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Hi Ive just joined the forum. Have ben to Thailand several times and enjoy the country. Would like to spend more time there when I retite in the next year or two, so starting my research. Any advice on what part of Thailand to settle in. I dont want to live in bangkok and also are there areas which have a large British community.. Thanks
 

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Hi Ive just joined the forum. Have ben to Thailand several times and enjoy the country. Would like to spend more time there when I retite in the next year or two, so starting my research. Any advice on what part of Thailand to settle in. I dont want to live in bangkok and also are there areas which have a large British community.. Thanks
Howdy and welcome. The Thailand page is a bit slow but you should get some good information. Hang in there..


Jet Lag
 

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Don't worry , Brit retirees are all over the shop here. My biggest problem was finding somewhere you didn't get them - ha ha ! Last time I looked there are around 50,000 British expats living in Thailand - some working but the majority retirees.

Popular places for retirees to live are Bangkok , Pattaya , Phuket , Samui and Chiang Mai which suit people who want an urban , western style existence with all amenities on tap.

Not for me I have to say where I've chosen a quieter , more rural existence 10 kms from Sattahip just off the coast road running south of Pattaya. However , my local village 3 kms away still has a fair old slice of Brits and other sundry farangs !
 

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Advice on moving to Thailand Part 1

Advice on moving to Thailand
Since I like to write and share my experiences, here’s a very long primer on life in Phuket. When, you have more questions, feel free to ask.

First, a little about me so you know what you’re dealing with.
69 years old. 6’6’, 280+ pounds. Single, but, was married 4 times in the States. Sold my auto and motorcycle dealerships in upstate New York in 1994 and retired to Las Vegas, never to work again. Discovered that work is what I loved, so, went back to work in Vegas after 1 month. In 2009, at 61, decided to actually retire. Wanted to have another adventure, so, I relocated to Phuket, sight unseen. I got lucky with my decision to live in Kamala, Phuket. I sold everything I had in America and came here with 6 suitcases and a large duffel bag. It’s cheaper to pay the airline than it is to actually ship it. My biggest error was selling my excellent motorcycle helmets in the U.S.

Went to work teaching children for three years after a year of retirement. The last four years, I’ve done a little private tutoring to keep active. I love the lifestyle, climate, and atmosphere Phuket Province offers. The way us old farts are treated is, especially, gratifying. And, the women love us! Mostly, because they see us a ATM machines, but, hell, wives 2, 3, and 4 only cared about the money, too. The ladies here are just more honest about. And, boy, do they treat a guy different than western women. Younger and prettier, too!

Riding cycles + Helmets.
Renting a motorbike -- Caution – Warning – Watch out !
Motorbikes are the main form of transportation. You will probably be riding a scooter or motorcycle during your stay.
If you have no experience on one, start practicing now in the U.S. Don't try to learn here. It's a no man's land. Cars are very expensive and simply not needed with the warm weather year round. You can rent a car for β1,000 (U.S. $35) per day. Taxis or tuk-tuks cost β400 to Patong. I ride my Honda CBR300 everyplace. It’s considered a big bike here. Anything bigger than a 150cc scooter is relatively rare.

Bring with you a good motorcycle helmet for each in the family. Pack them in a sizeable duffel bag. You can then pack smaller items in the helmets. The ones here aren’t much better than a mixing bowl.
Good helmets run around $300 each (Bell, Arai, Shoei) in America. You can't get bigger sizes in Thailand because Thai heads are small so a good helmet that fits is difficult to find. In Thailand, they’ll cost 3-4 times as much because of the high import tariff. Most Thai helmets are $15-30. They'll do nothing in a head impact. That's why they're called "Brain Buckets."

Visitors rent a motorbike for around β3,000 (U.S.$100) per month. And, visitors get injured and killed with regularity. First, because this is not the place to learn to ride a bike. No traffic laws are enforced. None. Second, they drive on the left. Many vehicles, especially motorbikes, will be on the wrong side of the road in villages, coming towards you in your lane, so, you’re a constant target. Third, when it rains, Thai drivers seem to think that tailgating even closer is the smart thing to do. Motorbikes are constantly getting run over from behind.

