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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Expats Enjoy an Affordable Life in Thailand

For expats, it is easy to afford a comfortable life in Thailand, and they are happy with the leisure options and the friendliness of the local residents.

Thailand ranks 6th out of 53 destinations in the Expat Insider 2023 survey. Cost-conscious expats appreciate Thailand for its easily available and affordable housing (1st), as well as the affordable lifestyle it generally offers. The country ranks 4th in the Personal Finance Index. However, there is still room for improvement when it comes to Work Culture & Satisfaction (46th), as well as Safety & Security (45th). All in all, 86% say that they are happy with their life in Thailand, compared to a global average of 72%.

The Perfect Place for Thrifty Expats 

Expats’ money goes a long way in Thailand — 76% rate the general cost of living positively. Nearly nine in ten expats (86%) say that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough for a comfortable life in Thailand (vs. 73% globally). So, it is hardly a surprise that the country ranks 4th in the Personal Finance Index. Affordability also crops up in the Expat Essentials Index: 76% say that housing is affordable, double the global average (38%). However, in the Quality of Life Index, Thailand only ranks 30th for the affordability of healthcare. Still, 72% of expats are happy with their financial situation, compared to a global average of 58%. 

Great for Leisure, Less So for Safety 

Ranking 7th for its leisure options, Thailand is a great destination for expats who value their free time. The country impresses them with its culinary variety and dining options — nearly nine in ten expats (89%) rate this factor positively (vs. 77% globally). And the culture and nightlife is another highlight for expats: 78% are happy with this factor, ten percentage points more than the global average (68%). But expats are not as pleased with the opportunities for recreational sports in Thailand (34th).  

Similarly, the Environment & Climate (48th) pose some concerns. Only 35% of the survey respondents are happy with the air quality in Thailand (vs. 66% globally), and 43% believe the government does not support policies to protect the environment, compared to 17% worldwide. Green goods and services, as well as an eco-friendly urban environment, are also missing for expats — Thailand ranks 47th for both factors.  

Another area of concern is the Safety & Security Subcategory (45th): 28% are worried about the country’s political stability (vs. 13% globally). And 33% feel they cannot express themselves and their opinions freely, compared to a global average of 15%. 

“Every day is a new discovery. It is a delight to live amongst such respectful people.” – British expat 

A Friendly Population Makes Expats Feel at Home 

The majority of expats (82%) appreciates the general friendliness in Thailand (vs. 67% globally). And 81% also describe the local population as friendly specifically towards foreign residents (vs. 65% globally). It may not come as a complete surprise that more than seven in ten expats (71%) are satisfied with their social life in Thailand, compared to only 56% globally. Another 78% feel at home there (vs. 62% globally).  

Working in Thailand Leaves a Lot to Be Desired 

Thailand receives some of its worst results in the Working Abroad Index (39th). While many expats are happy with the work-life balance (69% vs. 63% globally), they are unsatisfied with Thailand’s business culture. In fact, 42% say that it does not encourage creativity or thinking outside the box (vs. 26% globally). They also do not see the country as a place that promotes independent work or flat hierarchies (vs. 26% globally). About two in three (65%) say that they are paid fairly for their work (vs. 62% globally). But only 45% agree that moving to Thailand has improved their career prospects, compared to 59% worldwide. 

The Basics Could Be Better 

The Expat Essentials Index (18th) reveals some highs and lows for life abroad in Thailand. On the positive side, it secures 1st place in the Housing Subcategory: expats describe accommodation as both easy to find (4th) and to afford (1st).  

But things do not look as rosy when it comes to Digital Life (40th) or Admin Topics (39th). About one in three expats (33%) are unhappy with the availability of government services online (vs. 21% globally), and 45% struggle to deal with the local authorities (vs. 33% globally). The local language is another hurdle for expats. Though 63% say that it is easy to live in Thailand without speaking it (vs. 50% globally), another 63% find it hard to learn, compared to 38% globally.  

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