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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am from Dallas, TX and I will be moving to Thailand in May and I plan on staying for about a year. I am selling everything I own and I'm going to Thailand for an adventure. I have a couple quick questions for the current thai residents.

1) I want to bring my dog, a pomeranian. One concern I have is him getting hit by a car, I hear the traffic is terrible. I will be traveling a lot as well, how do thai's feel about dogs and would it be a good idea to bring my dog?

2) I eat mostly raw, organic food. What is the organic food situation like, especially meat and dairy?

3) Should I get a visa before-hand or get one at the airport?

4) Should I bring a phone or pick up one there?

My goal is to live on $500usd per month. I realize this is cheap, even by Thai standards, but I want to live frugal. I do not need to nor want to live luxuriously, I will only need a cheap one bedroom apt, as I will not be home too much. I have my own funds and do not need to get a job there. My plane lands in Bangkok but I am open to live anywhere.

I am bringing:
A few shirts
Couple pairs of pants/shorts
Couple pairs of shoes
Camera
Laptop
Ipod (maybe)
Bathroom/Hygiene stuff
E-book reader
Electrical adapters

If it can't fit in my backpack I'm not bringing it.

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Thank you!
 
G

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You can't just move to Thailand. You can't "pick up a visa at the airport" - only a month stay stamp in your passport. You can't get a year's visa just like that - the best you can get is a 60 day tourism visa before you leave the US, extendable to 90 days at a local immigration office just before expiry. After that you have to go on fortnightly land border runs for a two week passport stamp - you can't renew your 90 day visa. This extra travelling is inconvenient, extra rules have been introduced on repeated trips to curb this method of circumventing the visa rules, and of course they cost money. Basically the Thais are cracking down on backpackers, they don't want them any more - and are targeting a 'better class of tourist'. Frankly, you're about twenty years too late!

Dogs? Well they love eating them in Vietnam, and even some parts of rural Thailand. Joking aside, there are loads of dogs in Thailand, a lot of them mangy, sick critters living in the streets. I wouldn't take a dog there unless I was living permanently in one of the better areas - travelling around a country you're not familiar with, with hardly any money, trying to stick to expensive organic foods, sounds pretty close to impossible to me. 500$ a month? Thailand isn't that cheap any more. Thais who earn that kind of money are considered to be close to the lower end of the earnings scale. Many, to save money, will be living in a single room, not a '1 bed apartment'. The latter, even away from more expensive places like Bangkok, can't be found for much less than 5,000 baht a month, not far short of a third of your monthly budget. Plus utilities.

You say you want to live frugally, but you're tying your own hands if you want to eat more expensive organic foods, travel a lot, have a 1 bed apartment, a dog to look after, etc. Thailand is a developing country - even if they sold organic food at the local 7 Eleven, which they don't, you wouldn't be able to read the label, and no shop assistant would have a clue what you're talking about. Few speak much English. Of course you can find organic produce at the big stores - but you're not going to have a car to get to them, are you. Street food stalls are cheap, if you choose the simplest foods. But organic? No way, Hose. Raw? Er, no.

Backpackers these days are looking to other countries such as Vietnam. Cheaper, and in some cases the visa regulations are more relaxed. Thailand has changed a lot in respect to its policies on tourism.

Have you ever been to SE Asia before? Checked the regulations for bringing a dog into the country? Considered options other than Thailand?
 

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OK I addition to what FB said above...

DOgs can be brought in with the correct paperwork - small dogs (like a Pom) can sometimes be brought in as excess baggage rather than cargo avoiding the import taxes. It will still not be cheap and will probably mean a more expensive flight too (direct as dogs have died in carriers left on runways waitinf for transit changes in hot countries like in the middle east etc. Personally for a year, I would leave him with family at home - it will be fairer allround, it took my dog 3 months to acclimitize. A friensd broiught his dog and it kept making a noise, so a 'friendy' Thai thought it may want to get out and run with it friends (the Soi dogs) - it promptly got run over!