I think I’m an experienced rider! I rode over a half million miles around the U.S.A. without any accidents with other vehicles. In the first three years here, I got hit twice.

Moving to Thailand
It’s 12 hours ahead of the East Coast Standard time.
Visit the area(s) you’re thinking about for at least a week each to see if you really want to live there.
If you do move, actually ship as little as absolutely necessary. Very expensive.
Bring as many suitcases you can handle. Much cheaper to pay the airlines.
Set up someone in the states who will ship U.S. purchases you make on the internet, package them (USPS offers a reasonable 20 pound max rate of about $100.), and ship them to you. There will be things that you'll need.

Places to live .
Depends what you like. I don’t like the bigger cities, so, Kamala is perfect for me.

Kamala has around 3-4000 permanent residents. Probably 200 ex-pats from around the world. There’s 5-10 Americans and Canadians here. While Thailand is 95% Buddhist, Kamala is predominantly Muslim (70%) with 30% Buddhists. Phuket is a very peaceful province with none of the terrorist tendencies that get all the press. Most know me here because a 6’6” 280+ pound farang tends to stand out.

Kamala has everything you need, including a reasonably sized grocery/department store, banks, dentists, doctors, pharmacies, restaurants, bars, etc. The nearest hospital is in Patong, but, for serious problems a trip to Phuket Town (30km) is required. As with most places in Thailand, there seems to be a 7-11, or derivative, every few hundred feet. I order most groceries from a Tesco-Lotus that delivers for free.
I’d recommend Kamala as a residence because it’s quiet, friendly, has a nice beach, and is much cheaper than other bigger cities. Everything I might want to do is within a ride of an hour or less.

I live in a small, western style, 2 bedroom house. No pool. I pay β12,000 rent (U.S. $360). I don’t have an oven, so, all my cooking is done on a propane stove. Most visitors don’t cook anyway, since the Thai food is so inexpensive.

While Phuket Town, Patong, and some other spots have McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, and so on, there are none in Kamala. But, they all have delivery service for around a buck. We do have a bunch of good coffee shops.

I guess there’s a couple of Christian churches here in Phuket Town. I’m an atheist so it doesn’t matter. I do like what Buddhism is about, though.

Employment in Thailand.
Not as easy as people think. Thai law says no foreigner can have a job that a Thai can do. Being transferred here by a current employer resolves this one. But, just coming here and getting hired is extremely difficult.
That’s why being an English teacher appeals to so many. And, because there are so many, actual jobs are scarce.
 

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Moving to Thailand Part 2

Visas: Tourist and “O”
TOURIST VISA
This visa type, as its name states, is issued to foreigners entering Thailand as tourists. It easiest to obtain abroad before traveling to Thailand. However, one can be issued at Thai immigration. Upon arrival a stay of 60 days will be granted, which may be extended by another 30 days (β1900 at local immigration office) for most foreign nationals.

"O" VISA
The "O" visa is good for 90 days. It costs a little more, but, you won’t have to make a trip to immigration and pay to extend it, which cannot be done.
In both cases, you'll have to do the visa run a week or two before the visa expires.
You'll see many people say get the standard tourist visa because it's less expensive. This is true, but, it's good for 60 days. It can be extended ONCE for 30 days, but, it costs β1,900, so, it's not really cheaper. The "O" saves you extra trips to your local immigration office.

Visas “O” and Retirement extension, if applicable.
Thai visa rules by your country of origin.
But, to get a retirement visa you must be 50 and have some sort of provable income, whether it's retirement income, or $800k in a Thai bank.

First, get an "O" visa. This is the only one you can then convert to a Retirement Visa, which is a misnomer. It's not a visa, per se, it's a one year extension on your original Thai "O" visa. You have to renew this extension yearly with the same proof you used the first time.

