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Moving to Thailand: what you need to know

Posted by Gates Asia on March 5, 2024
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It’s no novelty that Thailand attracts many expatriates every year, for a variety of reasons: its relaxed lifestyle, varied and delicious cuisine, dynamic culture, numerous sandy beaches, lush nature, but also an open culture and a deeply caring people.

Despite all this, however, and to ensure a smooth transition, it’s a good idea to get informed on a number of points to help you settle into a country that, like any other, has its share of challenges.

  1. Cost of living.

So, what should you take into account when comparing your lifestyle in your home country with that in Thailand? First of all, it’s a good idea to be aware of the cost of accommodation, transport and leisure activities, as well as more serious matters such as medical expenses and the legal and administrative costs involved in applying for visas and work permits.

Thailand has a very modern and sophisticated medical system, accessible to Westerners and locals alike. However, the country has no medical cover, so you’ll need to take out additional insurance to avoid the unpleasant surprise of having to pay a very high hospital bill in the event of accident or illness.

To determine the budget you’ll need, it’s important to understand your lifestyle and how you plan to spend your money. A simple lifestyle and delicious local cuisine don’t require a lot of spending, but if you’re looking to travel, discover many of Thailand’s sights and are culinarily homesick, bear in mind that imported Western food will always be more expensive.

  1. Choosing your destination.

Once again, it’s very important to determine your lifestyle and to know what you’re looking for when you move to Thailand. The country offers many different lifestyles:

  • Its capital offers plenty to do, with Michelin-starred restaurants, numerous shopping malls, traditional temples, rooftops, trendy nightclubs and typical night markets. The economy is vibrant and the professional sector booming, which can guarantee easy employment for a qualified foreigner.
  • Northern Thailand, with its many mountainous areas, offers a slower, more relaxed way of life than Bangkok. The cost of living is lower, and it’s obviously easier to access outdoor leisure activities such as hiking, climbing and rafting, but also very easy to find a community of expatriates around a coworking café. Discover the region’s verdant wilderness, its many towns still untouched by tourism and its authentic Thai side.
  • For those who love life in the sun, southern Thailand, with its fine sandy beaches and turquoise waters, already welcomes many expatriates from all over the world. This tropical lifestyle, where nature meets the best of the modern world, also offers a wide range of activities all year round. The nightlife is lively and there are many islands yet to be discovered, testifying to the authenticity and traditional culture of the land of smiles. Whether you’re looking for luxury or adventure at the end of the world, southern Thailand boasts a huge number of islands, some of them still undeveloped, but now easy to discover with all the facilities in place.
  1. Visas

It’s a habit you’ll need to get used to: a visa is necessary not only to live in the country, but also for all administrative procedures such as renting accommodation or simply opening a bank account.

Your employer can help you obtain a non-B visa, or a legal representative can organize the process for you.

However, it’s very important to understand which type of visa best suits your situation. Heavy fines and even a ban on entering the country can be imposed if you overstay your visa or fail to comply with local legislation.

  1. Health insurance

The country benefits from highly-developed and sophisticated health care institutions, but these can prove costly, especially for major operations. A simple health insurance policy will give you peace of mind in the event of medical treatment, whether in public or private establishments.

  1. Speaking Thai

As the country is already very open to tourism, it’s not vital to speak Thai. Signs are often displayed with an English translation. In the capital, local shops and locals will have a basic knowledge of English, which will enable minimal communication. However, a basic knowledge of the language will go a long way towards making your life in the country more comfortable, helping you to adapt to your new surroundings, melt into a new culture and create lasting, quality bonds with Thai people, both in the workplace and in your everyday life. Even if learning the language may seem difficult, there are many schools today that adapt their programs to expatriates.

  1. Thai culture

To integrate easily into the country, it’s a good idea to learn a few things about Thai culture and the rules of society. For example, taking off your shoes when entering a house, a temple or certain stores is highly recommended to avoid committing a mistake.

It’s also very important to return the favor when a Thai greets you, and to keep in mind that monks, the royal family and the elderly are highly respected in Thailand.

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