Skip to content

Moving to Thailand

Imagine living in a land that offers an enticing blend of modern-day luxuries with ancient customs and traditions. Moving to Thailand gives you exactly this and more. It is a place where dreams and fantasies are crafted and often come true.

Fact: Thai means “free man” in the native language

Living in Thailand as an American can be both challenging and the most fulfilling experience for any individual. Thailand prides itself on being one of the most sought-after destinations for expats looking to settle down in South-East Asia. Rich cultural diversity coupled with future-oriented technology merely are tips of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to Thailand. We mean it when we say that Thailand has something to offer for everyone. Thailand knows how to set the tempo from ancient temples to glorious beaches to vibrant party life. We will break it down step by step for anyone who wants to know everything about moving to Thailand from the USA.

Moving to Thailand

Requirements for moving to Thailand

As an American living in Thailand, there are certain things you should know about Thailand. These helpful pointers will help you plan when moving to Thailand or the Land of Smiles as it is popularly known. You can use this as a checklist on Thailand going forward. Refer to this as part of your process of moving to Thailand from USA for helpful tips and hints.

  • Thailand has an interesting political system where the Monarch or The King acts as the Head of State and the Government is divided into three separate branches namely Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.
  • Thailand has 3 seasons when we speak about the climate of the land.
    • The rainy season lasts from mid-May to mid- October,
    • Winter sets in from mid-October to mid-February
    • Summer lasts till mid-May.
  • Thailand is a country which is made up of distinct regions geographically. Northern Thailand is made up of mountains whereas South of Thailand will find the narrow Kra Isthmus that widens into Malay Peninsula. Central region in this country is largely flat and made up of Chao Phraya River valley, which meets the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Thailand is an emerging economy and actively participates in both international and regional organizational activities.
  • The official language of the country is Thai; however, English is a mandatory subject in school.
  • Buddhism is the prevalent religion in Thailand.
  • Rice is the staple food in Thailand.
  • Numerous sports are actively pursued and participated in by people of Thailand. Prominent among them are Muay Thai, Football, Volleyball and Basketball.
  • Health and medical care in Thailand are amongst the best in the world.
  • Expats are often found in the cities of
    • Bangkok,
    • Pattaya,
    • Phuket
    • Chiang Mai.
    • The twin islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao are also favored destinations for Americans living in Thailand.
Wat arun temple at twilight in bangkok, thailand

Visa For US Citizens

For Americans moving to Thailand the following types of Visas are available:

  • Visa Exempt Entry
  • Tourist Visas
  • Work Visas
  • Retirement Visas
  • Education Visa

Visa Exempt Entry:

An American citizen with a valid US Tourist Passport (at least six months validity) does not require a visa to enter Thailand. The Thai immigration office will permit a 30 day stay in Thailand for Americans arriving by air or land.

Fact: If you want to extend your stay in Thailand, you can pay an amount of 1,900 THB and get an extension of 30 more days.

Tourist Visa:

If an American citizen moves to Thailand from the USA and wishes to remain in Thailand for more than 30 days, they are expected to attain a tourist visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in USA, prior to arriving in Thailand. For more information click here.

If an American citizen wishes to remain in Thailand for a period of more than 90 days, they should contact the Thai Immigration Bureau for exact visa requirements and attain a valid Thai visa from the Thai Embassy or Consulate.

Work Visa:

If you wish to work after moving to Thailand, you will need to apply for a Thai work permit or a Thai work visa. The validity of the work visa is 1 year and it has to be filed on behalf of the applicant by the organization hiring him or her or a foreign government.

Retirement Visa:

An American citizen over the age of 50 years can also apply for a Retirement Visa which is valid for one year and comes with a strict employment prohibition.

Education visa is another route taken by a few for moving to Thailand. For more details regarding the various types of Thai Visas, please refer to thaiconsulatela or usembassy

Cost of Moving to Thailand

The cost of moving to Thailand will entail the following set of costs:

  • Visa application costs
  • Flight costs
  • Shipping costs
  • Health costs
  • Property costs
  • Taxes

Visa application and costs:

for shifting to Thailand will differ on the basis of the kind of visa you apply for. You can refer to https://thaiconsulatela.org/en/visa/visa-fee/ for a complete breakdown of the Visa fee that you will incur for moving to Thailand.

