±A - Join Our Community

JOIN OUR FRIENDLY COMMUNITY
Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups

±A - Cigna

±A - Read Our Guide

READ OUR GUIDE TO MOVING ABROAD
The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free

±A - Compare Quotes and Save

COMPARE QUOTES AND SAVE MONEY
Insurance, FX and international movers

±A - Listen to the Podcast

LISTEN TO THE EXPAT FOCUS PODCAST
The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!

±A - Expert Financial

EXPERT FINANCIAL ADVICE & SERVICES
From our tax, investment and FX partners

±A - ExpatFocus Partners

Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.

Podcast

Expat Focus Podcast

Podcast > 2019

2019

The Cost Of Living In Thailand



 

Our guest today is based in Thailand - a country that is well known for attracting expats wanting good living on the cheap, but just how good, and just how cheap?

Brett Debritz is an Australian freelance journalist, currently on a ‘trial retirement’ in Thailand, and blogging at Expattaya.

If a move to the country is on your bucket list, you might want to take some notes during this chat, because Brett’s going to talk us through what you get for your money: from housing, to bills, groceries, and other expenses that some expats moving to Thailand may not necessarily anticipate.



Carlie: Welcome to another episode of the Expat Focus podcast. I’m your host, Carlie, an Australian living in France, and my guest today is based in Thailand, a country that is well known for attracting expats wanting good living on the cheap. But, just how good, and just how cheap? Brett Debritz is an Australian freelance journalist currently on a trial retirement in Thailand. He’s also blogging at Expattaya.com.

If a move to the country is on your bucket list, you might wanna take some notes during this chat, because Brett’s going to talk us through what you get for your money. From housing to bills, groceries, and other expenses that some expats moving to Thailand may not necessarily anticipate. International Living’s annual global retirement index ranks Thailand as the third most affordable destination for expat retirees, behind Cambodia in first place, and Viet Nam second. Of course, Thailand has long been a destination for non-retirees as well, especially more recently digital nomads. What category do you fall into, Brett?

Brett: Well, I’ve been, I’ve been an employed person, I worked for two newspapers here, the Bangkok Post and more recently The Nation. And at the moment, I’m, I’m on a trial retirement. Whether I can afford it and whether I, whether I like it. So I’m free, I’m doing a, out of Australia doing a little bit of freelance work, but here I’m retired, yeah.

Carlie: So you’re the perfect person to talk to today about the cost of living in Thailand, and what expats need to know.

Brett: Well I hope so!

Carlie: And it’s important to point out that we’re comparing costs of living today, I guess, to Australia where you’re originally from, is that right?

Brett: Yes, yes, that’s my, that’s where the bulk of my money is, so if I have to transfer now that I’m not working, if I have to bring money in for my living expenses, well that, that’s my point of reference. But the, anyone who knows the relationship between the Australian dollar and sterling or the euro or the US, can pretty much work it out.

Carlie: Brett, what attracted you to Thailand?

Brett: It was purely by accident. I’d, I’d been working, I had a, a relationship problem in Australia, and I decided to, to look abroad. I went to Shanghai in China, because a friend had been working there. And I spent a year there, then I went to the UK.

And, after a few, a lot of travel, and a few adventures, this same friend was still in Thailand, he said come up for a visit. I came here to do the Celta, which is the, the Cambridge University teaching English to adults course, which I, I completed in 2010 during the redshirt uprising, so I’ve seen Thailand at its political worst, we were, there were, the streets were barb-wired, there were soldiers marching down, down the street, and there was some deaths in the vicinity where I was.

But that didn’t put me off, and in fact a friend who’d worked at a newspaper there invited me to come and see what they were doing, it’s quite an exciting time as a journalist, when there’s a big story happening you like to be at the thick of it. And, I went in and ended up working for them, and, so that was my, my first tour of duty. After a while I got a good offer to go to the United Arab Emirates, so I spent 5 years there. And, and now I’m back here in Thailand, and have been for nearly 2 years.

