Embark your journey as an expat in Thailand is as easy as 1-2-3. This is the complete guide to get you up to speed about the moving process and how you can start your life here in Thailand.
Consider where to live
Before starting with any documents, you should first ask yourself where you want to set your roots in Thailand. There is a wide range of selections for you to choose from ranging from a glamorous Bangkok city that everyone knows of, to the quiet and culturally rich city of Chiang Mai. The possibilities are endless.
There are many reasons why Bangkok is considered to be one of the best cities in the world. Consisting of a huge number of expats with varieties of ethnic groups, you’ll eventually bump into your own once in a while. Not only that, Bangkok has to be one of the most diverse places to visit, with a variety of activities to explore, you will never get bored of this place.
Living wise, just like every metropolitan lifestyle in the world, living in the city can be tiresome and takes time to get used to for certain people. There might be some bizarre things you need to get your head around, but eventually you’ll adapt to everything and find the real charm within this amazing city, stay tuned for a more in-depth guide about how to start living in Bangkok.
First and foremost is to buy/rent your own place. Bangkok has a wide selection of residentials to choose from ranging from a luxurious high-rise condo to a townhouse of your choice. And the price is quite reasonable as well. The criteria for choosing the best resident for you consist of mainly 3 things; Location, type and price. You need to consider where you want to live within the city and it is a plus if your house is located near places to love to visit. For instance, the Ekkamai area has tons of bars and very lively night scenes. So if you love to explore at night, sipping beers and talking to people, then maybe this is the right place for you.
For type there are tons to choose from, high-rise condos are well within the main roads so traveling can be pretty convenient. Low rise condos are cheaper but located deeper within the alley. These types of condo are generally quieter and more relaxed since they are isolated from the main road. So choosing the right one depending on your lifestyle is really important.
Getting a car and a driving license is probably the best way to get around the city. But if you are a western driver, you need to take time to get used to the right-handed traffic since everything is basically reversed. And to top everything off, Bangkok is one of the cities with tremendously crowded traffic especially during the peak hours, so planning your route and getting used to the complicated city plan would really give you an edge when getting around. Toll ways are pretty useful in this kind of scenario, and utilizing these would eventually help you get around much easier.
Furthermore, parking spots in certain areas other than shopping malls can be pretty scarce. Your linear parking skill would be the key factor whether you can get that sweet single parking spot between a huge Camry and a Tuk-Tuk.
Speaking of Tuk-Tuk, you might be surprised that this iconic auto-mobile is actually not the best way to get around Bangkok city. While they are pretty common in the center of the city, they are considered to be expensive and rather slow compared to a traditional cab, bus, or even better BTS and MRT.
Bangkok is one of the only cities with an interconnected rail-road transportation system in Thailand consisting mainly of private providers, BTS, MRT and Airport rail link. BTS is the most common one to get around as they are widely spread within the main areas of Bangkok city. Choosing your residence within the proximity of these BTS is very essential. Some BTS are even inter-connected with MRT so you can get around town pretty easily once you get a hang of it. The daily expenses for the BTS is considerably pricey when you compare them to other countries with roughly the same service, starting from 16 – 44 Baht per trip (doubled for round-trip) but it is no denying that BTS and MRT is still one of the best, if not, the best way to get around.
If you are a fan of rather warm and humid weather, then you are in the right place. Thailand is considerably hot all around the year, with only summer, rain and a rather mild winter, you can expect yourself to get a natural all year tan without having to visit any beaches. However, if things get too blazing for you, Bangkok has tons of shopping malls and establishments fully air-conditioned for you to cool yourself down.
There are tons of options when it comes to food. Whether you are an explorer always looking to try new things, or you are comfortable with your homecook, Bangkok has varieties of great restaurants for you to choose from. Or you can always stick to your favorite clown burger whenever you feel like it since every mall or department store will always have a McDonald’s for you.
For retirees with health concerns, there’s no need to worry because Bangkok has outstanding medical facilities for every need. Private hospitals are especially great in every department, with a great price of course.
While Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, there are tons of major provinces around Thailand that people love to visit or live in. Chiang Mai is one of those cities.
Located around the northern part of Bangkok, the city of Chiang Mai is far more laid back compared to Bangkok. It Consists of everything you need just like Bangkok, minus all the crowd and hassles (Although people are starting to move here quite a lot in recent years). Experience the rich culture of Northern Thais here through exquisite culinary and hundreds of shiny Buddhist temples that would really help cleanse both your mind and body.
Unlike Bangkok, Chiang Mai’s city is not a metropolitan area. Thus, having fewer skyscrapers allows you to indulge in the beautiful views of a clear sky everywhere, surrounded by mountains and terrains. But worry not, because Chiang Mai also has numerous shopping malls and whatever establishments ready for your needs (Although not a selective as Bangkok but certainly not too shabby either)
Getting your place here at Chiang Mai is not too hard either as the population and the demand for real-estate at Chiang Mai is pretty low compared to the Bangkok city (However has been rapidly increased in the recent years). You can freely choose what you want ranging from town homes within the city, flat, apartment and numerous condos. The location doesn’t matter that much since the traffic is not as crowded in Chiang Mai, getting around by car is totally fine.
Getting a car and a driver’s license here is a must. Public transportation in Chiang Mai is sufficient for the most part, but that only applies to the locals who are already familiar with the place. Songthaew (means dual row of seats) is the main public transportation choice for tenants here. It works as a car-pool model where you tell the driver the destination, and the driver would drive accordingly to other passengers’ destinations. You can find these red Songtheaw scattered around the city and they are pretty economical as well.
Another method you need to consider is using a scooter or motorcycle which is the most popular way for people to get around the city. You can rent or even buy your own scooter in order to conveniently get around the city as the traffic is pretty lenient, even inexperienced people can freely ride around town. However you might need to get some time to get used to the route and the scooter.
Taxis and GrabTaxis (Uber Alternative) are becoming very common nowadays. Usually they are readily available at the airport with a 10 minute-ish drive in the city. So if you are comfortable with riding cabs around the city that is certainly viable but getting a car in the long run is certainly affordable. Motorbike taxis are very common as well within the area of Chiang Mai.