Author : Misty Ratliff (March 13, 2017)
Bangkok is one of the most popular destination choices of Expats. So why are people all over the world choosing to give up their current lives and make the move to Bangkok long-term? Here are 10 reasons expats are not only making the move to Bangkok, but staying.
Thailand has long since been known as a top destination for medical tourism. Why? Because medical care in Thailand is low-cost and high quality. Thailand is ranked among the world’s 50 best healthcare systems by the World Health Organization. Most expats soon discover that receiving medical care in Thailand is not only a pleasant experience, but it also costs a fraction of what they are used to paying in their home country.
Regardless if you visit a hospital, or clinic. You will receive quality care that is extremely affordable and the treatment options are just as inexpensive. In most Western countries the cost of prescription drugs have increased so much over the last couple of decades that the cost of even common medications have ballooned to astronomical amounts . This is not the case in Thailand. Expats are able to purchase the same medications they were paying a fortune for in their home country at a fraction of the cost in Thailand.
Most Thais will tell you that Thailand has three seasons. Hot, Hotter, and Rainy. This is basically true. There are a few weeks of the year that the temperatures sometimes fall below 30 degrees. During those weeks you will see the Thais going about their day decked out in coats, hats, and even gloves. Once in a while you can eve find a group of street food vendors huddled up around their BBQ grills.
Besides the obvious difference in appearances it is extremely easy to spot fellow expats during these few weeks of cooler weather. They will be the only people you see still wearing T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. And if you listen closely, you will be able to tell the difference just as quickly. The Thais will be discussing how terrible this sudden drop in temperature is, and how they can’t remember it ever being this cold before. The expats will be the ones responding “Cold?!, you should try shoveling snow in 30 below!”
While the heat in Thailand, especially Bangkok can at times seem unbearable, the cold is not only tolerable, but quite honestly it is pleasant, and to most expats, that is reason enough to never go back home.
Thai food is not only delicious, but it is cheap and you can find it everywhere pretty much 24 hours a day. However should you find yourself growing a bit tired of Thai food or just missing a taste of home, there are almost as many international restaurants in Bangkok as there are Thai restaurants. Not only are you able to quench your craving for food from your home country, but from pretty much any country in the world. Expats enjoy a melting pot of cultures when it comes to food in Thailand. Japanese, Korean, Indian, Chinese, Italian, American, and too many more to name. If all else fails, you can pick up the phone and order your favorite fast food burger and have it delivered right to your door. Hot fresh and cheap.
The truth is, if you can’t satisfy your hunger pangs in Thailand, you truly just aren’t that hungry. There is something for everyone in every direction you look. If fresh food is more your thing, you will find fresh fruit and vegetable markets on almost every street you pass. If you venture to the back of these market you will even discover fresh meat that they will butcher to your specifications. If you just take the time to look, you will find most anything you could ever want, and somethings you didn’t even know you wanted until you found them. Even veteran expats that have been in Thailand for many years will say that the food options in Thailand are limitless as long as you are willing to look and stay open to trying new things.
It is simple and cheap to travel locally within Thailand. Whether your dream vacation spot is an exotic beach, a lush green jungle, or a mountain temple you will find all of these destinations plus many more within a relatively short distance of Bangkok. Expats seeking a bit more adventure or looking to gain a few more stamps in their passport often take advantage of the ease and affordability of traveling to neighboring countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. What is more, Thailand is in the middle of Asia, and flights to destinations a bit farther than the borders of Thailand are just as affordable. Bali, Hong Kong, Japan, and Sri Lanka are also popular vacations spots for expats. So for people who became expats in order to see the world, Bangkok is the perfect place to call home.
Finding affordable housing in Bangkok is extremely easy. There are newly built accommodations of every type everywhere you look. If you prefer the hustle and bustle of city life depending on your budget and what you are looking for the options near city center are unlimited. Most places are ready to move into, and are quite a bit cheaper than in Western countries. If the city life isn’t for you, the options just a few kilometers outside of Bangkok are just as vast. Expats that choose to live on the outskirts of Bangkok still enjoy most of the benefits of living in or near city-center such as convenient shopping and access to public transportation. The major benefit of living outside of Bangkok is cost. As with any big city in the world, most everything within the city-center is more expensive than outside.
However, wherever you decided to call home, the options are staggering. Basically you can arrive in Bangkok in the morning, find your new place to call home by afternoon, sign the contract and be sleeping in your new bed that night. So basically, one reason expats love Bangkok, is there aren’t many places in the world that are that easy to relocate to.
Thanks to its modern public transport system and options, Bangkok is fairly easy to navigate. The MRT and the BTS are clean, fast, and affordable. Also, the public buses in and around Bangkok are cheap,relatively reliable and will take you to most of the places that are worth visiting. For all the rest, tuk-tuks and taxis are always available but they are not always the cheapest form of transport.
For the more adventurous expat, the Chao Phraya River Boats are an extremely affordable option. A huge benefit of the boats, is that you will never get stuck in Bangkok traffic on the river. Many expats find that taking the river boat as part of their daily commute is a nice way to relax before or after a stressful day at work. Another thing that expats love about the Chao Phraya River Boats is that they can also be used for a very inexpensive way to visit the best parts of Bangkok. For close to the cost of a cheeseburger, you can purchase an all day pass on the Express Boats. This pass allows you to ride the boats up and down the river for the day getting on and off as you wish at some of Bangkok’s best known points of interest.
Bangkok offers an abundance of shopping options. From the cheap street stalls and markets to the floating markets which provide a one of a kind shopping experience. Bangkok also has more than enough world-class shopping malls to suit all kinds of lifestyles and budgets.
While most tourists flock to the weekend outdoor markets and the stalls along Khaosan Road that sell arts and crafts and kitschy souvenirs, expats take advantage of one of the most amazing shopping districts in the world. There are literally about 20 malls within walking distance of Siam Square, selling anything you can think of.
Expats also take advantage of the huge supermarkets like Lotus Tesco and Big C that sell cheap clothes and groceries and electronics, and the huge electronics mall called Pantip Plaza with close to a thousand big and little stores under one roof, competing for your business for anything that plugs into the wall or runs off batteries.
Many expats living in Bangkok learn enough Thai to get by, and those who marry a local often become fluent in it, but the nice thing is that there’s really no social pressure to learn the language if you don’t want to. Most of the stores have their signs and products in English alongside the Thai, and enough locals speak enough English to help you do pretty much anything you need to do.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to learn Thai, because you probably should if you are going to live there for any length of time. It’s just that there are so many English-speaking foreigners around that it’s very easy to get by, even for years, on English alone.
Thai people are often incredibly friendly, kind, and willing to help. For the most part, they are laid back, relaxed and easy to get along with. They don’t get stressed about much. Whether the Thai smile is genuine of fake is irrelevant to most expats as it is much more pleasant to see smiles all around than cheerless grumpy faces which are so common in many Western countries these days.
If you are bored in Bangkok, you are doing something wrong. Thanks to the good weather, there are cultural and food festivals happening almost on a daily basis. There are also day markets, night markets, weekend markets, floating markets, and pop up flea markets. If you have an adventurousness spirit and think you have no where to go. Go no where! Hop on a bus, hand over your pocket change and go as far as that gets you. What do you have to lose except for a little time and few baht. It could be one of the greatest adventures of your life! The only issue most expats have with this aspect of Bangkok is the difficult task of ignoring all of the temptations. Especially when trying to focus on work.