Moving To Thailand

living in thailand templeThere are many options for expats to explore when looking for a new country to move to. Thailand has been a popular choice for many years and continues to entice expats with its low cost of living, year-round warm temperatures, exotic locale and culture, and those famous smiling faces that have earned Thailand its nickname: LOS (“Land of Smiles”).

Thailand Cost of Living

Does Thailand have a low cost of living? It really depends on how the expat chooses to live. If you follow the “when in Thailand, do as the Thais” rule, then, yes, it can be quite affordable. A simple meal of stir-fried rice can cost as little as THB30 (THB30 = USD1).

Western Style Restaurants

But go to an Italian or French restaurant and a meal can run to thousands of baht! Locally grown and produced items are usually affordable, but anything that is imported will be subject to Thailand’s 18th century tariff system.

Is the climate enjoyable for expats? It is a hot, humid tropical climate with a rainy season from April to October, and a dry season from November to March. For people coming from cold climates, it can be a welcome relief from shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks.

Thailand Climate

For some expats, the climate can be too warm, especially in places like Phuket in the south, and especially during the summer months. Some expats choose to live further north, in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai is a quiet little town and has become increasingly popular with expats.

Exotic Landscapes

Is the culture and the landscape exotic? It depends again on where the expat chooses to settle. Bangkok is an enormous cosmopolitan city of 10 million people. It has skyscrapers, significant traffic congestion and smog, and everything that an expat would ever need, including top-notch health care and fabulous condos. Is it exotic? Yes, but not as exotic as other places in Thailand.

Exploring smaller cities or even towns and villages will give an expat a more realistic feel for what it means to live in Thailand. For many people, Bangkok is not Thailand: Bangkok is Bangkok. There is a saying that if you haven’t visited Chiang Mai, then you haven’t seen the real Thailand.

This goes for expats as well: what it really means is that any expat who is considering a move to Thailand would do well to explore several different areas before making a decision.

Smiles? Yes! Everyone? No, of course not: everyone has a bad day, including Thai people. But in general, if they are not already smiling and the expat or visitor smiles, Thai people cannot help but light up with a warm smile.

Cultural Differences

There are major cultural differences that the expat will need to be prepared for, or learn the hard way. These include Thai time (“I’ll be there in five minutes?” Try an hour! Or three.), truth (Thais tend to tell people what they think they want to hear, not necessarily the truth), and money (there are many needy people in Thailand, and the expat who learns a little of the language will soon find out that nearly all conversations among Thai people have to do with money).

There is no perfect place to live in this world, but expats who are looking for an affordable and exotic location should consider Thailand. As long as they do their homework!

About Edward

Edward Alan Kurtz is an American writer. He specializes in writing works of fiction and non-fiction for children, as well as travel books and articles. Mr. Kurtz was born in Pennsylvania and completed several university degrees. He lived for many years in Honolulu, Hawaii, and now lives and writes in Thailand.