If you’re considering living in Thailand, you’ll want to weigh up the pros and cons first. Living in Thailand can be a great experience – it’s a beautiful country with a rich culture and amazing people.

But there are also some drawbacks to living here, which you’ll want to consider before making your decision. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons of living in Thailand as a foreigner.

+ Great Culture

Thai people are warm and welcoming towards foreigners and are willing to go out of their way to help you.

Thai culture is different from the west; other westerners describe Thai culture as progressive just as much as others say conservative.

This is for the simple reason that comparing Thai culture to western culture is an apples-and-oranges situation.

To speak on a societal level, Thais are much more accepting of different people than Westerners. Debates in the west around things such as homosexuality and transgender rights are non-issues in Thailand.

On the contrary, a Thai living in a western country will eventually be treated as a local. Whereas in Thailand, a farang (westerner) will never truely be seen as Thai.

This can be a good thing though, as foreigners are often given the benefit of the doubt and not held to the same standard as Thais (in a good way).

The influence of Buddhism on Thai culture cannot be overstated. It teaches compassion, mindfulness, and moderation. For example, it is considered very rude to lose your temper in public in Thailand.

All-in-all wherever you are in Thailand, you will likely find that almost all of your day-to-day encounters in Thailand are positive ones.

living in thailand pros: Thailand has great weather
Thailand has great weather year-round

+ Warm Weather

Thailand is known for its warm, tropical climate all year round.

During the dry season (from November to April in most of the country), skies are clear, and pleasant temperatures reign accompanied by plenty of sunshine.

Contrastingly, the wet season runs from May to October and experiences more rainfall, with evenings often bringing downpours.

Northern Thailand has a more temperate climate, particularly when ascending into the mountain regions; however, it rarely gets cold.

The weather in Thailand is great for your health. With such perfect conditions for outdoor activities, trekking in the mountains or snorkeling along island shores is possible nearly every day of the year.

For a quick breakdown of the 4 regions of Thailand and their climate, read here.

– Extreme Weather

If you’re particularly unaccustomed to the heat, Thailand can be a bit of a shock.

There are times when temperatures can reach 38°C or higher, especially in Central and Northeastern Thailand.

The months from March to May are the hottest.

In the North, these months are accompanied by poor air quality thanks to slash-and-burn farmers burning their crops.

Central Thailand can be prone to flooding during the wet season, while Southern Thailand has an increased risk of tropical storms.

In saying this, life-threatening weather events are uncommon as Thailand is in a storm shadow, with Myanmar and Vietnam absorbing the brunt of most tropical storms.

Benefits of living in Thailand: Thailand has great food
Northern Thai food is fragrant, meaty, and complex

+ Awesome Food

It’s no secret that Thailand has some incredible food. Street vendors across the country prepare a variety of delicious foods, from famous Pad Thai to regional delights such as Laab Moo.

Food is cheap, so much so that it is usually cheaper to eat out than it is to prepare it yourself.

Thai food is fresh and healthy and is often cooked with local ingredients.

You can find many cuisines from other countries such as India, Japan, and the US. The downside is that foreign foods are considerably more expensive than local options.

– The Language Barrier

As a student of the Thai language, writing this one irks me a bit. However, the language barrier is a common complaint among foreigners.

There are quite a lot of Thais who speak some English, but fluent English-speaking locals are harder to find than in neighboring countries such as Malaysia.

In our experience, day-to-day life in Thailand is rarely an issue if you don’t speak Thai.

However, if you find yourself in a difficult or complex situation the lack of Thai language skills can prove challenging.

Personally, I have two beliefs on the issue:

  1. Google Translate, hand signals, and bilingual individuals are almost always close by to get you through a situation.
  2. Learning Thai is not ‘impossible’ like many barflies will attempt to convince you. After maybe 6 weeks of flashcards and YouTube (before arriving in the country) I was able to have basic conversations the moment I landed.

If you plan on spending time in Thailand, seriously consider learning Thai.

Even basic Thai (ordering food, giving directions, haggling) will make your time in the country even better and is quite fun to learn.

