Life in Thailand for permanent residence – pros and cons, characteristics of the mentality, prices.
Thai resorts are very popular with the Russians. Moreover, after several times on vacation, many of our countrymen decide on a long vacation for many months or move to Thailand for permanent residence. But is life in Thailand as attractive as it is presented to the romantic travelers for the first time? The decision to move should be considered, for which today in the material we offer a detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of life in Thailand. The article will talk about the most popular reasons to move, and note the less colorful characteristics of Thai life. Join in the reading, because the material promises to give interesting food for thought.
Why do Russians move to Thailand?
To begin with, let’s understand the reasons and types of moves. The most typical option – “wintering” in Thailand. Here everything is very simple: a man does not like the frosty winter, so he prefers a couple of months to warm under the tropical sun. The main thing in such a move to have enough money to rent a house and pay for living needs. As a rule, the Russians in Thailand stay at popular resorts, and the cost of living is not small.
The second option is to move to Thailand for permanent residence. In that case, the reasons may be very different, but they boil down to two main factors:
- People do not like the way of life in Russia.
- Migrants are attracted by the nature of Thailand and the mentality of the Thais.
It is very important before making the decision to move to decide what category of people you belong. If you prefer the first point, then perhaps life in Thailand over time will seem less attractive, because not all the disadvantages can be reconciled. And if you really “fan” of Thailand, and feel in the tropics, as a fish in water, the move will be a welcome and extremely gratifying experience. But again, we advise you to carefully weigh the pros and cons, about which right now and tell you.
What is the appeal of life in Thailand?
As already mentioned, living in Thailand is decided by many of our compatriots. We suggest turning to their experience, and carefully studying the reviews of Russians about life in Thailand. For convenience, we will divide the stated impressions into two groups: positive and negative. Let’s start with the good, i.e. the advantages of a short or long term move to Thailand.
Of course, if you lived permanently in your home country, everything will be new to the Russians in Thailand. At first, as if you get into a wonderful world, which you read only in books. And then the romance of the tropics and the calm atmosphere of Asia is so mesmerizing that this region just do not want to leave.
Simplified visa regime
The most important factor, thanks to which life in Thailand for Russians is convenient and attractive.
For a short tourist trip to the country you can enter without a visa: on arrival in your passport will be stamped, allowing stay in the Kingdom for a period not exceeding 30 days. For a winter stay it is necessary to get a tourist visa. At the first registration of such document gives the right for residence in Thailand within 90 days, and in the subsequent times already issue double entry visas with a stay of 6 months. The Russians in Thailand may receive only study visa for 1 year, and its price is quite high, and the fact of studying is checked.
Therefore most of our compatriots live in Thailand intermittently, constantly re-registering tourist visas. Get a long-term work visa, let alone Thai citizenship in the Kingdom is extremely difficult. But more about this in the disadvantages of moving.
The eternal summer is also one of the most popular reasons why Russians live in Phuket, Pattaya, or Bangkok. Compared to the fact that in Russia, warm weather pleases us a maximum of 5 months, Thailand is sure to seem a real paradise. After all, you can walk all year round in a T-shirt and shorts, sunbathing on tropical beaches and enjoy fresh fruit. Clean environment also plays a significant role, especially against the background of large Russian metropolitan areas, where the freshness of the air leaves much to be desired.
Some people choose Thailand for the rich cultural traditions of this country. Buddhist temples, Eastern moderation and Thai friendliness really create a special atmosphere. Agree, it is much more pleasant when passersby on the street with a friendly smile, rather than silently pass by, immersed in heavy thoughts about life. Therefore, it is not surprising that Russian tourists are first surprised and then won by Thai smiles and willingness to help with ease.
This point is a separate item, because the abundance of fruit is also very alien to the Russian people. In Thailand, however, you can try different exotic fruit, which only grows on the territory of the Kingdom. And because of great abundance, the cost of fresh and delicious fruits of Thai quite symbolic.
According to GDP living standards in Thailand is lower than in Russia, respectively, the prices in comparison with Russia substantially less. For example, casual wear costs around 500-1500 rubles, translated into Russian money. Food is even cheaper, especially if we are talking about local fruit or seafood. Relatively inexpensive to rent an apartment in Thailand, the truth is the exact price depends on the area and living conditions. More often live in resorts in Thailand, and for the long-term lease simply choose more distant from the beaches and hotels, where the price tag on rental apartments is much lower.
