Thailand is an Asian country synonymous with tropical beaches, crystal clear sea, impenetrable jungle and Buddhist temples. That is why many foreigners dream of moving to Thailand.
The country is about the size of France and has 68 million inhabitants. Thailand is ruled by a military junta and the highest national authority is the king, whose effigies can be seen in every corner of the country.
The official language is Thai, English is rarely spoken in the tourist areas and major cities, but if you are moving away from these areas, knowledge of Thai is essential. The number of immigrants in Thailand is 1,200,000 (about 2% of the population). But there are also many foreigners who do not officially reside in the country but stay for long periods of time, whether for a holiday or on business.
Moving to Thailand visas
For stays of less than 30 days for tourist purposes, citizens of some countries do not need a visa. In this case, you will be issued a VOA (visa on arrival) upon entry, which is valid for 30 days and can be extended for another 30 days. You must have a return ticket. In all other cases, you will need a visa to enter Thailand.
Thailand tourist visa
There are different types of tourist visas:
- tourist visa for single entry with a duration of 60 days, which can be extended for another 30 days for a fee of 1,900 baht. It allows a maximum total stay of 3 months
- double entry tourist visa valid for 180 days. After the first 60 days, you must go to an immigration office to apply for an extension of another 30 days at the cost of 1900 baht. After 90 days, you must leave the country. It allows a maximum total stay of 6 months (with one exit / return)
- a multiple entry tourist visa that is valid for 180 days and allows you to enter and exit the country as many times as you like until the visa expires. (in any case, you must leave the country after 60 days)
If you stay in Thailand longer than your tourist visa allows, you will be fined 500 baht for each additional day up to a maximum of 20,000 baht and may be arrested and banned from entering the country.
Thailand work visa
The Work Visa (Nonimmigrant Visa B) is issued to foreigners who wish to work or do business in Thailand. This visa can be issued for single entry and lasts for 3 months, but can be extended up to 12 months. Or multiple-entry and it lasts for 12 months. In order to get this visa, you need to find an employer who wants to hire you (sponsor).
Very important: you must check if the job you want to do is one of the jobs prohibited for foreigners. All jobs that can be performed by Thais are prohibited for foreigners.
A company that hires a foreigner must employ at least four Thai employees for each foreigner. The minimum wage paid to the foreign worker must be at least 50,000 baht per month (about $1,400 at the current exchange rate). However, even though this is the law, there are many companies that do not comply with it. Bribing an official or policeman to turn a blind eye is common practice in Thailand.
Thailand student visa
With a student visa (non-immigrant visa E-D), you can stay in Thailand for a year without any problems if you enroll in a language school to take Thai or English courses. There are many schools in the cities or tourist spots of Thailand. The cost is between €500 and €1,000 and the visa has a duration of 12 months (the duration of the course).
Visa over 50 Thailand
The Over 50 visa (O-A non-immigrant visa) is issued to retirees and people over 50 who do not want to stay in Thailand for more than 12 months without working. To do so, you must have a monthly income of at least 65,000 baht or a balance of at least 800,000 baht in a Thai bank.
For more information on visas, you can refer to the Thai Government website.
I want also to report Living and Working in Bangkok, a useful guide.
Moving to Thailand, finding accommodation
90% of foreigners live in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Housing costs vary greatly depending on the area and type of apartment, for example, a small apartment in Bangkok can cost €300/350, the same apartment in Chiang Mai costs €200/250. Very often there are no appliances in the kitchen, so it is not possible to cook at home. Inform yourself well.
Real estate websites
- Renthub, properties all over Thailand
- Craigslist, international website
- Thaiapartment, accommodation in Bangkok
- Perfecthomes, accommodation in Chiang Mai
- Chiangmaihouse, accommodation in Chiang Mai
- Facebook group, Chiang Mai
- Facebook group, Phuket
- Facebook group, Bangkok
Move to Thailand, Health insurance
Foreigners in Thailand are not covered by the public health service. Therefore, if you do not want to pay for medical treatment, which can be very expensive, you will need to purchase private health insurance. The cost varies depending on where you are staying and the extent of coverage. In any case, it is better to take out a policy with a European company (Zurich, AXA, Europ Assistance, etc.), which offers higher guarantees than the Thai one.
Moving to Thailand, conclusion
When people decide to move to Thailand after experiencing it as a tourist, they think they are leaving all their problems behind. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different.
The first obstacle to overcome as a resident is the visa. Documents, paperwork and immigration lawyers. You have to go from office to office, and that costs time and money.
Then, unless you are a retiree, you will do what most foreigners do in Thailand: you will open a business. And again, papers, documents, permits, work permits, consultants to pay, etc. And forget the English, all the documents are in Thai only.
Once you open the business, you will think that everything is in order. Instead, you are just starting out and will have to deal with the Immigration Department, the Labor Department, the Social Security Department, the Tax Department, all sorts of police agencies, and dozens of other agencies that will come periodically to check on your business and, as a foreigner, will look forward to penalizing you.
And as if that were not enough, you will be constantly busy with bureaucratic procedures: renewing your work permit, then that of your employees (if you have foreign employees), then the financial report of your company, then the budget and so on. Every week you’ll have to photocopy your passport and sign new documents, all in Thai, of which you do not understand a comma, and you can only hope that your translator will not get you into trouble for a signature you have made on one of the hundreds of papers you have signed without really knowing what exactly you are signing.
And for those who decide to open a business, after some time amidst problems, discussions, paperwork, documents, lawyers and bribes, Thailand no longer seems like the paradise they had dreamed of.
Everything I have written applies to anyone who opens a business in Thailand and tries to run it themselves. Many, on the other hand, open a business together with their ‘girlfriend’ and put themselves entirely in their hands. In this case, the choice speaks for itself and it is not even worth adding anything.