Pros and cons of Thailand as an expat destination

Pros and cons of Thailand as an expat destination

Pros and cons of Thailand as an expat destination

For a good number of years, Thailand was a favourite low-cost destination for expat retirees and those fascinated by Asian history and culture.

Even before the pandemic caused chaos across the world, life in Thailand for Westerners was becoming more difficult, with the ever-strengthening baht, visa issues and an increasing cost of living causing many retirees to relocate to nearby states or even repatriate to the home country. Since the beginning of 2020, almost the entire world seems to be caught up in a panic not seen for centuries, leaving expats in a dilemma as to how to cope best with their totally changed lifestyles.

Even Thailand’s laid-back way of life seems almost unrecognisable nowadays, with expat communities fragmented as regards which new rules to follow and which to disregard. Local online expat forums mirror the confusion, and the group meetings which supported the foreign community are a thing of the past,, at least for now. Isolation in one’s country of birth is one thing, but being forced to be alone in a very foreign land is another, especially as prejudice against incomers seems to be supported by the country’ s ruling military junta. As a result, many long-term expat residents are weighing up the pros and cons of staying against leaving, with a good number feeling they’re no longer welcome in the land they called home.

For those looking to work in Thailand, Bangkok is still the best option for finding a job which pays enough to subsist in a city no longer known for its low cost of living but still popular for its famous street food and lively nightlife. For retirees and digital nomads, the country’s world-famous tropical islands including Koh Samui are the answer, along with the Thai holiday hub of beachside Hua Hin. Both have thriving expat communities and are far more attractive for long-stay expats than is Pattaya. Heading north, the Lanna city of Chiang Mai and its neighbouring province of Lamphun are steeped in history and tradition, seen in their magnificent temples and surrounding natural beauty.

Set close by the border between Thailand and Myanmar in the far north of Thailand, Chiang Rai city’s development into a modern mini-metropolis still in touch with its past glories might well be the best destination for expats wanting 20th century convenience along with glorious mountainous scenery and a fascinating legacy. It’s as close to the real Thailand as it’s possible to get nowadays, and residents can still visit Myanmar for a day by simply entering via a nearby border post.

In the main, the whole of Thailand seems now to be free of the coronavirus, making it safe to visit, but it’s perhaps too soon to say when the country will be as open to Western incomers as it was in the past.

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