If you really want to live frugally and keep your costs low, then avoid any city - Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket (in fact any island), Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, etc - and head for north east border lands (with Laos) generally refered to as Isaan. Many dirt poor areas, with friendly people (in general). You could find a room to rent very cheaply. You may be able to pick up a bit of back-packer coin doing a little English teaching at a local school/college/temple/etc too.

It is also close to the border for border runs. It may be worth your while applying for a Thai Course that offers 1 year Ed Visas. This will cover your need for Visa runs and make staying easier - you will have to attend classes (usually!) and they are not cheap, but can be paid for before you leave the USA. This will, however, necessitate the need to be near a big town or city to find a college/language school offering such.

As FB said Organic food is expensive; I would also suggest that here organic may not be what you believe it to mean! Even if you believe it was grown without pesticides, it may still be grown in non organic compost/manure/etc and may be irradiated too. Thais tend to use terms literally and thought it may fit "organic" inn terms of pesticides it would not necessarily fit the same definition back home.

They may also lie to make you happy - it is a known Thai trait, not me4ant to deceive pe say, but to relieve you of anxiety. On your budget, you will be eating roadside cafe and stall food most likely, and that will most certainly be the cheapest ingredients they could find.
Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK I addition to what FB said above...

DOgs can be brought in with the correct paperwork - small dogs (like a Pom) can sometimes be brought in as excess baggage rather than cargo avoiding the import taxes. It will still not be cheap and will probably mean a more expensive flight too (direct as dogs have died in carriers left on runways waitinf for transit changes in hot countries like in the middle east etc. Personally for a year, I would leave him with family at home - it will be fairer allround, it took my dog 3 months to acclimitize. A friensd broiught his dog and it kept making a noise, so a 'friendy' Thai thought it may want to get out and run with it friends (the Soi dogs) - it promptly got run over!

If you really want to live frugally and keep your costs low, then avoid any city - Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket (in fact any island), Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, etc - and head for north east border lands (with Laos) generally refered to as Isaan. Many dirt poor areas, with friendly people (in general). You could find a room to rent very cheaply. You may be able to pick up a bit of back-packer coin doing a little English teaching at a local school/college/temple/etc too.

It is also close to the border for border runs. It may be worth your while applying for a Thai Course that offers 1 year Ed Visas. This will cover your need for Visa runs and make staying easier - you will have to attend classes (usually!) and they are not cheap, but can be paid for before you leave the USA. This will, however, necessitate the need to be near a big town or city to find a college/language school offering such.

As FB said Organic food is expensive; I would also suggest that here organic may not be what you believe it to mean! Even if you believe it was grown without pesticides, it may still be grown in non organic compost/manure/etc and may be irradiated too. Thais tend to use terms literally and thought it may fit "organic" inn terms of pesticides it would not necessarily fit the same definition back home.

They may also lie to make you happy - it is a known Thai trait, not me4ant to deceive pe say, but to relieve you of anxiety. On your budget, you will be eating roadside cafe and stall food most likely, and that will most certainly be the cheapest ingredients they could find.
Good luck.
Thank you for your answers. Bringing my dog was the biggest concern I had, now I know to leave him with family. I have also heard that Organic in Thai is not quite the same. Oh well, I love Thai food anyway. Renting a room in a border town sounds like a great idea.

If I obtain a one year ed visa do I actually have to teach while I am there? What kind of hours does that entail? I don't want to work there but if that will limit the need for border-runs I will give it a shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You can't just move to Thailand. You can't "pick up a visa at the airport" - only a month stay stamp in your passport. You can't get a year's visa just like that - the best you can get is a 60 day tourism visa before you leave the US, extendable to 90 days at a local immigration office just before expiry. After that you have to go on fortnightly land border runs for a two week passport stamp - you can't renew your 90 day visa. This extra travelling is inconvenient, extra rules have been introduced on repeated trips to curb this method of circumventing the visa rules, and of course they cost money. Basically the Thais are cracking down on backpackers, they don't want them any more - and are targeting a 'better class of tourist'. Frankly, you're about twenty years too late!

