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Where to Live in Our Region; Matching Your Location to Your Lifestyle – Heading North to Cha-Am

Surrounding Hua Hin there are many choices for your ideal home location. We’ve previously looked at some of the options within just a few kilometres of the Hua Hin city, but this time we’re venturing further north.

There’s a perception that Cha-Am is just a sleepy and unremarkable beach side town around 25 kilometers north of Hua Hin but that’s far from the reality.

The first thing that needs to be understood is that Cha-Am is a District (Amphoe) in the southern part of Phetchaburi Province, whereas Hua Hin is part of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. The border between these two provinces is very close to the Hua Hin Airport entry; in fact the airport runway passing over the nearby tunnel is not in the same province as Hua Hin! Residences around the Palm Hills Golf Course or behind the airport near the Boathouse residential complex are all in Cha-Am.

Heading north from the airport along the main Phetchakasem Road you’ll pass a number of luxury resorts, often with an ocean frontage, which may refer to themselves as Hua Hin resorts but that’ not strictly correct. Some very significant residential developments may have the same identity issue. That’s partly a marketing strategy but also because Thai holiday makers from Bangkok have long known that Hua Hin is the preferred holiday destination for the top end of Thai society.

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Residential opportunities between Hua Hin and Cha-Am have been focused on the ocean side of the highway although there are signs that that is changing as housing complexes are now appearing further inland. The coastal strip offers a variety of condo dwellings but also some top of the price range villa complexes.

There are also a number of small village settlements; some seeking the custom of nearby resort or condo residents and some in support of a local fishing fleet. Exploring the small shops and bars between the Novotel Resort and the Regent Beach Resort will give you a taste of this lifestyle.

Ready access to Bangkok is one reason why part-time visitors rather than permanent home dwellers are the most prevalent feature of this region. It’s a laid back lifestyle which may be a little isolated, even for the tourists, but one that also offer easy access to both Hua Hin and Cha-Am as well as golf courses such as Palm Hills, Springfield and Lakeview. If you take the time to explore this coastline and prefer to be away from ‘city life’ this is a different lifestyle choice. Perhaps first consider whether that is a condo or something more down to earth.

Before reaching the traffic lights in Cha-Am town, take a turn towards the coast near the Cha-Am Forest Park and this road will take you to the southern end of the main Cha-Am beach. The road can be followed north for around 5 kilometres before reaching the main fishing port.

Between this beach and Phetchakasim Road there is an eclectic choice of housing options and an ever growing ex-pat population. Some say they prefer the laid back atmosphere of Cha-Am and suggest that the same dining and entertainment options as Hua Hin are here; there are just fewer of them in keeping with the population size.

Apart from the local seafood eateries and food stalls along the beach frontage, There are fine Italian, French and other western style restaurants that can be enjoyed with much less hassle than Hua Hin. They will also say that the unpretentious beach is also much more accessible.

There’s a strong Scandinavian presence, especially Norwegians, but a feature of Cha-Am lifestyle is the way in which foreigners mingle with Thai people, both the local population and weekend visitors when Cha-Am really springs to life.

Housing choices include both older as well as recently constructed condos but stand-alone homes, villa developments and the ubiquitous 2 or 3 storey townhouses are everywhere.

If you spend a weekend or so in Cha-Am and enjoy the scene, the housing costs are significantly lower than Hua Hin which is just a half hour drive away. However that excursion may be infrequent as Cha-Am is really self-sufficient with shopping options such as a new Makro and western choices at the Dutch owned OKay Supermarket.

On the downside if there is a need for international schools or hospitals then some travelling will be needed although the local government hospital and private medical services are sufficient for most. It’s also worth noting that foreigners living in Phetchaburi Province need to make immigration visits to Tha Yang, around 25 kilometres towards Bangkok from Cha-Am town.

A Final Comment
Don’t just think of Cha-Am in terms of a long quiet beach and the holiday scene. This district has much more to offer than that with a variety of lifestyle choices on offer. Many casual visitors have found their niche in this location and haven’t regretted their decision. It’s well worth some serious exploring and you may also progress from being just a holiday maker to a becoming a Cha-Am local.