Flight Cost:

On average, a single flight between any city in America and Thailand will cost you approximately $65,000.

Shipping Costs:

One of the major worries when living in Thailand as an American is shipping your belongings. If you are breaking your head about moving to Thailand from the USA, start by getting quotes through Movingist.

Health Costs:

You will require to get all necessary immunization done before moving to Thailand from USA. Thailand has both a public health plan and a private health plan. The latter is what is often preferred by Americans wishing to move to Thailand. The cost of consulting a doctor can range between 800 THB to 1500 THB ($25 to $48)

Property Costs:

Americans moving to Thailand from USA often prefer condos or serviced apartments. They are restricted by law from buying property in Thailand and can only buy flats, condos or houses and not plots of land. Therefore, rather than choosing compound villas or normal flats Americans in Thailand prefer renting out apartments.

Taxes:

Living in Thailand as an American you are required to file form 1040 as part of taxation requirements. The personal income tax return form in Thailand is called PIT 1. If you have stayed in Thailand for more than 180 days then you are considered a Tax Resident. The US and Thai governments share taxpayer information and there can be severe penalties imposed for evasion of taxes. The Revenue Department which oversees the tax-related activities has fixed the tax rates between 0% to 35%. For detailed information on Tax please click here.

Living in Thailand

One of the questions topmost on the list, when one decides on moving to any place, is related to the food, culture and cost of living. Living in Thailand as an American, the cost of living will differ from person to person and from situation to situation. It also depends on where you choose to set the base.

If you are living in the tier 1 cities in Thailand then taking into consideration the cost of accommodation, transportation, entertainment and other monthly expenses of surviving can roughly amount to:

Single50,000 THB ($1608)
Married75,000 THB ($2412)
Married with 1 kid85,000 THB ($2734)

Note: The above figures are approximations based on the current economic situation

But if you ask how much money you need to live comfortably in Thailand, we would say if you are single and your lifestyle is that of a freelancer, you would be pretty well off with $650 a month. And if you were a retiree living in Thailand you would need to have anywhere between $800 to $1200 a month to live comfortably. The calculation is as follows:

Monthly ExpenseMinimum Cost (USD$)
Rent & Internet$230
Electricity & Water$30
Maid$15
Food $190
Scooter & Gas$100
Evenings Out$75
     Total $650
Source: www. alittleadrift.com

If you choose to live in the countryside, you can save a considerable chunk of the above costs.

Another popular question that people have when deciding how to move to Thailand from the USA is the best places to live in Thailand for expats. Based on opinion polls and surveys and popular online literature, we will give you 5 great places for living in Thailand as an American. These are based on the following requirements that are top on the list of priorities of anyone moving to Thailand:

  • How welcome would I feel?
  • How adaptive is the culture?
  • How cost effective and affordable is the living?
  • How good is the climate?
  • How safe is the place?
  • Can I continue to live a comfortable lifestyle?

The best places to live in Thailand for expats based on the above needs would be

  • Chiang Mai: Most preferred choice
  • Hua Hin: Seaside haven for expats
  • Koh Samui: Popular Island haven
  • Phuket: Beach city paradise
  • Bangkok: Largest expat presence

Healthcare System of Thailand

According to an article in a popular US magazine, healthcare in Thailand was ranked 6th in the List of Countries with the best healthcare in 2019. This is well above Spain, France and even Australia. We can therefore easily conclude that Thailand has an excellent healthcare system.

Fact: The health and medical care system in Thailand is looked after by the Ministry of Public Health.

Expats by law are required to have health insurance if they are relocating on a work visa. However, expats are often warned of mosquito-transmitted diseases and water-borne diseases as top contenders for bringing them down. Expats should only drink bottled water when in Thailand. Low-cost medical care has transformed Thailand into a prime destination for Medical Tourism.

Expats working in Thailand can avail of Social Security, where the employer deducts a 5% cut from gross salary not more than 750 THB per month.

