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Expat Relocation: Moving to Bangkok


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Thailand - The Land of Smiles is a great place to visit but expats will tell you that moving to Thailand and living here are entirely different matters. However, it is still a great place to live if you listen to sound advice. If you work for a company that is assigning you to Thailand then your decision has been made for you. Then again, you might be deciding to move here for new opportunities or to retire. There are some things you should consider when making your decision to move here and expats in Thailand are the ones to consult with. Here is some of their advice.

Making the Decision

If you have children, Thailand might be a little tough for them to adapt to at first. You will find that after moving to Thailand that there are not many amusement parks, theme parks, and other entertainment venues geared towards foreign children. Thus, they will find that when they do go to certain entertainment venues for children that there will not be much English spoken. However, if you maintain a positive attitude and encourage your children to enjoy nature then they will probably love it here. Having them enrolled in a good international school where the other kids speak English is very important as well.

Also keep in mind that if you are moving to Thailand for new job opportunities, you are liable to be disappointed. This is not an issue for those coming here to retire or being reassigned by their employer. For those coming here to find a job, there is not much available to a foreigner besides teaching. So, if teaching is not your thing, you had better make sure that you have income sources such as freelancing over the internet or a cash reserve that you can tap into for awhile. In any case, make sure you have employment or sufficient living funds secured before you arrive here.

Then there is the issue of political stability in Thailand. Despite what you see on the news in the western world, Thailand is a relatively stable politically. However, there are still ongoing disputes between the Yellow Shirts and Red Shirts. While these disputes have been peaceful in the last couple of years, they are a potential powder keg nonetheless. For the most part though, expats in Thailand are rarely the target of any political violence here.

Your friends back in the western world may try to kill your spirit when you express your desire to move yourself and your family to Thailand. One of the ways they will do it is by pointing out the seedy side of cities such as Bangkok and Pattaya. True, Thailand is known for its sex trade but these places are in isolated parts of the city and a person could live here for decades and never be exposed to them.

Visa Requirements for Living in Thailand

Once you have made the decision for moving to Thailand, you will need to get your passport in order and get a visa. If you are moving as part of your company's reassignment, you will probably get a Class B visa prior to departure. This is known as a work permit visa in Thailand.

For all other situations, the best thing to do is get a multiple-entry Class O non-immigrant visa from the consular section of the Thai embassy in your home country. This type of visa is the most expensive but it gives you the least hassle while trying to settle into Thailand the first year. The only thing you must do is make a border run to a neighboring country every 90 days, exit, and reenter Thailand. The most popular border run done by expatriates in Bangkok is to make a day trip to Cambodia.

The multiple-entry O visa can also be converted to an education visa (ED) or retirement visa (O) when it is about to expire and can be done at Thai immigration without leaving the country. In order to convert your multiple O to an ED visa, your child must be enrolled in a Thai international school or you must be in an approved language course for the purpose of studying Thai. And, in order to convert to a retirement visa, you must have at least 800,000 THB in a Thai bank account for 90 days.

Packing your goods

Choose an overseas freight company for sending your household goods when moving to Thailand. The question is what do you ship? You will want to only ship your personal effects such as books and clothing. Shipping furniture or appliances is not recommended and really not necessary because most apartments are already furnished. Keep in mind that you may be charged custom duties when your goods arrive in Thailand and the transit takes about 30 days depending on the origination point.

Also keep in mind before shipping any appliances such as a television that Thailand runs on 220 VAC. This is important for those from the U.S. where electrical appliances run on 110 VAC. Shipping is rather expensive so try to ship only what you really cannot do without such as keepsakes.

When You Arrive in Thailand

When you get here, you will no doubt want to find an apartment and get your children enrolled in school. You will also want to get settled in, learn your way around, find employment if you have not done so already. There is plenty to take care of when moving to Thailand but you will find it to go rather smoothly in the long run.

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