Moving to Thailand A Guide to get you started:

So, you think you might want to move to Thailand but you have absolutely no idea where to start. Welcome to the club! Everyone that emigrates feels like this at the beginning.

The prospect of leaving everything you know behind and embracing a whole new culture can be overwhelming to say the least. While there certainly is a lot to think about and organise, the good news is that the process can also be fun and exciting.

First thing’s first. You need to figure out why it is you want to move to Thailand. There are lots of benefits to living here, the food and accommodation prices are lower than in the west, the weather is good all year round and the people are generally happy and smiley.

The downsides are the smokey season and the rainy season. If you want to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle then Thailand could be the place for you.

So what are some of the questions you should ask yourself before moving to Thailand?

Apart from the obvious questions like how long can I stay, do I need a visa etc (we will get to those questions in a second) You might want to ask yourself some personal questions, such as how will my friends and family react, and am I really prepared to leave the people I know and love behind?

It’s surprising how many people fail to consider this before emigrating. In fact a lot of people avoid asking these questions because they are fearful of how their family and friends will react to their decision. Technologies like Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook can help you to keep in touch with your loved ones while you’re living in Thailand.

So how long can you stay in Thailand?

Well, there’s no easy answer to that question as it depends on a number of factors such as your age, how much money you have in the bank, your country of origin and the reason you want to move there.

There are a number of different visas you can apply for including a single entry visa, a multiple entry visa, an education visa, a volunteering visa and the list goes on.

Be aware that there is some information on the internet that is a little bit outdated, so you need to look for the most current information you can find and it’s not a bad idea to visit the official websites of Thailand’s government to get the correct and current information.

Each of the visas mentioned above allows a different length of stay. The most common type of visa is the single entry tourist visa which can give you 60 to 90 days depending on where you are travelling from. This is the easiest visa to get hold of.

If you don’t mind jumping through a few hoops, then the multiple entry visa can get you 6 months in Thailand. You need to have the equivalent of £5,000 in your bank and a letter from your employers to qualify for this Visa.

For an even longer stay you can opt for the Education visa. Typically this involves signing up for Thai lessons in a local school. Prices for this vary and you have to be sure that the school you choose has a good reputation as there are some scam schools, but it usually means spending 4 hours or so a week learning Thai, if you do this you can get a visa that lasts for 12 months.

The Volunteer visa also lasts for 12 months and is a similar deal to the education visa, but with the Volunteer visa you spend a certain amount of time each week volunteering. There is also a marriage visa and a retirement visa for people over 50.

Medical care in Thailand

A lot of people worry about whether they can get good medical care in Thailand. You can buy health insurance in Thailand and the quality of care is actually quite high, so much so that people from western countries travel there to get medical care all the time.

You can easily find English-speaking doctors and dentists in Thailand. But be aware that private hospitals charge a lot more than local pharmacies and clinics. If you are travelling on a tourist visa and have travel insurance then that should protect you. There are plenty of local clinics where you can get basic medical care, although the likelihood of there being an English speaker in these clinics is much less.

How much money do I need?

A lot of people underestimate how much money it takes to move countries. Yes the cost of living in Thailand is low. But you still need to pay for your flights and your accommodation upfront (if using an airbnb for example). If you are selling your possessions to move to Thailand then obviously that will be a good source of funding for your trip.

It’s a good idea to budget for clothing, a few apartment items and a possible visa run. Also if you want to take in some of the tourist attractions then factor these into your budget as well.

It’s easy for foreigners to over pay for things in Thailand in the first few months so factor that in. It’s a good idea to give yourself time to get the hang of how everything works and figure out where the cheapest places are.

Whereabouts should you stay in Thailand?

Here’s why you need to do a bit of research. Not everywhere in Thailand is the same. Bangkok is much busier than Chiang Mai for example and the vibe is totally different. Someone who enjoys night life and being in a bustling city environment would be better suited to Bangkok.

A digital nomad who just wants a laid-back lifestyle or an opportunity to start their own business online would be much better off in Chiang Mai which has plenty of communal working spaces and good Wi-Fi.

Pollution is also a concern, Bangkok has the worst pollution, but somewhere like Chiang Mai has the smoking season where the rice fields are burnt and it gets very smoky.

Other things to consider might be whether you want to live near a beach, In a quiet area, or whether you want to be where there are plenty of jobs.

If you are using airbnb it’s really easy to try out different locations and see what you like the best. So just have fun and experiment if you’re not too sure.

What do I need to bring with me?

You might be tempted to bring everything but the kitchen sink to Thailand for fear that you will not be able to find what you are looking for once you get here. I would suggest that you bring a good pair of sandals as the shoes in Thailand are not the best quality. Also if you are going to be here during the rainy season then it can be difficult to find waterproof trousers and jackets so perhaps bring those with you.

Most other things you can find when you get here. You can easily find cheap basic furniture, toiletries and cleaning supplies and clothing that isn’t Branded. Branded clothing is not as cheap. It’s a good idea to travel as light as you possibly can as it just makes your journey easier, less stressful and more enjoyable.

What documents will I need?

Thailand is a very bureaucratic country so you need to always make sure that you have your paperwork in order. It’s a good idea to take several copies of your driver’s licence and passport as they will definitely be requested by a variety of different companies.

You’ll also need to bring your birth certificate, any house ownership paperwork, proof of income, medical certificates, marriage certificate, degree certificates and transcripts as well as tax / social security / National Insurance etc.

You need to draw two lines through any photocopies and sign and date them. The reason you do this is to avoid people stealing your personal information.

Finding somewhere to stay

The easiest way to find somewhere to stay is to just use airbnb. There are plenty of properties available in a variety of different price ranges so you should easily find something that suits your budget.

Once you have been here for a while you may want to look into renting an apartment on a longer term, however this isn’t necessary as you can continue to move between different properties on airbnb.

Hopefully you now feel a bit more comfortable with the idea of moving to Thailand. It really is an exciting adventure and definitely worthwhile. As long as you do your research you should be absolutely fine. I wish you the very best of luck with your personal journey.

Phoebe Hodgkinson-meadows

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