This is me researching a reply to a reader’s question.
I receive many emails from readers asking specific questions about some aspect of living in or moving to Thailand. When I write a new post I try to include as many tips and hints I can think of that relate to topic. I thought it would be useful to bring all of these together under the one heading and pin it to the main blog menu so that you can refer to it whenever you need.
This resource will combine extracts from previous posts and comments, links both within my blog and externally and material specifically written for this post. I hope you find it useful whatever your relationship to Thailand. If you want any additions made please let me know.
As always I am happy to tell you that I am not an expert on anything! I base my writings on my personal experience and don’t normally do much in the way of research to set myself up as a general advisor on matters relating to Thailand. Do your own research on important issues and don’t just rely on my blog. If I need to correct anything then please write to me.
I will be adding to this post as I find new information so that it stays relevant so please check back from time to time.
UPDATED 29 Aug 2016: Another excellent article from Karsten as part of the Thailand Starter Kit called How to Send Money to Thailand. This link takes you to Karsten’s website HERE. Just for the record I bank with the Commonwealth in Australia and use their foreign transfer service which costs a flat A$22.00. I make sure I transfer in Australian dollars as their exchange rate is rubbish. It is exchanged by my Thai bank – Bangkok, and the rate is pretty good. The transfer usually only takes a day, sometimes it’s done the same day. I did try Transferwise once but they took nine days to finalise the transfer. Maybe I just hit a bad time to “match” buyer/seller but that’s too long for my comfort.
UPDATED 19 Aug 2016: I have added a new link to an excellent resource called Thailand Starter Kit. You can find it HERE.
1. Visas HERE
2. Marriage HERE
3. Thai Health Insurance HERE
4. Banking HERE
5. Thai Driving Licence HERE
6. Motor Registration Renewal HERE
7. Buying land in Isaan HERE
8. How to get a Yellow House Book (Tabien Baan) HERE
1. Living with a Thai Woman HERE
2. Retirement HERE
3. Building a House in Thailand HERE
4. Cost of Living HERE
5. Isaan – the Negatives HERE
6. Living in a gated Community HERE
7. Public Holidays 2016 HERE
NEW AUG 2016 Thailand Starter Kit HERE
9. Recommendations HERE
The most debated topic to the extent I have added four posts to the blog covering the subject. Lots of input from readers so a big thank you to all of you who contributed.
- Retirement Visa and More HERE
- Retirement Visa and more – comments HERE
- A reader contributed his experience of doing what’s called “A border run”, to Laos from Nong Khai in Isaan. Bob’s experience can be found HERE
- I reported on the 90 day reporting process online HERE
Most of my readers who are in Thailand or are planning to retire here seem to have Thai partners. If you aren’t married at this stage maybe it is something you might consider at some stage. I have completed the whole Thai experience on the marriage front so can share lots of information:
- For a description of the social/community non-legal marriage then have a read of my wonderful day HERE.
- To read about the process and pitfalls of obtaining the administrative documentation required to formally marry a Thai national go HERE. Make sure you read the useful comment from Martin published on 30 Dec 2015.
- To find out what’s needed to complete the legal marriage at the Amphur (council) office then this will help HERE
Another important topic for farang. There is a misunderstanding that hospital treatment is very cheap here. Well for locals it is but we foreigners have to pay and although it is probably cheaper than your home country it still may require what seems like a substantial outlay if you are on a limited income. If you intend to go private than the costs can be high. A reader’s wife had a tonsillitis operation at an Udon hospital and the cost was 66,000 THB or around A$2,000. A farang who had a major car accident in Phuket was hit with a 1 million baht medical bill. A full health check-up might cost you 20,000 THB or A$800.00. If you are basing your retirement on the “Asia on $10.00 a Day” principal then you might be in for a bit of a shock!
I have private health cover while I can afford it and am paying the same as I was in Australia.
- You can read about the cover and costs HERE.
