The Pros and Cons of Expat Life in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, thanks to its natural beauty and amazing food. More people are now also choosing to move to Thailand, to live permanently and enjoy all its benefits all year round. However, like any destination, Thailand has both benefits and drawbacks, and it’s important for anyone thinking about moving there to consider both sides.
Pros of Living in Thailand as an Expat
One of the obvious benefits of living in Thailand is the amazing scenery all across the country. It has a huge variety of landscapes, from beautiful sandy beaches to towering mountains, to green jungles. The cities also offer a special kind of beauty, with a mix of traditional and modern architecture. Many cities also have bustling, colourful markets and gorgeous gardens to enjoy. Expats in Thailand are able to constantly experience all of the beauty of the country.
Thanks to it being a popular tourist destination, Thailand attracts expats from all over the world looking to take advantage of the business opportunities in the tourism industry. So, you will always find expats who are looking for friends and going through the same experience as you of getting used to living in a new country. There are many expat clubs and events held over Thailand, making it easy to meet new people.
There’s a reason Thai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. Famous Thai dishes include Pad Thai and Tom Yum, which both showcase how Thai food beautifully blends flavours, sweet and spicy, salty and sour. Most dishes include natural ingredients and can be quite healthy, with lots of vegetables. In fact, it’s a country where it’s very easy to find dishes as a vegetarian, with most restaurants offering a variety of vegetable-based dishes. Some Thai food can be very spicy, and many restaurants will offer ‘Thai spice’ and ‘foreigner spice’ so you can choose what’s appropriate for you.
Most people in Thailand are friendly and will be happy to offer help to those that need it. This can be really beneficial when you have just moved to a new place and might need some help to find your way around or learn the local etiquette.
However, expats should take care in larger cities and tourist hotspots, where some people might offer ‘VIP services’ to English speakers, which are just a way to get them to pay out money that they shouldn’t need to.
Lots to Do
Thailand offers plenty of opportunities to have fun and take in local culture. Thailand is famous for its busy nightlife, with lots of bars and beach parties open late into the night. There are also more cultural activities, like art galleries and historic temples to visit, as well as outdoor activities like hiking and diving in the sea. Expats usually find they can take advantage of these activities at a discount in the low season when there are fewer tourists around.
Thailand also holds many festivals and local events throughout the year, like Songkran, the Thai New Year celebration which involves a country-wide water fight. There’s also Phi Ta Kohn, or Ghost Festival, which combines religious traditions and handicrafts, with locals donning colourful masks for a parade.
Low Cost of Living
Local goods are generally very cheap in Thailand, including local food and petrol. Imports of western food and also some alcohol can be expensive, but if expats stick to the local produce, they can live quite comfortably for a small amount of money.
Travelling around the country is also considerably cheap, with train fares, tuk-tuks and taxis all providing a low-cost and easy way to get around. However, expats should take care in some places which are more popular with tourists, as some taxis may charge more for English speakers. Its best to negotiate the price with the driver before you get in the taxi.
Cons of Living in Thailand as an Expat
If you’ve visited Thailand for a holiday, you probably enjoyed lovely sunny weather. But living there all year round means you’ll be presented with some extreme weather which isn’t always pleasant. It can be very hot and humid in Thailand, meaning it can be muggy and uncomfortable for a lot of the time.
The Thai rainy season can also present unpredictable weather and a lot of rainfall, the most being between August and October, depending on where you are in Thailand. There can be heavy downpours and thunder storms, which can all make it difficult to make plans and to get around.
Whilst there is a variety of accommodation types available in Thailand, expats might find that it can be expensive. Landlords will often charge a higher price to English speakers, assuming that they can pay more and won’t be able to negotiate. Expats should ask a Thai speaker to negotiate rent on their behalf, so they don’t get stuck paying too much.
Quality of Schools
Many public schools in Thailand, particularly in rural areas, are underfunded and so may not provide the standard of education expats are used to. They usually have large classes, typically with 40 pupils or more, so it can be difficult for individual pupils to get the attention they need. Some public schools in more urban areas, like Bangkok, have a very high standard of education, so it’s best to for expats to research schools in the area they intend to live.
Unless the child is a Thai national (with at least one Thai parent) fees will have to be paid for public education. There are also private schools and international schools, where fees will be higher but where the standard of education will also be increased.
The public healthcare system in Thailand is typically understaffed and under-resourced. This means that expats using the public health system can often face long wait times.
Private hospitals can provide shorter wait times and also often have English-speaking staff. However, private healthcare in Thailand can be expensive, so it’s always best to get international health insurance. Or, another expat insurance product that suits your needs even more.
Expatriate Group is an expert in insurance for expats, providing comprehensive healthcare policies worldwide. If you’re looking for health insurance in Thailand, you can get a quote or contact us to speak to our friendly advisers.