For people who want to live overseas, Thailand is both a practical and exciting option. There are plenty of business and real estate opportunities, and, judging by the number of foreign expats who choose to live in Thailand, the quality of life is good.
Before you actually take action and start planning your move to Thailand, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself. The ten questions here are not necessarily meant to make you rethink your decision to relocate, but to help you make the right choices about where to live in Thailand and what kind of lifestyle you want to create for yourself.
1. DO YOU WANT TO RENT?
If you want to live in Thailand, but you’re not yet sure you will stay there long-term, renting is the obvious choice. Luckily, you won’t be limited to hotel rooms and apartments even if you agree to a short-term lease: high-quality condo buildings and beachside developments often offer short-term or monthly rental options like these villas for rent in Samui. This makes it possible for you to live in a home-like setting without committing to a major lease agreement or a real estate purchase.
2. WILL YOU BE WORKING OR LOOKING FOR A JOB?
If you are moving to Thailand to retire (which many people choose to do), then location doesn’t matter much; you can just choose the place you like the most. If you’re working, however, you’ll want to be in a place conducive to business. Most expats end up in Bangkok because that’s where their place of work is located, but you can also find a few jobs in Chiang Mai and larger southern destinations like Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui. Even if you do have to live in Bangkok, you’ll be very close to these beach destinations, so a weekend getaway is always possible.
3. DO YOU WANT TO INVEST IN REAL ESTATE?
Thailand is a great place to invest in real estate, but you need to be aware of what’s involved. In order to invest, you’ll have to set up a shell company, because foreign residents are not legally allowed to own property. Foreign companies, on the other hand, can own real estate as long as they have Thai shareholders. Investing can be very lucrative, but you’ll need to be prepared for this kind of red tape.
4. DO YOU WANT A BIG CITY EXPERIENCE?
Bangkok is a huge city, and it’s arguably Southeast Asia’s most exciting place. If you decide that you need to be near shopping malls and massive night markets, Bangkok is certainly the place for you. In the big city, you’ll have a huge number of restaurant choices, ample nightlife options, and a full calendar of events to choose from. Bangkok is crowded, but savvy expats will quickly learn how to avoid traveling at peak times and how to beat traffic jams by using the train system.
5. CAN YOU LIVE NEAR THE BEACH?
Thailand has some amazing beach destinations. Even if they don’t live in these places, expats visit often. The quality of life in places like Phuket and Koh Samui, though, makes it worthwhile to seriously ask yourself if you can realistically and practically live near the beach.
6. WHAT KIND OF WEATHER DO YOU PREFER?
The tropics might sound enticing, but it can get very hot and humid. Bangkok is sometimes considered the hottest major city on earth. And yes, you will probably have air conditioning, but it can still be uncomfortable to go outside. If you can’t stand heat, Chiang Mai might be a better option: this city sits at elevation, so it’s generally much cooler than most of the rest of the country.
7. WHAT KIND OF TRANSPORTATION WILL YOU USE?
After a house, transportation is the next big item on your planning list. Bangkok has a useful transportation system. Other destinations have an informal public transportation network, with buses, taxis, and modified pickup trucks called songthaews. Some expats have cars or motorcycles, but most rely on public transit. A moped or bicycle can be useful in some places, but taxis are generally cheap enough.
8. DO YOU PLAN TO TRAVEL AROUND THE REGION?
Some expats travel often in Thailand or around the region to Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Cambodia. When planning your budget, it’s good to keep this option in mind. Low-cost airlines make almost any destination in the region ideal for a weekend getaway.
9. WHAT ASPECTS OF THAI CULTURE DO YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE?
Some expats want to immerse themselves in Thai culture, while others prefer to spend time around other expats. They enjoy the feeling of community that comes from mixing with other expats. The type of experience you want to have will affect your choice of where you want to live and how you choose to spend your free time.
10. DO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN A DEVELOPMENT?
This is actually a very important question. Developments often offer great value for people seeking luxury villas and homes in Samui. Good developments in places like Koh Samui offer great build quality, stylish design, and extra services to residents. A few will even help you rent out your property when you’re not there, so you can earn some income.
With solid, honest answers to these questions, you’ll be able to not only decide if you actually want to move to Thailand — you’ll also be able to accurately plan what kind of living situation and what kind of lifestyle you want to have when you get there.