Tropical Beach House - The Dream and the Reality
Who has not once in a while dreamed of a holiday home under the coconut palms on a coral sand beach? A home where you can sit on your terrace and watch the sun set as you listen to the sounds of the sea. What visitor to Phuket, after a few days unwinding from their stressful city jobs, has not asked themselves if that dream could be converted into a reality in Phuket.
It is indeed a question that has been asked of me, over the years, by several thousand visitors to my office. They all know what they want ".... a bit of land on a quiet beach, no neighbours in sight, and a simple wooden Thai style house ... nothing fancy ..... something simple and not too expensive." If I could have steered even half of those people to their "simple" dream house, I could have retired years ago.
"would you work 300 years for this?"
Unfortunately the reality of this dream is hard to fulfil. Despite
it's long sections of undeveloped coastline, Phuket has very little
titled beach front land to buy or build on. It has long been the Land
Department's policy to restrict issuance of new land titles in forested
areas and on land adjacent to rivers and oceans; now recent amendments
to the building code severely restrict construction within 50 meters
of the waterfront. As a consequence there are not more than a couple
of dozen direct water front houses on the entire west coast of Phuket.
Only one of these was offered for sale (resale) this year and was very quickly sold (ahead of several other disappointed dreamers) at a price equivalent to three centuries of income for a Thai manual labourer.
For most dreamers, the reality of three centuries of income, is a bit steep, so they simply carry on dreaming, while those who could foot the bill are often restricted by the limited availability.
For the pragmatic vacationer, astute investor and the growing number of foreigners (with down to earth budgets) coming to live work or retire in Phuket there are however a range of attractive alternatives.
Property prices fall dramatically once you move away from the beaches. At the other end of the spectrum, small terraced houses in several of the myriad new developments under construction in the hinterland, prices can be as low as 20,000 US$, a price now within the reach of almost all Thai families.
Falling between these extremes there is a large supply of high rise condominium units, most with fine ocean views (tough new planning laws preventing new construction over 12 m. in height might one day make these rare items) and a whole range of individual homes and small estates (often owner built and designed) tucked away in rubber plantations and up mountain sides.
The perfect dream home in Phuket will for most remain an unattainable ideal. Over the next few months in this column, I will highlight the "hows?" and "whys?" of some of the better (and worse) attempts by developers and individuals on the island to create a pragmatic interpretation of their and your dreams.