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Read This Before Moving To Thailand

So you've figured out your finances maybe you've got a way to make money each month while living in Thailand be it a pension, rental income, online income, or maybe you've just saved up enough money to take a year out to live your fantasies out in Thailand whatever the case or the motive you've decided to give it a try and you're moving to Thailand. But what should you really be doing to prepare?

Before you do anything get out your passport now and copy exactly what I did in the photo. You need to do this because in the event you lose your passport you'll get it back! You wouldn't believe how many people lose their passports! If you get anything out of this website this should be it. Also if you have already moved to Thailand or going on a vacation get it out now and write your contact details into the passport. I've literally had in my hand dozens of passports that were found and handed into the police station but absolutely no way to contact the owners. Also you should know if your passport has been handed into the police station it's unlikely that the police are going to mail it to the embassy so your just screwed. Do it now and if you did copy my advice let us know in the comments section so other people know it's a good idea to do.

Moving To Thailand

Moving to Thailand

What to Pack

The majority of people moving to Thailand for the first time pack everything they can into 2 suitcases. This is What I did and I recommend you do too. But what should you really pack? This is a list of items that you may find are more expensive or hard to find in Thailand, especially shoes. I brought over 10 pairs of shoes and I have a size 9.5 shoe. That's very easy to find in Thailand. If you have large feet 11+ or like designer trainers actually anything designer and if you can find a decent pair they will be 3 times as expensive. Honestly it's just easier to buy as many as you can fit into your bag. Another point about shoes in Thailand is they wear out quick. If you ride a scooter or walk the pavements of Bangkok they will get worn and dirty so quickly that you'll need them all. Flip flops are cheap in Thailand sure but they will dry out your feet and without moisturizer your feet will crack quickly.

  • shoes
  • laptops
  • cameras
  • mobile phones
  • water balloons (for songkran)

Apart from this list honestly I can't think of anything else besides clothes, you can get anything in Thailand with a bit of leg work. If not Amazon shipped through MyUS can get everything else. As for everything else leave it at home put it in storage or in grandma's basement. If you think this list needs to be longer for hard to get items please leave a comment below.

What Visa to get

Before you get your visa please check the Thai embassy website in your country of origin. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT get a tourist visa. You can apply for one at the embassy and you'll get 60 days when you enter (depending on your country check the immigration site for more details). Then you can extend for another 30 but you will find that opening a Bank account unless you know people is going to be very difficult. Get the non-immigrant visa to enjoy a hassle free move. The ED visa will allow you to stay at least 3 years without having to leave the country.

Also you should check with the Thailand immigration website regularly for any updates up until your Visa is issued.

Manage your money

I'm not a financial planner so if you're playing with your entire life savings consult an expert. For me I've been trying a lot of different things especially in the past year on how to stay ahead of exchange rates in addition there are now online only currencies (bitcoin) I've had to deal with as well. I use a number of banks one in Hong Kong (HSCB) one in Thailand (Bankok Bank) and online currencies I store in my own wallet but exchange them safely with OKPAY another advantage of OKPAY is that I can hold multiple currencies (except Thai baht) I'm predicting the USD to be at 40 baht to the dollar in the next 3 years so i'm moving money to OKPAY and hold it in USD.

This all seems overly complicated doesn't it and if you have less than $10,000 to your name then honestly don't need to be doing all that stuff. But until you actually get to Thailand and open a bank here you can't actually send anything anyway. So make sure your current bank allows you to do international transfers via a website and check the swift codes which you'll need to send money. My advice on moving your money is to make sure you don't move everything. It's important to keep your bank account in your country with the minimum balance. Once you leave your country you WON"T be able to open a bank account again until you go back home.

What you shouldn't do before you move to Thailand

  • Don't rent anything long term before you get here
  • Don't bring your nagging white girl with you
  • Don't bring anything you don't need
  • Don't come without a backup plan

I don't recommend you book any long term rentals until you actually arrive in Thailand, what you see in the pictures is probably not what you'll get. Also since you sleep every night you'll want a decent mattress. If your budget is less than 15k a month the mattress is going to be bad to worse! You can't check the mattress from photos.

Finally before moving to Thailand it's important for you to have a plan on how to move away from Thailand. No matter how ambitious or creative you are the odds of you actually living here long term are still stacked against you. Have a plan to get out. Last thing you want to have happen is to be down to your last hundred bucks without a way home. No one is going to help you. Have a plan to be able to get back home if that means making sure you write your grandma letters every month do it! Don't become a statistic.

