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Russians Spending Over $500K for Off-Plan Condos in Phuket

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Russians Spending Over $500K for Off-Plan Condos in Phuket

Thousands of Russians have traveled to Thailand in the year since the invasion, many seeking to avoid being conscripted or the economic ravages of the war with Ukraine.

Some Russian families are spending up to half a million dollars or more on off-plan condos in Phuket, a popular resort island, to facilitate their relocation or to provide a home for their future time when their forced to flee Russia.

According to data from Phuket International Airport, more than 233,000 Russian tourists arrived in Phuket between November 1, 2022, and January 21, 2023, making them the largest group of visitors.

Phuket has long been a popular winter escape for Russians, but property sales have increased since President Vladimir Putin ordered Moscow’s first wartime mobilization since World War II in September, indicating that many visitors intend to stay much longer than a typical vacation.

“Most of my clients are 30-35 years old… “They’re wealthy, high-budget clients,” Sofia Malygaevareal, a Russian-born real estate agent in Phuket, told Al Jazeera.

“Many people have decided to stay in Phuket for three to six months… or even a year.”


Russians need homes, schools, jobs, and visas to stay on the idyllic island, which takes time in Thailand, where obtaining long-term visas can be challenging. Money is not an issue for many newcomers determined to leave a war-torn home for a life in the Thai sun.

Real Estate companies in Phuket’s Russian-dominated areas say the influx of wealthy visitors, fueled by the war in Ukraine has driven rental prices to all-time highs.

Luxury condos that used to rent for around $1,000 per month can now fetch three times that amount. Meanwhile, lavish villas selling for $6,000 or more are booked up to a year in advance.

The buyer’s market is similarly brisk. Russians owned nearly 40% of all condominiums sold to foreigners in Phuket in 2022. (REIC). According to the REIC, Russian purchases totaled US$25 million in condominiums, more than three times the amount spent by Chinese, Phuket’s next largest group of buyers.

According to local real estate agents in Phuket, some buyers have spent up to $500,000 on luxury off-plan homes by the sea.

According to Immigration, some Russians have arrived in Phuket on one-way tickets and tourist visas, they’re here to avoid conscription in Russia.

The large influx of Russians is also visible in other popular tourist destinations such as Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island, and the eastern seaboard resort of Pattaya, where a sizable Russian community has long been concentrated in the beach town of Jomtien.

russians thailand

Russians getting visas for long-stay in Thailand, however, are not as easy to obtain as they once were, following a major scandal involving Thai immigration officers assisting the Chinese mafia in bringing thousands of people into Thailand through bogus work and volunteer schemes.

Russians who can afford it must apply for expensive property ownership visas known as the “Elite Card,” which allows a family to stay in the country for a year for around $25,000.

Meanwhile, some people are angry about the influx of Russian and Russian money into Thailand.

In Phuket, which was particularly hard hit by the global tourism collapse caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, some local tourism businesses have expressed concern about Russians allegedly taking local jobs.

Tourism operators have complained about Russian drivers transporting their compatriots around the island and guiding tour groups through Phuket’s historic Old Town without the necessary permits or visas.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, expressed concern about Russians threatening local jobs earlier this month.


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