Here are perhaps the main advantages of moving to the Kingdom of Thailand. The advantages, of course, are attractive, but do not forget to evaluate the negative factors. We will talk about them in detail in the next section.
What repels the life in Thailand
Any country is not without flaws, after all, as the proverb says, it’s only good where we are not. After living in Thailand for a couple of months, Russian travelers are beginning to notice the other side of the coin. And among the most thorough impressions are worth highlighting the following points.
What Russian does not dream of eternal summer, but everything is good in moderation. And in Thailand you will not expect caressing a pleasant warm +23-25 ° C, and a real tropical heat of +30 degrees Celsius and above. In some areas of the country even allocate special hot season, when the thermometer column stops at around +35 ° C, and over the hanging over the area of incredible stuffiness. The Thais themselves live in such conditions hard, let alone Europeans unaccustomed to hot droughts. So do not be fooled about the constant trips to the beaches and outdoor recreation: from the tropical heat save only a powerful air conditioner.
Another downside of the weather is the rainy season. Tropical downpours affect every Thai province, so the high level of humidity is characteristic of the whole country. Hence the accompanying inconvenience: damp air, clothes not finishing drying out, the appearance of mold in the house, a comfortable environment for the reproduction of insects. Speaking of all kinds of critters: with lizards, snakes, tropical cockroaches, mosquitoes and midges also have to somehow get along. Of course, the buildings are mostly protected from such raids, but here in the open air from the meeting with amphibians and insects will save you unless you are lucky.
The most pressing social issue, and for visitors and locals. Medical services in Thailand are very expensive, so we strongly recommend that you buy insurance before the trip, preferably with a coverage of 30-50 thousand dollars. Trust me, the cost of a few thousand rubles for insurance compared with the cost of medical services in Thailand is nothing. For example, a standard 20 minute consultation with a general practitioner is around $20-30, and the bills for inpatient treatment and surgery for bruises or fractures run into tens of thousands of dollars!
So the insurance in Thailand – just a guarantee of good health. The more so because the tropics are often fraught with intestinal infections, malaria, and fever.
Before moving to Thailand for permanent residence, it is necessary to ensure a decent income. And here foreigners are faced with a list of prohibited professions. The document is a whole list of jobs, which foreigners can not be accepted under any circumstances. Do you think that the list includes only something like police or military service? As if not so. Seller, builder, jeweler, driver, lawyer, office manager, tourist guide, worker or craftsman – these and many other jobs are banned in Thailand! This policy is related to protecting the interests of its own citizens, but also the way the Thais working in factories, you would hardly want to live. Labor is hard, and wages by European standards miserable.
Almost the only way out for foreigners are freelancing and their own business, but with this kind of work in Thailand, there are a number of problems. The remote work strongly depends on the equipment, and in Thailand both high heat and humidity bring problems, and weak level of the Internet development has an impact. Can you imagine a typical day at work with a laptop on the beach? Strongly erroneous. In the sun and with the barely working Internet to focus on the task is almost impossible.
As for the business, here again the inconvenience is related to the legislation of the Kingdom. According to it, to open a business, you need to have a start-up capital of at least 2 million baht, and the main package of shares (51%) must be registered in the name of a Thai citizen. In other words, you actually have to transfer your business to a Thai partner. Naturally, the co-founder must be as confident as possible, and to find a reliable person with Thai citizenship is not easy for an ordinary tourist.
Thus, in order to maintain a comfortable standard of living in Thailand should either have a profitable business in Russia, or to provide in advance a job in Thailand. Officially you can get a job, but you can’t do without help and connections. And pay attention to the salary level. The average estimate for a comfortable stay in Thailand for a month a person needs about 32 500 baht (almost 70 thousand rubles at the December 2019 exchange rate).
As already noted, the local population is very friendly and welcoming, but in terms of communication with people, Thailand has its own peculiar features.
