Are you considering to move to Thailand? Part 2

Living in Thailand
Koh Samet beach

Are you considering to move to Thailand for work or just for pleasure / retirement? Then I am sure you have been doing some research about the options to be living in Thailand. And I am sure you did read about all the good things about living in Thailand. But there are also some not so good things about living in Thailand. And after 20 years of living in Thailand I have some experience with that. So let me tell you my side of the story about the less nice things.

Living here legally

As in any other country you will need a permit to stay in Thailand. This is called a visa. But in most other countries after living there awhile with a visa with intention to stay there you will be granted residence or even the nationality. Now although that is in Thailand also possible in theory, the chance of that are slim, very slim. So that leaves you the only other option and that is get a temporarily visa. Right temporarily visa that you have to get new or extend every year. And when I came to live in Thailand in medio 2000 that was no problem at all. Some people would live here as tourist and every 30 days their passport would make a border run  and getting a new entry stamp (that ain't working anymore). Some people would get back2back tourist visa (but but that is getting very difficult now). But worldwide all kind of embassy or consulate would issue one-year multi-entry visa (but also that is getting very difficult now). Other people would get an one-year extension of stay at the immigration office (but also that is getting more difficult now).

So slowly rules are changed / added / enforced. So no back 2 back tourists visa's anymore, so no back 2 back Visa Exempted Entries anymore. OK it is not like that yet for 100% but personally I think that is just a matter of time. One-year visa? Only limited embassies & consulate. And much requirements like proof of income. OK getting a one-year visa is not over yet, but personally I think that is just a matter of time.

So you want to be living in Thailand legally? There are a few options (in short) :
  • Get a job with a work-permit and get a visa for working here. But you get fired from your job? Within 24hr you work-permit is canceled and within 24hr after that also your visa is canceled. What means that within 24hr after that you will have to exit Thailand.
  • Marry a Thai lady and get an visa based on marriage and then an extension of stay. But you will have to proof you have income and you will have to stay married. 
  • Get a Thai child and get visa based on child support and later an extension of stay.  But you will have to proof you have income (actually that is not written in the law but just done by immigration).
  • If you are above 49 get an visa based on retirement and later an extension of stay. But your will have to proof you have income.
The requirement to proof your income was in the old days never asked, then you just had to show you had that money at that moment on a Thai bank account. Or you would show a Letter of Proof of Income from your own embassy. But now you have to show that you have that money on your Thai bank account for 2 - 6 months. And not all embassies do give the Letter of Proof of Income anymore.

There are a few other options :
  • Get a residence permit, officially indefinitely (but it can be canceled). But you will need to be living here minimum for 3 years on an Extension of Stay and there are many other requirements that makes it almost impossible to get (and expensive).
  • Become a Thai national, officially indefinitely (but it can be canceled). You will need to write/read/speak/understand Thai and there are many other requirements that makes it almost impossible to get.
What am I trying to tell you? 
That in the past 20 years it has become more and more difficult to get and visa for Thailand. Wait .... I am living here 20 years. Married for 18 years. And still every year I have to apply for an visa to be able to be living here. Yes think about that. Of course I knew that when I started living in Thailand but I never thought about it in the long-term. I have my live here in Thailand, I have my house here in Thailand. But if the government of Thailand wants they can just cancel all long-term visa and request all foreigners to leave Thailand.

And while living here legally you will have to report every 90 days to the Immigration Police to tell them that you are still living at the same place. And the house-owner has to report that a foreigner is living there. And when you go away for weekend, yup you & house owner have to report again.

After 20 years living here I feel like I am treated like a criminal, like I am not wanted here anymore by the government of Thailand. Every year I have to jump new hoops and they become smaller and higher. Actually many domestic criminals have more freedom as I have. 

Then there are a few other things

Working in Thailand
 First of all you will need a work-permit and secondly there are many jobs for what you will never get a work-permit. So that actually limits you to management jobs. And again in the old days first of all it was easy to get a job as manager. And secondly what you really did was not checked. But nowadays there are many Thai people who can do the job as manager and be careful to really do only the work what you are allowed to do. And nowadays getting the work-permit is much more difficult.

Buying land
No way, we foreigners are not allowed to buy land. Yes there are all kind of ways around this but in the end this is actually illegal or you actually do not own the land. And you might consider that this law protects Thailand for being bought by foreigners. Well it also (mostly) gives rich Thai people the opportunity to buy all the good land. And the poor people? They "get" the land from the government but never own it. What keeps them poor.

Luckily I have a rich wife and she can buy land, but I have to sign a paper that I will never make claims on that land (this paper seems to be illegal by law).

Opening a bank account
In the old days no problem. But now many banks think that you need a work-permit for that. Or they have a rule that you can only open 1 bank account. Opening a bank account has become a p.i.a. (this is of course thanks you the USA and EU who are looking to way to stop the transfers of black money).

And when you move to a new province you might also want to get a new bank account otherwise transferring or getting money will costs you money. So yes many people open new bank account. I had bank accounts in Bangkok, Chonburi, Khon Kaen and in Nan. And the last time in Nan the first 2 banks refused to open an bank account. The third one had no problem at all.

Want to have a post-paid telephone subscription?
No you need a work-permit for that.

Buy a car or motorbike?
In the old days no problem, but now some Departments of Land Transport think that you need a work-permit and / or Letter of Residence and / or a 1 year visa.

Getting a driver-license?
In the old days no problem, but now some Departments of Land Transport think that a foreigner can not get a Thai DL or that you need a work-permit and / or Letter of Residence and / or a 1 year visa.

Going to a National Park, tempel or museum?
We foreigners are privileged  to pay 2 to 10 times (or sometimes 20 times) as much as a Thai person driving his BMW. Get real ..... real poor people to not have the time or money to go to any National Park or museum. So it are the middle-class and rich Thai people who go there. And really they can afford to pay their share of the costs (as pay tax is not very popular in Thailand).

Healthcare 
Yes there is public healthcare and in big cities that is reasonable good, but do not get sick upcountry. And since 2019 there seems to be a law (or idea for a law) that foreigners will pay at least twice of what Thai people pay in government hospitals. Actually I am OK with that as long as the prices are not inflated for foreigners. Private healthcare is in most big cities available and good, but not really cheap (for Thai standards).

I am living really upcountry, the public healthcare is good for simple emergency things. Nearest private hospital is 300km.

Retirement from a Thai job?
Better save money yourself as the official retirement is not much.

Owning a gun
In the old days both Thai and foreigners could legally own a gun. Expensive but no problem. Since 2014 the law has been changed and foreigners can not own a gun anymore.

Your home-country
Living long-term outside your home-country might / will cut you off from your family, friends and most of all from national benefits. Example your nationality. My home-country is doing everything it can to get ride of people living outside the EU.

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