Visa Runs. If your visa is due to expire, you have to go on a "Visa Run" to a Thai embassy or consulate in another country. You will usually get the same type of Visa you had originally. Visa runs are not required if you have the "O" Visa retirement extension. I did visa runs for many years. The last one was 3 years ago to get an "O" visa that I could use from then on for the extension. It’s a 24 hour roundtrip van ride for the Visa run to Panang, Malaysia. They’re in a van and are very scary. The drivers all speed and drive recklessly. They seem to believe it's smart to go even faster and tailgate, even closer, when it rains. All Thais seem to do this. The whole “Visa Run” 48 hour trip runs around β5,000 (van, food, immigration, 3 ★ hotel) if you don’t do anything in Panang.

If you're eligible for the Visa Extension, come here on an "O" Visa obtained from the Thai Embassy in your country. After 60 days, you can get the extension by supplying bank/income proof, residence information i.e. lease, bills in your name with your Thai address, internal and external photos of your address.

If you aren't eligible, still get the "O" visa because it's good for 90 days. You'll have to do the visa run every 90 days. You'll see many people say get the standard tourist visa because it's less expensive. This is true, but, it's good for 30 days. It can be extended twice for 30 days, but, it costs β1,900 each time, so, it's not really cheaper. The "O" saves you extra trips to your local immigration office.

The one year visa extension is β1,900 while the separate multiple re-entry visa costs β3,800. You only need a re-entry visa if you want to travel out of Thailand and return within the validity period of the one year visa. A single re-entry visa is cheaper, but of course, only good for one out and return trip which you use to get it.

Not having a re-entry visa if you do travel out of Thailand is a major problem as your one year visa gets cancelled at immigration on return to Thailand - you get issued with a 30 day permission to stay stamp and then have to go through the whole one year visa application process again from scratch.

If you plan on staying longer than 90 days, regardless of which Visa you have, you’ll have to report you presence and current Thai address to immigration. There’s an office in Phuket Town and Patong. You can also do this reporting online, but, that system rarely seems to work since initiated in 2015.

CAUTION. There many problems with getting advice about Thai visas.
1- Different rules for different home countries. As a result, advice provided can be inaccurate if they come from a different place. There's a ton of misinformation
passed around by people who heard how someone else did it. Almost always wrong.

2- Inconsistencies between Thai embassies and consulates as to what the law is. If you go to the one in Scotland, you may get conflicting stories from different people.

3- Many people use a Visa agency (Siam Legal or others) to do the legwork for them. These agencies charge from β15k-25k per person each time up to β500,000 per person for a five year visa. They’re high because they do the legwork and bribes are needed to get things done. According to Thai law, they’re illegal and won’t stand up to close scrutiny, which admittedly, is rarely done. Since I have no intention of leaving and am a little paranoid, I stay away from this method. However, many people use the agencies and think they’re legal and provide this as advice on how to get a visa.

Thai bank accounts + ATMs
The Baht is Thai money. The exchange rate, currently is around β33 to the U.S. dollar. There are money exchanges everywhere. Credit and debit cards are accepted and ATM’s are everywhere. U.S. banks will charge a 3% fee and the ATM will charge $5 to use the U.S. ATM card.

Before you move, open an account at a major home country bank using your home country current address. I used BoA, but, most are fine. Get an ATM card (and a 2nd if you can). Sign up to do everything electronically. Direct deposits, transfers, communication, bill pay ... everything. If you do this, the bank will have no reason to use a snail mail address.

Most banks will charge a 3% on any ATM withdrawal. The Thai ATM you use will charge $5-10. Usually, the max you can withdraw at a time is 30,000 baht. I use Krunsri and Siam banks. You should open an account at a Thai bank and get their ATM card. This will save some of their fees. It's very easy to open an account at a bank branch in Phuket. Bring passports and β5000. When you have account #, bank will give you all the information you need to transfer the rest.

Writing a check on an American bank for depositing here is a real headache. The charge is more than an ATM withdrawal and it take around two weeks for the check to clear.

International money transfers between banks, while fast, are also more expensive than the ATM 3%.

