Forget the beach. Head for the hills? It’s hard to deny that for many property buyers the allure of an island home equates to a vision of beachfront real estate. Yes, the Robinson Crusoe in all of us is an inner beast that cannot be easily shaken. That same beast still needs to be fed vast amounts of cold hard cash, and for many that simply is not possible.

In Phuket the amount of oceanfront land is a fixed number. It will unlikely be increased and in many cases as building restrictions tighten, the finite is shrinking. Yes, I know the potential for reclamation is a possibility, but that is still on the horizon.

That said, real estate investors will not doubt tune in to the fact that for the most part prime west coast villas on the water’s edge have experienced high levels of capital appreciation over the past decade as have the limited number of condominiums and apartments.

The same cannot be said once you cross the road, and here lies the crux of beachfront and off-beach properties. Views, geography play into the equation as does the quality and reputation of an estate. That of course supposes you are buying into a bigger picture.

There is little doubt that island’s are much like cites in that development shifts, the landscape changes and urbanization is a simple reality of life. So for real estate buyers who are priced out from the beach, where should they invest? Heading for the hills may not always be the answer given the island’s eighty-meter limitation on development.

But the reality is that on a broad basis, coastal hillside homes and condominiums generally trade at premium values. Of course there are exceptions but it’s good to understand that perceived value on views and elevations can’t be ignored.

My advice to prospective buyers is always the same. Don’t land at the airport and transact the first property you look at. Do some research, look at values by areas, talk to owners of existing real estate. If you are considering a villa or condominium in an estate or village understand the reputation, and any issues with the current owners. Go deep, and get a good lawyer once you finalize your choice.

If possible come to Phuket, rent a property first before you buy. There are difference courses for different horses and finding a social circle, community and access to what’s important to you are not uniform in any manner.

Despite Phuket being an island, it has a rich diversity of real estate and most certainly it’s not just about a home on the beach. Get off the couch, explore, research and the key to unlocking value is not just random luck but it’s a payback of the time you put into the process.