- There is also an excellent contribution made by another reader of the blog, which is well worth looking at HERE (this link takes you to a different blog).
I have a couple of accounts one at Kasikorn and another at Bangkok Bank. I reader wrote to me recently and told me that on the whole I would get a better exchange rate with Bangkok than other banks. I transferred two small amount of A$1,150 one to Bangkok and one to Kasikorn and received 1,200 THB more at Bangkok. The money was transferred in Aussie dollars and exchanged here. Now this isn’t a definitive recommendation but it may pay you to shop around. The reader’s original words are below:
The longer I have been here, the more comfortable I am with depositing 800,000B here in preparation for my extension in August 2016. I have over half the required amount here already between two banks. Bangkok Bank is my trading bank, or working account and is the cheapest bank to bring currency to and apart from 10B per month, I’m charged no fees.
My savings is with Krungsri not to be confused with Krungthai. The account I have is called Mee Tae Dai which is an account that pays monthly interest calculated daily, you are only allowed two free withdrawals from this account per month,additional withdrawals incur a small fee. At the moment this account pays 1.8% which doesn’t sound a lot but the interest is tax free up to 20,000B so for 800,000B, 14,400B per year or 1200B per month is fair in todays climate. I tend to pick my moments when to exchange currency, I actually use an intermediator company rather than buy from the bank, the intermediator gives a better rate and you can place a “limit” order with them for the exchange rate you would like and wait, often with mine they seem to trigger, if they go off, often between 1-3am our time. Funny enough I placed an order almost two months ago set at 24.3B per $NZ, of late it has been hanging around mid 23’s but spiked last week, so I’m happy with that. Don’t want to remind you, but hasn’t the $AUD taking a pounding? My first trips here in 2012/2013 and 2014 I was getting 30-31B each time, now look, seems to be stuck in the 25’s.
A very useful resource is provided by Karsten Aichholz, a long term expat living in Bangkok, who makes available well researched posts covering some of the more specialised aspects of living here. His latest on “Thailand Money Matters” is well worth a read HERE.
Another one by Karsten:
Sending money to Thailand can be a tricky matter. Between international transfer fees and hidden fees in the exchange rate, there are a lot of pitfalls when transferring money from abroad into Thailand. This guide will help clear up some confusion and allow you to transfer your funds swiftly and reliably, while minimizing exchange rate fees.
Aside from traditional forms of banking, there are a number of alternatives that allow you to remit money from overseas to Thailand. Each offers its own kinds of benefits, from lower fees to easier payments, but they also come with their own drawbacks. The link to the full article HERE.
There is a lot of information on the internet about obtaining a Thai driver’s licence some of it specifically targeted at particular areas – Pattaya, Chiang Mai etc, so I won’t repeat this in detail here. The one tip I can give you, which isn’t given enough emphasis, is to advise you to get an International driver’s licence in your home country before you settle in Thailand. If you have one of these you don’t need to do the Thai driving test, which I hear is a real challenge. If you come here just with your own national driver’s licence then you will most likely have to sit the test. For the sake of a bit of planning and a few dollars you will save yourself a lot of hassle this end.
Very easy to complete in Thailand. Read how HERE.
My opening sentence to this post written back in late 2013 was “Well I now own a small part of Thailand as of this Monday. Who would have thought? This has been one of the oddest progressions in my life from holidaying here last year to retiring, living and “owning” land in Thailand”. This is a good read if you are thinking of going through the process of buying and registering land here. The post is HERE.
So what’s it like living with a Thai lady? By this I don’t mean to suggest that there’s anything weird or different in having a Thai partner over say an Australian one. This is not a living with an alien story! What I do believe however is that each nationality has its own “flavour” and it’s those differences between cultures that make a mixed partnership both especially interesting and in some cases especially challenging. Read about my experience HERE.
I have written several posts related to retiring in Thailand as follows:
- Who Will You Talk To?
