Samui has become very popular for long stay residents who spend all or part of the year here, renting apartments for a few months or leasing condos on Samui permanently. There is a professional real estate industry on the island, and a generous selection of apartments or villas to suit a range of budgets and tastes.
Typically, apartments for renting are found away from the busy beachfront areas of Chaweng or Lamai, with developments of plush new villas or condos for sale or renting on the northshore and hills behind the beach areas. There are some developments near Chaweng or Lamai, though, while the south and west of the island is occupied mainly by locals with a few private, remotely situated homes for rent.
Property is big business on Samui, and in recent years even a scandal over land encroachment by unscrupulous developers has stopped Asian-based expats from buying up their own private pad on the island. Many of these are offered for rent on a weekly or monthly basis.
Condo rentals in Koh Samui are primarily for long-term contracts, with most owners demanding a commitment of at least one year. Usually, the landlord will require a security deposit along with one to three months’ rent at the lease signing, and may insist on the monthly rent in cash or via bank transfer.
Some agents on the island can arrange serviced apartments for renting on a short term basis at higher rates. With respect to repairs or damage, tenants are advised to insist that the responsibilities of both occupant and landlord are specified in the terms of the contract. It is not unheard of for new tenants to find themselves faced with expensive termite eradication or plumbing repair bills shortly after moving in.
For this reason, it is wiser, though more expensive, to secure a rental property through a reputable real estate agency. With the rapid growth in the property industry on the island, a reputation has arisen of renters and developers who lack professionalism and operate in a cowboy manner. Somewhat unfairly, the island has become known for a mafia element in recent years and land encroachment issues that affect the renting industry, so use a reputable agent.
In the realm of apartment renting on Samui, several options exist with a cost curve from as little as 3 or 4,000 baht a month to 40,000 baht and beyond. At the low-end of long-term rentals is the fairly standard one-room, furnished, guesthouse-style apartment. These are usually in older buildings in areas where foreigners are not commonplace. Facilities normally include a bed, wardrobe, table and chairs, TV, bathroom and an air-conditioning unit.
At the apex of luxury in property rentals are fully furnished two and three-bedroom suites in prime locations offering a variety of standard services to residents, from wireless internet to house keeping, 24-hour security and car rentals. Air conditioning, cable and satellite television, hot water shower, telephone, refrigerator and Western-style cooking facilities are typically included.
In order to secure a rental agreement through an agency, foreigners may need to possess a valid work permit or a certificate of residence issued from their embassy translated into Thai. It is common for a copy of the prospective tenant’s passport to be kept, and occasionally proof of income might be required.
In fact, actual condos and high rise apartment buildings are not too common in Samui, where the trend is towards villas and houses, offering a better lifestyle but still with an affordable price tag.