The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Living Abroad in Thailand

Travel & LeisureTravel Tips

  • Author Gaetano Esposito
  • Published February 4, 2017
  • Word count 1,057

This is my post about the best countries to check out for those looking to live abroad. I try to cover more than just statistics in these posts to give you an idea of what it really would be like to live there. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…

Thailand is renowned for being one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Its beaches are unparalleled and the wildlife is some of the most diverse on Earth. It has long been an ideal place for westerners to vacation, but more and more it’s becoming a place where college students, retirees, and expats are choosing to take up residence. And it’s not just for the clear waters and ridiculously green scenery. Of course, there are some less-than-pleasant things about living in Thailand which anyone considering moving there should take into consideration. So let’s look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of living in Thailand.

The Good

Adjusting to the Culture and People

Thai people are normally very friendly and open. Many of them also speak English so language barriers won’t be quite as hard to overcome as in some other countries. Westerners moving to Thailand may be surprised by how easy it is to make new friends in such a dramatically different cultural environment. Oftentimes foreigners moving to Thailand even express the feeling that their quality of life has improved.

One author describes her experiences (here) with the cultural differences when it comes to the roles of women, saying that she often received blank stares and confusion when she attempted to explain that she was happily single. Some conversations even ending (in the nicest possible way) with the Thai people coming to only logical conclusion for her unfortunate single status: she must like women.

Cost of Living

Thailand is also very cheap compared to western living – in most respects anyway. Unfortunately wine, imported goods, and electricity are among the amenities that can be very expensive. But when you balance that with the fact that it’s usually far cheaper to eat out than to cook at home, and that you can now afford to rent a larger property with hired help, the higher price of a hangover and lighting might not be as much of an issue. Hell, who really needs lighting anyways? Get some wine and candles and call it good!

Just kidding, the pricing isn’t really that bad – although you can definitely end up paying 3 times the price for imported goods, so bring as much stuff from home as you can. You can purchase everything you need in Thailand, but the quality isn’t always reliable, and depending on whether you’re in a city or small town, not everything will be readily available.

Safety and Health

Safety isn’t a big issue in Thailand. There is petty theft, and like anywhere there is more crime in bigger cities. If you are particularly concerned about break-ins you may be able to arrange for a police patrol to make regular stops at your residence – for a small compensation of course.

The healthcare standards in Thailand are similar to what’s available in most modern societies, health insurance is available for those who want it.


When you do feel inclined to grab some food for your house check out the street markets (the earlier in the day the better) and get some fresh fruits, veggies, and meats.

The Bad

Foreigners generally cannot own property in Thailand. Only rent.

Safety and Health

Petty theft

If you drive in Thailand you will be stopped by the police. Driving in Thailand is scary (and possibly the most dangerous part of living there) and traffic laws are not a concern. The police aren’t stopping you because you actually violated a law – they are looking for "tea money." Pay it. Get used to it. About 300 Baht (roughly $10) should work.

The health codes in Thailand can be another source of concern. They are not going to be what most westerners are used to, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get sick from eating local food. For the most part, you should be fine, although you might have some stomach trouble while getting used to the new cuisine.

If you are really concerned about health, get health insurance as soon as you arrive. Otherwise, you can pay as need be, but you will normally receive better service if you’ve purchased health insurance.

Finding Work

For foreigners, finding work in Thailand can be very difficult. The system is structured to support local workers, not foreigners. Even if you want to build a business that could help the local economy, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure. So, unless you really know what you’re doing, plan on either having work set up before you make the move, or having an alternative source of income – retirement savings, business that can be conducted over long distance… or your very own travel website… as a for-instance.


The Thai street dogs are NOT your friends. Do NOT try to make friends. You will NOT have anymore fingers.

Just kidding! No. But really – no touching.

Thailand is hot and humid. It’s tropical. Get used to it.

The whiter you are, the better. No I’m not going all Aryan Brotherhood on you; pale skin is considered beautiful in Thailand, and unfortunately that means a lot of beauty products have bleach in them. Many Asian women completely destroy their skin from this.

One of these days maybe we’ll all see natural as beautiful, but for now all I can say is – wtf?

Sometimes Thai people park 3 cars deep and leave their car in neutral so the person who needs to get a car out can push their car out of the way. True story.

You get in a car accident, it’s your fault. Why? Because you’re foreign and if you weren’t there, there wouldn’t have been an accident.

The Ugly

It’s illegal to step on any kind of Thai currency because it’s considered extremely disrespectful to their King.

Although prostitution is technically illegal in Thailand, the laws aren’t really enforced. As a result there is an extremely high rate of sex-trafficking – including that of children

I am a travel blogger and gambler. I write articles for travel blog

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