Carlie: So where are you basing yourself in Thailand for your trial retirement?

Brett: Well I just, I’ve just moved, I was in, I was in Bangkok when I was working, and then a friend of a friend was in Rayon province, in a place called Banpei, which some people may know as the, the port, kick-off port for Koh, Koh Samui, which is one of the, the well-known tourism islands. And, there’s a long stretch of beach there on the mainland, where this friend lived, and I went there and I thought well, I’ll give this a go. And I gave that a go for 5 months, and I went home to Australia for 5, for 5 weeks, and thought well I won’t go back there, I’ll go back somewhere else.

The upshot is I’m in Pattya, near Jontian beach, which, Pattya is, I guess it’s got a, it’s got a, I would like to say a misunderstood reputation as being a bit of a, a sleazy place. But my attitude is that you can pick and choose what you do anywhere. There’s some nice beaches here. There’s a thriving expat, expat community, and a local community too, and I mean I just don’t want to associate entirely with other people from Australia or the UK, Europe, whatever. I wanna get out and kind of understand how people live. I’ve got a lot of Thai friends from Bangkok and elsewhere, and if, a lot of my friends are married to Thai women, so, it’s a sort of natural thing for me to do. Being in Pattya, it’s also close to Bangkok where a lot of my, my friends are. So, I mean I’m giving this another 6 months.

Carlie: Let’s start when it comes to cost of living, then, with, say, housing. What have you found in terms of rental prices in Thailand, particularly among the cities and towns you’ve lived in?

Brett: Well, certainly in Bangkok it’s more expensive than elsewhere, but I was renting a very nice one-bedroom flat, on the BTS, which is the skytrain, and that’s where you want to be if you work in Bangkok, because it’s the best way to get around, the roads are very congested. And I was paying 15,000 baht a month.

Now I think the exchange rate, it’s actually a bit low at the moment, about 22 baht to the dollar. So if you work that out, that’s, that’s a pretty reasonable amount, amount of rent. Here I’m paying 8 and a half, so nearly, nearly half in Pattya that I was paying in Bangkok. So we’re looking probably per month, what I’d pay for a week in Australia, for a similar sort of accommodation.

So that’s about a quarter of the price. And the standard is very high, the places that I am in are built to Western standards, they’ve got a kitchen, and a, and the kind of plumbing that we’re used to, which is not necessarily the case with all apartments. So that’s, that’s a significant thing.

Carlie: And are we talking a one-bedroom furnished place?

Brett: At the moment I’m, I’m in, in a studio. That’s why it’s that much cheaper. For a one-bedroom here in Pattya it’d probably start 10 or 11,000 baht a month. But still extremely affordable. $500 a month. But this one is suitable for what I want to do at the moment, as I say, because this is just a little trial run. It’s close to the beach, it’s on the route for the Song Tao, or called the Baht Bus, which are these basically converted utilities that carry about 12 passengers, and run between all the major shopping and tourist areas, and the, and restaurants and the bars, anywhere where you want to go is pretty much on this route, and it’s 10 baht, which is a ridiculously small amount of money!

Carlie: Do you have hot water in your apartment?

Brett: I absolutely do, I have a heat-, very much I guess a European system, the heater above the shower. I don’t have hot water in the kitchen, but I can boil it. And, I’ve got cable television, you know, I’ve got all, all the mod cons, I’ve got, as I say, plumbing that works, air conditioning that works. There, there’s no problem.

Carlie: I ask this because I visited a friend in a very nice apartment in Bangkok about 5 or 6 years ago. I was staying with her for a few nights before I even realised that she didn’t have hot water, it was so humid. And she said yeah, if I want hot water I need to ask the landlord to connect it and pay more money, but it’s so hot here that you kinda don’t notice.

