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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Thailand Is an Affordable & Friendly Destination for Expats

Finance and leisure options are no trouble for expats, but they struggle with their working life.

Personal finances are a breeze for expats in Thailand, and they vote the country fourth in the Personal Finance Index. In fact, most expats (85%) feel that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally). “Your money definitely goes far,” a British expat reports.

Expats vote Thailand third for general cost of living — 71% are happy with this factor, 26 percentage points more than the global average (45%). Thus, it is no surprise that 70% are happy with their financial situation overall (vs. 60% globally). Housing is no trouble either, and Thailand also lands in first place in this subcategory. Expats describe it as both affordable (74% vs. 39% globally) and easy to find (85% vs. 54% globally).

Administrative Barriers

Aside from housing, expats are not too happy with the factors surveyed in the Expat Essentials Index (18th). Thailand ranks in the bottom 10 of the Digital Life Subcategory (43rd), and expats are particularly unhappy with the availability of administrative/government services online (43% unhappy vs. 21% globally). “It is all paperwork for everything,” explains an expat from Chile. Overall, more than half (51%) find it hard to deal with the local bureaucracy/authorities, compared to 39% globally.

While 70% find it easy to live in Thailand without speaking the local language (vs. 51% globally), 68% struggle to learn it (vs. 38% globally). “I just cannot pick up the language,” says a British expat. In fact, 78% speak the language just a little (54% vs. 25% globally) or not at all (24% vs. 10% globally).

Easy to Make Connections

The Ease of Settling In Index (11th) is a genuine highlight, though, and expats rate Thailand particularly well in the Local Friendliness Subcategory (8th). The majority (86%) finds the residents to be generally friendly (vs. 66% globally), and another 81% describe them as friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 65% globally). “I have found the Thais to be very friendly and welcoming to me living in their country,an expat from the United Kingdom explains. Expats also rank Thailand among the top 10 in the Finding Friends Subcategory (8th). They love their social life (69% satisfied vs. 56% globally), and more than half (52%) say that making local friends is easy, compared to 42% globally.

Excellent Leisure Options & Healthcare

The Quality of Life Index (35th) is a mixed bag: When it comes to Leisure Options (5th), expats are especially happy. They vote the country second worldwide for its culinary variety and dining options, only beaten by Mexico. “The thing I enjoy most so far is their food variety,” says a Vietnamese expat. “I love trying new food whenever I have free time.” Over three in four expats (77%) are satisfied with the culture and nightlife in Thailand, compared to 67% globally.

Expats also love the healthcare in Thailand — the country narrowly misses out on a top 10 spot in the Health & Well-Being Subcategory (11th). More than three-quarters of expats (77%) state that they have access to all the kinds of healthcare services that they need (vs. 67% globally). Most also say that medical care is easily available (84% vs. 73% globally) and of good quality (85% vs. 72% globally).

Environmental & Safety Concerns

On the other hand, the Environment & Climate Subcategory (44th) is a major concern for expats in Thailand. Two in five expats (40%) believe that the government does not support policies to protect the environment, more than double the global average (18%). “People are not aware enough about pollution, and it is sad to see nature spoiled by rubbish,” a French expat reports.

Furthermore, 45% rate the air quality negatively (vs. 19% globally) and 32% are unhappy with the urban environment (elements such as green spaces, noise levels, and eco-friendly architecture), compared to 17% globally. “There is air pollution and limited parks and green spaces,” explains a Dutch expat. The only real highlight is the climate and weather, which is rated positively by the majority of expats (82% vs. 62% globally).

The Safety & Security Subcategory (47th) also receives mixed results. In general, 85% of expats feel personally safe in Thailand (vs. 81% globally). But 37% are unhappy with the country’s political stability (vs. 15% globally), and 44% think that they cannot openly express themselves and their opinions (vs. 18% globally).

Unhappy Workers

Thailand performs worst in the Working Abroad Index (45th). Expats vote the country into the bottom 10 of the Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategory (48th). According to them, the local business culture does not encourage creativity (41% vs. 26% globally), nor does it promote independent work (45% vs. 28% globally). Expats are also especially disappointed when it comes to Career Prospects (45th). Nearly two in five (38%) are unhappy with the local job market (vs. 27% globally), and only 41% say that moving to Thailand has improved their career prospects (vs. 60% globally).

Expats also rank Thailand among the bottom 10 for Salary & Job Security (46th). More than three in ten (31%) are unhappy with the state of the local economy, compared to only 17% globally. Additionally, one in four expats (25%) is unsatisfied with their job security (vs. 20% globally). However, 35% of expats do not have to worry about this, as they are already retired, compared to the global average of 10% retirees. In fact, 19% of expats in Thailand moved there specifically to retire, compared to only 3% globally.

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