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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. He has lived here for over 10 years and speaks reads and writes very good Thai.

12 Responses to Read This Before Moving To Thailand

  1. bang bang January 5, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Just don’t lose your phone and your passport at the same time. Should throw your e-mail on that bit of paper to. Pretty hard to lose an e-mail address

    • Chris January 5, 2014 at 10:17 am #

      Thats a good point if you dont have a house number. Email is best but contact numbers are better. Believe it ir not police in Thailand are not always online

  2. Mark January 6, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    10 pairs of shoes? I’ve never owned 10 pairs of shoes at the same time in my life ha ha! 😀

    I moved here with one bag small enough and light enough to take on the flight as carry on luggage. Sold all my other shit back home before coming here and glad I did.

    I brought just clothes and some toiletries + my laptop. 1 pair of shoes (on my feet), 2 jeans, 3-4 shorts, about 10 teeshirts, 12 or so underwear and socks, few dress shirts, a towel and that was about it I think.

    Bought a few things for apartment out here like plates, cups and cutlery but not needed to buy much as I eat out all the time anyway and don’t have a kitchen.

    • Chris January 6, 2014 at 7:18 am #

      I do like my shoes and if you have a big foot it’s probably a good idea lol. Why did you bring a towel though?????

  3. Shane January 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    Hey Chris, I hope you’re doing well and 2014 has been good to you thus far. First off I wanted to let you know that your website has been extremely helpful and entertaining! I’m making the move to Bangkok Feb. 24th and plan to stay with my friend who has been encouraging me for years to make the move. I’m 26, the past 5 years I’ve been successful in selling medical equipment, I’ll almost certainly be taking a pay cut in whatever career I decide to pursue there, however I hope to find work doing something less structured and stressful. I’ve visited twice over the past couple years and I’m in agreement with you that learning the language is crucial!My friend has recommended a private tutor he used(along with having a live-in tutor girlfriend lol) I wasn’t sure if you would recommend I enrolled in an language class instead for ED Visa purposes. I actually have a couple other questions for you and don’t want to take up too much space on your responses. I understand you’re busy, but if you could please let me know the best method and time to reach you. Later man!

    • Chris January 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      More like a “I’ve moved to Thailand” question which i’ll be covering next week. But simply ED Visa is good it gets you 8hrs a week of learning, that’s honestly not enough. A private tutor and live in g/f still not enough, you need to do your own study on top of that if you want to be anywhere proficient in 18months. If you’d like to get in touch with me personally or have more questions I recommend you sign up as a VIP member.

  4. Ebumby January 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Chris, I bought the Thai reading course you recommended. It’s great. The outrageous and sexual humor is what I needed to help me remember all the weird characters, tone rules, etc. Good recommendation. I was thrilled when I could discern a package of fish balls from a package of pork balls with my limited Thai reading ability.

    • Chris January 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      Glad to have helped. Hope you stick with it!

    • Lyly July 10, 2015 at 4:39 am #

      What Thai reading course? Where can I buy it?

  5. Brian sumpter January 8, 2014 at 2:02 am #

    It would be good to have a second bank account with a second ATM/Visa card. So if your pin# is swiped on your first account, you can switch money from the 1st into the 2nd account online from TH. This will make it not a crisis if your pin# gets recorded by someone behind you with a camera phone and your bank cancels your ATM card. You can still access your funds while you wait for a new ATM card from your 1st bank. A good idea if you plan to stay longer than 60 days. Or else have a visa card with lots of credit.

  6. Greg January 6, 2017 at 7:54 am #

    Thanks for the advice in your article.
    I plan to move there within 12 months, I’m terrified and excited.
    What is this reading course?

  7. Jackie June 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

    Could someone give me an insight? I dont have a job in Thailand but my life in America is making me miserable I need a break. I want to spend my time lying in the beach for days, even weeka, that is how tired I am. Please dont judge me. I raised a child all by myself who is off to college, with no help or dialog from her dad, my ex husband. I did everything to raise her , forgoed my career, became the mom, dad, cleaning woman, soccer mom, cook, provider, name it. I did not date to not bring home a stranger.it was all about her. Now that she is going to college I would like some time off to myself. However, i have little money to myself because im sending my daughter off to college. Could i get a job there anywhere as an American? I have a BBA, bilingual (No Spanish) i also speak some French from 20 yrs ago when I lived in Paris (also a breather for me at the time)
    Any input is appreciated.

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