Brett: That’s pretty much, yeah, I don’t turn the heater on or the boiler on some, some occasions, in the shower, because, she’s quite right, you don’t need it. But I do have it, and I, I think it would be a hassle on the rare cold day to not have it. But in terms of the internet, the internet actually, I’m talking to you on a, on a 4G connection. I can stream YouTube or Netflix, I can do everything I want, and basically run every device in my place, again for about 800 baht a month, which is way way cheaper, when I go back to Australia I’m constantly astounded by the cost of data. And, this covers just about everywhere I’ve been, even on the highway between places, I can get a connection.

Carlie: I was gonna say, what are you looking at in terms of utilities, so internet is quite cheap and that makes sense, as a reason why so many digital nomads, you know, set themselves up from Thailand, if it’s got such a good connection.

Brett: Absolutely. Well my electricity bill depends on how much air conditioning I use. And, but I’m normally paying between 1 and 2000 baht a month, which was the same in, in Bangkok. So again you’re looking at, I don’t know, 70, 80 Australian dollars a month, again, which is substantially cheaper than it is in Australia. Water, the water bill is, I think I paid 50 baht, which is $2 for a month.

Carlie: So impressive!

Brett: Where it does get tricky, groceries generally are about a third of the price, then you get into the comfort foods, however, they’re gonna be expensive, obviously. If you like wine, not only do you pay, you’d pay more than you would pay in Australia or Europe, because there are, for some reason a substantial tax on wine. Someone told me it may be an incentive to get a local industry going, but a bottle of wine that may be $10 in Australia, a very cheap bottle of wine, could be $20-25 here.

Carlie: What about spirits?

Brett: Spirits, not too bad, and, well, if you like the local spirits, and I suggest you be very careful with them if you’ve not had them before [laughs], they’re very cheap. Spirits, around about the same as you would pay in Australia. And again, it depends on what kind of establishment you’re in.

There are different levels of bars, I mean if you’re gonna go to a 5 star hotel and drink in their restaurant, well then it’s gonna be a lot more than if you go to one of these beer barns that are, that are everywhere, you’re gonna pay a lot less, but you, well, actually I was going to say you’re not gonna get the atmosphere, but sometimes you’re gonna get more atmosphere, because there’s some beautiful ones along the, the notorious walking street in the, along the beach road, where you get a beautiful ocean view, as well as a very cheap drink. But, there are some people who like their cheap drinks a little bit too much, so they’re possibly worth avoiding.

Carlie: Circling back to food, I know on your blog you did a bit of a MacDonalds index comparison, and I know people do this with Starbucks around the world, and that kind of thing. What can you tell me about the price of a Big Mac in Thailand, compared to in Australia?

Brett: According to the, to the Big Mac index, it compares the price of, of a MacDonalds Big Mac, because they’re essentially the same everywhere you go. And it costs the equivalent of US$3.70, which I guess is about AUS$5, in Thailand, and that’s the middle, middle range. In the Ukraine it’s US$1.70, in Switzerland it’s nearly $7, $6.82. In the US itself, it’s about $5.30. So, actually a Big Mac is quite expensive in, in Thailand, a little bit more than you’d, you’d expect. It’s about 2/3 of the US price, where you might expect a half or less.

The rule of thumb is that things cost around about half, but again it depends what you buy, there are certain items, and so I mentioned the alcohol, but say something like cheese, dairy products are a little bit more expensive here, although they’re building up the dairy industry here. It’s, there’s long, not been a lot of dairy industry in Asia, a lot of companies are interested in building that up, and so there are, the prices are coming down on those items. But your other things, your vegetables, your fruit, they’re very very cheap, again, between a quarter and a third of the price that you would find elsewhere.

Seasonal of course, you may have to make some, some compromises. And obviously geared towards the Thai cuisine, so the vegetables that you buy generally tend to be the ones that they use in their cooking. If you, you don’t wanna, the kind of fruit that you’re maybe used to in the US or Australia might be just that little bit more expensive here.

Carlie: What are your staples of [unclear 00:12:48] in Thailand?

