Have you lived in Thailand?

  rickf 22:28 25 Mar 2012

My son has settled there and has been wanting me to join him. Sent me lots of brochures of houses for sale in Pattaya where he has a house w*th his wife and child. Have you had experience of living there. Do tell. Maybe a possibility for me in a couple of years and retiring there. I know that the one thing I would find difficult is the heat but what is it like socially, culturally, politically etc, etc.,?

  spuds 23:50 25 Mar 2012

I lived and worked in that part of the world many years ago, and I found it very relaxing, and the people friendly, but things can and do change, so perhaps one of the forum members Condom is the person to consult, due to him living there part of the year?.

One bit of advice I would give, is make sure that you obtain proper health insurance cover. Our local newspaper is doing an article and request about a person who went to Thailand two years ago, to take up a teaching job. About a months ago, the person took seriously ill and is in dire straights regarding medical help, because his health insurance isn't going to pay out, and now people here are trying to get help in returning him back to the UK.

  lotvic 01:26 26 Mar 2012

I agree Condom should be the best informed forumite to comment.

Anyway I found these that might be useful Thai law prohibits foreigners from owning land

and about buying property http://www.expatforum.com/articles/property/buying-property-in-thailand.html

  rickf 09:22 26 Mar 2012

Thanks Guys so far. Will look at the sites posted later in the week as off to work in London for the next few days. Keep them coming, the more the better.

  Condom 17:09 26 Mar 2012

Hi rickf

Well as my name has been mentioned in despatches I will offer you some things to think about.

I normally live in Thailand for 9 months most years but I have been home for the past year or so getting a little operation on my nose and the surgeon suggested I stay in colder climes for a while afterwards. Being fair skinned I need to be careful and fortunately the spot was not cancerous and was easily taken out.

To many people Pattaya is the sleeze spot of Thailand and it is true that some areas would make your eyes water but it is a large city and most of it is actually very nice.

Thai law prohibits "farang", that is us foreigners, from buying land but there used to be ways of getting round it through purchasing through a company but even here the law has been tightened up. If your son has a house then it will probably be in his wife's name (at least the land will) and I do hope they have a long and happy relationship as it can be quite ugly sometimes when marriages break up and the man finds himself being shown the door.

The majority of farang rent properties which are abundant and very cheap unless you are looking for something overlooking a quiet beach. Rent normally includes electricity and water and I would recommend an apartment with hot water which many provide through solar power on the roof. As I said water is cheap and that is because it is not up to drinking standard so it is bottled water for drinking and cooking. Not as bad as it seems as most apartments have machines which dispense 1 litre of drinking water for 1 baht (about 2P) so it is very cheap. I normally keep at least two 5 litre bottles filled and then decant to a few 1 litre bottles in the fridge.

Don't worry about the heat as you very soon get used to it. Apartments are also air conditioned which is useful at night and you soon get used to the noise. There is in effect 2 seasons, a wet season and a dry season but the temperature remains the same, normally 30-35 during the day but it is not the sort of dry heat where you feel your skin burning. Do be careful if like me you are fair skinned and do not tan well. Pattaya being on the coast is a little cooler from the pleasant sea breezes and beats the cold and damp of the UK any time. If you are retiring you will find living in Thailand very cheap and your pension will go a long way. Clothes and footwear are incredibly cheap and even then you will seldom be wearing much. It will probably be shorts and T shirt during the day but I would recommend long trousers in the evening as mosquitos come out then. I never use repellent and some farang swear by taking 2 yeast tablets a day. Aparently the mozzies can smell the yeast which they hate but we cannot. I never travel with Health Insurance as it is prohibitive for long periods. If you are worried about this side of things then take out a local one with BUPA or some other when you get there which you will find is a fraction of the cost from the same company in The UK. Health care facilities are wonderful and a basic night in hospital is less than a night in a hotel. I've been in hospital twice in Thailand, the last time for dengue fever and I was well looked after at little cost.

The Thai people are generally lovely and very polite and also very generous as giving to them means they will have a better life next time they come back. They are extremely religious (Buddhist). They also love their King and whatever you do or feel it is better for Farang not to even mention his name. His picture is everywhere or if not the present King then one of his forebearers. The current one is called Rama IX.

