For many expats and foreigners who have lived in an apartment in Thailand for a year or two, the next logical step is to rent or buy a house. While living in a house is nice, in Thailand it is not always the best thing to do, however, and there are five negative reasons why.
Flooding – The first thing on many house renters and homeowners minds in Thailand nowadays is flooding. Not only has almost one third of Bangkok just spent a month under meters of flood water, much of Thailand has flooded too and, in many areas of the country, floods like this happen every year.
If you are living in an apartment like I am, even if your neighborhood floods, your apartment isn’t likely to be affected.
That means, while most people living in houses in flooded areas of Bangkok had to live on the second floor as flood waters were halfway up their living room walls, or had to evacuate completely when water hit the first floor ceiling, people living in apartments stayed water-free and completely comfortable.
That is why, if there is even a small chance a house may flood, then renting or buying a house in Thailand may not be for you.
Snakes – Snakes are everywhere in Thailand, even in built up cities like Bangkok, and although they are not likely to ever get into an apartment, particularly on a higher floor, they do often get into Thai houses.
Several of my friends own or rent houses in Bangkok and all of them have had snakes either in the yard or in the house.
One friend joked with her boyfriend that a “rubber snake” wasn’t going to scare her, then leapt up onto the kitchen counter when it slowly slid across the kitchen floor. Another friend’s dog ended up with a bad bite when a snake entered its territory in downtown Bangkok.
Many of Thailand’s more than 200 snake species are poisonous too, and a fair number are deadly. So, if you hate snakes like I do, living in an apartment could be preferable to renting or owning a house.
Nothing is Taken Care of – In most apartments in Thailand, there is an on-site manager and usually an on-site maintenance man too. What that means is, if anything goes wrong in your apartment, they will deal with it quickly, and often have problems fixed in a matter of hours.
If you rent or own a house in Thailand however, you are usually the one responsible for finding a maintenance or repair man. And, if you don’t speak fluent Thai, that can be a huge problem. You sre either left scrabbling to get the work done, or relying on your Thai girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife, to do everything for you. And that is not always fun.
Thai Houses Not Maintained Well – Many houses in Thailand, particularly the townhouse or ‘mooban’ type, are not well maintained. When you rent or buy one, all those problems that should have been taken care of years ago suddenly become your responsibility.
Apartments in Thailand, in most cases, are better maintained than houses. This is simply because labor is cheap, renters leave so they have to be maintained in order to get new ones, and most buildings have a maintenance man on site. You will rarely have to worry about bad maintenance in an apartment in Thailand and, if it does exist, it is really not your problem. Unless you own it, that is.
Foreigners Cannot Own Houses in Thailand – In most cases, not all, foreigners are not allowed to own houses in Thailand as we are not allowed to own land. So, if you buy a house in Thailand, in many instances, your house must be in your Thai spouse’s name, or that of a close Thai friend.
In other words, you must find someone you absolutely trust with your money. Especially as, if you cannot trust them, they can and sometimes do walk off with a foreigner’s home. (It has happened more times than is funny with Thai wives). After all, in the eyes of the law it is not your home, it is theirs, as it is registered in their name.
Foreigners are allowed to own apartments though. So, if you buy an apartment everything can go in your name, and there is no need to worry about someone else suddenly deciding they are the one that owns it.