Brett: I would buy, say, chicken, I would buy chicken breasts or chicken legs, maybe some pork, either ribs and the, pork is very cheap here, and I would buy vegetables, I like tomatoes, I like onions, those things are quite good here. In fact, they have beautiful cherry tomatoes here that are, that are very nice. Garlic, garlic is extremely cheap. And I, I would make sort of dishes with that. I don’t buy a lot of the, of the Thai vegetables. I do buy fruit, mangoes are very cheap, watermelon is quite cheap. There’s a whole, and, you know, a whole lot of the Asian fruit that a lot of people do or don’t like, the starfruit or the jackfruit. I don’t like durian, but some people do, but durian is actually banned from a lot of building complexes here because of its smell [laughs]. So…

Carlie: I was gonna say, I’ve heard it’s quite stinky! [laughs]

Brett: It, it smells, and some people think it’s delicious, and other people just can’t, can’t being in, I mean there’ve been stories of planes being held up because, you know, people have demanded that they remove the durian from the, from the cargo hold because it just pervades through the whole aircraft.

Carlie: It sounds like you eat quite healthily by default in Thailand too?

Brett: You do. I do eat out a lot, and this is the dilemma, because eating out is as cheap or cheaper than making it for yourself. Now I’m not a big food, food store fan, a lot of people are, and if you, you go to these little makeshift restaurants on the side, that has plastic, plastic stools and tables, and you can get a meal for between 30 and 50 baht, so that’s 1 or 2 dollars, which is quite extraordinary. I do go to some expat bars and restaurants, you know, I need, I occasionally need a fish and chips or a meat pie or something, to remind me of home, and the, I have friends here who are in the catering business and they, they feed that market.

But there’s also a lot of healthy food, I mean Thais tend to eat quite, quite healthily, small amounts of meat, large amounts of vegetables, obviously rice, and, and the average Thai, a lot, lot of Thai people I know will eat 4 or 5 times a day, but only small amounts as they’re on the go. Of course, worldwide what’s changing with people, traditional diets, is, is the Big Mac and the, and the other fast food, which is everywhere here, anything you can imagine, every brand name you’ve heard of. In fact one that wasn’t here, Taco Bell, just opened up a couple of weeks ago, so…

Carlie: So how are they competing with local street food on price, for example if, if you can buy your dinner for 1 or 2 dollars Australian, how would these chain fast food places, are they lowering their prices, or are people paying more?

Brett: Well, we spoke about the Big Mac index, and I was talking to a friend of mine who was going past Burger King the other day, and he said oh, and he knew someone who had a franchise, and he said, they’re doing a roaring trade in their hamburger, their smaller hamburger, the one that isn’t the Whopper, because they’re trying to find a price point for more Thais. When these foreign franchises started up, they were actually regarded as something of a sort of luxury for food, which is the opposite to our experience of them. So, they’re trying to adjust, but still the average Thai person may earn 300 baht a day.

When you add that all up, they can’t afford a lot of, lot of, you know, a lot of coffees at Starbucks or a lot of Big Macs. So it’s, a lot of these places try to find price points, and other companies sort of sprung up, trying to do a similar thing at a lower price, so there will be a, a coffee shop that, that sells a latte for 40 or 50 baht, the same one that Starbucks might charge, or Coffee, Coffee Club might charge 120 baht for. Not quite the same, probably some might argue that it’s not that good, but then everyone’s got their opinion about coffee, haven’t they?

Carlie: Definitely, especially if you’re like me and from Melbourne!

Brett: Well, exactly! And, and, you know, people say to me, why, why would you even go to a Starbucks or whatever, but, there isn’t that, that coffee culture here, but it, it’s growing, and I’m sure we’re going to see, particularly since they are growing coffee beans in this part of the world, in Laos and Cambodia we, we hopefully will see an explosion of, of local coffee shops, that broaden that availability, and again try to find a price that local people can afford to pay.

Carlie: I was curious when you said that the dairy industry is, is getting going in Thailand and Asia, because dairy’s not typically part of an Asian diet. Does that mean that they’re trying to cater to more Westerners, or are diets locally changing?

