Bangkok: Market of Promise and Welcome
One of the most popular destinations for Chinese residential property investment, Bangkok is unique for its intoxicatingly vibrant living environment, close proximity to the P.R.C. and enormous, centuries-old local Chinese community that serves as a source of information, cultural connection and psychological assurance for investors from China. Add to all this the city’s relatively low home prices and shining long-term outlook for price appreciation and it’s easy to understand why so may Chinese buy homes in the metropolis.
Riding an Economic Powerhouse
At once an international trading hub, global tourism destination and the unrivalled center of domestic commerce, Bangkok has a diverse economy that for has for many years now enjoyed booming, multi-sector growth. This robust economic growth of course is what keeps the property market bouyant, with prices for city condos rising steadily since the end of 2008.
Even after seven years of continuous increase, however, Bangkok home prices are still low compared to those of Hong Kong, Singapore and other major metropolitan centers of the region. in this combination of a strong economic performance and low property prices lies the promise that investors see in Bangkok real estate.
Ever Exciting Place
Buying property for occupation is attractive in this metropolis where daily life brings abundant opportunities for stimulating cultural, artistic and culinary experiences. The most rewarding of these are not necessarily the highest priced, but those drawn to exclusive and privileged enjoyments do find many options to choose from, including upscale social clubs, equestrian sports centers, Michelin star restaurants and luxurious spas offering renowned Thai wellness treatments.
Accessibility to Thailand’s countless tourism gems is of course a top reason to live in Bangkok. Phukett and Chiangmai are just over an hour’s flight time away, and several charter helicopter and plane services continuously whisk elites away to more exclusive destinations around the region.
The Chinese have played major roles in the development of Bangkok since the founding of the city after the Burmese destroyed the old Thai capital of Ayutthaya in 1767.
King Rama I chose to build his new capital along the southern reaches of the Chao Phraya River, on the site of a small village populated chiefly by traders from southern China. In order to make way for the king’s plans, the Chinese traders were relocated to an area that was to become Bangkok’s Chinatown in the city’s Yaowarat district. Now the largest Chinatown in southeast Asia, the Bangkok Chinatown has many architectural structures that date back to the early stages of its 200-year history.
The Bangkok Chinese community grew dramatically throughout the 1800s as thousands of Chinese arrived annually in search of a better life, and at one point Chinese residents comprised half of the city’s population by some estimates. Successive Thai royal governments welcomed the incoming Chinese for the economic activity they typically generated.
Various sources estimate the number of Chinese now living in Bangkok at around 500,000, with most families being later-generation immigrants whose members self-identify as Thai. Along with Thai Chinese throughout Thailand, the Chinese in Bangkok enjoy a disproportionate share of economic and political power. For example:
- while comprising only 14% of the national population in the late 20th century, ethnic Chinese controlled about 80% of the nation’s businesses according to a report in the Far East Economic Review
- the four largest Thai private banks%2
Conditions for Healthy Returns
A lack of space for new residential construction in the city’s central business areas will keep upward pressure on home prices in these areas, while plans for several new subway lines are expected to accelerate price appreciation in many fringe areas of the city in coming years as well.
Apartments and condos are the two main options open to foreign investors. If rental income is a goal, then finding tenants is generally easy thanks in part to the city city’s large resident foreigner population that accounts for 90% of the rental market for properties over THB 20,000*.