In late January, with shaking fingers, I hit the ‘confirm’ button on the computer screen. My fiance Jason and I had just bought our tickets to Chiang Mai, Thailand—one-way—and I was suddenly filled with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty.
Fast-forward a few months and the time has finally come for us to hop on the plane. But it hasn’t been without a bit of stress and a lot of careful planning.
So, what has all this planning taught me? Quite a lot, but in particular there are five key things every Aussie must do before setting off on their expat journey…
1. Sort Out Your Visa
As an Australian, there are lots of options available to you when it comes to Thai visas.
We opted for the Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV), which allows you to stay up to 60 days per entry in Thailand, starting from the day of entry. This visa is valid for a six-month timeframe, starting from the date the visa is issued. To activate a 60-day stay you only need to cross a border and get a stamp. You can do this by land or air and when you come back in, you’re all set for another 60 days.
If you’re looking to retire in Thailand, you’ll want the Retirement Visa. This visa is valid for one year and is renewable every year, from inside of Thailand. No visa runs required.
2. Secure Short-Term Accommodation
After booking our flights, the first thing we did was organise short-term accommodation in Chiang Mai.
While you can secure long-term accommodation before you even arrive in Thailand, we decided against this, opting instead for a two-week stay (with the option to extend, if necessary) at a place called Mamory Delicious, right in the middle of Chiang Mai’s Old City.
It’s run by an Australian expat and it’s costing us $560 for two weeks (paid in full, up front) for a one-bedroom apartment. It’s fitted out with everything we need—from cutlery to a TV—and the price includes super-fast internet and a weekly maid service.
It’s a little on the expensive side, but the location is fantastic and it’ll be nice to meet a fellow Aussie in Chiang Mai right off the bat.
Even though places like Chiang Mai and Phuket are filled with beautiful apartments and units (often with seriously good amenities), it’s important to remember that Thailand is still a developing country. You can’t really be sure what an area is like until you see it for yourself. We plan to look for something more long-term once we’re on the ground.
3. Get Shots
And I don’t mean Dutch courage… In particular, shots for Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B and Tetanus. This is in addition to childhood vaccines like Diphtheria, Measles, Mumps and Rubella. It’s also worth getting a flu vaccine, just in case.
4. Find a Reputable Storage Company
Unless you plan on hauling every single thing you own to Thailand, you’ll need to find a storage company. We did hours of research on this before eventually going with EzeBox, a self-storage facility in Melbourne.
EzeBox brings the storage box to you, so you don’t have to worry about hiring a van, driving out to a warehouse or unloading anything at the other end. The box is loaded up and taken away. Simple as that.
TAXIBOX is another good option with facilities in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
5. Fall Back on Your Friends
Where would we be without our friends? There’s no way we could’ve planned this trip quite so smoothly had it not been for our friends. They helped us transport furniture up and down stairs, plied us with wine when it all got a bit overwhelming and generally just helped us stay focused.
The couple of friends that we have in Chiang Mai were also hugely helpful, calmly and patiently answering all of our questions, no matter how trivial. If you’re planning a move to Thailand (or anywhere, really), it certainly pays to have people who are able (and willing!) to help you.