Here is my list of the pros and cons living in Thailand. I’ll cover many different aspect of life living or retiring in this country, the goods and bads. Giving you an in-depth insight of what to expect when living here. From visa, language, Thai law, job, traffic, food, safety standards, currency exchange, Thai culture, nightlife, health insurance when traveling aboard, hospitals, dental and more.
Cons / Disadvantages of living in Thailand
Visa (hard to live long term if you’re under 50 yr old)
If you want to live in Thailand you’ll need a visa, because you can’t just come live here as long as you want. If you want to live in Thailand for more than 6 months, it can be easy or a pain in the butt or you can’t do it longer than 6 months. It will depend on who you are and what type of visa you can qualify.
Ok, I’ll give a brief detail on the most common type of visa for Thailand. I won’t spend too much time on this.
Most people with a passport from a major western country can automatically get a 30 days except. Therefore, you don’t need to get a visa before you come. But if you want to live longer than 30 days, you will need a visa.
BTW, a little disclaimer. I’m talking about the current visa. If something changes in the future, this information will not be accurate, but at the time of this writing, this information is accurate.
If you need to stay more than 30 days or more than 60 days. You can buy the multiple tourist visa, that will be valid up to 6 months and it is possible to have this to last 9 months. If you exit Thailand and return on the last day before this visa expire.sure you and lease th
But if you want to stay longer than that, you will have to go home and get another multiple tourist visa in your home country where you have permanent residence or get a different type of visa.
Retirement Visa (get 1 year)
If you’re over 50 years old you can apply for this. You will also need 800,000 THB or more in your bank account in Thailand or in your home country with the currency equivalent to 800,000 THB. If you don’t have that, you will need to make 65,000 THB per month, which equal to 800,000 THB per year.
Family or Marriage Visa (get 1 year)
You will need 400,000 THB in your bank account. It doesn’t matter if you have children or you are married to a Thai national, you will need money in your account. So this is a big con here if you don’t have the money stash in your bank account.
Business Visa (get 1 year)
Own business or opening a business.
Education Visa (get up to 1 year)
If you‘re studying in a university, study muay Thai.
Elite Visa (get up to 10 years)
There are different types of Elite Visa you can purchase. It can be as low as 500,000 THB ($15,000 USD) and up to 1 million THB ($30,000 USD). But not too many people can afford that.
Those are the most common visa you can get.
Under 50 years old, not married to a Thai, not studying, don’t want to open a business in Thailand
If you’re under 50 years old and you want to live here for more than 6 months. It’s going to be very hard to do.
If you have a retirement visa, family or marriage visa, education visa, you don’t have to leave Thailand and do a visa run. You can report that at the local immigration office every 90 days.
The other thing is, you need to report to a specific immigration office, you can’t just go to anyone of the immigration office in the country. You will be assign to the nearest immigration office.
So that’s another con, you can’t just stay here and if you want to work in Thailand you will need something else. There is no work visa, what you need is.
Work permit – Let’s say you have a marriage or education visa, but you need to work. You can’t apply for a work permit to work with a marriage or education visa. You will need to change the marriage or education visa to a business visa, and then you can apply for a work permit.
That’s another Con. You can’t just work here.
Overall, if you don’t have a retirement or marriage visa. I think it is a hassle and difficult to stay here longer than 6 months, but some people might disagree.
So that’s the first con, the visa. It’s very hard to live in Thailand more than 6 or 9 months of you are not 50 years old or older to apply for a retirement visa.
If I didn’t have to bother with visa, I wouldn’t be here this long and I wouldn’t open a YouTube channel or a blog about Thailand.
If you want more info on how to obtain different types of visa, how much it cost, how to renew, info on the requirements and other info you need to know. Just head over to my membership web page, where I have an entire chapter about visa. You don’t need to spend $1,000 to have a visa company to do obtain a visa for you. Save that money when you come here.
Language (Thailand national language is Thai, not English)
Thailand national language is Thai, not English. But as of right now, I can say you can live in some parts of Thailand without a lick of Thai. I don’t think I can say that 10 years ago, but if you live in places like Sukhumvit Road or Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Places like Nimman Road in Chiang Mai and inside the old city. In Pattaya, as well as part of Jomtien and in Phuket.
Generally, you can get away without speaking any Thai at all the tourist hot spots in Thailand.
There are many universities teaching young people English, but it is always a good idea to know the language of the country you’re living in especially if you want to live outside the tourist areas.
Law (second-class citizen)
I think foreigners residing in Thailand are second-class citizen.
