So here’s the thing, moving and getting life setup here is a big pain in the ass. Logistically, there’s a lot to sort out. That’s just the honest truth. If you’re willing to put in the effort though, here’s how to move here and get your life setup in 10 steps.
1. Make Sure You Have Enough Money!
We came without jobs and preferred it that way as we figured out first where we liked, then applied.
Using an Agency: Some people work with an agency which places them in a job before arriving. Transition logistics are handled and you get a paycheck in month one. The risk is it’s sort of a blind choice of school, location, etc.
Without an Agency: You don’t need an agency, there are plenty of jobs. However, you have to find show up and find them!
Moving and Transition Costs: The basic transition costs everyone should account for:
TIP: If you’re not leaving for Thailand immediately, sign-up for an airline card and save money!
Once you get to Thailand, there will be more expenses waiting for you!! Here are some big ones:
*Why two months without pay!?! Month 1: TEFOL Class Month 2: Job search + lag time until your job starts Month 3: Your 1st paycheck will be at the end of your first month’s work **Scooter price is 500-1000 USD average **Used cars are expensive here! ***Three months rent up front!
Point is, bring some cash. You can reduce costs by getting roommates, working with an agency to be placed in a job ahead of time, using airline miles to get here, etc. Regardless, crunch a few numbers and make sure you bring enough moola!
2. Apply at the Nearest Thai Embassy
This is the part people seem to have anxiety about. Read our visa guide, read the forums, and apply. You’ll be fine. If you get here on a tourist visa and end up getting a job offer then just do a border run to Malaysia and change visas. No big deal.
3. Setup a Place to Stay!
You’re moving to Thailand, you need a place to stay! If you’ve signed up for a TEFOL course they’ll likely recommend accommodation. Long term hotel prices range from 4,500 baht/mo to 8,500 baht/mo.
4. Print Tons of Stuff Out
Print until your printer dies of exhaustion. Then buy another printer and print some more. Thai people love paperwork. Bring copies of:
- University diploma
- University transcript
- A criminal background check
- Not joking, you really need this
- Passport ID page
- Passport Visa page
- Marriage certificate (if married)
- Birth certificate
5. Quit Your Job, Buy a Ticket, Get on Board
To reduce the cost, we highly suggest signing up for an airlines card with a bonus miles sign-up offer. Many cards offer 30,000-40,000 bonus points if you spend X amount within X months. A one way ticket to Asia usually runs about 35,000 miles. Free ticket!
To make sure you pack everything you ought to, check out our Thailand packing list.
6. Buying a Scooter or Car
It might be weird to get a scooter, then a job… but it’s great to have a scooter while taking your TEFOL course. There are plenty of jobs and to get them you’ll have to drive around a lot.
Scooter – Use a Phuket Facebook group to find a scooter online. We find our online, called the guy, met the guy, test drove it, bought it, got our receipt, and went on our way all within two hours.
Car – When we bought our car from an English guy, privately, it was a gigantic pain in the butt. We had to keep going to the ATM to accumulate 80,000 baht in cash!! Then we had to do the paperwork ourselves:
- Go to the Phuket Immigration Office to get an official certificate of residence
- Makes copies of passports, visas, stamps. All copies must be signed
- Fill out Thai forms
- Get blue book (shows ownership), tax sticker, and proof of insurance from seller
- Go to Phuket Land Transport Office
- If an expat seller is not present you need them to fill out a form
- You need a signed copy of their passport ID page, visa, and most recent entry stamp
- Paperwork is a big deal in Thailand. There are endless requests for signatures, stamps, certificates, etc.
It’s a pain in the ass to do yourself, so pay a fee if possible or prepare for a long day of paperwork.
7. Phuket Job Search
Make a million copies of everything. This will annoy you. Then send out applications. If you are applying to places mostly staffed by Western people, you can send emails. For the most part, hotels and schools have Thai staff who would prefer you to call or drop by.
8. Setup a Thai Bank Account
Some jobs pay in cash, in which case you’ll get to skip this step.
Most jobs transfer your money into a Thai bank. It’s nice to setup your account early-on because you are asked to show a Thai ATM card for different government paperwork.
The websites say to get some visas you to show it (haven’t heard of this actually being asked for) and buying a car requires it (yup, they demand it).
To start one, ideally you’ll show them your non-immigrant B visa, passport, and give them some money to deposit. On a tourist visa? Try KTB and bring a letter from your accommodation stating your residency there.
9. Securing a Long Term Place to Live
Once you have an income and know where you’ll be working everyday, move out of the hotel! It’s not that much more expensive for an apartment building with a bigger pool, bigger gym, and more space.
- A friend of ours stays in a bungalow in Patong for 7,500 baht
- Other friends pay 12.000 baht for a 3 bedroom house
- Other friends pay 12,000 for a nice apartment
- We pay 15,000 baht for a small apartment with brand new facilities
There’s a lot to consider when choosing where to live.
- If you want or need roommates, you’ll likely end up in a 3 or 4 bedroom house.
- If you want high end facilities like a nice gym and infinity pool, you’ll end up in a condo complex.
Then there’s town choices.
- All the parties are in Patong.
- All the local hustle and bustle is in Phuket Town.
- People live in Kathu either because they play golf or because they are a teacher and their school is in Kathu.
- Beach lovers live in the southwest part of the island (Nai Harn, Rawai, Kata, Chalong).
Once you secure a place, you may have to setup Internet if it’s not included. Electric you will likely just pay at the local 7/11. Weird. And rent may be paid in cash or likely by bank transfer.
10. Welcome to Living in Paradise!!
Follow those magic steps and you’ll be living in Thailand and loving life!
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