in the world to invest – places which were little affected by the recession because they were less reliant upon buying using credit. The three largest countries unaffected by the recession are China, India and Russia. Add Australia into the mix – another country which also survived the recession relatively unscathed – and you see that there is one region right in the centre of the recession-free hotspots – and that’s South East Asia.

Prices of accommodation in Thailand have risen by 20% over the past year as the Thai economy continues to grow and banks offer affordable mortgages to the fast-emerging Thai middle class, making new apartments affordable to a wider market than ever before. Interest from foreign buyers is also on the increase in many of the resort cities, with Russians already being particularly active in the market while Chinese and Indian buyers are just starting to tip their toes into the water.

So, although prices have been increasing rapidly, there is still plenty of growth left which will be fuelled by those cash-rich nations located a short plane-ride away from Thailand. The time to buy though is right now – a couple of years down the line and prices in the most popular areas such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket won’t be the bargains that they are today (although there should still be affordable homes in those parts of Thailand away from the major expat hotspots of today).

Buying real estate always come with an element of risk attached and these risks are higher when investing in a foreign country which is not as transparent as in the US or Europe. One area that needs to be considered when considering purchasing real estate in Thailand is the type of property to be purchased.

Foreigners are not allowed to own land in their own names so, if you were interested in purchasing accommodation in Thailand, then the only way to do so would be by forming a Thai company of which you could own 49%, with the remaining 51% being owned by nominee shareholders. Buying condominiums is a lot simpler as it is possible for foreigners to buy up to 49% of the total sellable area of a designated condominium project in their own names. As a result, it is mainly condominium sales that are fuelling the growth in the Thai real estate market currently.

To ensure that you buy the right type of real estate that meets all your Thailand accommodation requirements at the right price and – most importantly – one where you end up being the legal owner at the end of the process, you need to ensure that you have experts working on your behalf. This team should contain an experienced realtor who knows the market well and also a fully qualified lawyer who works exclusively for you and not the seller.

Once again, if you want to dig into the whole Thailand accommodation thing, download our special report, Accommodation in ThailandIf you’ll only be here a few days, here are the three hotels I recommend to all our visitors. Each is the value leader in its price category. Just remember that Chiang Mai hosts literally millions of tourists each year, and prices vary widely according to the season.

Take a look at our favorite, the Bodhi Serene. It’s the best balance of luxury, cost, facilities, staff, location, and price in Chiang Mai – which is why we always recommend it. Rooms start around $70 in the low season. They’re all good.

Next in the value list is The Empress Hotel, starting around $45, low season.

The value leader, WangBurupa Grand Hotel, is inside the Old City Walls. Rooms start around $30 and they’re all clean and pleasant.

And here’s a video that gives you an idea of the standard of accommodation in Thailand:

Reading on Accommodation in Chiang Mai:

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