Government . The government is officially a Constitutional Monarchy very similar to England. But, here, the Monarchy is purely for photo ops and publicity. The King who died, while loved, had absolutely no power to do anything except live extravagantly.
Thailand has experienced more coup d’états than any other country in contemporary history. Scholars sometimes describe the era beginning in 1932 and running up through today as Thailand's "coup season." Since 1932, Thailand has endured an astonishing 11 successful military coups, as well as seven attempted coups.

The people are, generally, kept uneducated. They are poor and required schooling ends after 6th grade. Many don’t get that far. They tend to falsely believed that the Monarchy will take good care of them. Whoever is in power controls everything and takes as much wealth it can get away with.

Corruption is rampant at all levels, right down to the lowly local policeman. Their bribes are called “tea money.” There are constant anti-corruption campaigns, but, they are for image only. None are serious endeavors.

Good luck.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/
Kamala Beach Phuket travel & Hotel Information Guide
http://www.Thailand Guru . com
http://www.thephuketnews.com

Updated 30 September, 2017
 

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Excellent guide to living in Thailand for those chewing the prospect over. Been here eleven years now living in Chonburi province on the north shore of the Gulf between Sattahip and Pattaya and your advice / info is spot on.

Your motorbiking comments are especially relevant - I ride a Triumph Thruxton 900 here. Have been riding bikes since I was 18 (mostly Brit machines - BSA's , Nortons , etc) in UK and Africa where I spent 30 years of working life. Cannot stress too much the advice you give for survival on two wheels - traffic conditions here are best described as "hairy" with car drivers mostly showing little or no regard for motorcyclists. Biking conditions round where I live are actually pretty good being in a Thai Navy controlled area without any traffic cops (who stay out of the way following rival service quarrels) and uncluttered roads.
 

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Advice on moving to Thailand
Since I like to write and share my experiences, here’s a very long primer on life in Phuket. When, you have more questions, feel free to ask.

First, a little about me so you know what you’re dealing with.
69 years old. 6’6’, 280+ pounds. Single, but, was married 4 times in the States. Sold my auto and motorcycle dealerships in upstate New York in 1994 and retired to Las Vegas, never to work again. Discovered that work is what I loved, so, went back to work in Vegas after 1 month. In 2009, at 61, decided to actually retire. Wanted to have another adventure, so, I relocated to Phuket, sight unseen. I got lucky with my decision to live in Kamala, Phuket. I sold everything I had in America and came here with 6 suitcases and a large duffel bag. It’s cheaper to pay the airline than it is to actually ship it. My biggest error was selling my excellent motorcycle helmets in the U.S.

Went to work teaching children for three years after a year of retirement. The last four years, I’ve done a little private tutoring to keep active. I love the lifestyle, climate, and atmosphere Phuket Province offers. The way us old farts are treated is, especially, gratifying. And, the women love us! Mostly, because they see us a ATM machines, but, hell, wives 2, 3, and 4 only cared about the money, too. The ladies here are just more honest about. And, boy, do they treat a guy different than western women. Younger and prettier, too!

Riding cycles + Helmets.
Renting a motorbike -- Caution – Warning – Watch out !
Motorbikes are the main form of transportation. You will probably be riding a scooter or motorcycle during your stay.
If you have no experience on one, start practicing now in the U.S. Don't try to learn here. It's a no man's land. Cars are very expensive and simply not needed with the warm weather year round. You can rent a car for β1,000 (U.S. $35) per day. Taxis or tuk-tuks cost β400 to Patong. I ride my Honda CBR300 everyplace. It’s considered a big bike here. Anything bigger than a 150cc scooter is relatively rare.

Bring with you a good motorcycle helmet for each in the family. Pack them in a sizeable duffel bag. You can then pack smaller items in the helmets. The ones here aren’t much better than a mixing bowl.
Good helmets run around $300 each (Bell, Arai, Shoei) in America. You can't get bigger sizes in Thailand because Thai heads are small so a good helmet that fits is difficult to find. In Thailand, they’ll cost 3-4 times as much because of the high import tariff. Most Thai helmets are $15-30. They'll do nothing in a head impact. That's why they're called "Brain Buckets."