At the forefront, of course, comes the language barrier. Very few Russians learn Thai language, and even to a high level, allowing to communicate easily and freely. International English comes to the rescue, but be prepared for the fact that the Thais are not too fond of correct pronunciation and grammar laws. In most cases, the conversation is in broken English, and it is not to say that such communication is a pleasure.
The second problem is the mentality of Thais. Yes, Asians are friendly, smiling and always ready to help, but there are some nuances in communication with them. So keep in mind that if a Thai doesn’t know or don’t understand something, he will not show it. You will listen to a long speech in broken English, and even understand something, but not the fact that the help will be useful and practical. In addition, be extremely careful with gestures, and especially never touch Thais with your hands: such an action will be perceived as an insult or aggression, which may eventually lead to a major fight with the police.
And the third reason for the difficulties in communication is the difference in cultures. For all the hospitality of the locals, a foreigner in Thailand will always be a foreigner (farang, as they call newcomers). So, it is unlikely that any Thai will be too candid with you and make friends. In most cases the social circle of Russians in Thailand is composed of the same fellow countrymen who moved here.
The specifics of local cuisine is a topic for a separate discussion. Whether you move from Russia to Thai Phuket, Bangkok, Pattaya or Chiang Rai, the culinary delights will need to change in any case. And there are two main reasons for this.
- The priority of local cuisine. It goes without saying that most restaurants and cafes serve Thai dishes to their guests. And to them, frankly, it takes some getting used to. It would seem that the composition is standard: vegetables, rice, seafood, noodles, meat. But it’s all about spices and sauces, which turn any dish into a spicy mixture with a sour-sweet taste.
- High prices for imported products. Fruits, fish and vegetables in Thailand are really cheap, which we noted in the advantages of moving. But if you expect to eat the usual European foods, the situation changes dramatically. The cost of meat, for example, is comparable with Russian average market prices, but the cost of dairy products, potatoes, and familiar cereals (semolina, buckwheat) have to shell out more than at home.
And to the above arguments a small correction should be added: Asian food is not for everyone. And not only in taste, but also in the reaction of the digestive system. So before you move, make a clear assessment of your prospects for getting used to the local culinary habits.
Traditions, laws, city life
Once again, let us focus on the mentality of the Thais. Even the facts given in this article, it is clear that visitors to the country perceived only as tourists, for which reason is so common nickname “farang. At first glance there is nothing offensive in the word itself: Europeans who have moved to live in Thailand are called farangs. But over time, newcomers begin to notice a little prejudice. For example, traders in the markets often tell Europeans the prices, overstated by 2-3 times. Also, when an accident or conflict situation arises, the police are more likely to take the side of a local resident, rather than a farang. This is not to mention the banned list of professions, the almost total impossibility of obtaining citizenship, and other unpleasant things for foreigners. But that’s the way the Kingdom of Thailand is, jealously guarding the interests of its subjects.
By the way, do not forget about the severity of the laws. In Thailand you can by no means insult the monarch, and even such an innocent offense as accidentally dropped on the floor banknotes or coins with the image of the King.
Separately worth noting the urban landscape. People in Thailand live more simply, and in this case, this is not a positive factor. Simpler means less attention to a comfortable urban environment. For example, sometimes there are no sidewalks in the streets at all, and the pedestrians have to stick to the roadside trying to get around parked bikes and bicycles. Also untidiness of Thais is manifested in such small things as dilapidated walls, bad smells and trash heaps. Well, the infrastructure of the Russian person is strongly evident in the absence of urban parks, squares and playgrounds.
As you can see, life in Thailand is diverse, and each resident perceives it in his own way. Do not be intimidated by the fact that the minuses in the article are painted so completely. Simply mesmerized by the atmosphere of Thailand tourists realize the benefits of moving themselves, but the disadvantages of such a hasty decision are overlooked. Therefore, we stopped in detail on the negative aspects of life in Thailand, so that our compatriots are more soberly assess the prospects for moving to this attractive Asian country. The final choice is yours, our task is only to give food for productive thinking.
Make informed decisions and implement your plans purposely!
