Russians flooded Thailand: rich people from Russia buy up real estate in Phuket en masse
Wealthy Russians after being isolated from the West have rushed to Thailand. It is not just about tourism, as Russian citizens are actively buying up real estate on the island of Phuket.
The number of villas sold on the island increased by 82% to 338 objects In 2022, with half of them purchased by Russians. As Bloomberg writes, 791,574 Russians arrived in Thailand from January to June 2023, which is 1000% more than in the same period last year.
Russians are already the biggest buyers of real estate in Phuket, said Christian Steinbach, sales director of FazWaz Property Group. He had one of his most lucrative deals in 2022 when a single buyer from the Russian Federation bought up 16 villas.
"You can get high rental income here. There are a lot of people (from Russia. - Ed.) who just want to live in a good place," Steinbach said.
According to the Vice President of Russia Sotheby's International Realty Elena Marinicheva, the typical Russian buyer of real estate in Thailand are entrepreneurs aged about 30 years coming from the eastern part of the Russian Federation, for example, from Vladivostok. However, more and more investors from Moscow and St. Petersburg are now paying attention to the Thai market.
Thailand's appeal extends to the super-rich Russians as well. According to Bloomberg, the Cloudbreak yacht, believed to belong to Russian real estate tycoon Alexander Svetakov (under sanctions in Ukraine) was spotted in Phuket in late 2022. In January 2023, another Russian billionaire Igor Rybakov specializing in building materials arranged business coaching classes for a group of 20 people on the island.
Interestingly, Russians in Thailand have learned to circumvent payment sanctions, in particular restrictions on Visa and Mastercard transactions. Payments are made with the help of the Chinese UnionPay system and digital assets. Cash payments in dollars and euros are also common. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Russians to transfer funds from Russia, with the ruble weakened against the Thai baht, Steinbach emphasized.
After Russia's aggressive invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has made it more difficult for Russians to enter its territory, in particular by canceling direct flights. As the agency notes, this is what prompted Russians to seek alternatives in countries with easy visa processing, such as the UAE, Turkey and Thailand.
Over the past year, Thailand has introduced several new visa programs that allow those who bring money to the local economy or are willing to work in the state in the field of information technology, social networks and crypto-assets to stay longer. Not only Russians but also Ukrainians fleeing the war are taking advantage of such offers, analysts say.
Amid Phuket's growing popularity among the Russians, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has officially opened a consulate on the island. The diplomatic office is located in Phuket's Royal Harbor. This is an elite village with marinas and apartments, with individual villas prices starting from 300 thousand to several million dollars.
Moreover, Phuket International Airport has started making announcements in Russian. Many store names and street signs on the southern islands of Thailand are now duplicated in Russian. Restaurateurs from the Russian Federation have begun to open their establishments here with Russian-speaking clients in mind.
As reported by OBOZREVATEL, despite the fact that the money of under-sanctioned Russian oligarchs in the UK is frozen, they continue to use them. Moreover, with the permission of Britain itself: only in 2022, the Ministry of Finance of the United Kingdom approved at least 82 requests from Russians for partial unfreezing of funds for "basic needs".