Visitors rent a motorbike for around β3,000 (U.S.$100) per month. And, visitors get injured and killed with regularity. First, because this is not the place to learn to ride a bike. No traffic laws are enforced. None. Second, they drive on the left. Many vehicles, especially motorbikes, will be on the wrong side of the road in villages, coming towards you in your lane, so, you’re a constant target. Third, when it rains, Thai drivers seem to think that tailgating even closer is the smart thing to do. Motorbikes are constantly getting run over from behind.

I think I’m an experienced rider! I rode over a half million miles around the U.S.A. without any accidents with other vehicles. In the first three years here, I got hit twice.

Moving to Thailand
It’s 12 hours ahead of the East Coast Standard time.
Visit the area(s) you’re thinking about for at least a week each to see if you really want to live there.
If you do move, actually ship as little as absolutely necessary. Very expensive.
Bring as many suitcases you can handle. Much cheaper to pay the airlines.
Set up someone in the states who will ship U.S. purchases you make on the internet, package them (USPS offers a reasonable 20 pound max rate of about $100.), and ship them to you. There will be things that you'll need.

Places to live .
Depends what you like. I don’t like the bigger cities, so, Kamala is perfect for me.

Kamala has around 3-4000 permanent residents. Probably 200 ex-pats from around the world. There’s 5-10 Americans and Canadians here. While Thailand is 95% Buddhist, Kamala is predominantly Muslim (70%) with 30% Buddhists. Phuket is a very peaceful province with none of the terrorist tendencies that get all the press. Most know me here because a 6’6” 280+ pound farang tends to stand out.

Kamala has everything you need, including a reasonably sized grocery/department store, banks, dentists, doctors, pharmacies, restaurants, bars, etc. The nearest hospital is in Patong, but, for serious problems a trip to Phuket Town (30km) is required. As with most places in Thailand, there seems to be a 7-11, or derivative, every few hundred feet. I order most groceries from a Tesco-Lotus that delivers for free.
I’d recommend Kamala as a residence because it’s quiet, friendly, has a nice beach, and is much cheaper than other bigger cities. Everything I might want to do is within a ride of an hour or less.

I live in a small, western style, 2 bedroom house. No pool. I pay β12,000 rent (U.S. $360). I don’t have an oven, so, all my cooking is done on a propane stove. Most visitors don’t cook anyway, since the Thai food is so inexpensive.

While Phuket Town, Patong, and some other spots have McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, and so on, there are none in Kamala. But, they all have delivery service for around a buck. We do have a bunch of good coffee shops.

I guess there’s a couple of Christian churches here in Phuket Town. I’m an atheist so it doesn’t matter. I do like what Buddhism is about, though.

Employment in Thailand.
Not as easy as people think. Thai law says no foreigner can have a job that a Thai can do. Being transferred here by a current employer resolves this one. But, just coming here and getting hired is extremely difficult.
That’s why being an English teacher appeals to so many. And, because there are so many, actual jobs are scarce.
I live in Jomtien. After about a year, I bought a rather large oven that sits on the counter top. Great purchase. Thai food is wonderful but it's great to bake chickens, meat loaf, baked potatoes!, even hamburgers rather than frying them. And reheating pizza so much better than soggy slices a microwave puts out. Only about $120 US in one of those huge Walmart-type stores.
 

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I live in Jomtien. After about a year, I bought a rather large oven that sits on the counter top. Great purchase. Thai food is wonderful but it's great to bake chickens, meat loaf, baked potatoes!, even hamburgers rather than frying them. And reheating pizza so much better than soggy slices a microwave puts out. Only about $120 US in one of those huge Walmart-type stores.
I'm with you and like using a regular oven and stove. I love a "real" meatloaf (you're making me hungry) cooked for a hour or so. Baked potatoes too as unless really careful they just don't do well in a microwave. We have been living in the Philippines for 15 years and would still like to find the Betty Crocker cake mixes and Dutch chocolate frosting in the can. Most things are accessible here but the cake mixes and buttermilk. Ah well, guess we can't have everything.
 
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