[Personal experience] Remote work and life in Phuket: eternal summer and European service at Asian prices
The island of Phuket in Thailand is a tropical paradise with perpetual summer, warm sea and fruit all year round. Freelancers and telecommuters often go here for the winter, but it’s not the only scenario available. We talked to Oleg, a man who professionally helps foreigners move to Phuket. He himself came here in 2013, opened a business and is not just wintering, but living permanently. He will tell how to live in Phuket, what is the situation with IT-professionals, how easy is to stay here permanently, and what awaits both permanent residents and those who want to come for a winter stay.
How I got to Phuket: a remote job gave me a chance to move to the sea
Let me say at once – I’m not really an IT professional. At work I was engaged in online marketing and sales, and now I have my own firm related to real estate. But I want to tell about Phuket not from the point of view of a relocated IT-specialist, but from the point of view of someone who moved here and lives here all year round. I think it will be useful for those who are looking for a place to live warmer and closer to the sea.
It all started in 2013. Then I was living in Yekaterinburg, working in an office and moonlighting on a remote job. When my remote work income grew to 100 thousand rubles, I realized that I could concentrate only on remote work and move somewhere else.
I had been many places, but I decided to take a closer look at Thailand. And I realized that it was almost perfect: a lot of sun, the sea nearby, and everything was very cheap. It was important for me – with my income from remote work somewhere in Europe it would be hard to live.
In the end, I quit my job in the office and rushed to Thailand. Of all the places, I chose Phuket, which is a quiet, peaceful island that is loved by Russian tourists and winter visitors. Prices here may be higher than in other parts of Thailand, but the atmosphere for life is more pleasant and the sea is clean. Because, for example, Pattaya once shocked me – it’s too noisy, and the traffic is so terrible that the road is scary to cross even in the right place.
At first everything was fine, but in 2014 the ruble fell. I was still working remotely for rubles, and it turned out that my income almost halved. I started looking for work here, in Phuket, and got a job as a sales manager for a local property developer. I ended up getting paid in the local currency, baht, which, you could say, is tied to the dollar. A little later I gained experience in real estate and opened my own agency: I help foreigners move to Thailand and buy property here to live and invest in.
In general, I live in Phuket for 7 years, a lot of communication with Thais and no less – with foreigners who move here. I have seen probably all aspects of life on this island and know what people are looking for and what they do not like. And I want to share all of that. Just keep in mind that this experience is not transferable to the whole of Thailand. In Pattaya, Bangkok, other cities and other islands will be different – Phuket is a very special place.
Have you decided to break away to live in Phuket, or just somewhere warm? We telegram-bot @g_jobbot thousands of jobs, including telecommuting. You can get a job, and then work even from a tropical island, with a laptop on the beach. As in the beautiful pictures of telecommuting рекламная пауза>
What should IT specialist do in Phuket: are there variants other than telecommuting?
Usually IT-specialists, who have remote work in Russia or in Europe, come to Phuket. Most often for the winter, but sometimes for permanent residence. With a Russian salary, living here can be a little difficult, but with a European or Moscow salary, it’s quite comfortable.
There are no IT-companies or startups opened by Thais in Phuket – mainly people here earn in tourism and real estate. The need for engineers in the locals is also low. But there are offices of foreign companies, including Russian ones, such as Aviasales and Seopult. As far as I know, they sometimes publish vacancies for developers moving to Phuket, or hire those who have already moved here. And also startups are occasionally opened by those who moved here for permanent residence. So on the island there is a chance to find work, if at a remote site you suddenly will sit on the income.
And in general, there are jobs – if you know English, you can get somewhere in the tourism business. The salary won’t necessarily be high, but it’s enough to live on.
Why it is a great idea to move to Phuket
Now I will tell you why I like Phuket and what other foreigners like in it: the Russians, Europeans and Americans.
Sun, sea and fruits. It’s like everywhere else in the south: year-round sunshine, sea and dozens of seasonal exotic fruits in the stores. Just to make you understand: the season of strawberries is here two months a year, because it’s too hot, she likes it cooler. But of course you can find something similar without going so far away, so let’s move on to the other pluses.
Low prices. Living in Thailand is inexpensive even at the current exchange rate of the ruble. For example, an apartment in the center of the island in a house with a pool will cost $ 200 a month. A house – from $ 300, an apartment by the sea – from $ 400. And it will be a house with good repair and infrastructure around.