Dogs? Well they love eating them in Vietnam, and even some parts of rural Thailand. Joking aside, there are loads of dogs in Thailand, a lot of them mangy, sick critters living in the streets. I wouldn't take a dog there unless I was living permanently in one of the better areas - travelling around a country you're not familiar with, with hardly any money, trying to stick to expensive organic foods, sounds pretty close to impossible to me. 500$ a month? Thailand isn't that cheap any more. Thais who earn that kind of money are considered to be close to the lower end of the earnings scale. Many, to save money, will be living in a single room, not a '1 bed apartment'. The latter, even away from more expensive places like Bangkok, can't be found for much less than 5,000 baht a month, not far short of a third of your monthly budget. Plus utilities.

You say you want to live frugally, but you're tying your own hands if you want to eat more expensive organic foods, travel a lot, have a 1 bed apartment, a dog to look after, etc. Thailand is a developing country - even if they sold organic food at the local 7 Eleven, which they don't, you wouldn't be able to read the label, and no shop assistant would have a clue what you're talking about. Few speak much English. Of course you can find organic produce at the big stores - but you're not going to have a car to get to them, are you. Street food stalls are cheap, if you choose the simplest foods. But organic? No way, Hose. Raw? Er, no.

Backpackers these days are looking to other countries such as Vietnam. Cheaper, and in some cases the visa regulations are more relaxed. Thailand has changed a lot in respect to its policies on tourism.

Have you ever been to SE Asia before? Checked the regulations for bringing a dog into the country? Considered options other than Thailand?
I don't know who crapped in your cereal this morning, but I came here to ask questions. Yes, I have checked the regulations about bringing a dog in, that was not what I asked. I asked if it was a good idea. I am landing in Bangkok but I will travel around SE Asia as I feel like it (now that I know I won't bring the dog). I will probably stay in BKK for a month until I get used to Thailand a bit and I will travel around more. Renting a room sounds fine. If organic food does not have the same regulations as America I am not going to bother with it. I have more money to spend but I don't want to spend more than $500usd per month - I realize the first month I will obviously spend way more.

Unless you have some more zingers to throw at me I have some other questions.

I wouldn't expect to find a gym in the smaller towns, but I'm sure the larger areas have gyms and fitness clubs. Does anyone know what the typical dues are per day/week/month?

Does marrying a Thai woman speed up the process of obtaining citizenship? (Please no monologues about "finding love isn't that easy". It's just a question.)

P.S. I meant to type get a visa after I land.
 
G

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If you don't want to hear the downside, don't ask any questions! I tell it as I see it, warts 'n all. $500 per month is more than a tough budget. Why stay in Bangkok? You can get used to Thailand far easier in smaller doses. And far more cheaply as KL says, off the beaten track over in the Isaan border areas. But perhaps that's too quiet and reclusive for you?

Gyms are correspondingly more expensive when you pay for them a month at a time rather than a longer term membership. They vary considerably in price, but are not very cheap. Forget exactly how much they were paying per month at mine (Powerhouse), but I think it was around $80.

I know you meant getting a visa after you land. You can't.

Marrying a Thai girl is one way of getting a visa, sure. But you also have to deposit somewhere around 15,000$ in a Thai bank and leave it there for three months before application, and before each year's renewal.
 

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OK. An ED Visa (Actually a Non-Immigration "o" class 'Ed' Visa) is for studying, not teaching. Sorry I guess I confused you when I went on about making a few stang on the side. You would have to attend the course (16 nhours a week I believe), but that would allow you to stay for a year (or up to 10 if youi do different non-English courses each year).

Gymns are plentiful here - every shopping mall tends to have one these days. Local to me, and I live out of town, there bis a shopping mall with a large gymn and a Tesco's which also has a gymn on the first floor (as opposed to ground). Also some moo bahns (gated communities/urbaniusations) also have them. Thgey are quite cheap by UK standards, no idea compared to the States. I know a big one that is known for being expensive, has lots of modern equiptment etc. and aims at the expat community, costs about $300-400 per year plus a small fee (like 50 cents) per visit. Hope that helps.

