Complete Guide on Relocating to Thailand

New in 2020

We would like to inform you that we received a directive from our government, The Ministry of Public Health (Department of Disease Control) regarding preventative measures against the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

Special Announcement of COVID-19 on 23 February 2020, Thailand

The instructions are clear and self-explanatory. Please pay special attention to the following:

Thailand’s disease prevention and control cannot be achieved without the cooperation of the public. Therefore, people traveling from areas with reports of ongoing outbreaks or local transmission including the People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong, Macau, Republic of China (Taiwan), Japan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), are asked to take social responsibility by self-monitoring at least 14 days upon return and arrival to Thailand.

As a consequence of this, please be informed that our company is unable to provide any services or physically meeting the assignees arriving from above countries until after 14 days from the arrival date. They have to be in self-quarantine for this period of time and present us with the doctor’s clearance certificate before we could meet them and start the program.

Please note that international schools already have posted similar directives on their websites.

We regret that this may upset the relocation plans of our clients, particularly for those assignees who have planned to come on a short pre-arrival orientation/school search. However, for assignees who are already confirmed for long-term relocation to Thailand, we recommend to provide them with a Temporary accommodation period of 1-2 months, to cover the first 14 days quarantine period and then proceed with the accompanied home and school search. In this way, clients and assignees could basically follow their planned relocation schedules without much or any delay.

The Land of Smiles

Most people around the World have an image in mind of the ‘Land of Smiles’ as being a place of exciting cultural experiences, tropical beauty and daily adventures. Thailand certainly has lots to offer any foreign expat and their families in terms of a comfortable daily Life, housing, international schooling and amazing experiences to last a lifetime.

It goes without saying, however, that on receiving the news of an upcoming posting abroad a myriad of questions and uncertainties will arise in anyone’s mind – whether an experienced expatriate or about to commit to the first international move to a new and unknown destination.

Where to Live

In Thailand, most foreign expat professionals are located in and around Bangkok, where the majority find their accommodation along the main business districts of Sukhumvit Road, Sathorn, Silom or Siam.  Within the Bangkok city centers, and outside, expat housing can be found both as condominiums/ apartments or standalone housing and within different budget ranges.

There are also excellent and very family friendly options to be found a bit further from the city center in large housing compounds, which often essentially are complete communities with schooling nearby, grocery shopping and many other services available. For living in this type of housing compounds (called “Mooban” in Thai) it is recommended to have a car at your disposal, or utilize Ride-Hailing service.

Transportation to/from the workplace, childrens’ school, or favored leisure activities is something that should definitely be factored in when deciding on the most convenient area and location to live - not least as traffic in Bangkok, like in many other urban centers in Asia, can add some considerable frustrations to everyday Life if not carefully anticipated. This, simply as the daily commuting time can amount to several hours in peak traffic, although the geographical distance may not be long and looks very convenient on a map.

A significant number of foreign expats, of course, also do live in other urban centers, such as Pattaya/ Rayong, Chiang Mai or Phuket. All of these localities also offer an abundance of shopping convenience, top-standard international schools and leisure activity options.

Cultural Challenges

Thai is spoken everywhere, with only slight deviations from North to South. In Bangkok and the other major cities, you will usually find someone who can speak a little English.  However, it is common to find yourself in a situation where people do not understand much English and it is useful to know at least some basic expressions in Thai. Be aware that your hands are a mean of expressing yourself; try to keep them at your side and avoid putting your hands in your pockets.

Doing business or integrating in a new working environment, in a perhaps entirely foreign culture, will of course present a host of challenges in itself. Whether in regards to food, social customs, meeting etiquette or religious practice etc., Thailand does indeed have many colorful and interesting ‘peculiarities’, which one should get acquainted with for own benefit, but which of course also adds to the richness of the cultural experience the country has to offer.

As an example, the very first step or action in any meeting with locals in Thailand - and before further interaction can take place - is to greet (or ‘Wai’) your counterpart and all participants and members of the group. The ‘Wai’, as it’s called in Thai language, is performed by pressing the palms of your hands together, as if in prayer, then simultaneously lowering the head and raising the hands towards the ridge of your nose.

Practical Matters & Formalities

Of course, among the more essential formalities are Visa & Immigration issues, which include preparing the applications for the relevant Visa(s) and Work Permit for the Assignee. A local Relocation & Immigration Service provider will be best suited to handle such processes seamlessly.

It is also recommendable to make inquiries with your home country’s tax authorities to double-check for any implications or required measures relating to your expat status. Similarly, your employer should be able to help you clarify on local obligations and follow up for compliance locally once you have arrived to Thailand.

When moving abroad, for convenience, many expats prefer to bring along as little as possible on their relocation. In the case of Thailand, this is made easy as most accommodation is rented out furnished, or at least semi-furnished. Similarly, it is of course possible to organize for car purchase locally or, alternatively, for long-term car rental.

IT & Communications is generally reliable in Thailand, although the quality, speed and coverage of internet/mobile networks of course can vary when visiting very remote rural locations. General home utilities supply in all Thailand’s urban areas - such as internet, water and electricity – can be relied on in terms of consistency and quality, while prices are also very reasonable.

Health & Medical Considerations

General health and medical concerns are often foremost in the mind of expats, probably even more so if moving to a tropical climate for the first time. While Thailand is free from many of the natural disasters that occasionally strike neighboring countries in the region - such as earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions etc. – the country’s long coastline can indeed be affected by tsunamis (although extremely rare), as was the case during the tragic ‘Indian Ocean Tsunami’ of 2004.

Read our healthcare and giving birth and registration of birth/nationality articles for more information.

Apart from very few natural environment dangers and calamity, a wide range of tropical diseases are present in Thailand and it is advisable to consult with a ‘tropical health clinic’/hospital in your home country, prior to your relocation to Thailand, with regards to recommended vaccinations or other precautions.

In sum, and while any international move will come with it’s own challenges, Thailand is certainly a welcoming expat destination in which options abound for helping to ensure a smooth settling-in process for the entire family and a comfortable and memorable stay, however long the duration.

Last update: 27 February 2020

Pacific Orientation Relocation Services has provided specialized relocation services in Thailand for nearly 20 years. We are an owner/managed company but our clients range among the largest international corporations with the presence in Thailand. As a trusted supplier we naturally comply with all of their regulations and requirements, including regular training and learning sessions.

Welcome to Thailand!