Apartment for $ 200 dollars a month. Even in the house with such inexpensive apartments have a minimum, a pool, a playground, a gym – all for free
On the question of how to look for housing. I used to advise to book a hostel for the first couple of days on a bunkering, and then drive around the island and look for signs “for rent” – it was more convenient and cheaper. Now it’s better to look for accommodation at once: in groups on Facebook, on Airbnb, Dotproperty, Hipflat. The market is now highly competitive, so the prices are about the same everywhere, and there are almost none too high. If you do a little comparison, it’s easy to figure out. First, it is better to rent for a week or a month, not for a longer period – the photos on the sites may be different from reality.
Groceries in Phuket are also inexpensive. In a week you can eat $60, and quite a variety, with fruits, vegetables and protein. There are some products that are very cheap here – for example, a kilo of chicken fillet can cost $2. There are some that are more expensive – milk and red meat are not very popular here, so the prices are higher. Cheeses are also brought from abroad, and a kilo can cost about $50.
Also here are very cheap airline tickets. For $ 30 you can fly almost anywhere in the country, that is to fly from Phuket, for example, in the capital to have a walk.
Great outdoors. Since the ocean is near, there’s a bunch of different water activities: diving, free diving, kiting, wakeboarding and different types of surfing. With other sports there are no problems either – according to my feeling there is everything here, except for mountain skiing, it’s too hot for it. The region is very popular for biking, tennis and golf, badminton seems to be the national sport of Thais.
Another in Phuket is very popular running. Everyone runs here, and once a week, usually arrange a race. For participation you pay $ 20, you get a T-shirt and an invitation to a buffet at the end. And if you get there, you get a medal. It turns out a very interesting event, I am happy to participate in such races.
If you want, you can run, if you want, you can walk in the mountains and admire the breathtaking scenery.
It’s generally more interesting to live in Phuket. Many Europeans notice this – they leave their strictly formalized countries, where one day is like another, and here they feel happy and free. This is hard for me to judge, but for many this is an important criterion.
Peaceful life. Phuket – a resort island, and the Thais in general have a very calm mentality and in some ways even pokihystic. Therefore, no one is in a hurry, and in general you feel like on vacation. It helps not to be nervous and not to stress.
It’s also peaceful because of the very low crime rate. Almost nothing happens here, even theft – a rarity. In general, it is not scary to live.
Quality medicine. In Thailand, in general, a very strong school of medicine. The evidence-based approach is practiced here, doctors are trained according to American standards, all equipment in clinics is modern, wards look like expensive hotel rooms. There are practically no lines to the doctor, you can see any specialist on the very next day and the necessary operation will be performed immediately without long waiting.
Both colds and serious cancers are treated equally well here. Everything happens quickly – in one day you have a test, an examination, and a treatment appointment. The medications are given right in the hospital.
In contrast to Europe, it is very easy to buy almost any medication. In pharmacies you can buy antibiotics and antidepressants, in supermarkets you can buy painkillers or antipyretics. For some mild illnesses, a pharmacist can advise.
Good children’s education. Phuket has many excellent schools with English-speaking teachers. They teach by Western standards, there are schools that prepare you to enter major foreign universities. I myself do not have children, but heard a lot of good reviews from friends. Interestingly, the children who study there end up speaking perfect English, with no accent at all.
True, it all costs a lot – an average of $11,000 a year. Thai schools are cheaper, thousands of dollars a year, but the quality of education there is worse.
Not high requirements for the language. A lot of Russian-speaking people live in Phuket – there are people who come here and continue to work, rest and communicate only with the Russian. So you can get by here without knowing English.
But it’s better with English and Thai, of course – so you can communicate with almost anyone, and there will be no problems at all. I do not know Thai so far, and do not plan to learn. I can only ask “how much does it cost” or say something simple.
There is almost no red tape with documents. You don’t need a visa to enter Thailand – you can come for 30 days. It used to be that after those 30 days, you could go abroad, come back – and live again for a month. I used that loophole in the beginning, but now it’s been shut down and you can only live in Thailand for 30 days a year without a visa.
You can also get a tourist visa for 60+30 days. It’s easy, no problem, it’s enough for wintering. Or to see if you like Phuket. It is more convenient to get such a visa before you leave if you plan to spend the winter here.
