Should I Move to Thailand? | Here's What You Need to Know

Your view of Lumpini park if you move to Thailand. Foreigners who move to Thailand can expect to experience bustling cities, topical weather, and amazing culture.

Should I move to Thailand?

A lot of Westerners who are looking for a change in scenery or place of healing are considering moving to this beautiful Southeast Asian country.

Whether they feel unfulfilled with their current situation or want the adventure of living in a foreign country, Thailand remains the number one choice for many expats.

Here, we’ll discuss why the Land of Smiles is a good destination for foreigners, what to consider before making the move, and the steps you need to take to ultimately move to Thailand.

Why Moving to Thailand is a Good Decision

Deciding to move to a foreign country is a serious decision that requires time and research. Here are reasons why Thailand is the destination of choice for many foreigners:

  • The weather - If you are sick and tired of dealing with harsh cold winters, then you’ll find the weather in Thailand to your liking. It is always sunny in Thailand — except for the rainy months. While winters can be cold, they’re never below freezing. Since it doesn’t snow, you won’t have to deal with slippery black ice, a rusty vehicle under-chassis, or the fear of your roof caving in from the heavy buildup of snow.

  • Friendly locals - Thais are generally friendly, warm, and accepting of others, even foreigners. They might not be the best English speakers around, but their determination to communicate and connect with you is admirable. Locals will even use familial endearment terms when referring to you, such as using “pii” and “noong,” depending on whether you are older or younger than them.

  • Delicious food - Thai food is known for its blend of unique flavors and aesthetic appeal. From spicy dishes to mouth-watering seafood to colorful cocktails, there’s always more for you to discover and experience about Thai food culture.

  • Cost of living - Thailand has a relatively low cost of living compared to most Western countries, making it an attractive destination for expats who are looking to make the most of their budget. Food, rent, transportation, and other necessities are less than half the cost in other countries.

  • Beautiful scenery - Thailand is the perfect balance of modern and natural scenery. From lush forests to majestic, modern skylines, Thailand has it all. You can visit larger cities such as the capital, Bangkok, to find modern amenities and a bustling urban landscape, or you can visit parks, beaches, forests, and other natural features to satisfy your green thumb.

  • Easy to travel - There is a variety of transportation options in the country, particularly in the big cities. Trains, cabs, motorcycles, trucks, planes, boats — you name it, they got it. And let’s not forget about the iconic tuk-tuk that’ll make any ride memorable. Thailand also has ridesharing apps to make the daily commute less of a hassle. On top of availability, transportation costs are significantly lower than what you’re used to.

A couple enjoying a tuk-tuk ride. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. In Thailand, get ready to hop onto a tuktuk as part of your daily commute.

Things to Consider Before Deciding to Move to Thailand

Before committing to living in Thailand, the pros and cons need to be seriously considered. Factor these into your decision-making:

  • Visa requirement - Foreigners, such as Americans living in Thailand need to acquire a visa as required by Thai immigration law. Whether you are working or living in the country, it is important to research the right type of visa for your situation to avoid unnecessary hassles from immigration.

  • Weather - The beautiful Thailand weather can be a double-edged sword. Since you are so used to the cold weather of your homeland, the tropical Thai climate might present a new set of complications, especially when it comes to your health. It will take time for you to adjust to the constantly hot and humid climate all year round. That’s why it pays to always be prepared for the local Thai weather by using the appropriate clothing and gear.

  • Healthcare - While Thailand offers a good healthcare system, it may not be up to the same standards as that of Western countries. So if you are an expat living in Thailand, ensure you have adequate health insurance to avoid draining your funds when you get into an accident or experience health issues.

  • Language barrier - Not every Thai local knows how to speak English, so expect that you will have a hard time communicating with them, especially in provinces located far away from the city center where English has little to no use for the locals. Consider living in an area known to have a community that can understand and speak decent English, such as Bangkok.

