Expats in Thailand giving up and moving on

Expats in Thailand giving up and moving on

Expats in Thailand giving up and moving on

As the expat exodus from Thailand continues, a survey reveals it's professionals working for internationally-based firms and expat business owners who’re deciding to leave.

Following on from a similar survey in 2017, the recent study revealed a significant number of expat professionals under the age of 50 have now left, thus making good their promises to get out should the overall perception of foreign workers in the Kingdom not improve. Western tourist numbers are also in decline, possibly discouraged by inflation as well as by increasingly onerous visitor visa requirements and reports about immigration hassles on arrival. Their financial contributions to the Thai economy are now being replaced by those from increasing numbers of Indian and Chinese visitors.

It seems the country is now moving backwards to times when its expats were mostly retirees from the West looking for better weather, a lax environment and a cheaper cost of living. In the previous survey, the average age of expats in Thailand came out at 50 years, but the recent version revealed the average is now 60 years, indicating a drastic drop in the number of younger expat professionals on assignment.

In addition, two years ago working expats comprised 42 per cent of respondents. When asked whether they were happier than when they first arrived, some 39 per cent said no, with 44 per cent of the negative responses coming from expats aged under 60 years. The majority quoted financial pressures as the reason for their discomfort, with 66 per cent of all respondents saying they’d thought seriously about moving on. The recent survey shows just 23 per cent are working expats, indicating a majority of expat professionals thinking about leaving have now left.

As regards the problems caused for Thailand’s expat community by the recent changes in immigration visa requirements, many retirees are being forced to leave due to the lack of notice given. Even those who would have been able to easily comply are now forced to sell up and leave or go through another convoluted set of regulations to obtain even a short-term stay. Many long-stay expats invested in their own small businesses after painfully circumventing the draconian Thai laws relating to work permits and business visas. Others built or bought property, and many have married Thai wives and now have children in expensive private education.

The new rules are sowing chaos and confusion, with as yet unaffected expat retirees nervously searching online for alternative destinations with more straightforward requirements. Surveys give a general impression of conditions for expats in various locations, but don’t account for the broken lives resulting from political instability.

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