Moving Checklist March 16, 2020

Moving to Bangkok – a Guide for American Expats

Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

Are you looking for a place with vast job opportunities, affordable housing, and rich entertainment options? Then moving to Bangkok would be a smart decision. Krung Thep, or the City of Angels, as the locals call it, can be your new home if you are searching for an urban oasis that still has some unique traditional vibes to it.

To help you lower the stress levels during the course of the international relocation and make the whole process of fitting in more efficient, we’ve made a guide that points out what everything American expat should know.

Documents You Need to Relocate to Thailand

Before you actually start packing your things, you need to gather all the necessary documents needed to travel abroad.

Staying in Thailand for an extended time period means you will need to obtain an appropriate visa from the Thai embassy in the US. Depending on the type of visa you are applying to, the needed documents might differ, but the basic papers you should provide are:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of income
  • Medical report

Also, don’t forget to check with the Thailand embassy if you need to translate documents into Thai.

You can’t relocate to Thailand without valid documents.

A Guide to Picking the Right Neighborhood to Live In

Did you know that there are around 24,000 Americans living in this city? If you want to be one of them, you will need to get a place to call home. Finding a house or flat can be a long process. Depending on your budget and lifestyle preferences, there are more than a few neighborhoods to choose from.

Sukhumvit Is an Expat Ghetto

This location is considered “expat ghetto” because of many foreigners that have found a home here. As one of the most westernized places in the city, it’s overflowing with bars, shopping malls, and luxury hotels. Here you can rent a three-bedroom apartment for around $1,800 a month.

Silom and Sathorn Have a More Traditional Vibe

If you are going to work in the city center, this is one of the first places you should check out. The location has more of a traditional vibe, but it also has a vivid LGBT scene and luxury malls. It’s well connected with the rest of the city, and you can rent a studio flat for less than $650 a month.

Chit Lom Is Home to Many Embassies

Chit Lom is for those with deep pockets since it’s one of the most exclusive locations. Here you will find parks and green spaces such as Lumpini Park and the Royal Sports Club. Since many foreign embassies are located here, this is a popular spot for rich and influential expats.

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Ari Is a Trending Neighborhood

Are you looking for a place with reasonable rent prices? Ari might be the place for you. This location has been gaining popularity for years now. For around $330 a month, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment. And if you want to settle down in a more luxurious place, there are classier accommodation options with quality furnishing that go for around $1,300 a month.

Chatuchak is Very Affordable

Chatuchak can offer you some of the lowest rental prices. If you want to live in some of the best modern buildings close to subway lines, you will have to set aside around $660 for monthly rent. However, you can find accommodation for lower prices if you really want to. This is the home of many coffee shops and malls, giving all the residents an authentic Thailand experience.

Beyond Sukhumvit

What is beyond the center? Well, suburbia, of course. If you want to settle down in a neighborhood that gives out more of an authentically local vibe, look for a spot beyond busy urban streets, but close to the subway stations. In the suburbs, you can rent a huge, three-bedroom house for $1,300 a month; just imagine what you can do with all that space. Living here day-to-day would be slow-paced, but still fun.

Pick the neighborhood that suits all of your needs.

How to Find Work When You Are Moving to Bangkok

This economic hub of Thailand is also the heart of investment and development. That’s why this place is among the top ten Asian cities in terms of per-capita GDP, wholesale and retail being the largest contributors to the economy.

Did you know that there is a whole list of forbidden occupations that foreigners are not allowed to do? However, if you, as an expat, are looking for work, there are many different career paths you can look into.

Best Jobs for Foreigners

Let’s skip over the jobs you can’t do, and go over those that you can and that are really popular among expats in Thailand:

  • Working as an English teacher is by far the most popular career path for expats.
  • Being a diving instructor sounds like a dream job, right? If you want to spend your day teaching tourists how to dive, you should get SCUBA accreditation.
  • Multinational managers will get lucky here because there are plenty of high-level companies that hire expats for these positions. Also, if your company has headquarters here, you can easily ask for a transfer and avoid job hunting.
  • If writing for a living sounds like a dream come true, you will be happy to learn that people here don’t have high written English skills, and that’s why they are looking for skilled expats that work as writers and editors.
Working as a teacher will bring you a monthly salary between $2,600 and $6,000

If You Are Relocating With Kids, Think About Education

Are you relocating across the world with your kids? If so, you should think about helping them adjust and fit into the new environment, but also enrolling them in the right schools.

