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Mrs. Crandwick living in Australian, who has been considering purchasing a serviced apartment in Patong writes "I am a little confused as to how a 30x30x30 lease actually operates, if after the first term has run it's course, does the property have to be renewed by buying again? And at what price?" Secondly , I felt the return (about 3%)was rather low?

Leases are typically prepaid through 60 or 90 years. Because registration can only be made in 30 year installments the usual format is that 30 years is declared as paid rent, and the balance is paid as a deposit against full payment of future rent. The only cost at each renewal therefore, are the fees and taxes associated with registering the lease for a second (or third) term. I have written on this subject several times in the Gazette in the past and you can always find the back issues (including several articles that cover this topic in greater depth) on my web site at gazmain.htm

Rental returns for resort property in Phuket or indeed anywhere in the world, are rarely high. A return of 3% to 5% after all fees management and maintenance costs is fairly normal for small well managed properties that offer short term rental management and a flexible arrangements for owners who also want to make personal use of the property. Don’t forget to factor in a value (return) for your own and your friends personal use of the property) when considering a return - and be aware that you returns will improve if you avoid personal use during peak season periods. Better rental returns may be obtained from long term rental (1-3 year contracts), or from managed rental properties with very restrictive owner usage allowances

"I am seriously thinking about retirement in Thailand. Could you please send information and advice regarding visas and visa renewal, thanks Phil."

There are four basic types of visas available for visitors and residents to Thailand. Transit Visa, Tourist Visa, Non Immigrant Visa and Resident Visa.

Transit visa - valid for 14 days will be issued to those people arriving in Thailand without a visa.
Tourist visa- issued by Thai embassy abroad will be valid for 60 or 90 days (varies from country to country). Of note is that you may apply for more than one Tourist visa at a time and these multiple visas may be used up consecutively. Many quasi resident visitors to Phuket (who do not work - or want to avoid the red tape of a Non Immigrant visa) live for years on a tourist visa (and go shopping in Singapore or Penang every three months). So long as you are solvent and not engaging in any local employment or business activity, there is nothing wrong with this approach.

Non Immigrant visa - issued at an embassy outside Thailand and valid for a 90 day stay, this visa may be extended within Thailand for periods up to one year at a time. There are three basic grounds to obtain and renew a Non Immigrant visa, 1) that you are employed (and have a work permit) in Thailand, 2) that you have Thai family, 3) that you are retired and can prove adequate pension or other financial means to support yourself. Lengthy form filling and copying of personal documents (in duplicate) are required both when you first apply and for every subsequent renewal of this visa. If you hold a non Immigrant visa, you should obtain a Re-Entry permit if leaving the country if you do not wish your visa to lapse. Generally retirement is one of the easiest ways to get a Non-Immigrant Visa, but exact requirements regarding minimum age, financial means and health (if your doctor recommends a tropical climate on health grounds it helps) do tend to change from time to time, so please check with the local immigration office. Ownership (or long lease) of property generally has no bearing on the extension of a Non Immigrant visa, although there are some new breaks in this respect for those prepared to invest large sums in certain government approved investments.

Resident visa - rarely issued and hard to obtain. These visas are issued on a very selective quota basis and only after the several years of continuous residence under a Non Immigrant Visa. Qualification requirements include reading and writing Thai, a fairly strong local financial status and some good (influential) Thai references.