Once you get over the hurdle of testing out your Thai on locals, you’ll really start to enjoy the challenge.

Speaking Thai also demonstrates that you’ve been in the country for a while and aren’t just any clueless foreigner. Thais will be more friendly and less likely to scam you.

I’d recommend starting with the free app Pocket Thai Master and the YouTube channel Learn Thai with Mod

Thai is a tonal language, don’t let that bother you, it isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Focus on words you will use daily, start with food-related phrases as you can try them out at your local eateries.

Thailand is an affordable place to live
Thailand is an affordable place to live

+ Low Cost of Living

This goes without saying. Thailand is one of the most affordable places in the world to live, especially for a westerner.

The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice any luxuries to substantially reduce your cost of living.

If you’re willing to commit to a longer-term visa and a rental agreement or buy a place you will cut your costs further.

The same lifestyle I live in Chiang Mai would cost about ten times that in Australia. 

As for Aaron, our cofounder, he estimates living in Thailand is about 3-4 times cheaper than his life back in Australia.

Having money to spend on yourself is the best part. Being able to go away on weekend trips, regularly train Muay Thai with a pro fighter, and go out for nice local dinners once or twice a week only adds ~150 USD to the monthly budget.

If you want a more comprehensive breakdown of the cost of living in Thailand, check out our Thailand country guide.

– Imported Goods are Expensive

This is a double-edged sword. Firstly, locally produced goods are incredibly cheap. Secondly, imported items tend to be significantly marked up.

This is most obvious in goods like wine, spirits, supplements, and luxury items.

The extent to which this affects you depends on your lifestyle but nevertheless is worth mentioning.

Thailand has a public health system and good private healthcare
Thailand has a public health system and good private healthcare

+ Affordable Healthcare

Thailand has a public healthcare system, however, it is understaffed and usually only available to Thais.

Private healthcare is of high quality and is affordable when considering the quality of care.

We’ve never personally been hospitalized, but a friend of ours was taken to a private hospital and given a series of tests and scans then released after a night in care.

The total cost of this affair was about ฿4000 ($120 USD at the time), which included an ambulance ride.

Having visited dental, ENT, and dermatology clinics, I have had nothing but positive and professional encounters.

Staff in these clinics usually aren’t used to seeing foreigners but are happy to help you and will often accept walk-ins.

Most doctors are western educated and speak enough English to communicate effectively.

All three specialists mentioned above cost no more than ฿300 ($12) for a 15-minute consultation, plus the prescribed medication was very affordable.

– Bureaucracy

Thailand is infamous for its bureaucracy.

The Thai government loves forms, to the point where you often need to attach old forms to the new forms required to apply for visas, bank accounts, etc.

In saying that, 98% of the time you won’t be dealing with bureaucracy. However, that other 2% can be very frustrating.

Talk to any expat and they will have nothing but dread for their next scheduled visit to the immigration office.

This is why so many foreigners choose to deal with visa agents instead of immigration directly.

If you want to get in touch with a visa agent, let us know.

There is always something to do in Thailand
There is always something to do in Thailand

+ Plenty to Do

This last, and often overlooked positive, is one of the biggest ones.

Thailand is a diverse country with a variety of landscapes, people, and places.

Anything from painting, to golf, to playing in a band, chances are, you can do it in Thailand.

The great climate, affordability, and preexistence of so many pastimes mean that there will always be something to do.

Thanks to these reasons, Thailand is a great place to try new things or rediscover old hobbies.

So What Do You Think?

Thailand is an excellent place to live for many reasons. The climate is great, the food is delicious, and the people are friendly and welcoming.

Thailand’s low cost of living and many visa options makes it achievable for all. Whether you’re looking to go nomadic or retire, you can do it here.

If you’re thinking about moving to Thailand, get in touch with us and we’ll help you get started. We can’t wait to welcome you to this amazing country.

Want to move to Thailand?

If you’re interested in moving to Thailand but are unsure about a few things – visas, banking, safety, scams, dating, accommodation and more.

Check out our premium Thailand guide: The Need to Know of Moving to Thailand

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