Consider a Move to the Land of Smiles
Thailand has long established itself as one of the top destinations in Asia for expats looking to relocate and enjoy the tropical paradise that’s rightfully known as the Land of Smiles.
The Kingdom of Thailand is a truly beautiful and diverse country which offers a tantalizingly unique mixture of the traditional and the ultra-modern. This is a country which looks to the future while still holding on tightly to its rich history and heritage.
It is not an understatement to say that Thailand has something for everyone, including hi-tech urban metropolises, royal coastal resorts with beaches that stretch for miles, picture perfect islands, bountiful farms and fields filled with exotic fruits and fauna, and lush mountains and vast national parks that have to be seen to be believed.
Expats can enjoy the best of all that the modern world has to offer here and live a life of affordable luxury, or they can also experience the joys of rural life in the provinces if that’s what they prefer. This is a place where your options are very much open.
It is possible for a couple to live quite comfortably in different parts of the country for between $1,800 to $2,300 a month. Those who wish to move to the smaller towns will find that their cost of living becomes dramatically reduced the deeper into the provinces they go.
Thai food is not only delicious but it is also accessible and inexpensive, so you can eat well no matter how large or small your wallet may be. Great street food can be found throughout every city, town, and village, which means you rarely have to go far without finding something tasty to eat.
Thailand appeals to many expat pensioners thanks to its advanced medical and dental tourism industry. A wide range of treatments, medications, and surgeries are competitively priced, and tourists flock to the country every year to get everything from hip replacements and cosmetic enhancements to laser eye surgery and root canals, at a fraction of the cost back home.
Where to Live in Thailand
Thailand is a major regional transport hub in Asia and also has a developed domestic travel infrastructure which makes getting from one part of the country to the other an easy proposition be it by plane, train, or automobile. This means you can pretty much choose to live anywhere you like in Thailand with the minimum of hassle. The following destinations are among the most popular for expats:
Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and the center of the country’s economy. It also has the largest population of any city in Thailand with over 14 million residents. A large and modern metropolis, it is filled with skyscrapers, shopping malls, and sky trains which sit alongside more traditional markets, parks, and waterways. Many expats live in Bangkok for business or professional reasons, although some people simply enjoy the urban lifestyle.
Chiang Mai attracts a wide range of expats who love the peaceful and historic city in the north of the country, where you can still see the old city’s fortified wall and moat. The cost of living here is much more inexpensive than Bangkok and it attracts people from all walks of life—retirees, small business owners, teachers, and many others. Chiang Mai benefits from its proximity to several national parks and mountain areas where popular activities such as hiking and camping take place. It is also an excellent destination to enjoy many of Thailand’s best loved festivals like Yi Pen—when the sky becomes filled with thousands of fire lanterns—or the Chiang Mai Flower Festival, with its much loved flower parade.
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and home to well over 600,000 local residents and more than 100,000 expats of every nationality. If you are a beach lover then Phuket has a lot to offer, with many different beaches scattered around the island, each with their own special vibe. The marine scene is also big with numerous marinas and a large expat community dedicated to life on the water. The island benefits from a number of world-class golf courses that are particularly popular with expats and tourists as well as middle and upper class Thais.
As in the rest of the country you can enjoy the best of the modern world with all manner of shopping malls, fine restaurants, and other places of luxury, or you can spend your time visiting traditional markets, exploring the historic areas of Phuket Town, and eating out at local Phuket restaurants where the food is delicious.
Hua Hin is known as the Royal beach resort town of Thailand and is a more affordable option than Phuket in some regards. Apart from offering a great beach lifestyle, the town boasts multiple international standard hospitals, a plethora of water sport activities, ever-expanding golf courses, and some significant events and festivals. The Thailand International Kite Festival, Hua Hin Jazz Festival, and Hua Hin Vintage Car Rally all attract considerable interest from both foreign and Thai enthusiasts.
How to Move to Thailand
Expats who want to move to Thailand will need to secure an appropriate visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate before relocating to the country.
For most expats over 50 years in age the best option is the Retirement Visa, which can be used for multiple entries over a one-year period. Aside from the age threshold you will need to meet the financial requirements for a Retirement Visa. Essentially, you will require a letter from your Thai bank that shows at least THB 800,000 ($23,000) deposited in your account. Alternatively, if you can show you have a monthly income of at least THB 65,000 ($1,900), or a combination of the two, this will satisfy immigration requirements.
Other visa options include the Education Visa, which is issued for those wishing to study in Thailand and can be used for multiple entries over a one- year period.
If you intend to work or have invested in a Thai company then you will need a Business Visa, which can also be used for multiple entries over a one-year period. Various requirements will need to be met to obtain this visa.
Those who only wish to travel and live in the country rather than retire, work, or study often go with the simpler option of getting a Tourist Visa which allows for stays of up to 60 days with extensions allowed for another 30 days. Many expats will stay in Thailand for the maximum duration allowed under the Tourist Visa then visit other countries in the region to obtain another visa so they can re-enter Thailand.
Once your visa obligations are taken care of you can focus on enjoying your new life in the “Land of Smiles.”
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