This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on what your intentions are in Chiang Mai. What most expats do is to rent for 2-3 years then buy the condo in Chiang Mai. They then rent another smaller condo in Bangkok or Pattaya where they go if they need entertainment and the bright lights of the city. This is one option. Other decide to buy a house in Thailand and since a foreigner cannot legally own a house they place the house into their Thai wife’s name. This becomes a problem in the event of a divorce so you need to ensure that you are legally covered in a number of ways.
If you are buying a house in Thailand then it is best to register a usufruct over the property in your name. Since you would be placing your house in the name of your wife in the event of a divorce having a usufruct gives you legal leverage from losing the house. The usufruct is registered against the property at the Land Department and allows you to live in the house for the duration of the usufruct. In the event of divorce you may not be able to own the house but still have the legal right to live in it. It’s usually a good way of getting your ex-wife to sell the house at a market rate or pay you out your portion of the properties value. Either way its a good investment.
Leasing property is good however if you want to ensure that the lease remains active after your death then you need to speak to a lawyer about placing the needed clauses into the contract as the lease would expire on your death. Normally your wife and children might still be living in the condo or house and this gives then the option of living on in the property after your death. Its a good way to have stability after you have passed on. Consider this is you have small children in Thailand.
Most expats tend to buy a condo unit in Thailand. There are not that many options available in Chiang Mai but there are many condo units on the market. Consider this an option of buying a condo in Chiang Mai instead of a house. The risk involved with houses might not be to your liking. Most housing in Chiang Mai is rented by foreigners rather than bought. Condo units are much better in terms of management as many travel around Asia while retired in Chiang Mai and a condo has the lock-up-and-go ability. See the detail as on our main website about buying a condo in Thailand and buying a house. Decide what it is that you want and then consider all the options such as leasing instead of buying.
If you have any other questions about Chiang Mai then speak to us online or walk into our law offices in Chiang Mai for assistance. All our staff have a high level of English and they will be able to explain to you what your options are with regards to property in thailand. Your first appointment is always free in Thailand.
Do it now!