Advice for newbie in Chiang Mai/Mae Rim

Hi, my name is Peter from Australia. I have a girlfriend in Mae Rim and will fly back soon to talk with a lawyer regarding buying land in my g/f's name and getting a 30 year lease and building a house on it. Does anyone have some useful advice or knowledge on going through this process. It will be 4 1/2 years before I can retire and move there permanently.

My advice are:
Its... not better rent a few years a house/room and look what happen with the relation.
People buy to quick(I didt that 13year before to!!) and when you see a better place,then you stock!
Look first can alway,s buy something and buy a new bouilding/house/condo.
Old,, give alway,s problem!
Hope you can something with my advise!!
Good luck....Ties.

I live in the Faham District of Chiang Mai, not that far from Mai Rim. Over the past two tears I've spent a considerable amount of time socializing. Or to put it another way asking a lot of questions and learning anything I could. Your scenario is repeated an unlimited amount of times. Even the part with a lawyer. Very often there are sad stories and at times wonderful stories. As I think about your statement I realize that you haven't given enough information about the relationship to really give you good advice. 

One of the best pieces of advice that I have heard often is - give it time. As has been noted, you may make a decision only to find out that it was the wrong one after you find yourself living there. It can be painful undoing a major mistake. That's true of either a house or your Thai friend. Warning; with you moving to Thailand and your lady friend being Thai has all of the cards and can be stacked against you. You have no rights in Thailand. I am not saying that your situation isn't great and won't work out - but it is much much more wise to exercise patience and caution. Again you have time on your side and use it wisely.

If at any time any time a Thai women is trying to pressure you into making a decision, it is a sure sign to rethink that relationship.

Just some friendly advice from my way of thinking.

Some damn fine advice from BillKip

Just my opinion...

If you want to buy your girlfriend some land and build her a house, then go for it... as for the leasehold, not sure why you would need to do that? Not really understand why you want to do now if you're not retiring and moving here until 4 1/2 years...

I'm sorry, I wrote several paragraphs about why this wouldn't be a good idea, but then I realized you only asked for "some useful advice or knowledge on going through this process"...  my bad... so I deleted the paragraphs...

But hey... if you want to know what my thoughts, just send me a message... if not, then no worries...

My advice is always to live here for awhile before you make any major purchases or make any major commitments.  There is no way to know where your relationship or your head will be in 4 ½ years.  After you have lived here for a bit and have adjusted to the new reality of living here full-time you will be in a better position to judge your situation and what to do next.  If your relationship cannot survive without the purchase of land and a house, well that is not a great sign for the future.  As Bill says, there are some sad stories out there. 

Personally my wife and I were together for a total of ten years and married for eight before we bought property and built a house.  Those first ten years we traveled a lot and lived in my condo which I purchased before I met her.  We took that long even though I had already lived in Thailand for twenty years before we met and I speak Thai.  Slow down and just enjoy getting to know and understand each other.  Try traveling together and enjoy sharing experiences rather than possessions.


I wanted to comment about why doing this is not a good idea, but then realized you only asked for "some useful advice or knowledge on going through the process" of buying, building and getting a 30-year leasehold.

So, I withheld my comments... if you want opinions about whether doing this is a good idea or not, then please say so...

I think cautionary tales can be included as part of “useful advice or knowledge”.  If someone asks about jumping off a cliff you are not limited to telling him how to do it, without commenting on the danger of such an action.

Well said, very good point Villagefarang...

Will share my thoughts now...

Milestogo, I don't know if you are feeling pressured to do this or why you are wanting to do this, but let me share my experience and thoughts.

When I first arrived, I was pressured by my Thai wife (then girlfriend) and a so called friend (a farang and his Thai real estate girlfriend) into buying a condo. Well, it cost me some deposit money regrettably because I came to my senses after 2 days and decided not to buy. That was the best decision I could have made. Then, a few months later the property in the village issue came up and I thought, why do we need property in her home town where we're not going to live... Then, I realized it is the Thai girl mentality...  If you can get something; some gold, a car, a condo, some land & house then to them that's like money in the bank in case the farang boyfriend walks away...  Well, after 3 yrs of living together, 15 mths of it in Thailand and now being married, things have finally quieted down about buying something until we know exactly where we want to live permanently. I do occasionally have to hear about some of her friends getting a new condo paid for by their farang boyfriends, but I just ignore it and will not be made to feel bad anymore... This statement may seem a bit harsh, but I just see this as the farang boyfriends being naïve and stupid. If they are not being pressured, then why would they even think to give a girlfriend some land & a house. Where I come from you don't give girlfriends gifts like that... you give that to yourself or your children...

If you want to give your girlfriend some land and build her a house, that's up to you. You can give your money to whomever you want. But, what is getting a 30-year leasehold going to do for you other than tie you to your girlfriend for 30 years... She will still own the land and house. And, what if your relationship ends? Do you think you will be able to live in her house with another lady in her home town. I bet that will never happen and why would you want to.

And, why would you want to do this 4 1/2 years before you are ready to actually retire and move here. Where is the fire???

Renting is inexpensive here and you can keep your hard earned money in the bank or stock market or wherever you keep it... then, after moving here in 5 years and after being married and after finding the right place to live, then you can buy and/or build...

But, hey... it's your life and your money... you can do what you want with it... you earned it...

I am under no pressure to buy land and build a house from this lady, who is 54 years old and is able to support her mother and grandson.  This lady already owns land and built a house for herself. She also has a pickup which she uses for a small tourist business she operates. If I buy this land, I have stressed that it will be for a house that I will live in. We both agreed we don't want  to get married, but live close and maintain a relationship.
This ladies house is worth 1,500,000 THB, and I have stressed to her that my money is for my retirement. I have been burnt before so I am very wary of letting my money leave my possession at this stage of my life.
So yes I am aware of the risks and will take everyones advice on board after doing some more research. I am making contact with an American woman who has built a house near Mae Rim and done type of loan over the land.

Try to remember that the general rule is that individual foreigners are not allowed to own land.  Whenever you go about trying to circumvent that rule you are putting yourself at risk.  There are many schemes out there and some will work as long as nothing goes wrong but you will be extremely vulnerable if ownership is ever questioned.  You say you have been burnt before and you are very wary.  I hope you are indeed very wary and I wish you good luck.

Many people have done the same as you.  Some have been successful and some have been burnt.  The lease agreement is only workable if your partner abides by it.  If she does kick you out and keeps the house then you have the opportunity to take her to court but it is costly and could still have an unhappy ending.  For example if the lease is between you and one person however there are two names on the property / land deeds. It would then be classed as void.  What you have to ask yourself is in the worst case scenario are you ok at the possibility of it all going wrong.  For me, I have bought a house under similar circumstances and I don't think I will lose everything in the future but I have accepted there is always that possibility.

If you are worried have you thought about buying a condo above the 5th floor as you can legally do that as a foreigner in Thailand.

Wish you well...

You say you have four and a half years before you retire. That gives you plenty of time to research and for you to sort more things out in your mind. Enjoy that time time and learning curve, and make your decisions when your boots are on the ground. Presently time is your friend, use it wisely.

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