You will always be a second-class citizen if you’re not a Thai national. Now, let’s assume you work for a major company and you’re the president or the senior manager making 6 figures. You live in Thailand for decades, you know how to read and write Thai. But you’re not a Thai national, that’s an exception. If that’s you, I don’t think you will be a second-class citizen here because you hold a senior level position and you will know or do business with other high level Thais.
I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about the average visitors and the average expats that come to live here. For one, foreigners can’t buy land or home, sure you can lease land or home for 30 years. Second, you have to report to immigration every 90 days as if you committed a crime.
Then you have dual pricing for foreigners. Many national parks and some temples will require foreigners to pay a separate fee for entrance. Some people hated this, but if you can’t afford 50 or 200 THB to go in a temple or park. I don’t think you have any business living in a foreign country.
If you work in Thailand and show them the paper work, you don’t have to pay the foreign price because you work here and paying tax like everyone else.
Job (need work permit and high competition)
As I said earlier, you will need a business visa and then apply for a work permit to work in the country. Your employer should be able to help you with this.
With that said, foreigners cannot do many jobs that a Thai person can do.
Which mean there are only a certain type of work foreigners can do. Let’s say you are a teacher and you want teach English in Thailand. Well, since so many people want to live here, there will be many highly educated teachers looking for the same opportunity. So there will be a lot of competition in that line of work. Other fields might not be as competitive.
There you have it; you will need a work permit to work legally in Thailand. Second, you can’t do the jobs that the Thai can do and lastly, there might be a lot of competition in your field with other highly skill people competing for the same job.
Traffic & Pollution (traffic accidents: one of the most dangerous in the world)
Before I moved to Thailand, I’ve watched many YouTube videos and read a bunch of articles. Hearing people complaining about the air pollution and back then, I thought to myself those people were weak.
Until I came here and became sick myself. I almost fainted because of the air pollution back when I first lived in Bangkok.
The air pollution from the traffic is a real health issue, especially in central Bangkok and other big cities. It’s not just Thailand; it’s any major cities in South East Asia.
Lastly, I want to inform you that the traffic in Thailand is 1st or 2nd most dangerous in the world, depending on where you look. Best to take public transportation if you’re in a big city like Bangkok. Not only the air pollution can make you sick, also the volume of vehicles on the roads that can injure or kill you if you’re not careful or inexperience driving in a place like Thailand.
Western Fast food chains (not always available)
If you live in big cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, Hua Hin even big cities in Isaan. Chances are, they will have McDonald, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen maybe Burger King and maybe A & W. They also have donuts here.
KFC is very popular in Thailand; even smaller cities will have at least one KFC restaurant.
But I have yet see Arby’s, Taco Bell, Wendy, Chick Fil a, Harveys. If you can’t live without all of your favorite fast food chains, Thailand may not be for you.
Health and safety standards (need work)
Sidewalks: If you are walking along any smaller roads, good chance there won’t be any sidewalk. That’s a safety issue especially if you’re walking in a very busy small road, because if you slip and fall on the road. You can get hit, so you really need to watch each step and be careful.
On bigger roads, they will have sidewalks but many are poorly maintain with cracks, holes and bumps.
Electrical wires: Then you have the electrical wiring, some places look like a jungle. It’s all over the place, and they still use bamboo to hold up some of the low hanging wiring. You wouldn’t want to stand under them, especially if it’s raining.
Now most of the wires you see at the bottom are telephone or internet wires. They don’t have the voltage to kill you but if you see so many of them daggling. It is just an eye sore and it look unsafe.
Beach & Lifeguards: The beaches lack lifeguards. I have only saw lifeguards once in Koh Tao and that’s all I notice so far.
Even if there are lifeguards on the beaches – they are likely to be poorly train and they probably earn 100 baht per day. So I wouldn’t expect them to be saving my life.
However, inside popular water parks where you have to pay to get in. They will have train lifeguards watching over you and your children. But on public beaches, most likely not.
If you want to see how I almost drown in Thailand, check out this video: How I almost drowned in Thailand.
Brand name clothing and electronic (not cheap, often cost more)
Western brand name clothing and electronics are expensive here. Don’t expect your favorite clothing or electronic brand to be cheap just because you’re in Thailand or Asia.
I would say, you could expect to pay at least 5-20% or more for the same brand in Thailand. Why would Samsung, Sony or Apple, sell their brand new phone for $1,000 elsewhere but cheaper in Thailand? They don’t, because it doesn’t make any business sense. In fact, I believe from my experience here and I’m a computer gadget person. The price in Thailand might be higher because of the taxes, shipping, other fees and of course the store need to make profit.