Brett: Diets are changing. Now, I was reading an article about this, and they said the common belief that many Asians are lactose-intolerant may not quite be true. It may be a consequence of that not being a major part of their diet, and so, as, with more and more exposure to it, it opens up, and, you know, over the generations I guess we, we’ve all changed our eating habits depending on what we can afford and what we can source.

And, you know, Bangkok, you can source just about anything you want if you have the money, and people here are, while very attached to their own cuisine, which is some of the best in the world, are also very experimental in what they want, and dairy, the dairy companies see an opportunity there. And certainly if you go into even a Thai supermarket, you will see, now see milk and cheese, and maybe cream and things, that you wouldn’t have seen 10 or 15 years ago, when I first came here.

Carlie: So Brett, it sounds like on the housing, the food, the local transport front, if you’re an expat, coming to Thailand with a good salary, or you’re a retiree coming to Thailand with a good nest-egg, you’re gonna make your money go quite a long way.

Brett: Well, you are if, there’s one thing that doesn’t apply to me, but in fairness I should say, school fees here are quite high. Local schools not so, but international schools, if you want a child to have an education that’s transportable, well then you’re going to have to pay quite a bit.

And while you might think that doesn’t apply to retirees, it does here because there is a lot of Western men who are marrying younger Thai women, they’re having second families. And I know that that, that’s become an issue. They want them perhaps to have a broader, broader education than they might otherwise get in the, in the Thai system, so that’s going to cost. Also, as an expat, and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you tend to live to the amount of money that you’ve got. And people do this, and you’ll see, I, I lived in Hong Kong once, and, you know, people were on very, very large wages, but some of them would, would spend it all and some.

So there’s always a trap, because things appear to be cheap, and you can do things, you know, I have friends who are buying boats, who could never afford to buy a boat back home, and, but you have to say, is that really a good investment? So you can get a bit carried away.

Carlie: I know here in Europe at the moment there is a lot of concern with Brexit looming, and a lot of people who moved, say, from the UK to France or Spain for the cheaper cost of living, to retire for example, are now faced with potentially needing to move back to the UK, and worried about the fact that they won’t be able to afford the cost of living in the UK, compared to where they’ve been. Are there those worries among expats in Thailand, or how secure are you on a visa or a retiree visa when you’re in Thailand that you can stay long-term?

Brett: Well this is the problem with Thailand, is, they, the rules have been changing over the years. They’ve just changed again, and you don’t have the security that you might have in some other countries, so, some people can, can face this problem. You have to hold a certain amount of money, I think it’s 800,000 baht, in the bank, to be eligible for a retirement visa, and you cannot touch that money, it’s just gotta be there. Whereas say in a country like the Philippines, a similar amount of money, about US$20,000, but once you’re settled you can then use that money to make an investment in the country, for example in property or whatever.

So, I’m told here the, the concern is that people will, will be a burden on society, that they, if they don’t have any money and they don’t have a pension, then they’ll be a burden on the health system and the welfare system here, and so that’s a, a kind of legitimate concern, but they haven’t quite found out, and there’s a lot of grumbling as they’re, in the expat community, that we’re all gonna move to Cambodia, or Viet Nam, or wherever the next hot spot is.

Carlie: Well they are apparently number 1 and 2 on the index, so..! [laughs]

Brett: Well exactly, and that’s why it is, because they’re more affordable. But this is what happens, I mean, the economy in Thailand is going, is going quite strongly at the moment. So, that means prices rise [unclear 00:22:13], which is fine if you’re coming here to work, and if you are coming here to work bear in mind that you need to cut a deal that suits the lifestyle that you want. And that can be hard to do. And so obviously people, you know, who, who can’t afford to live somewhere are going to look for somewhere else to live. And it can be a big shock for people to go back to Australia if they don’t have any superannuation, or, you know, and they may be too young to get the pension, the state pension, who are put into that situation, because, if you were getting the Australian state pension sent to you here in, in Thailand, you’re living very well, you’re living better than 80% of Thai people.