Where to Live in Our Region – Matching Your Location to Your Lifestyle!

Around Hua Hin there are many choices for your ideal home location.  Whether your preferences are about being close the ocean or green surroundings; or wanting to be being among the nightlife and restaurants or a quieter scene; it’s all about trying to match the location to your lifestyle.

We’ve been looking at the lifestyles that best suits living near to the city center, at the ‘boutique suburb’ of Khao Takiab or perhaps a little further afield near the coast at Khao Tao?  Living inland among the hills heading west may also be appealing.   All these options are within 12 kilometers of the city center but all offer very different lifestyle choices.

This article highlights some key features of these locations when you’re preparing your short-list of potential living places.  We’ll also consider more options ranging to around 40 kilometers away in our next article.

Living in the City – A vibrant lifestyle but do you need peace & quiet?

Compared with many cities in Thailand and around the world, Hua Hin cannot be considered to be a big city. However for those who thrive on city living, a bustling street scene and vibrant nightlife can be at your doorstep.

City life offers immediate access to so many cosmopolitan dining choices. Cosmopolitan includes Italian, French, German, Greek and Scandinavian options as well as Asian varieties. Whether that’s the 5 star scene at a luxurious resort restaurant, embracing local markets and street food or somewhere in between, the city is the place for ‘Foodies’.

There is also ready access to the major shopping malls, medical services and transport to Bangkok or any other destination. All this and you’re never far away from the ocean; albeit largely dominated by many ocean frontage resorts.

What city dwellers accept is that like any busy city, traffic hazards, congestion and noise will be a part of day to day life. You’ll probably forego the need for personal transport, unless you can manage a motor bike around town. But that’s only recommended for very confident and competent riders especially with so many public transport options.

The housing choices are likely to be high-rise or ‘compact’ living, rather than your own ‘green space’ so maybe not for those who relish nature. City residences; especially those with the more scenic outlooks, are likely to come with a price tag to match!

Khao Takiab; So close yet so far away

Heading south along the main Phetchakasim road from the city, just follow the road straight ahead instead of veering right over the railway overpass and the ‘boutique’ suburb of Khao Takiab awaits.

You’ll pass a few resorts such as the Hyatt and Amari and the major tourist attractions of the Cicada and Tamarind markets before the real Khao Takiab can be experienced.

The entry road narrows and is no longer ‘traffic-friendly’.  Khao Takiab then becomes reminiscent of the Hua Hin of old but alongside modern condominiums, international restaurants and Thai-style dining choices.

At the end of the road Khao Takiab is dominated by a 272 m high headland that juts  into the sea with a 20m tall Lord Buddha statue and other religious figures, both Thai and Chinese, at the summit, together with a statue of King Rama V. The hill is also known as “Monkey Mountain” due to large numbers of monkeys (macaques) that are resident there.

The lifestyle at Khao Takiab offers a blend of the old and the new with an ambience of its own.  Transport to the city is easy with a regular Song Tao plying the main road route or tuk tuks readily available.

Modern living is likely to be in a condo an outlook and facilities such as swimming pools and fitness areas once again influencing the price.  The Sea Pines Golf Course provides a southern boundary and some further scenic outlooks.  The ocean is never far away although access needs to be considered if strolling to the beach is what you are looking for.

Bungalows are sometimes available but sought out as holiday accommodation rather than more permanent residences; but you can get lucky!

Khao Takiab has an almost ‘Bohemian’ feel.  The lifestyle here will not be quiet or secluded but there is an opportunity to ‘become a local’ just far enough away so that you will not be just another city dweller.

Khao Tao – Living in a village not far from town

Around 12 kilometres along the highway from the city then turning towards the coast, Khao Tao offers a village environment not too far from the ‘maddening crowd’

Living in Khao Tao is a definite lifestyle choice for those who enjoy a coastal community with its own distinct identity and environment. The village is self-sufficient (well almost), scenic and offers clean beaches, an historic lake and a traditional Thai fishing village alongside a hillside temple complex with views along the coast.

