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BKK Expats

What to consider before moving to Bangkok


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It’s no secret that we love Bangkok, and that’s one of the reasons we love helping people start their lives here. But there are definitely some things to bear in mind as you’re weighing up a move to this most distinctive of cities.

The heat

It hits you like an oven door swinging open and in the rainy season it can feel like you’re living in a bowl of tom yum soup. Unsurprisingly, the soaring mercury (and the three months of relentless monsoon) affects the Bangkok lifestyle in a big way. Most noticeably, the pace is much slower. Even in the big city bustle, people move, make decisions and do business at a much more leisurely pace than in cooler climes. Though it can be frustrating at first, this sabai sabai attitude is contagious and you find yourself relaxing and adapting soon enough. The upside is that seasonal affective disorder is out the window and you can leave your winter wardrobe behind. That being said, it’s worth packing a sweater for days spent shopping in the mall or for trips to the cinema; public places are big on AC, which may or may not stand for Arctic Conditions.

The food

Thais are deeply (and rightly) proud of their national cuisine. They of all the Asian nations have nailed the perfect balance of sweet, sour, spicy and bitter and every dish is a taste sensation. Usually food is ordered for the table so everyone shares and tries a little of everything. Most Thai food is made to order so if you’re not built for the hot stuff, you can ask for fewer chilies. And while everyone has a story about someone getting sick from street food, cases are rarer than you’d expect; don’t rule it out. It’s fresh and quick and one of the remaining few ways you can save money in Bangkok – if you want to stick to western food, expect to pay near to the same prices as home.

The religion

Thailand is a Buddhist country and while Bangkok is fairly liberal, most of the general principles are observed in society. Thai people dress relatively conservatively, which can be baffling to westerners melting in the heat and gasping for a pair of shorts and a flimsy top. While drinking is welcome (to the point of encouragement) most of the year round, Buddhist holidays are dry. Generally speaking, the overriding concept of karma is respected, and though there are always a few exceptions, if you keep your wits about you, it’s a fairly safe city inhabited by trustworthy people.

The spectrum

With Bangkok developing at a breakneck rate, it’s easy to forget that Thailand is still a developing country. As such, some of its inhabitants aren’t as fortunate as others and the chasm between rich and poor is staggering and often shocking. While shiny malls and high rise offices pop up seemingly daily, there is still a slum community; and while the public transport system is clean and efficient, pollution is still a big problem.

The traffic

There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting at a red light, which turns green and then red again and never moving once. Traffic in Bangkok is terrible and there’s no getting round it. Actually, there is. There are two metro systems, one underground and one overhead, which cover almost all of downtown, and motorbike taxis weave through the jams to get you to your destination in no time.

Having mulled these things over, there are the more practical issues to consider, like visas, paperwork, finding schools, making contacts, getting all your stuff shipped and finding a place to live. Luckily, we’re here to help with all that.

So, what do you think?

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