Citizenship is very difficult to obtain here - I do not know anyone that has achieved it here in many years (once apon a time being born here gave you Thai citizenship this went over 20 years ago I believe). Though there is a list thats produced each year about applications for residency (most applicant dont get through this either). Having a Thai wife and family would help, but not enough to take you over the bar. For citizenship you need to either be a resident for 5 years (I think - which in turn takes a minumum of 3 years continuous stay in Thailand under non-immigrant back to back visas). Your Thai must be at least the same level as a 15 year old (they expect you to be able to pass an M6 Thai exam paper like a 15/16 year old school kid would be expected to - I doubt they actually give you the exam paper, but they would expect some fluency I guess). There are tax requirement (proof that you have paid tax and contributed over your time here) and you will need some character references from Thais of good thanding (escpecially if they are influential and carry ranks).

Its actually something many of us think about when we first come here, and most never even bother trying. In the end its just too hard for the benefits - your Look Krung (half Thai kids) will be Thai citizens at birth, so you can usually stay based on Thai dependants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If you don't want to hear the downside, don't ask any questions! I tell it as I see it, warts 'n all. $500 per month is more than a tough budget. Why stay in Bangkok? You can get used to Thailand far easier in smaller doses. And far more cheaply as KL says, off the beaten track over in the Isaan border areas. But perhaps that's too quiet and reclusive for you?

Gyms are correspondingly more expensive when you pay for them a month at a time rather than a longer term membership. They vary considerably in price, but are not very cheap. Forget exactly how much they were paying per month at mine (Powerhouse), but I think it was around $80.

I know you meant getting a visa after you land. You can't.

Marrying a Thai girl is one way of getting a visa, sure. But you also have to deposit somewhere around 15,000$ in a Thai bank and leave it there for three months before application, and before each year's renewal.
I don't have to stay in Bangkok, it is simply where my plane lands. I did mention that I will go to the border areas. Something quiet and reclusive would be perfect. $80 a month? That is unusually high for the States, I can only imagine that is near robbery in Thailand.

$500 a month is a tough budget. That's why I'm doing it. Because it is a challenge.

By the way, I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK. An ED Visa (Actually a Non-Immigration "o" class 'Ed' Visa) is for studying, not teaching. Sorry I guess I confused you when I went on about making a few stang on the side. You would have to attend the course (16 nhours a week I believe), but that would allow you to stay for a year (or up to 10 if youi do different non-English courses each year).

Gymns are plentiful here - every shopping mall tends to have one these days. Local to me, and I live out of town, there bis a shopping mall with a large gymn and a Tesco's which also has a gymn on the first floor (as opposed to ground). Also some moo bahns (gated communities/urbaniusations) also have them. Thgey are quite cheap by UK standards, no idea compared to the States. I know a big one that is known for being expensive, has lots of modern equiptment etc. and aims at the expat community, costs about $300-400 per year plus a small fee (like 50 cents) per visit. Hope that helps.

Citizenship is very difficult to obtain here - I do not know anyone that has achieved it here in many years (once apon a time being born here gave you Thai citizenship this went over 20 years ago I believe). Though there is a list thats produced each year about applications for residency (most applicant dont get through this either). Having a Thai wife and family would help, but not enough to take you over the bar. For citizenship you need to either be a resident for 5 years (I think - which in turn takes a minumum of 3 years continuous stay in Thailand under non-immigrant back to back visas). Your Thai must be at least the same level as a 15 year old (they expect you to be able to pass an M6 Thai exam paper like a 15/16 year old school kid would be expected to - I doubt they actually give you the exam paper, but they would expect some fluency I guess). There are tax requirement (proof that you have paid tax and contributed over your time here) and you will need some character references from Thais of good thanding (escpecially if they are influential and carry ranks).

Its actually something many of us think about when we first come here, and most never even bother trying. In the end its just too hard for the benefits - your Look Krung (half Thai kids) will be Thai citizens at birth, so you can usually stay based on Thai dependants.
Thanks for the info!
 