You’ll find plenty of dining options, just not too many, and plenty of opportunities to take long walks or maybe bike rides. You’ll see some modern condos near the entry road but the most housing options are likely to be within a villa complex inland of the lake with your own home sized to meet your requirements. A peaceful family oriented lifestyle typifies the needs of many Khao Tao residents.

More information about the Khao Tao lifestyle can be found on our article ‘Discovering Khao Tao – Hua Hin’s Relaxed yet Invigorating Southern Village’.

Heading Inland for a suburban or semi-rural lifestyle

Soi 70, 88 and 112 are just three of the roads leading away from the city and heading inland.  Before reaching the hills, you pass through the ‘suburbs’ of Hua Hin which gradually thin out over the journey.  These ‘suburbs’ are scattered between meandering (and sometimes confusing) roads in various states of repair.

There are also developing areas further south or north of the city center inland of Phetchakasem Road.  One of the real considerations of suburban or rural living is the state of access roads and whether they may be prone to seasonal flooding.

A common housing option is a two or three storey townhouse which may be a relatively low cost option depending on the completion of any renovations and provision of modern appliances.  However internal stairs are not going to become any easier to climb as time goes by.

The further away from the city, the more opportunities will be available for your own piece of land.  Villa complexes also become more prevalent with a ‘gated community’ offering security and private recreational facilities.  More green spaces may be enjoyed and a view over the city can be found if the price is right.

It has been reported that Hua Hin is approaching a time of land shortage but inland before reaching the Pranburi – Cha-Am bypass road that is not evident to the casual observer.

If suburban or inland living is on the agenda, transport becomes one important consideration.  Commuting to the city is not hard but without your own vehicle not as convenient as some may expect.  However many schools are within this region and most of the local golf courses are inland of the city.

There are also more independent communities developing as a reason for less frequent city visits.  For example Black Mountain already boasts an international school apart from the world renowned golf course.  A shopping mall is on the drawing board to make this community almost self-sufficient.

A Final Comment

Choosing the right location for your future home has practical, emotional and financial components.  For many, the emotional elements dominate however that may be in conflict with real lifestyle choices.

One strategy is to sit down with your significant others and list what are the essential, desirable and unacceptable needs of your lifestyle.  Be ruthless and honest; for example – will you really walk to the beach/park/shopping center everyday or is an occasional day trip OK?  Some who are uncertain may opt for the ‘suck it and see’ approach with a rental trial period to experience whether the match is a good one before the purchasing commitment is made.

“A HOME IS MUCH MORE THAN WHERE YOU LIVE; IT REFLECTS WHO YOU ARE” – Ty Pennington

Smart Ways to Sell Your Home Faster

In Hua Hin’s property market, the number of new listings increases exponentially each month. What are your strategies to make your home stand out among many available properties for sale? How would you like to avoid being a seller who’s property is sitting on the market for months, or even worse, years? Check out the useful tips below to improve your chances of selling your property more effectively, for the price you desire.

Appearance of Your Home – First impression

The appearance of your property is the buyer’s first impression of what might be their new home, which is why it’s important to tidy up and stage your property. The first part to be taken care of is the front of your house or condo. Whether the potential buyer finds your property online or drives by it, their first thing they will encounter is the exterior of your home for sale. It is advisable to remove any weeds, clean the surfaces, trim the bushes and maybe even add a few plants or sculptural items, to enhance the appeal of the property. Additionally, have a look at your doors and windows. It is vital to have the glass cleaned and the frames repainted if necessary. Door handles could also be changed if they look worn out.