Another thing I hate about buying electronics in Thailand is that you get no refund. Although big stores like Tesco Lotus and Big C are ok with refunds, but make sure you ask about the store’s return policy if you are not sure. Because there is a good chance they will not accept refund, giving your money back even if you brought it 12 hours ago and the item is not even open. Unless there is a defect, then they will try to have it fix.
So make sure you ask for the refund or the return policy. Even big-ticket items that cost thousands of dollars, many shops might not give you a full refund.
Better yet, don’t buy any brand name electronics here. Best to buy it at Amazon or BestBuy at home before you come. That’s what I did before I came here, I only buy electronic in Thailand that I absolutely need, things like external hard drives and memory cards.
Currency exchange (expensive)
At the time of this writing, the currency exchange rate for the British pounds, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, even the US dollar is not very strong against the Thai Baht. Currently, even under the military junta, the Thai economy is in a great shape and that’s great for Thailand but not so great if you are living here on a budget.
Since we’re on this topic of money exchange, I think the ATM fees here are high. For example, if you use your bankcard from your home country to withdraw money from any ATM in Thailand. They charge you 200 THB ($6 USD) and you can only withdraw 15,000 to 30,000 THB at a time (base on the ATM/bank you use). Then you won’t get the real exchange rate, which is already low as it is. Then you might have to pay for the foreign exchange free back in your home bank. So you get charge 3 times per withdraw. It’s fine if you’re on a holiday withdrawing a few times, but if you live here. It will be very expensive.
I did my calculations that I would be paying about $500 USD worth of bank fees per year using the ATM in Thailand. Then I did some research and found that there is a much cheaper alternative.
See this video below and see how I avoid the 200 THB ATM fee, pay no foreigner exchange fee and get the real exchange rate. I only pay 1.5%.
Thai culture (need to adjust & adapt, big learning curve)
There are many things Thailand is different from the West.
In term of culture, the Thais respect their elders. They don’t call their elders by their first name, they do the wai to give respect to each other and to say good bye.
They have nicknames for their friends, their family member might have a nickname different than what their friends call them.
Some Thais live with their parents all of their life or up until they are married, and it’s normal. This is the same with other Asian culture.
Thais love and respect the King and the Royal family.
I can go on and on… Those are some of the culture and values you need to adjust and understand when you are here. Get the free eBook to get better understanding of Thai culture.
You will need to buy you own health insurance or an expat insurance when living aboard. If you lived in a country like the UK and Canada, buying a health insurance might be something new to you. If you’re from the US, buying a health insurance or travel insurance policy should be nothing new.
It is very important for you and your family to have the proper health insurance in case something happens.
If you’re just going for a short holiday, you can buy a short trip travel insurance. You can also check your employer if they have travel insurance for you, because some companies provide travel insurance for their employees. If they have that, you do not have to purchase extra travel insurance policy.
This is a cons because, if you’re from a country like the UK and Canada where they have universal health insurance for everyone. You will have to buy your own health insurance or an expat insurance when living in Thailand.
Top 10 most visited country in the world (can be too touristy in some parts)
Thailand is now rank 9th for the most visited countries in the word with over 32 million visitors in 2016.
How is this a bad thing? It’s not for Thailand and not for the locals. However, in more touristy spots especially during the high season, it gets crowded and even some beaches are over run by tourists.
I don’t have any problem with tourists or Chinese tourists. Although you do hear more bad behaviors about the Chinese, but there are other nationals, Americans, British, you name it. They all can be as bad as the Chinese, pushing in while in line, rude, blocking footpaths.
Since Thailand is now very popular, sometimes in some places it just feels too touristy, but the good thing is. There are other places in Thailand that are not touristy at all.
Ok that’s all of the cons I can think of. What do you think? Do you agree and did I left something out?
Oh, one last con – the bar girls don’t really love you, they are after your money.
Next we have the Pros.
Pros / Advantages of living in Thailand
First one, it’s culturally acceptable to pick your nose out in public.
That’s good right? But don’t do it.
The weather (summer all year)
No snow!! Although some days it can get too hot and sticky. Overall, it’s summer all year and there is the raining season for 2-3 months each year.
Thai women (still traditional & feminine)
Beautiful Thai women.. no? Beautiful Thai women who is interested in you?
I bet that made up for all the negative stuff?
I hope you don’t come to Thailand just only for the women. If you come and you’re not interested in some other aspects of Thailand, things like Thai food, or you can’t adapt to different culture. Worst, you bring your culture into Thailand. You will fail.
Low cost of living
My #1 reason for me to be living in Thailand is – your money goes further.
Thailand is less expensive to maintain a good standard of living than a western country. Which mean you can save significantly more money than in your home country.
