Moving to Thailand
Last updated on Feb 03, 2023
Summary: Expats and digital nomads move to Thailand for its low cost of living, warm climate, and friendly people. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in Thailand are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. People can find a place to live in Thailand by searching online for rental listings, using a real estate agent, or asking around in the local expat community.
What do I need to know before moving to Thailand?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Thailand, they said:
"Before moving to Thailand, consider doing research on the culture and language of the country. It can be useful to familiarize yourself with any visa requirements and to obtain the necessary paperwork. Health insurance and a residence permit may also be necessary. Additionally, it is important to consider the cost of living in Thailand, any job opportunities and income taxes, as well as accommodations. It is advisable to have someone with local knowledge accompany and advise you when looking for a place to stay. Finally, make sure you have the contacts and support of friends, family, and other expats in the country," explained one expat living in Thailand.
"Don't start long term. Do short term places and check things out. Make friends, be brave. Thai's are generally VERY helpful. I was made part of the family quickly," said another expat in Phuket.
How do I find a place to live in Thailand?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"Finding a place to live in Thailand is a relatively straightforward process if you know where to look. You can start your search by looking online, as most rental accommodations can be found on real estate websites such as DDproperty and Bangkok Garage. You can also check out classified sections of websites such as Craigslist, Expat, and Kijiji for additional rental options. If you're looking for a more economical option, you can look for accommodation on sites like Gumtree, Facebook, and Couchsurfing. Additionally, newspapers and magazines such as Bangkok Post and BK Magazine are a great place to search for rentals. If you're looking to rent long-term, you can start by negotiating a price directly with landlords or real estate agents in the area. Lastly, if you are looking for a more authentic living experience, you can opt for a homestay or rent a room in a local Thai house," remarked another expat who made the move to Thailand.
"I searched all the rental sights and settled on a PEACEFUL place short term, through airB&B that spoke English and had a friendly feel. That was a crucial part of the transition. The I made connections and wound up renting long term in the same area in Phuket. Rental agencies and driving in place I was unfamiliar with was stressful and did not avail me a long term home," explained one expat living in Phuket, Thailand.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Thailand?
"Expat homes and apartments in Thailand vary depending on the city and budget. Typically, they are cozy and spacious, with air conditioning, an equipped kitchen, and western-style bathrooms. Depending on the neighborhood, they may offer amenities such as swimming pools, gym access, or other recreational activities. Expat homes and apartments in Thailand usually offer excellent value and comfort, providing an enjoyable and convenient place to live," explained one expat living in Thailand.
"2 bedroom house on a bit of land. I do not know what is "typical" for expats living in Phuket," said another expat in Phuket.
What is the average cost of housing in Thailand?
If you are thinking about moving to Thailand, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"The average cost of housing in Thailand varies widely depending on the location and type of housing, but is generally considered to be much lower than that of other popular tourist destinations in Asia," remarked another expat in Thailand.
"I have just rented a lovely apartment in Hua Hin, Thailand. Hua Hin is about 3 hours south of Bangkok. A great location, on the coast with amazing golf courses. It's a modern city but not nearly as busy as Bangkok. All of the major hotels are here. There is a great mix of modern shopping malls and old markets. My apartment is small but there's just one of me. It's 33 sq. meters. A bedroom, combined kitchen/living room, and a bathroom with a big shower. The building is two years old. It's one block from the ocean and a five-minute walk to a gorgeous shopping mall with grocery store. There is a lovely pool and gym. I am paying 10,000 baht - as of October 2022 that's CDN$400 per month. I'm from Vancouver, Canada. A comparable apartment would be $2000 a month in Vancouver," said another expat in Thailand.
Should I buy or rent a home in Thailand?
If you have not spent a lot of time in Thailand, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:
"Buying a home in Thailand may be a more cost-effective and long-term investment if you are looking to settle in the country. However, it is important to consider both the rental and purchase option before making a decision. Before buying, confirm that the property you are interested in is correctly registered, that you are allowed to purchase it, and that you will be able to obtain a loan if needed. Renting may be a better choice for those looking for more flexibility or for those who are only staying for a short period of time; rent is generally more affordable, and allows you to find a property in the area you desire without the long-term commitment of a purchase. Ultimately, the decision to buy or rent will depend on your specific situation and goals," said another expat in Thailand.
"Rent. I had a number of rental agents show me many places before I settled one that satisfied me," added another expat who made the move to Chiang Mai.
What should I pack when moving to Thailand?
We asked people living in Thailand to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:
"Clothing for warm weather, sunscreen, bug repellent, passport and visa/travel documents, hat and sunglasses, adapters for electronic appliances, first-aid kit, favorite snacks and comfort foods, laptop/tablet/phone and charger, camera, immunization documents, credit cards, cash in Thai baht, open-minded attitude, sense of adventure," explained one expat living in Thailand.
"I wish I had left home my sweater and hoodie. I wish I had prepared myself more with a Thai translation App. Also cotton sheets," said another expat in Phuket.
What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Thailand?
We asked people in Thailand if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:
"It is important to dress respectfully and modestly while in Thailand and to avoid wearing revealing clothing. Additionally, it is important to remove one’s shoes at the entrance of private homes or Buddhist temples and to avoid public displays of affection, such as kissing or hugging. It is important to remember to use both hands when accepting or giving something, such as money or a gift, to show respect. It is important to remember not to touch someone’s head as this is considered rude as the head is considered the “most sacred” part of the body. Lastly, it is important to avoid speaking loudly in public, as it is seen as rude and impolite," replied a member in Thailand.
"Undoubtedly, I have and unintentionally continue to do so. It is very easy to make blunders because there are many cultural rules in Thai society. Thai culture is complex and hierarchical. It takes Westerners a while to gain appreciation of what that means," commented one expat who made the move to Chiang Mai.
Why do people move to Thailand?
When we asked people why foreigners move to Thailand, they responded:
"Bangkok is thriving, exciting city of 9 million with a low cost of living and no cold weather! It is also a hub for Asia with inexpensive flights almost anywhere," remarked another expat in Bangkok.
How are healthcare services Thailand?
When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Thailand, they replied:
"Unfortunately, there is very limited quality health care options in this immediate area. There are a few clinics but with very bad reputations. There is one reputable hospital in Krabi town (about a half hour away) called Krabi Nakharin International Hospital. On the other hand, Bangkok as some of the 10 ten hospitals in the world. Bumrungrad International being the preferred as they actually have a wing with English speaking doctors," added one expat living in Ao Nang (Krabi).
"Compare hospital costs for same procedure. Use hospital web sites to review medical bios of their doctors. Consultations are inexpensive and a good way to evaluate doctors. Use private hospitals for faster service and less waiting times. Check availability of 3rd party billing for in-patient procedures," commented another expat living in Bangkok.
"Healthcare here is less than deductibles in US! Crazy inexpensive. 3 x-rays, doctor visit and 1 prescription for $50," offered another expat living in Phayao.
"The healthcare front liners and the facility from private hospitals and government hospitals are very accommodating when it comes to immediate needs. The country's tagline "Amazing Thailand" speaks for itself," added one expat living in Bangkok.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
- Thailand Guide
- Healthcare & Health Insurance in Thailand
- Members Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Thailand
- Guide to Real Estate in Thailand
- Pros & Cons of Living in Thailand
- Cost of Living in Thailand
- 5 Great Places to Retire in Asia
- 2023 Guide to Living in Thailand
- 2023 Guide to Moving to Thailand