Developer In View: Living in Thailand

Thailand boasts modern comforts and amenities at very affordable prices compared to the Western world. If you are thinking about moving to Thailand, you’ll want to do your research, get the correct visas, physically relocate and find a place to live. Living in Thailand offers expats a life in an amazing country that has stunningly beautiful natural landscapes, exotic beach islands, national parks, nature reserves and historical culturally rich cities.

The people of Thailand are well known for their friendly nature and they are extremely proud of their rich cultural heritage. The culture and lifestyle of the people living in Thailand is influenced by their Buddhist or Hindu religions and their ethnic and cultural diversity is heavily celebrated and revered. There are a multitude of colourful festivals and events held throughout the year, which means that there’s always something happening for expats to enjoy. One very important note is that Thai people are very serious about their monarchy and you should never pass any criticism. Portraits and images are expected to be treated with respect or you may find yourself in serious trouble.

Living Costs in Thailand
The cost of living in Thailand is very reasonable when compared to most of the western world. If you are interested in Property realise that Thailand has stringent regulations for foreigners and to acquire and own property you must follow Thai law. Property and land ownership for foreigners is difficult and strict. Private land ownership is basically impossible unless through a lease agreement or a company. Never, never take short cuts with this and always use a reputable International lawyer. Despite this, renting and leasing (30 years is the norm here) is actually economical when compared with western nations. Prices both for buying, leasing or renting will also depend heavily on location, a beach plot on Samui will cost serious money while go inland a couple of kilometres and the prices are much more reasonable, go further onto the mainland up North for example and they are amazingly inexpensive compared to our home countries

Language
The principal language spoken in Thailand is Thai, with significant minorities speaking Chinese, Lao, Khmer and Malay. A large percentage of the Thai population speaks English, but again this much depends on location. In the busy tourist areas, it is much more common to find locals having a good English knowledge than up country.

Thailand is an Amazing Expat Destination
There is a large diverse expat community in Thailand, which includes retirees, executive managers, students, teachers and business owners. There are now countless websites and forums for Expats, offering absolutely every bit of information you might need.
People are attracted to the lifestyle here, which allows them a peaceful Thai way of life in a beautiful location.

Visas
There are, however, some drawbacks to locating yourself here as an expat. Visa regulations can be a pain and can take quite a bit of both patience and paperwork. If you are prepared to face such difficulties however you can be guaranteed an interesting lifestyle in a very pleasant climate. Again, a small piece of advice, do not take short cuts. It may seem like a huge run around and waste of time but doing things the correct legal way will only ensure your stay is care free. Some foreigners use a loophole to avoid getting a visa, but this cannot be advised and will generally mean problems in the future. Often acquiring the appropriate documents for entry and a longer stay in Thailand is easier from the Thai Embassy in your home country. Normal entry at an airport will only give you 30 days which can be extended but getting along stay visa or a Business Visa is only available generally outside of Thailand. Applying for a retirement visa is quite simple and only needs a certain amount of money on a Thai bank account and that you are over 50.

Food and Dining
You will find quite a difference in the price of Thai and western food here. The local restaurants can be ridiculously low-priced and most local people will eat out on a daily basis because as it is really cheaper than cooking at home. The price of western food, however, will largely be on a par with the price of food in the west or a touch cheaper. Wine is very expensive here, but beer and local spirits can be purchased at a reasonable price. Anything that is imported gets taxed heavily, but the local food and beer are exceptional.

Living in Thailand: Jobs and Work Permits
There are some job opportunities available for expats, but these are usually only available via internal company transfers or are jobs that are secured from their home country prior to arriving in Thailand. People who are willing to work in the local community will find it relatively easy to find a job if they are prepared to work for a very low salary. Many expats move to Thailand to start their own business or to teach English but note if you partake in any work whatsoever you must have a valid work permit. Work permits can only be issued through a company and the number of work permits allowed is relative to the size of the company and how many Thais they employ too. Also, there is a complete list of jobs that foreigners are allowed to do, many jobs that a local could do for example will be illegal for a foreigner. Working without a work permit can mean immediate jail and deportation, they are very serious about this. Doing things, the right way might sound difficult, but it is not impossible (we all do it) and getting the correct visa and or work permit means piece of mind.

Some Important Facts You Should Know About Living in Thailand
Thai people call westerners “farang” (foreigner) They will often call you this even if they know your real first name. Although it sounds negative they do not mean anything detrimental and believe me you will be called “Farang” often.
It is very common for the Thai people to double or triple park and they often leave their cars in neutral so that the owner of the car that has been blocked in can push the car out of the way. Don’t be surprised if you return from a visit to the beach to find a car parked in front of your own, you’ll be expected to push it out of the way like everyone else.
If you drive yourself make sure you get a correct international driving license or a Thai License if you’re staying longer, if you ride a motorbike realise that road accidents are very high in Thailand and although helmet regulations are not often enforced it will save your life.

Travel
Thailand is smack-bang in the middle of everything. It’s three hours to Hong Kong, two hours to Singapore, four hours to Bali, and half way between Australia and Europe. You can get to many places cheaply and easily from Thailand, which, for many is very appealing.