Building Your Mrs. A Mansion
I just saw the Professor's most recent photos of the mansion he’s built up in Isaan. Wow, a house like that none of my mates in England own. They work their nuts off in good jobs and might have that by 50, if they’re lucky.
So in comes our Thai princess, we love, and we have money, so we build her a mansion in the middle of nowhere. I mean nowhere.
I was on a motorbike trip to another side of Chiang Mai a few weeks ago, Maejo, and riding down an anonymous lane about 30 minutes from the city if you were driving a Ferrari. Something caught my eye. A house, a baan, only this weren’t no house and if the Professor described his Mrs.' house as a mansion I need a new word, chateau, although it didn’t look French. It was behind gates on about 50 rai. There were a series of artificial lakes (not ponds) in front of it and then the house. An LA mansion would be a good description. About 10 bedrooms, there must have been a pool. I stopped and talked to the security guard who confirmed it was owned by an American called John who wasn’t at home. It looked like no one was often at home. It had the look of an abandoned child.
So my brain ran into hyper drive as I hypothesized and I could only come up with this. ‘This is no ordinary farang. It’s a guy who has a Thai girl and a few million U.S. dollars who for him, building this house, felt no pinch. If it works out so be it. If it doesn’t I still have a few million quid.’
I get that, if I had a few million, a Thai woman I was fond of maybe I’d drop a huge house into her lap, cus I knew it was no skin off my nose.
What I don’t get is the guys I keep meeting who have built their house in the middle of nowhere, and have invested all or a significant proportion of their future / life savings into it.
Case study : A guy I know in Chiang Mai had a great social life, met a great woman, by all accounts. And she wanted a house. So he built her a house. In Chiang Mai? No. In the suburbs? No. In a place 50 km from the city which involved a 2-hour commute to visit a shop or a friend? Yes.
He was a projects man all his life, that was his career. So his wife gives him a project, build me a house near my family and he likes this. It’s all exciting. Kind of like your first trip to Thailand. Managing a long project, things to do all day, every day, going to source materials, reading housing magazines. Watching over the workers and enjoying seeing the megalith rise. And like Professor, he said ‘There is nothing like this anywhere near where we live, it stands out like a sore thumb.’
Near completion it’s Songkran so the workers have asked if they can hold a party at the near finished house. So it’s agreed and they roll up and for a week straight no progress is made on anything other than a 100 bottles of whiskey.
But it’s done, his wife has her new cooking school in house where she can teach Western dishes to som tam lovers. It’s a dream. And then he’s back in town in his usual spots and telling friends. God it’s a hell of a commute. God it’s a long way to come. God there’s not much to do after 8:00 PM. I can’t even get an internet connection. Wow I’m drinking a lot of beer.
And I’m thinking a few things. Why not have a crash pad in Chiang Mai and spend a few days here a week (is the wife curtailing that?). Why agree to build a house near your wife’s family instead of near Chiang Mai, it’s your money. And I see what I’ve seen before. A house (mansion) left to a Thai family. A foreigner cutting his losses.
Where else in the world can an average woman, often with no real education or prospects, get a man to build her a house of a farang's dreams within 1 or 2 or 6 years of meeting him. No mortgage, the house is entirely in her name. I don’t play poker, I don’t gamble, I’ve been to Vegas, they say the game always falls in the house's favor.
I’ve also been told, only spend in a casino what you are prepared to lose. I think that’s how farangs have to go with this deal. If a few million baht is nothing to you go for it, but if it’s not, think twice, 10 times, then double back and do the sensible thing ‘rent’.
I met another guy 100 km out of Nakhon Sawan who literally ran up to me outside 7 Eleven and engaged me in conversation. He had a 4×4 packed with a Thai family which looked like a bargirl mother and her bargirl daughters in training. God he couldn’t wait to talk to me. He told me he lived about 50 km outside Nakhon Sawan in the sticks and took great pleasure in visiting a local nature reserve. Today he was off to a famous buffalo market, no pun intended.
This is a video about a man who built his wife a house about 75 km outside CM, which is good in my opinion, the video that is. His son visiting from England and trying to take stock of his dad's choices. Note what his wife has to say, at the wedding reception, after man built house on the side of a mountain.
These videos are also great of a Thai woman who found a Danish husband and then imported everyone from her village to the same Danish town to find a husband and build a house in Isaan. The best of both worlds I guess, a Thai house and a Danish one, but in fairness, a lot of the sad men in these video’s looked happier for their Thai association. They were still in their hometown with a local job, with their friends and a bit of Thai spice and a few Thai holidays to break the long winters.
Hope you enjoy xxx
If you've got the money and can afford to lose it – and that is the most relevant point – by all means build a mansion. What ought to be acknowledged before embarking on construction is that relationships go bad and when the cultural differences are as great as they typically are in many Western / Thai marriages, it's not unlikely that things will go bad. And if the relationship goes bad and the lion's share of your money is tied up in a house that is not in your name, it is reason for concern…!