G

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$80 a month? That is unusually high for the States, I can only imagine that is near robbery in Thailand.
Checked the rates. Basic one month rates (there are occasional special offers as well) around my base Chiang Mai, are:

Powerhouse 2500 baht (75$)
Hillside 1500 baht (45$)
Kantary (minimum three months' membership) 5000 baht (151$)
California WOW 999 baht (30$)

The first is a real gym, the others are more hip hotel or shopping mall style places.

Gives you an idea though. Some things in Thailand are really not cheap these days.

Forgot to mention. If you've an unlocked phone already, bring it and get a pay-as-you-go sim card from one of the Thai operators when you arrive - One2Call, Trumove (1 minute 1 baht to call a landline in Europe), D Tac, or whatever. They're all pretty good value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Checked the rates. Basic one month rates (there are occasional special offers as well) around my base Chiang Mai, are:

Powerhouse 2500 baht (75$)
Hillside 1500 baht (45$)
Kantary (minimum three months' membership) 5000 baht (151$)
California WOW 999 baht (30$)

The first is a real gym, the others are more hip hotel or shopping mall style places.

Gives you an idea though. Some things in Thailand are really not cheap these days.

Forgot to mention. If you've an unlocked phone already, bring it and get a pay-as-you-go sim card from one of the Thai operators when you arrive - One2Call, Trumove (1 minute 1 baht to call a landline in Europe), D Tac, or whatever. They're all pretty good value.
Thanks for checking! I'll just pick up an old phone off of craigslist or ebay .
 

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Cell Phones

You need to be certain the phone is unlocked, i.e., not restricted to a single carrier. You might have better chances of finding one on E-Bay rather than CraigsList.

Actually, there are two terms, which aren’t always used consistently. “Jailbroken” refers to reprogramming a locked phone to permit operation on other networks. “Unlocked” suggests the phone was manufactured to work on any network. Terms like “world,” “global” and “multi-band” simply means the phone will work in other countries, but you still need to pay your domestic carrier, which can be expensive.

The distinction is especially significant for iPhones, as updating the operating system can cause you to lose the reprogramming, leaving you with a phone that is unusable until somebody figures out a hack for the latest version, while an unlocked phone is always unlocked. Unlocked models are imported from China or another country where phones are sold unlocked and will have an AC/USB adaptor for that country and a model number different from domestic models.

Care must be exercised, as vendors aren’t always scrupulously honest, as their competitors will cheerfully tell you.

You can also have a locked phone unlocked. Depending on the model, the fee runs somewhere around $30-60. Some shops in Thailand will have signs advertising the service. Others will know where it can be done. In the States, look for an electronics import shop run by Asians. But unlocking doesn’t guarantee all features will work. I’ve had a Razr and a Blackberry 8800 unlocked, but I was never able to send pictures from the Razr to local phones in the Philippines, despite the best efforts of several techies.

You can buy an inexpensive unlocked phone for something comparable to the cost of unlocking one, but it won’t have many features. No camera and multi-tap texting.
 

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I just bought acheap phone (after breaking the screen on my PDA phone). It is a Thai brand, dual sim (both active, not a switch over), 5 Megapixel camera, MP3, Video, Java Games, 2 year guarantee etc for just over a thousand Baht. They have TV ones similar price and WIFI too. Known makes are more expensive for the same functions of course. GPS are about 8k Baht. G3 (no G4 here yet) with GPS is just over 10k.
 
G

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I just bought acheap phone (after breaking the screen on my PDA phone). It is a Thai brand, dual sim (both active, not a switch over), 5 Megapixel camera, MP3, Video, Java Games, 2 year guarantee etc for just over a thousand Baht. They have TV ones similar price and WIFI too. Known makes are more expensive for the same functions of course. GPS are about 8k Baht. G3 (no G4 here yet) with GPS is just over 10k.
So if I give you a call any time soon, I should expect to get the number unobtainable tone then ;) :D
 
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