This article is for people who are planning to move to Thailand for more than 6 months and under 50 years old. If you’re NOT married to a Thai person, you DON’T work for a company operating in Thailand. You DON’T own a business in Thailand and you want to stay in Thailand more than 6 months. Then this article is for you.
If you’re coming for less than 30 days, this article does not apply to you because you can get a visa exemption. Meaning you don’t need to get a visa before arrival. The 30 day visa exemption apply to people from most Western countries.
Moving to Thailand
Don’t start looking for some moving companies in Thailand or the cost of moving to Thailand until you read this article. Here are a few things you need to understand before you can do that.
If you’re under 50 years old and you are thinking of moving to Thailand for more than 6 months or more than 1 year. Your options are limited. You will need to run through some hoops to stay here long term. I’ll give you some of my insights on what to expect when you move to Thailand.
If you have $15,000 or $30,000 USD (500k to 1 million THB) to spare, you can get something called the Elite Visa and get up to 20 years of multiple entry. But most of us don’t have that kind of money.
I remember about 10 – 20 years ago, you could get a 1-year tourist visa for $100. Today, it will cost more than double, and you’ll only get up to 6 months. After that expires, you will have to go back to your home country to get a new Multiple Entry Tourist Visa. Things used to be much cheaper and easier back then.
Why more costly and harder to obtain a tourist visa?
Thailand is now such a big tourist attraction with more people wanting to visit or wanting to retire or thinking of moving there. While that is great for the Thai tourism industry and the economy, but the large number of tourists put a strain on the airports.
This is why I think there will be more restrictions with the Thai visa because Thailand wants a different class of tourist to come to Thailand. Thailand wants higher income tourists and not the backpackers making border runs every 30 to 60 days.
It was just 5 or 10 years ago when Thailand received less than 10 million foreign visitors per year. Today, that number is over 30 million foreign visitors per year. As a result, Thailand can now choose who they want to travel here. Thailand wants people who can pay for the Elite Visa or people that are over 50 years old and match all of their financial requirements for a retirement visa. Because they know people at the age of 50 and older are more likely to accumulate more wealth.
Thailand does not want some backpacker types staying in the country for too long. Backpackers and other lower income tourists are still welcome to stay for 30 days but if they want to stay longer, they will need something else. If they can’t afford or they can’t qualify to get something else to stay longer in Thailand. Then they probably don’t have enough money to spend in Thailand.
So if you’re planning to move to Thailand and you’re under 50 years old, expect the visa restrictions to become more costly and harder to obtain for a long-term stay.
Your visa options are limited:
Choices for people under 50 years old moving to Thailand
*information may change without prior notice, but we do try our best to keep our information up-to-date.
Costs $15,000 USD (500,000 THB) and up, with $300 USD (10,000 THB) annual fee.
Multiple Entry Tourist Visa
Allows you to stay up to 6 months, but if you exit out of Thailand and return on the last day before it expires, you can stay up to 9 months.
If you need another Multiple Entry Tourist Visa after the first one expires, you will need to fly home to your home country to get another Multiple Entry Tourist Visa. You can no longer get that in the bordering country because the Thai authority believe if you can’t fly back to your home country, then you probably don’t have enough money to spend in Thailand.
You can apply for a 1-year education visa to learn Muay Thai, martial arts, train self-defense or to learn Thai at a local university or school.
The average cost is around $800 to $1,000 USD (25,000 to 35,000 THB) per year and you will need to show up for class a few hours per week.
Most expats I know use this and have no issues. Although there are some reports about the Thai immigration spot checking people on their Thai, if they carry an Education Visa to study Thai.
It’s not practical to open a business in Thailand just to stay here. If you really want to open a business, open a bar, restaurant, or open a shop in Thailand, and if that is something you want to do, then that’s fine, but I wouldn’t open a business just to stay here.
The reason for that: you’ll need a certain amount of capital, hire a certain amount of Thai employees, and have a business premise just to open a business. You will also be required to pay tax for your business and those reasons make no sense to someone who has no intention to open a business.
You can work for an international company that can help you obtain a work permit.
You can still teach English but schools are now required to hire trained teachers with teaching certificates and not someone that can just speak or read English. Of course, there are exceptions to this. For me, I wouldn’t consider a job I wouldn’t do at home.
I wouldn’t want to teach English just because I want to live here. Working at something I am good at, to me, it is already work and working on something I don’t like will make me miserable. If you are starting in your career, and you didn’t go to school to become an English teacher, then it is not going to help you move forward in your field.
You are better off living at home for some time to build up your experience and your career. Come to Thailand for a holiday to save up money, then consider moving to Thailand once you have saved enough money.
Those are your real 5 visa options if you are under 50 years old and not married to a Thai national.
The good old days when you can just use the 30-day visa exemption over and over are gone. I think Thailand does not want a person that doesn’t have money for their visa to live in the country for too long. They want a different class of tourist visiting, living or moving to Thailand.
What to Expect Once You’re Working and Living in Thailand
Ok, let say you manage to land a job for some big international company in Thailand with a good salary or perhaps you have saved enough money that you can live comfortably when you move to Thailand.
If you land a job, it is still a job, and you are expected to do a good job and arrive on time. Do not treat it as you’re still on a holiday.
Since you’re working in Thailand, you will likely have Thai coworkers or Thai subordinates and it is likely that you might get a higher salary or be in a higher position in the company. Your Thai co-workers, as well as your Thai subordinates, will expect you to behave so they can respect you.
In other words, you don’t want them to know all you do during your free time is taking home a girl from Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy or something like that. It is not really socially acceptable to be bringing home a girl from those places. To some people sure, but to others, not so much.
If somehow you lose respect from your Thai co-workers or Thai subordinates, you might get the silence treatment or something called “losing face” when they give you the cold shoulder. When that happens, it is going to be very hard to get your job done.
You might just as well find a new job or go back home, there is very little you can do and it is pretty much impossible to get that respect back.
The lose face thing is not just Thailand; it is pretty much in every Asian culture.
Often You’re Better Off Leaving Thailand
If you are living in Thailand, sometimes things don’t work out. Usually people run out of money or something changes. Maybe you lost that magic feeling, or maybe you were laid off, or your visa is expiring or for whatever reasons. You need to realize that you might be better off leaving Thailand.
To sum this up, moving to Thailand is for the following type of people.
1) If you are well off and good with your money, then go for it.
2) If you are working for an internationally company in Thailand and they pay you a good salary, then you’ll be fine.
3) People over 50 years old: if you’re retired with a 401k, pension, retirement savings, and other savings to fund your lifestyle, no problem.
4) If you are young and adventurous who wants to travel the world and teach English to get experience, that’s fine also.
5) You have family here – you married a Thai, or you have Thai children.
6) You have a business in Thailand.
7) You are learning self defense, or studying Thai, you’re a monk or going to school in Thailand.
But if you don’t fall into any of the categories, you better watch out. It’s going to be very hard to live long-term in Thailand.