Rent is cheap – I been living in different studio apartments that cost around $200 USD per month. If I was in US or anywhere else, there is no way I can have something like that for that price.
Also, cheap local goods, but imports are expensive.
If you love Thai food, Thailand is Thai food heaven. Not only they are delicious, most of the food here are very affordable, I don’t want to say cheap because if you want to eat at a fine dinning restaurant. It will not be so cheap, it can cost as much as what you pay back home if you don’t watch out.
Overall, the food and fruits are very affordable and fresh.
No more washing dishes or cooking (save time & money)
If you’re like me, you will never have to cook again or wash any dishes. This saves me a lot of time from going to the grocery store, preparing the food, cooking and cleaning. Instead, I can spend my time doing other things than worrying about cooking.
All I have to do now is go to a nearby restaurant. Save so much time!
Hospital & dental care (world-class)
I talked earlier about the safety standards and how I think it is not up to par with other western society. But when it comes to health care and dental care. The standard of care in Thailand for that will depend on the clinic or hospital you visit.
If you go to one of the top international and private hospitals in Thailand, you can expect world-class medical care. I would say all the top international/private hospitals and dental clinics are as good, sometimes better than any hospitals I visited in North America.
Also, most of the doctors working inside those hospitals graduated from recognized universities from all over the world. Since most of the doctors study overseas and graduated from an English speaking country. You can expect the doctors, not just in international/private hospitals but also in generally, most doctors in Thailand will be able to speak very good English.
In my membership website, I listed some of the best international and private hospitals in the country as well as information about different travel insurance companies. I also spoke about my personal experience finding the right dentist for my need and what I did to made that successful. If you are interested in that, check out the membership website for more info.
On the other hand, Thailand also have the government run hospitals. Generally, these hospitals will be something you would expect in a 3rd world country. Whatever you think a 3rd world country hospital would look like, that’s probably something you would find from a government hospital.
Not all government run hospitals will look like a 3rd world country hospital. Some are quite modern looking and doesn’t look all at that bad. The local Thais use them and many communities across the country have used these hospitals for their medical treatments.
Thailand is a Buddhist country, seeing monks and going to the temples is part of the culture for Thai people.
If you want to see some of the most beautiful and most decorated Buddhist temples in Asia, look no further. There are thousands of wat or temples all over Thailand. In Bangkok alone, there are at least 400 wats.
In Northern Thailand, there are hundred of temples located at the top of the mountain to inside a cave. You can find temple in tunnels, new temples, old ancient temples from over 1,000 years old, to the very strange white temple, temple covered in silver, temple with beautiful giant Buddha, temple with beautiful view point, I can go on.
From rooftop bars, nightclubs, cocktail bars, night markets, to more adult X-rated nightlife with GoGo bars in Pattaya, Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and Patung.
Just about any types of nightlife you can think of can be found in Thailand.
You want to live off the land, in a farm, live a life of a farmer. You can do that in Thailand with thousands of small villages and towns all across the country.
If you are a city person, who love to shop at big shopping malls, access to amazing nightlife. You have big cities like Bangkok, Phuket and maybe even Chiang Mai might suit your style.
You want to live next to the beach, there are seaside cities that cater to foreigners. In places like Phuket, Hua Hin, Cha Am, even Pattaya and Jomtien.
Want a place where you can get fast exotic women? No problem, go to Pattaya or Pathong in Phuket. Don’t want to live in those sleazy places? Even better, there are other cities and towns you can choose.
Maybe you are into biking, cycling or hiking and into nature. You want to live in a cooler climate surrounded in a mountainous region with beautiful waterfalls and spectacular lush forest. Check out the northern part of Thailand.
Meet people from all over the world
Since Thailand is now rank top 10 most visited country by foreigners, with over 30+ million foreign visitors in 2016. Parts of the country have become a big tourist hot spot and that was one of my con, but on the other side of the coin is – you will have opportunity to interact with people from all over the world.
Good roads – I can say after riding my Honda Click across Thailand. The roads and the highways in the northern region of Thailand are great, I think the roads there are up to par with some other western countries.
Internet – Thailand also have fast internet connection, as I’m accustomed of getting good internet connection and if I have slow connection, that would surprise me.
There is a good reason why Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai are highly rated by digital nomads.
Also, modern international airport, subway/sky train in Bangkok, affordable and world-class hospitals as well as dental clinics.
Although, there are still some improvements needed, such as sidewalks, wirings on electrical poles, better safety standard with more train lifeguards.
It’s adventurous, deep culture & history
If you are looking for something adventurous, something that is completely different from your home country. Thailand or Asia will give you all of that. It is going to be something you never experience before.