Clean up the interior of your property

When considering the purchase of a new home, buyers can be very picky and they have every right to be. After all this will be their new home – a place where they will feel safe, comfortable and raise their family or perhaps enjoy the hard earned retirement. Keep in mind that they will try to picture themselves living in this property, so it is vital to do a deep cleaning. Messy environment such as dirty floors, stained carpets or furniture, dirty kitchen cupboards, dust and so on, will only push the buyers away from the beginning. Little details such as broken socket covers, worn out door handles, and damages in the wall can be fixed fairly cheap, and add great value to your home.

Neutralize the space

After the property has been cleaned, it is time to remove all the unnecessary items and as much as personal belongings as possible. With minimalist look, the rooms look more spacious and the potential buyers find it easier to picture their ideas for the property. If the property feels to personalized and crowded with all sorts of things, the buyers will only see it as more work for them. In addition, packing most of the stuff will also save you time, and the buyers will be able to move in quicker.

Stage your home

Staging your home the right way can have a substantial impact on how quickly your home will sell. People in general buy the property that makes them feel the right way. Some slow background music and scented-candles can give a worm and relaxing atmosphere for instance. Dinning table could be set up with plates, cutlery and glasses with a fruit basket or a small vase. The most important parts of the house are kitchen and bathrooms. Some nice flowers and nicely folded towels enhance the feeling of cleanliness in toilets, while few cooking items like pasta, salt, pepper, olive oil could be placed around the kitchen area.

Price your property realistically

Everyone always seems to value their homes above the market price, which is understandable due to emotional attachment to it, however overpricing your property will keep you in the market for a longer time. If you really want a quick sale, you should be realistic and understand that you might have to lower you expectations. Compare your property with other similar homes in the area to see for how much they were sold for, and consult with a reputable real estate agent to get a professional opinion. In order to sell quicker, your property should be well positioned, meaning that you must identify your competition (other properties on the market) and then price your property accordingly to appear as better value for money in comparison to other properties on the market. In certain cases, lower prices can initiate a bidding war, causing the price of your home to go up. Although the bidding war is not guaranteed, there is more chance for it to happen when then price is lower.

Take great photos of your home

Majority of buyers nowadays search for their new property online, where images decide it all. Photos are the first thing that attracts the buyer to look at your property, so it is vital to post high-quality photos with a proper camera – not a phone. The most important factor is light. Make sure to have as much natural light as possible, and don’t forget to turn on the rest of the lights around the house, for enhanced brightness. It is important to mention that you should check all the light bulbs to be in the working order as the burned ones will show on the photo and distract the buyer in a negative way. Take photos from every angle to give a full perspective of your home. For those who want to go the extra mile, try to make a simple video, as it is a much more powerful tool then photos.

Write an attractive listing description

No matter how great your home is, it wont sell unless you present it properly by keeping the description simple yet informative. The right words give the buyer the clear idea of what to expect, so make sure to give all the vital information about your home and its surroundings. Important facts such as nearby places, schools, events etc., is what buyers need the most. They want to know about the property and the area beyond the basic information provided such as number of rooms, living area, land area. The potential buyers get more confidence in the property when they know what the area has to offer.

Choose the right, reputable agent

Thai real estate market is fairly unregulated, which means that you don’t need a license to be a real estate agent. Therefore, there are many ‘Facebook agents’ who do not have a professional knowledge or experience in the business nor the property market. Make your choices wisely! Ensure that your real estate agent has an office, registered company and is involved in Hua Hin’s real estate market for many years. That way it will be easier to ask around for agents reputations to ensure you hire the right person for the job. Do your homework, visit websites, and find out which agents know your community best. Your agent should have extensive knowledge of the real estate market, be honest and look after your interests, not his/hers commission.

Entering the Hua Hin Property Debate: To Rent or Buy?

After many enjoyable holidays in Thailand and exploring the countryside, many foreigners come to the conclusion that they want to establish a new ‘home base’ abroad at their favorite location. That location in Thailand is Hua Hin for many of them!

