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Living in Thailand

The following article on living in Thailand covers a bit of history and details about the country. It also has the basics you'll need to know about visas. Finally, it has some good suggestions and information about where to live and whether to rent or buy.

Renting or Buying a House in Thailand

By Tanya Whitehead - 2012

Who would not want to go and live in Thailand? Exotic, tropical beaches, fantastic weather, friendly people, delicious food, and very very cheap.

Thailand is one of the few South East Asian countries that has never been colonized. The Thai Monarch, is the longest reigning monarch apart from Queen Elizabeth 2 of England. And the people love him. It is a Buddhist country, which can be seen by all the temples and giant gold Buddha’s that dot the countryside wherever you go.

Laws and visas

There is no law to say that you cannot live in Thailand and there are a lot of expats living there. They do have quite strict visa regulations and it all depends on where you arrive from and by which mode of transport. The best option is to apply for a 2 month visa from an embassy outside of Thailand, which can then be extended for a further 30 days. While you are there, ask them for further details. And as soon as you arrive in Thailand, you can get local knowledge about visa runs, work permits, and so on.

Thai laws state that any foreigner can own a building or house, but you cannot own the land. You own 100% of a 30 year lease on the land, which can possibly renewed for another 30 years. When you sell, they will have to pay you for the improvement you have made to the land, ie, the house.

Types of Accommodation

People usually rent a house which is free standing, or live in an apartment. It all depends on where they have chosen to live, and what is available.

Another option is to make a deal with a lodge or resort for a long stay. This is done often, as it helps the people through the monsoon season. I know a lady who lived for 2 years at a lodge in Phuket, with her child. We stayed there for 5 weeks, and it is a wonderful set up.

Where to Live and Costs

Expats are dotted through-out the country, however, there are a few places that there are more people than others. It also depends on what type of person you are. Cultural, beach, party hound. If you are more into the cultural aspect of Thailand, then most people live in Chiang Mai, up North. There are many smaller towns around there where you will find people living too, and many of them have married Thai people.

Chiang Mai is a vibrant little city, where the old part of the city is inside a moat. Full of small cobbled lanes where you will catch people on the way to the fresh markets with their baskets early in the morning, as they take part in a cooking class. Bookshops, many fresh markets, restaurants galore and temples. Surrounded by jungles, waterfalls, lakes. Most expats live outside the city in some of the many gated communities. These have stand alone double story houses that sit within large garden grounds that have swimming pools, tennis courts, club house, etc. You can buy one of these for around $205,000 which will have 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms. There are also apartments to rent and buy.

If you prefer the beach lifestyle, then there are areas like Phuket, Krabi, Songkhla, Pattaya, Koh Samui and the list is endless. Each place is different and the further South you go, the more of a Muslim influence there is.

I will focus on Phuket. Here you can rent a 2 bedroom Thai style house, on the beach or interior for an average price of Baht8000 ($260) – Baht18000 ($560) a month. These are usually minimally furnished, especially the kitchens, and some have a shared pool. The arrangement is usually cash, with the first 3 months rent up front. Air conditioning can add an extra Baht2000 ($65) a month, and if you want internet, this will be Baht500 ($17) a month.

Party places are usually Phuket to a certain extent, then Pattaya, Koh Samui. These places are slightly cheaper than Phuket.


The local Expat Newspapers and online sites are usually the best place to look, as well as by word of mouth, as soon as you get to know people.


Living in Thailand is one of the possibilities for expats. Here are some pages that cover a few of the other options:

Living in Malaysia

Living in New Zealand

Rentals in Israel

Amsterdam Real Estate

International Real Estate - This is where all the pages on foreign homes and real estate are indexed.

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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Living in Thailand