Thinking of moving to Thailand

With its warm climate and welcoming culture, it’s easy to see why Thailand is so appealing to those looking for a new lifestyle abroad.  There is a very diverse expat community in Thailand, which includes retirees, executive managers, students, teachers and business owners. Kimberley Millhouse, Senior Move Manager at Crown Relocations, has put together some information for those who are considering moving to Thailand.

• Visas - If you are planning to work in Thailand  then you will most probably need a non-b (working) visa. However, this visa alone doesn’t allow you to work in Thailand; you will need to apply for a separate work permit once you have moved there. To retire in Thailand you have to be over the age of 50 and have some kind of financial stability. You will also need a police records check as well as a health check.

• Housing - Thailand has a mix of apartments, houses and land available for those who wish to buy or rent once they move to the country. In major cities such as Bangkok, the most popular type of housing is in apartments and this is the most common type of property for expats to purchase. Houses are much rarer in the cities, but in the suburbs they are the more popular option. In the more affluent suburbs it is common for houses to have swimming pools as well as large gardens and garages. Many expats tend to contact relocation companies and local real estate agents, as well as searching on the internet when looking for somewhere to live.

• Transport - Many expat executives will have a company car and driver included in their package, eliminating the need to purchase a car. If you don't and you plan on living in a large town or city, you may choose not to own your own vehicle, as taxis and Tuk Tuks are a quick and easy way of getting around. If you do decide to drive, you’ll find the roads vary from tiny tracks to four lane freeways; the road quality is generally good, particularly the highways. All traffic signs are in Thai, though in some areas you may find that there are English translations on the sign as well.

• Language – The language of Thailand is Thai and there are different dialects in use around the country. It is a good idea to take lessons, as language skills are essential for those who want to apply to become Thai citizens in the future. When dealing with utility companies and government agencies there are no guarantees of finding English speakers, so this is another reason to learn the language. Lessons can be costly so it is a good idea to practise with locals where possible; this way it will be easier for you to pick the language up and in return they will always be grateful to learn some English.

• Banking - Opening a bank account in Thailand can prove quite challenging as rules and policies tend to change from bank to bank, but also from branch to branch. It is often easier to organise this once you have obtained all your paperwork proving you are a Thailand resident

• Weather – The weather in Thailand is mainly tropical with high levels of humidity, with slight regional variation and seasonal change. The country experiences heavy monsoons from July through to November when rain showers can be extremely heavy and last for hours. Sunshine levels are naturally lower during the monsoon season due to increased cloud coverage. Temperatures in Thailand move up and down depending on locale; the north is the coolest area and the mercury rises farther south.  Even during the cool season daily temperatures can reach 20°C (68°F), and during the hot season averages settle around 34°C (93°F). It is important you don’t sit in an air conditioned room all of the time as the only way to acclimatise is to gradually expose yourself to the weather.

• Social Life - Thai people are very open and friendly, so get involved with the local community and your efforts will be rewarded.  The wai is the traditional greeting – it is made by pressing the fingers and palms together at chest level while slightly bowing the head. The wai serves several functions: saying hello, showing respect to a senior and asking forgiveness. A wai will always be returned, unless it is from a child.

• Schools and Education – Many expats in Thailand choose to send their children to private schools. Public schools are usually overcrowded and teach primarily in Thai. The private schools follow a foreign curriculum and are also popular with wealthier Thai students. International schools follow curriculum from many different countries with the most popular being British and American.

Before making your move, make sure you do your research and speak to someone who has lived there themselves to gain some real perspective. The Thai culture and way of life is very different to what you may have been used to, so be prepared to experience a degree of culture shock. Allow time to settle in and meet new people. If you are willing to live a Thai lifestyle then Thailand can be an inexpensive and thoroughly enjoyable place to live.