Luckily, this is a great place to raise children. With more than 100 international schools and vast child-friendly activities, you will never have to worry whether your young ones are entertained or educated.

This is an excellent place to gain high-quality education.

Get the Hang of Bangkok Transportation

You shouldn’t worry about getting to your desired location when you settle down here, as the city has many transportation options. You can choose among MRT Subway, taxis, tuk-tuks, songthaews, and BTS Skytrain. And if you feel confident enough to sit behind the wheel, you can always drive on your own.

Do You Need a Car When Moving to Bangkok?

Are you still on the fence about whether you should ship your car or not? Driving here is not so stressful if you know your way around. Try utilizing GPS navigation or spend some time using public transportation until you memorize your commute.

Tuk-tuks are a cultural symbol of the country

Your Health Should Be a Priority

Let’s talk about being healthy. No matter where you travel, you should have health insurance. Living in Bangkok makes you prone to tropical fevers, respiratory diseases due to pollution, and gastrointestinal infections. You might never suffer from these, but you know the saying – better safe than sorry. So get yourself checked out and vaccinated even before you relocate.

Did you know that most hospitals expect you to pay upfront for standard consultations?

Every Expat Should Learn a Little Bit of Thai

All things considered, are you thinking about staying here for a while? If the answer is yes, then you should try learning a bit of Thai. When it comes to learning a new language, start early, even during the moving abroad process. Go over some basic phrases, and when you unpack and settle down, you can enroll in some classes. Speaking Thai might help you fit in better and land a more desirable job.

woman reading a book
Learning a new language will help you fit in faster.

Prepare Yourself for a Different Lifestyle

When Americans relocate halfway across the world to an unknown country, they are bound to be introduced to a different lifestyle. Even before you set foot in Krung Thep, do your research, go through other people’s experiences, and learn a bit about the culture. However, don’t believe everything you read online – keep an open mind when you embark on this adventure.

Leave Prejudice Behind

Famous German writer Goethe once said: “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” This is why you should embark on this journey led by knowledge and curiosity, not ignorance and prejudice.

However, prejudice is not easy to leave behind. You might have heard all kinds of things about people in Thailand, but most of them might just be exaggerated impressions that people have.

The first myth that we should bust is – not all the people here are poor. Yes, this is a developing country with high levels of inequality, but not all people suffer financially. Secondly, not all food is spicy. Yes, they have spices Americans don’t often use, but when you get used to the taste, the food won’t feel too spicy at all. Finally, not all the brands are fake; here, you can go shopping and find luxury brands.

Shopping Can Be an Adventure When Living in Bangkok

This is a wonderland for every person that enjoys shopping. If you are considering putting your belongings in storage, maybe you should. After all, here you can buy everything from books to furniture and kitchen equipment. The only problem might be buying large-sized clothes.

Getting to Know People Is Not a One-Way Street

Assimilating in the culture and getting to know the people here is not a one-way street. When you start learning about them, you can teach them about the place you come from. Talking about the US might help you if you start feeling nostalgic. After all, it will be easy to make friends here, because the vibe of the city is friendly and welcoming.

Krung Thep Has Many Sister Cities, and Saigon Is One of Them

A testimony to the city’s friendliness can be seen in the fact that there are twenty-eight cities that Bangkok considers its sister cities. From Saigon in Vietnam to Brisbane and Moscow, even Washington DC has a friendship agreement with the Thai capital.

Did you know that this place is called Venice of the East?

Living Like a Local in Krung Thep

When you unbox your belongings, take a walk outside and see for yourself why the word massage can be heard and read all over the streets. A good and professional massage will leave you relaxed and ready to conquer every task imaginable.

If you want to live like a true local, find your way around markets, eat traditional street food, and master public transportation. This place can offer you everything you desire, from excellent work opportunities to exciting entertainment options, such as visiting the famous Wat Arun Ratchavararam or some other popular landmark. If your dream is to live abroad, you won’t find a better spot.

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