English is the second language and most educated Thai can speak it enough to help you. Getting there is easy but you need to think about what sort of Visa you are going to get. I always travel on a 1 year multi entry Visa which costs £100 or so and allows you to stay up to a year but the catch is you need to leave the country for 5 minutes every 3 months. I tend to go to Laos on what are called Visa runs which are well organised if you wish to take that route but I do it on my own as I have friends up north who I visit when I am doing it. Most do the Visa run in the one day and also take advantage of the duty frees. If you wish to settle there are various long tome Visas depending on your circumstances. You can drive on your UK licence but you can also get a local licence very easily if you have a UK one. Initially they will only provide it for 1 year and it is not too difficult or expensive to get one. You will need a medical form from a hospital which again is easy to get and seems to me to be just a way of getting income as there are only 4 diseases that prevent you and one is called elephantitus and I jest not. I do recommend you try and get a licence if you stay as if you get stopped for the normal 400 baht fine (they call it tea money) they like to take your licence from you until you go to the police station and return with a receipt. I prefer to hand over my Thai licence. Road signs are in Thai script and English and of course they drive on the same side of the road as us. I lived in Jomptien Beach for 2 years which is about 10 km from Pattaya and the best mode of transport for that area is an automatic scooter (they call them motorbikes). In Pattaya itself the best transport is the 10 baht taxis which you can get on an off at will. Buying a car is expensive unless it is built in Thailand as 100% plus duty is payable for foreign cars. Mercedes build in Thailand so they are cheap but Toyota rules the road. Normal taxis are also very cheap in Thailand but there are not many of them in Pattaya because of thr 10 baht ones.

There is an English TV station for Pattaya as well as satellite and cable TV. There are also a few ex pat clubs on the go which you might find useful. Food in Pattaya is simply wonderful and every taste is catered for including English Sunday lunch. As far as politics are concerned it is best to leave that to the Thais. I have lived through 2 coups and an uprising in Bangkok 2 years ago and although it was very bloody in the end it was between Thais and farang were left well alone. Basically there are 2 big parities the red shirts and the yellow shirts. The red shirts are in power now and they have their base in the poorer north. The yellow shirts are more Bangkok and business orientated. I know that is simplistic but it paints a general picture.

Whatever you do in Thailand do not touch drugs in any format as the results will be very painful. Thai prisons are all their reputation says about them and there are no special facilities for farang. The guards do not carry clubs just for the sake of carrying them and no I have not had a stay in one as knowing someone who has was enough.

You will find very rich and very poor people but they mostly seem to be happy with their lot. Pattaya is not Thailand as it is populated by so many farang and working girls so I do recommend you travel around which is very cheap to do. It is a wonderful country with wonderful people and it is not called the land of smiles for nothing.

If I can be of any further assistance feel free to chat with me again. If you do go you will not want to come back. I can't wait to return again in October.

  john bunyan 19:25 26 Mar 2012


My comments apply to many non EU countries. 1. Your UK pension will be frozen at the rate when you make the permanent move. Over year this can be quite significant (eg this year alone you would have missed the 5% increase). 2. I agree with spuds and others re health insurance. Hope your health remains good, but do seriously consider what would happen in the case of an unexpected serious illness. 3. Re houses. Especially in the first year or two I would always rent out your UK house (if you own one) and use part of the proceeds to rent in Thailand. In a doomsday scenario you will not have burnt your UK boats. I know a number of people who have moved abroad and regetted selling their UK home as prices here seldom fall for long and over time usually go up.Condom is clearly the expert here and it is a wonderful place- but long term there are the above risks to consider.

  Forum Editor 19:46 26 Mar 2012

For every person who makes a go of moving to a foreign country ther are probably several for whom the adventure turns into a nightmare. I know of two couples who moved abroad, only to bitterly regret their decision a year or so later.

Having a son already in Thailand is obviously a big advantage, and I'm sure your eyes are well and truly open, so you're off to a good start. I think the advice not to burn your bridges is very sound, however - just in case. Condom is obviously very experienced as far as life in Thailand is concerned, and advice from him is worth listening to.

  rickf 21:14 26 Mar 2012

I am overwhelmed by the kind and considered responses, especially grateful to Condom, without diminishing the input of others. Will give more thoughtout reply when l get home on thursday as working in London till mld wk. No I will definitely not burn my bridgesbehind me if and when l do go.

  Graham* 00:05 27 Mar 2012

Condom, your response may be the longest on the Forum. Excellent.

  Condom 11:58 27 Mar 2012


Thank you kindly young sir. I'm glad you liked the abridged version :-)

  spuds 21:01 27 Mar 2012

Reading Condom's comments about visa runs, brought back memories of the many times I have had to do that to make life easier, and not just in Thailand or SEA. If you use this method, then make sure that the country providing the enter/exit stamp (chop) is a 'friendly' country towards the country that you want to stay in, because if not, it can have its come-backs.

It also brought back memories that was being considered when I was there, and that was for people considering retirement in Thailand, and regulations regarding having 'appropriate' funds readily available.

Here's a website that might be worth a look http://www.1stopbangkok.com/living/visa

Would perhaps mention, that the person that I mentioned earlier regarding having medical insurance problems, as now died,after apparently being treated for a immune system condition known as Crest. He is now being cremated in Thailand, due to costs of returning the body to the UK.

Condom, is there still stiff penalties for importing/exporting the baht,and the $US dollar is still in demand?.

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