How to Move to Thailand

Now that moving to Thailand is a very real possiblity, how do you exactly go there? Moving can be a complex process, but with careful planning and preparation, it can be done successfully. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

A photo of a passport. Processing the right kind of visa can help make moving to Thailand easier.

1. Research what type of visa you need to acquire.

You will need a visa to live and work in Thailand. Getting the right type of visa is essential if you want a hassle-free stay. Thailand offers visas such as the following:

  • Thai Elite Visa - A long-term visa categorized under Privilege Entry Visa, which allows residency along with benefits for a period between 5 to 20 years. It is a 5-year renewable multiple-entry visa, which can be extended 1 year per entry. This visa is suited for people who need to fly in and out of Thailand several times a year.

  • Tourist Visa - The Tourist Visa is a 60-day visa that can be multiple or single-entry. It can be extended via a visa run for up to 30 days. You can convert this visa into a Non-Immigrant Visa if you want to extend your stay for more than 30 days.

  • Non-Immigrant Visa - A single entry visa valid for 90 days. You can also extend the length of stay of this visa type by doing a visa run. You can work and open a bank account with this type of visa.

  • One-Year Non-Immigrant Visa - A multiple-entry visa valid for one year. You are allowed to stay for 90 days per entry, so you will need to have your visa stamped at the immigration every 90 days.

  • Marriage Visa - You need to be married to a Thai national to obtain a Marriage Visa. The application process is not complicated as long as you meet the financial requirements.

  • Retirement Visa - Similar to the Marriage Visa, you need to meet special financial requirements to obtain the Retirement Visa. You also need to be 50 years old or above during the application process.

  • Business Visa - This is for people who want to do business legally in Thailand. With this visa, you can open a bank account and get a working permit. However, you will need to do a visa run every 90 days.

  • Permanent Resident Visa - To qualify for a Permanent Resident Visa, you must have stayed in Thailand for three consecutive years, with one-year visa extensions. If you are single, you need to have a monthly income of at least 80,000 Baht or more or less 2,300 USD. But if you are married to a Thai national, you only need a monthly income of at least 30,000 Baht or around 875 USD.

2. Find housing.

Thailand is a long way from home, so before you move, ensure you already have a place to stay. You can search online for suitable housing choices or get assistance from a real estate agent. You can also network with other expats in the area who have real-time information about housing. For example, you can ask expats in Bangkok about housing in the city if your planned destination is the Thai capital.

3. Plan your finances.

Moving can be expensive, and Thailand is no exception. Make sure you have enough money to cover your daily necessities and other expenses. It is recommended to have a surplus of money at your fingertips in case of emergencies. Moving to Thailand with no money or lifeline can be disastrous.

4. Get adequate health insurance.

As mentioned, healthcare in Thailand may not be up to par with Western standards. So before moving, you need to ensure you have adequate health insurance that will cover any medical expenses you may incur.

A photo of a duffel bag and a passport. Expats in Bangkok should prioritize their finances and banking options before making the move.

5. Pack your belongings.

If you’re moving permanently, you’ll need to pack and ship your belongings. Research customs requirements and shipping regulations before sending your items to avoid problems.

6. Purchase a ticket.

With your belongings packed, all that’s needed is your ticket to Thailand. You can search for the best deals online or get help from a ticketing agent. If you are moving to Thailand from the USA, you can find direct flights to Bangkok from certain cities, such as San Francisco.

7. Register with your embassy.

Living in Thailand as an American or any other Westerner can be difficult because of the distance. This is why it’s important you immediately register with your embassy as soon as you arrive. This will ensure that you receive important updates and information from your home country.

8. Open a bank account.

Once you’re finally settled in, you’ll need to open a bank account to make it easier to manage your finances and pay for expenses while living in the country.

9. Enjoy your stay.

You’ve finally moved to Thailand and a new adventure awaits you. Always remember to be on your best behavior to keep out of trouble, and learn about Thai culture to make the adjustment phase easier. Whether you are moving to Bangkok from the US or any part of the world, know that the Land of Smiles is happy to welcome you with open arms.

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