I started this story a while back intending to make it my 200th entry to the blog, which coincided with my second anniversary in Thailand. This milestone seemed like a good time to review how retirement is working out for me here and also to reflect on the challenges retirement offers in general no matter where you make your home. The post is HERE
- Thailand Six Months On
My first review of time spent in Thailand. “I had to update my home address details with Chiang Mai immigration recently, something required every 90 days under the terms of my retirement or O type visa. Being the second time I have had to do this it was a reminder that I have now been here for six months although it seems longer. I thought that I would mark this landmark occasion with a review of my life here in Thailand warts and all. Writing this blog entry has given me an opportunity to assess my decision to live here as much for my interest as for anyone else’s”. The post is HERE
- 12 Months in Thailand
The 12th of June 2014 marked my first twelve months living in Thailand and I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the blog entry I made after six months and see how my opinions have changed over the last six months. The post is HERE
- Occupation Retired
My first post on the general topic of retirement. “I recently had to fill out an Australian statutory declaration, if interested you can read about the reason why in my post HERE, where one of the questions it asked for was my occupation. To me I could answer in one of two ways – either occupation “none” or occupation “retired”. I wrote “retired” because after all nobody wants to admit not having an occupation even in retirement. It seems that in many ways an occupation is what has defined us for much of our lives! That question made me think about the subject of retirement and why we should never dismiss it as a “none” occupation!” The post is HERE
- Retire to South East Asia
A good article published in The Canberra Times and others. It has been obviously written from an Australian viewpoint but some general points of interest for other nationalities too. This link HERE is to the Sydney Morning Herald version.
You can find a week by week account of building our house in Thailand to western standards HERE.
UPDATED JULY 2016 : I have just published a 750 page eBook that follows the challenges, frustrations and successes of building a house in Thailand from the very start of us buying the land through to moving in and beyond. You will be part of our building team for every day of construction and I will share many do’s and don’ts all designed to save you time, money, sleepless nights or all three. This book is a must have as part of your research on the subject of building in Thailand and you can find it HERE.
I have written a couple of post on this topic, which might give you some ideas about the cost of living here. The first one is a pretty basic entry covering the time I spent in Chiang Rai back in 2013. You can find it HERE.
A more useful one is the latest version, which details my permanent living expenses as a homeowner. I am keeping this post up to date as new expenses come in that you might find relevant. You can find that one HERE.
A story added to the blog in August 2014. “Living in Si Bun Ruang in a local Moo Baan, or suburb/village, for around a month has allowed me to experience the good and bad of village life. I have written about the good so it is time to be realistic about the more negative aspects. Let me say that these are negatives from MY point of view and some of them may be seen as totally positive by Thais or more likely don’t register at all. I have made a complete list and some of them are a bit picky. However the fact that they have registered with me means that at whatever level of annoyance I regard them as a negative”. The post is HERE
This post was written in October 2013 and covers a number of housing related topics. For anyone looking to settle into a gated community (moo ban) you will find our experience detailed in this post as well HERE
Do check online for days where drinking is banned so you can plan around them. I have had the misfortune to be unprepared and made two trips to Bangkok during alcohol free days – not the best if planning to make a night of it. A rather unfortunately named adult site HERE has a non-adult and useful list of days where you might need to pre-purchase grog in 2016 and 2017. Remember that the last day of Buddhist Lent has now also been added to the list as of 2015 (as I found out in Bangkok!).
I don’t often make recommendations to other blogs or websites but in Karsten’s case I am happy to include his contribution to Thai expat life. Karsten’s articles are always well researched and you will undoubtedly find them interesting and informative. I never accept commissions for my recommendations so this is my personal opinion.
The website is introduced as follows:
Thailand Starter Kit is a collection of free guides for people looking to move to Thailand to live and work there. It covers non-photogenic topics including health insurance, renting an apartment, opening a bank account, hiring a lawyer and other challenges of expat life in Thailand.
Check it out HERE.
Thanks for reading.