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Your guide to buying a
house in Thailand

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Thinking of retiring in Thailand?

A life without dark, cold, wet European winters? Tempting, isn’t it? If this is how you feel, you’re not alone. A growing number of European people are opting to retire in places where there’s guaranteed sunshine, great food and an easy lifestyle.

According to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index, Thailand is in the top-10 retirement countries. People are drawn by the beautiful surroundings, culture and history. Other draws include the low cost of living, access to top-quality healthcare and ease of access.

But, tempting as it may all sound, how do you get started? In this guide, we answer the questions you might have and much more besides about making the move to Thailand.

Part I: Getting started in Thailand

This part of this guide helps you understand how to approach the process of getting yourself established in Thailand – how to buy property and how to apply for a visa.

Where do expats choose to live in Thailand?

Thailand is, of course, a big country with a population of just under 70 million. In recent years, it’s also attracted many Swiss looking for the perfect place to retire to. So where do they choose to go?


Thailand’s boisterous capital has all the diversity and choices of any large, international city with the added bonus of top restaurants, temples, art, shopping and more.

Chaing Mai

In the centre of northern Thailand, this beautiful city attracts expat retirees who love the great outdoors – biking, hiking, white-water rafting and more. It’s also famous for its Buddhist temples.


This famous island resort is known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife.

Hua Hin

A seaside resort popular with the Thai elite, its pristine beaches, beautiful scenery and small-town vibe attract many retirees from Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the US.

Buying a home in Thailand – all you need to know

There is no shortage of beautiful properties for sale in Thailand – from villas, condominiums to luxury apartments, but there are some important legal considerations you must understand before you fall in love with one of them.

There are some strict laws in Thailand governing the ownership of property by foreigners. Here’s an outline, but you will need the help of a lawyer to navigate this fully.

Can I buy a house in Thailand?

  • You can buy a house, but you cannot own the land it stands on
  • You need to lease the land from a Thai landowner
  • Each house is sold with a 30-year extendable lease
  • There are some local limits on foreign property ownership

Can I buy a condominium or apartment?

  • Ex-pats are permitted to buy and own these outright
  • A majority of the properties within a given building or complex must be Thai-owned

How much does property cost in Thailand?

This is hard to say because it depends on the type of property and where it’s located. What is clear is that prices in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai are significantly higher than in Hua Hin – where it’s still possible to buy a stunning villa for as little as €300,000. Why not get a better idea of prices by checking out our property listings?

What are the possible legal pitfalls?

The real estate sector in Thailand isn’t regulated in the same way as it is in European countries. This means you need to be absolutely sure that the property you’re buying is being sold to you legally. What’s more, obtaining deeds of ownership can be a complicated process.

Do I need a property agent?

Having someone by your side who has intimate knowledge of local laws and conditions and who speaks your language makes the whole process easier and quicker. There are many businesses offering these services, but it’s key to make sure you do your research to find the right expert. Do it right and you’ll feel the fees you pay are more than worth it in terms of avoiding costly mistakes.

How do I find a lawyer?

If you’ve teamed up with a property agent, it’s likely they will recommend a lawyer to you. Even if that’s the case, check their credentials and make sure they have a good reputation locally. This is because your lawyer will need to carry out the land registry checks to ensure your retirement home can be legally sold to you. He or she will also need to make sure there are no other restrictions on the property and that there are no pending plans for major building work or infrastructure development nearby which would affect the value of the property or its attractiveness to you.

Can I get a bank loan or mortgage in Thailand?

In most cases, you’ll need to buy your property outright and in fact, up until recently, it was impossible for ex-pats to obtain local mortgages. That has changed somewhat, and the market is gradually opening up. Mortgages can be obtained from Singapore-based UOB and the privately-owned MBK Group. You must check the terms carefully to see if they are favourable.  And always speak to an expert before committing.

There is an easier way

At alphaSet, we’ve teamed up with Manora. This family-run business is managed by a Swiss board of directors and it specialises in helping European retirees navigate the whole process, from finding exactly the right property, to taking care of all the legal aspects and completing the transaction. The Manora team in Hua Hin speaks English, German, French, Italian and – crucially – Thai. Find out more about our Hua Hin properties.

Getting a retiree visa in Thailand

If you’re planning to retire to Thailand, you must first obtain a visa. The Thai authorities have made this relatively straightforward and there is even a special classification for retirees – the Non-Immigrant O Visa.

What are the Thai retiree visa stipulations?

To obtain one of these visas, two of the following stipulations must apply to you:

• You must be at least 50 years old
• You must have proof that you can financially support yourself
• Your monthly income must be at least 65,000 baht (around CHF 2,000) or you must have at least 800,000 baht (around CHF 25,000) in a Thai bank account. (You will need to prove that this money has been in your account for at least two months prior to your visa application and that, once you have obtained your visa, that there is 400,000 baht in the account for at least three months.)

Do I need to meet any financial requirements?

Your income is likely to be from the pension you built up when working or from other passive sources of income. Make sure you set up a means of regularly transferring this income to your Thai bank account.

How can I get help with your visa application?

The process of applying for the Non-Immigrant O visa isn’t difficult, but you will need to make sure you have all the paperwork prepared properly – in Thai.

We recommend you get help with this from a registered visa agent. There are many of these to choose from in Thailand and not all of them are reputable, so it’s best to get a recommendation from someone you trust first. Our support team at Manora can also help with this, so you don’t have to worry.