A suitable home is not hard to find. After all Hua Hin offers so many choices from high rise condos to luxurious pool villas to more modest townhouses or perhaps a rural location with a house and land. There are also ‘gated’ communities, village settings or golf course apartments. The choices are almost unlimited. But perhaps the most important first step in finding your new ‘home away from home’ is to answer a fundamental question; are you going to rent or buy? That decision has both financial and lifestyle implications. For some the financial or investment factors are primary, others are guided more by emotional choices.

The internet provides many lengthy debates on the pros and cons of renting V purchasing. However the advice offered varies as different countries have different property markets, financial rules and regulations as well as different safeguards for both purchasers and tenants. Home ownership rates vary country by country based on social, economic, political and historical circumstance. It may come as a surprise that Romania is rated as the country with the highest percentage of home ownership (around 96%) as people consider renting to be a short-term solution and the rental housing market is not well developed or regulated. Countries such as South Korea (56%), Austria (48%), Germany (49%) and Hong Kong (50%) have relatively low rates. Switzerland, with an ownership rate of 37%, is among the lowest and Thailand is somewhere in between at 80%. (Ref: snbchf.com – 2017)

The point is that it may be hard to leave behind well entrenched expectations and experiences from your country of origin when considering the choices that Thailand offers. Of course it’s not just a black and white decision. Variations include renting or leasing with a purchasing option, purchasing the property but not the land or lifetime leasing options. These are just some of the topics that a reputable and experienced property agent must be able to explain to your satisfaction.

Looking at a typical Thailand home maker who is likely to be retired and may not be here for the full year; here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of renting Vs. buying a property in Thailand:

Pros of Renting

More flexibility: When renting a home you can more easily pack up and move when you’re faced with sudden changes; including health issues.

Live in a better area: When renting you may be able to afford to live in a better area or housing complex than you would if you were purchasing a home.

Lower monthly payments: The payments you make towards your rent are likely to be lower than paying off a home loan, leaving you more spending money each month.

Maintenance: The only insurance required by a tenant will be to cover the contents of the home, while all maintenance work on the property is at the owner’s expense, as is the building insurance.

Cons of Renting

You cannot make many changes: The changes you can make to a rental property in Thailand tend to more than in many other countries but depend on the whims of the owner. Don’t expect any reimbursement for improvements made.

No return on investment!

If there is a change in ownership or the owners simply decides they don’t want to give you the option to renew your lease, you’re left looking for a new place to live.

When renting a property, you have no control over rental fluctuations.

There is no guarantee that a lease will be renewed when it expires.

Pros of Buying

Value appreciation: Over time the value of your home should increase, depending on the wisdom of your investment. When you finally decide to sell your home you expect a growth in personal wealth.

Control over the property: Whatever you want to do with your home (legally), you can do it without asking for permission! Change the decor the way you’d like it, purchase the appliances you prefer, make changes in garden etc.

It’s yours: No one can take your home away from you.

Holiday home: You could choose to use your home as a holiday home and rent it out when you are not there. In this way you can have the best of both worlds – somewhere beautiful to vacate to and your investment paying for itself.

Home ownership brings intangible benefits such as a sense of stability, belonging to a community and pride of ownership.

Cons of Buying

A significant financial investment: Even though the cost of purchasing in Thailand is far lower than many other countries, it is still an investment that you must be confident about.

Risk of earning no return: Although the property market in Thailand is prospering, if you’re planning to purchase a property in hope of appreciation, there is always a risk that won’t happen.

Less flexibility: If you purchase a home you can’t just move whenever you please, you must first go through the process of selling your home. If you prefer the stability of owning your home, this could be a pro!

There are additional costs to home ownership. These usually include rates, taxes, insurance, and maintenance for which the owner is responsible.

Legal issues are not uncommon in Thailand when unscrupulous developers or agents misrepresent title ownership or financial arrangements. A definite case of ‘let the buyer beware’!

Which option is best for you isn’t just about your money. Ultimately, the decision to rent or to own is also emotional and about confidence in your vision for the future. Ignore people who tell you that one is always better than the other. Housing markets and life circumstances are much too varied and complex to make blanket statements like that. 

Finally a quote to contemplate: “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore” – Mark Twain