Thailand has long been a popular vacation destination, but the last few years has seen a significant increase in the number of foreigners choosing Thailand as a place to live, work, or retire.
For foreigners seeking warmer climes and who prefer shorts and flip flops to thermal underwear, long sunny days compared to short dark depressing ones, and who have the flexibility or the financial means to live somewhere else, Thailand certainly ticks many of the boxes.
Whether there is a preference for the cooler mountains of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, the hustle and bustle of vibrant Bangkok, or the crystal clear waters of Phuket, there is an ideal location for everyone seeking a new life adventure in “Amazing Thailand!!”
Foreigners of all walks have always been attracted to the “Land of Smiles”, all the way back from the times of Jim Thompson to the present day. The wonderful people, amazing wildlife, superb culinary delights, low cost of living, and the stunning scenery are all magnets for those seeking a better quality of life.
Even before the pandemic, Thailand had a vibrant retiree market, but global lockdowns have since made many foreigners reassess their priorities. Now even more expatriates working in neighboring countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia have made lifestyle changes, which includes living in their favorite Thai destination and traveling regularly to their work place.
In many cases, multinational employers have even created more flexibility for their employees to work more extensively from home, rather than being permanently office based.
This has all led to an extremely buoyant Thailand real estate market, one which continues to mature and expand. It is now far beyond a run of the mill tourist destination, and is continuing to attract more foreign residents, rather than those just seeking a holiday home or an investment property.
As the market has developed, it is now becoming a primary residential location for foreigners coming from all over the world. As this influx of foreign residents keeps expanding unabated, it continues to buoy the property markets around the country, and this is especially so in the main tourist areas.
For example, Phuket, which sees nearly one third of all visitors to the country, has seen incredible growth in the real estate sector over the last 10 years, even more so, since the pandemic.
Also known as the “Jewel of the Andaman Sea”, Phuket is famous for its 32 sun drenched beaches. Those foreigners first visiting the island as spellbound tourists, can see first hand all the foreigners currently living in paradise, and they want their own little slice of it too!!
The Phuket Property Market has continued to boom and is attracting both investors riding the tourism wave or those families seeking a home in paradise. The amazing choice and the number of Phuket properties looks incredible. Just one look at the extensive selection of properties on the market is an excellent indicator of how Phuket, like many parts of Thailand, has been maturing.
A noticeable factor driving Phuket’s residential property market are the significant upgrades in the island’s infrastructure, from new underpasses to alleviate traffic congestion, new shopping centres and the huge choice of international schools.
Koh Samui too, although much smaller than Phuket, is seeing a forever growing real estate market, with some amazing sea view villas and condominiums. There also appears to be an ever increasing amount of new projects launching in the lesser known tropical islands in Southern Thailand too.
Other factors helping to attract foreign residents include high quality medical services, with internationally accredited hospitals offering excellent care, as well as a multitude of dental practices. The high standard of medical care is quite often an important motive for retirees, as well as for families with children.
The international school market also seems to be thriving, becoming a discernable trend seen throughout the Kingdom, with new internationals schools opening around the country. Families with children now have a choice of schools in pretty much every area of Thailand.
Incredibly, Bangkok now has over 90 internationals schools and Phuket, a relatively small island, has 14, with more campuses and schools opening all the time. Koh Samui now has 5 international schools and even Koh Pha-Ngan, just 57 square miles, with no airport, has its very own international school.
Living and Working in Paradise
It is worth noting that a life in paradise could never become a reality without the extremely accommodating Thai authorities. This is perhaps one of the major factors propelling the influx of foreign residents to Thailand. The number of different visa options available for those seeking a home or a new life in the sun is quite remarkable.
The term “digital nomad” has now been popularized, which has led to a huge influx of IT professionals making Thailand their home, whilst still servicing their clients from around the world. These digital nomads have been flocking to the country, especially since the pandemic, and the number of new arrivals does not seem to be easing off.
Although many countries offer tourists a 30 day visa exemption, those wishing to stay in the Kingdom for longer periods have many choices for longer term visas.
Retirees, which in Thailand relates to anyone over 50 years old, allows for a one year or a five year visa. For non-retirees, many foreigners choosing to work from Thailand opt for a standard work permit, which can be acquired through their own Thai company if they open a business. This can all be arranged through experienced lawyers or accountants.
The Thai Elite Visa continues to offer foreigners a choice of 5, 10 or even 20 year privileged visa options, providing a range of perks to holders as well as expedited processing through immigration.
The prices, however, may not appeal to everyone as they can go as high as THB 5 Million THB. We have also recently seen the introduction of the Thailand Smart Visa, the aim of which is attract entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers to Thailand, however, this scheme targets only selective industries in the country.
And even for parents with children attending an international school, they may apply for an Education Visa. In many cases, the school they have chosen for their children can assist the parents in becoming a dependent of their child.
If the above parameters continue to work in favor of Thailand, then hopefully it will continue to attract foreigners at the same levels, or even better, than it is now. If this trend persists, then we should expect the real estate sector to be a major beneficiary too!