Visa renewal and 90-day checks.

You will need to renew your visa annually, meeting the financial requirements each time. You will also need to report to an Immigration Office every 90 days. It’s now possible to do this online, once you’re registered, but if you do need to in person, it’s not too onerous. One top tip: dress smartly. This is a general point that applies to many situations in Thailand. It’s a mark of respect to others to be neatly dressed.

Your home country retirement provisions

Equally important to knowing what you need for retiring from Thailand authorities, you also need know how your country’s retirement provision system works. This includes if you can collect your retirement payments in another country through to paying taxes. If you are a Swiss national or from an EU or EFTA member state working in Switzerland you can find out everything you need to know about retiring abroad here.

Part Two: Living in Thailand

In this section, we give you a taster of what it’s like to actually live in Thailand. We’ve used Hua Hin as a guide.

Cost of living

It’s possible to live very comfortably on a relatively small income in Hua Hin. As a rule of thumb, a couple can get by – albeit somewhat frugally – on as little as CHF 1,500-2,000 per month, plus health insurance. This would typically include costs like food, drink, utilities, maintaining a small vehicle and eating out a few times a week.

If this level of frugality doesn’t appeal, a budget of CHF 5,000 per month would be enough for you to start feeling like you’re living in luxury. You might even be able to employ staff to take care of household chores.

Regardless of how you choose to live, one thing is for sure. You’ll save money by shopping where Thai people shop. This way, you’re much more likely to pay the “local” rates, rather than the extortionate “tourist” rates reserved for visitors to Thailand.

Another important factor is the cost of property – a beautiful villa in Hua Hin can be yours for as little as €300,000. Just imagine what that would buy you back home.


This is probably one of the reasons you’re interested in Thailand in the first place – it’s tropical climate. There are variations across Thailand, but in Hua Hin, temperatures don’t generally fall below 20°C or go above 35°C and it’s classified as a low-rainfall area. What you will experience, however, is high humidity. The hottest months are April, May and June, the coolest are December, January and February (the most pleasant time to be there).

Food shopping and dining out

If you like Thai food, you’re in for a treat. Not only is it cheap and readily available, it’s also fresh and locally produced. It’s also fun to go food shopping and in Hua Hin, there’s even a bustling night market. Supermarkets are also excellent and stock a range of Thai and international food and products. Just watch out, though – imported goods are heavily taxed, so tend to be very expensive. It’s best to stick to shopping and eating like the Thai.

As you might expect, eating out is an absolute treat. As well as being famous for its beautiful beaches, Hua Hin is also Thailand’s second biggest fishing port, so you can take your pick of wonderful dishes from a variety of different restaurants in town, or on the beach itself. More international flavours are available too, so if you’re into Japanese, Indian, French and Italian food, you won’t be disappointed.


If you’re worried about healthcare, you don’t need to. Thailand has an excellent healthcare system, but you will need insurance to access public system. If you’re over 70, you may need to check the details a bit more carefully as it starts to become a little more complicated.

There are private hospitals which are often geared to coordinate with foreign-based healthcare insurance. The San Paulo Hospital in Hua Hin offers outstanding care and facilities. If you’re a Manora Village resident, you’ll benefit from discounts and additional services. There’s also the private Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin and the public Hua Hin Hospital.

Dentistry is also very good in Thailand – indeed it’s known as a dental tourism destination thanks to the exceptional care and reasonable prices. There are many practices in Hua Hin, so – as you would do in your home country – ask for recommendations and check out websites before committing.

While the healthcare system is excellent, prevention is always better. The great advantage of living in Hua Hin is that you have easy access to sporting and other leisure activities to keep you fit and healthy.


Getting to all of these cultural sites and sporting facilities is easiest by car, but you do need to bear in mind that the roads can be dangerous, so make sure you’re extra-vigilant. And remember, Thais drive on the left, so the steering wheel is on the right, like in the UK. If you’re not used to this, don’t worry, you adapt very fast.

You can only drive, however, if you are in possession of Thai driving licence. A Swiss or German licence is not valid, but you can use your existing licence to obtain a Thai licence, if you have a Non-Immigrant Visa. You’ll need to go through a number of steps to do this, including getting your licence translated into Thai at your embassy. The good news is, you don’t need to take a driving test, but you will need to take a vision and reaction test. Once you have your licence, it’s valid for one year – but then is renewed thereafter every five years.

We don’t recommend you import your own car to Thailand – best to acquire one there. You’ll need to insure your car comprehensively.

Culture and sport

This is undoubtedly another reason why people love Thailand. There is so much history and culture, with many religious and historic festivals – celebrations full of colour, tradition and, of course, food. Hua Hin also has an interesting history in that it was the chosen vacation destination of Thai royalty, drawn to the place for the same reason that many people are today.

You should be aware that approximately 95% of population is Buddhist and that there is a high level of respect for the Royal Family, monks, public figures. Good to know, this also extends to older people. In fact, in a survey of expats, most reported they felt safer living in Thailand than in their home countries.

When it comes to sport, golf dominates. There are courses to suit everyone’s taste and experience. There are more than 20 courses within an hour’s drive of Hua Hin alone including the award winning 27-hole Black Mountain Golf Club and the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course.

Not into golf? Don’t worry there are also plenty of other sporting options, including tennis, yoga, hiking, swimming, scuba diving and sailing.

View our beautiful holiday homes in Hua Hin, Thailand

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