Providing a list of medical procedures and treatments and their cost in Thailand. This will give you an idea about the cost of healthcare in Thailand while living in Thailand as an American:

Medical Procedure:Cost in Thailand
Coronary Angioplasty4,200 $
Heart Bypass15,000 $
Hip Replacement17,000 $
Gastric Bypass16,800 $
Hysterectomy3,650 $
Lasik (2 eyes)2,310 $
Dental Implant1,720 $
Breast Implant3,500 $
Source: www.thaiwebsites.com

However, there are reports that going forward; healthcare costs are set to rise in Thailand, as per an article in Pacific Prime Thailand.

Jobs in Thailand

If you are looking forward to working in Thailand, then everything from freelancing to acting as extras in movies to landing a teaching job opens up for you. However, know that you need to be eligible for the same and ensure that you are on the right side of the law when landing a job. You can start your job search from JobsDB, LinkedIn, or directly contact any business establishment and understand their exact requirements.

Check out the following opportunities available to foreigners:

  • Teaching
  • Diving Instructors
  • Freelancers
  • Hotel Management jobs
  • Corporate Placements

Salaries can range from an average of 35,000 THB per month usually earned by a qualified person working as a teacher to 300,000 THB per month earned by an employee at a multinational.

If you are into business or freelancing, the average earnings can range between 10,000 THB per month to 1,000,000 THB.

Therefore, we can conclude that the average salary of a person working in Thailand can range between 24,500THB to 433,000THB per month. However, salaries fluctuate considerably for different jobs.

Check out the salary calculator to get an idea of the average salary for a particular job.

Beautiful mountains in ratchaprapha dam at khao sok national park, surat Thani province, Thailand

Climate in Thailand

Thailand is a country that you can visit all-round the year. However, most of the people traveling to Thailand prefer visiting the country during the winter season between November and April, when usually the temperatures are cool and mildly dry. The temperature during this period ranges from a low of 29°C to a high of 34°C.

The Geography in Thailand makes it impossible to pin down a particular period as avoidable. We will however provide a summary based on popular opinion:

Chiang MaiMid-February through early April due to air pollution
Phuket and neighboring placesMay – October due to rains
Koh Samui and neighboring placesOctober & November due to heavy rains
Source: www.twowanderingsoles.com

What things are banned in Thailand?

Though a popular tourist destination, Thailand has its fair share of laws and regulations that expats have to bear in mind. Check out the following rules while in Thailand avoid them while living in Thailand as an American:

  • E-cigarettes or vapors are considered as illegal items for both Thais and foreigners. Violators will be severely fined and even jailed.
  • Any form of nudity is a strict no-no and considered illegal in Thailand.
  • Disrespecting the Thai royal family in any way is strictly prohibited. Defamation or insulting the royal family is looked upon as a crime in Thailand.
  • Producing, selling or transporting Drugs or any banned substance in Thailand will attract a death sentence.
  • Gambling is another vice which is looked down upon and banned, though there are illegal casinos that can be found.

Fact: Thailand is the only country in South East Asia that has not faced any colonialism

Pros and cons of living in Thailand

There are both positive and negative aspects of moving to Thailand.

Pros:

  • Open-hearted welcoming community that attracts so many expats to make a beeline towards the Kingdom of Thailand.
  • Beaches & Mountains
  • Temples
  • Night lives and party
  • Low cost of living
  • Low cost of healthcare

Cons: 

  • Red-light districts cultivate many vices from drug usage, prostitution to gambling among others.
  • Health hazards owing to the topical climate in the country
  • Low environmental awareness and potential for rising pollution

Fact: As per reports, there are close to 20,000 Americans working and residing in Thailand

Conclusion

There are many reasons why Americans are attracted to Thailand. The statistic above is the best answer to your question of what it would be like living in Thailand as an American. The reasons range from the low cost of living to get an opportunity to get up close and personal with a unique culture that has not seen many externals intrusions. So, if you are looking out to achieve a stress-free life, get acquainted with wonderful and delicious food, and enjoy a healthier living then pack your bags because Thailand might just be the right place for you. The process of relocation can be hassle-driven and overwhelming to say the least, but with our tips, we hope to have simplified it for you and answered the question: “how to move to Thailand from USA?”

Exploring more options of International Moving? Check out our International Moving Guides:

Moving To Switzerland 

Moving To Hong Kong

Moving to Japan

Get FREE Quotes