If you decide to stay longer, there is an option of getting a study visa. This can be done by enrolling in a local English school – some schools do not even require students, they are open only to foreigners to obtain visas. So you can live in Thailand for another year or two. By the way, if the child studies at a local school, one parent can “stick” to his visa as a guardian. True, why only one – it is unclear.
Then you will either have to get a job here or open a firm. With the opening of a business there is a well-established scheme and offices that help to do this for a fee. If you have a startup, there are special programs to support such ventures with tax reductions and benefits on visas and work permits.
There are two other visas – elite and freelance, which allow you to stay in the country almost unlimitedly. But the first is expensive, $20,000 for five years, and for the second you need to earn about $3,000 a month. The options are not for everyone.
Low taxes. In terms of taxes, it’s very profitable to work and open a business here. VAT in the country of 7%, taxes for individuals from 0% to 35%, depending on income, taxes for firms from 0% to 20%. There are no contributions to the pension, as well as the pension itself. For some this is a minus, but for many a plus – you take care of their own financial well-being, and you can save and invest available money.
Friendly locals. Both native Thais and foreigners in Phuket are polite and friendly. It’s easy to make friends here, people are rarely rude, don’t push, apologize and smile.
What you may not like in Phuket
Of course, here on the island is heaven on earth. But there are minuses, and quite a few.
Poor cultural life. There are no theaters, museums, festivals and concerts. There are travesty and national shows, but they quickly get bored – it’s more of an entertainment for tourists. So if you don’t like sports, you have nowhere to go. It depresses some people.
Of course, there are clubs, but that’s for fans. And there are cinemas, but not so many.
It’s very hot. It’s hot and humid here all year round. When I first got off the plane in 2013, I thought I was suffocating and not enough air around. I’m used to it now, but I still often don’t want to go outside of air-conditioned rooms. Some people have a hard time in this climate.
Expensive communication. There is good fast internet here up to 1 Gigabit, but it costs from $20 a month for 100 Mbps. There is 5G with coverage all over the island, but a sim card to access it will cost about $40.
There is no help for newcomers. In Europe and the U.S., there are different integration programs for foreigners: they can pay an allowance and help them learn the language. In Thailand there is nothing of this kind – you have to sort yourself out. Some kind of full-fledged citizenship or residence permit here is also very difficult to obtain. No benefits, pensions and other assistance from the state can be counted on. Because of this, many do not perceive Thailand as a permanent place to live – rather as a staging post to make money and go somewhere else. For example, to the south of Europe.
The atmosphere is too relaxed. It seems to be a plus, but in fact a minus – it is very hard to concentrate and tune in to work here. You need an iron discipline, not to lie under a palm tree, but to really work remotely. Especially the first couple of years, when the sea and beaches are new.
There are no sidewalks for walking. In Phuket, there’s nowhere to go and just walk around. You have to go somewhere specific – to the beach, to a golf club, to work. Just wander around boring and uncomfortable. There are parks, but you have to drive to them.
Expensive medicine. A doctor’s appointment with a common cold in an international hospital with an interpreter costs $200, along with drugs. A day of intensive care is thousands of dollars. Tooth filling – Every year there are several fundraisers in the local expat community because someone gets sick and can’t pay for treatment.
Now there is compulsory insurance – you have to be insured with a minimum coverage of $100,000. On average, insurance costs from dollars a year, and it is definitely cheaper than paying for a doctor. Although more expensive than insurance in Russia.
Not the most convenient time zone for a remote worker. The time here is UTC+7 – working with Moscow or Europe can be inconvenient. But it depends on the schedule and how you arrange it.
On the whole, I like living here. Sometimes I get a “I’m sick of it, I’m going back” feeling, but then I wake up the next day and leave the house, smell the cool morning air and realize how cool it is to live here all year round and stay here. Of course, I miss Russia and gladly go there to visit, but I don’t plan to change my place of residence yet. And I advise to try to come to Phuket at least for the winter – if you like it here too.
Have you decided to break away to live in Phuket, or just somewhere warm? We telegram-bot @g_jobbot thousands of jobs, including telecommuting. You can get a job, and then work even from a tropical island, with a laptop on the beach. As in the beautiful pictures of telecommuting рекламная пауза>