Always wanted to move to Thailand, but not sure where to begin?

You’ve got the right idea — Thailand is an expat’s paradise! From visas to jobs to health care, here are a few things everyone should know before packing their bags.

Photo by Hannah Schmitz

Visit first

Thailand is a gorgeous country, but you shouldn’t consider relocating unless you’ve already visited and loved your experience. You wouldn’t move into an apartment or house without seeing it for yourself, and the same logic applies to becoming an expat.

Save up before your big move

The cost of living is much lower in Thailand (especially in some of the more remote areas) than it is in most Western countries, but you should still build a safety net. You’ll spend more in your first few months in Thailand than you typically would, especially as you sightsee, find housing, and pay for one-time expenses like furniture.

Photo by Hannah Schmitz

Consider a visa

Research Thai visas, and find the right fit. Some options include Education Visas, Business Visas, and Retirement Visas, although some expats just use a tourist visa to stay in the country. If you choose the latter, be forewarned that you’ll have to leave the country often to apply for extensions, as the regulations governing the length of your stay are fairly complicated. What’s more, the Thai government is starting to crack down on foreigners who use tourist visas to live in the country, so it’s better to apply for longer-lasting legal status. Check the embassy’s websiteto begin the application process.

Explore the country

Don’t choose a home base before your arrival. Many expats recommend flying into Bangkok, then spending a month traveling around Thailand. That way, you’ll get to know the country and have better information when deciding where you’d like to set down roots. Remember, you’re not picking your favorite vacation spot — you’re looking for a viable place to call home.

Photo by Thierry Heng

Find employment

Be aware that it’s often difficult for foreigners to find jobs in Thailand. You could probably get work at a restaurant or bar, but the pay is low. Many Westerners teach English, start their own businesses, or work online. It’s best to have a plan before you board your flight!

Photo by Davide Miraglia

Settle into your new life

While your friends will be envious of your next adventure, your family members will probably be a little nervous. Review crime statistics with them, talk about ways to keep safe, and schedule a weekly Skype or phone call.

Once you’re on the ground in Thailand, you’ll enjoy cheap, delicious food. Many apartments don’t come equipped with a full kitchen, so most people eat out every day, alternating between street vendors and restaurants. Don’t forget to come up with an exercise and wellness plan!

You’ll want to give some thought to health care, too. Unless you’re relocating for a job with a Western company, you’ll need to find your own health insurance policy. The good news is that medical care in Thailand is excellent, and bills usually run fairly low at government-run hospitals.

No matter when, how, or why you choose to move to Thailand, you’ll need to do your homework, but the payoff will make it all worthwhile. The Land of Smiles is waiting for your arrival!

Header image by Laura Bell