Carlie: Can you get the Australian pension if you’re living in Thailand?

Brett: Well I’m far too young [laughs]. But, when my time comes around, my understanding is you have to spend 2 years back in Australia, and then after that you can get it, or you can get a proportion of it, depending on how long you’ve actually worked in Australia. At the last time I looked, because I’ve only really been living the expat life for the past 10 years and I’d spent a couple of decades before that working in Australia, paying my taxes, that sort of thing, that I probably can get most of it. But some people I believe are on sort of a 2/3 or ¾ of their Australian pension. And there are other people here who have, who have been travellers who, who’ve also got a little bit of a pension from here, and another one from the UK, and they, and they sort of put it all together, people have very creative ways of, of finding money.

Carlie: Brett, the global retirement index story points to expats being lured to Thailand, in part for its first-class healthcare. How accurate do you think that is, and what sort of healthcare costs are you looking at in Thailand if you’re an expat, or an expat retiree?

Brett: I don’t want to be insulting to my hosts, I wouldn’t call it first-class, I would call it best in the region. It’s certainly, as I understand, better than Cambodia or Laos, or Viet Nam. Maybe not, certainly not as good as, say, Singapore, and maybe not, not the Philippines. The basic healthcare is good, but people often aren’t insured, even tourists don’t get insured, and they have an accident or something.

The advice is to get good insurance, but the problem is you have to shop around, because insurance for expats is often geared at people who are working, and people who are, who are not working can’t really, really make it work out. And that’s another thing that they’re apparently looking at here, is finding a package, insurance package that expats can afford, so that they can be treated in the, in the Thai hospital system.

I think what a lot of people do is they cross their fingers and think nothing will go wrong, but if it does, I can go into a Thai hospital and it won’t cost me a lot. Again, maybe a bed in a hospital overnight here can be as cheap as 300 baht, which is, which is what, $15. So, they’re sort of hoping that, if anything seriously, serious goes wrong they can get back on a plane to Australia or the UK. For anything minor, well, they’ll pay for it out of their own pocket here.

Carlie: So, how does healthcare differ? I know so many Australians and other Westerners go to Thailand for these medical holidays, to get some work done, or to see the dentist, for example.

Brett: Well, the dental holiday, absolutely. I’ve met a number of people who’ve done that, in fact a guy I just met the other day, he’s, he’s basically having the holiday from the UK, and getting the dental work, and he’s getting the dental work done in Bangkok, and they actually send the car to pick him up, take him there, and it’s costing him something like a third of the price that he would pay in the UK for that service, and there’s no waiting list, because what he had under the national health, it, he would have had to wait to get it done. And he’s had a beautiful holiday.

And, again, people from Australia are doing, doing them as well. Not every dentist is world-standard, but certainly a lot of them are. Not every hospital is world-standard, but, but a lot of the doctors you will see have trained in, in the US or in the UK, elsewhere in Asia. To be fair, I had not a problem, er, a guy who had a problem with a hospital here, and he, he doesn’t speak particularly highly of the first two that he went to, but the third one sorted him out, so, maybe it’s like everywhere else, you need to be aware of, of what you’re getting. The dental, absolutely. And, and the healthcare, the basic stuff, yes, but there are things that even Thai people will go abroad to get, to get attended to.

Carlie: Have you been to see a GP in Thailand?

Brett: Yes, I’ve had, I’ve had, because I’ve worked here, I’ve had to have checks, pretty much standard things, they, you know, they run all the tests. Maybe not as thorough as I’ve had in Australia, but certainly I got, you know, blood test results and whatever, and X-rays and things that have, that would seem to indicate that they’re doing the right thing. The problem with, you know, how do I know? And the only evidence I have is I’m still alive!

Carlie: You don’t have a medical degree!

Brett: Exactly, yes! [laughs]

Carlie: And did it cost you very much, or was it covered by your travel insurance?

Brett: Part, no, part of it was covered, at the time this was employer, and I think I, there was something that I had to pay for. And again, it was, it was a couple of tests, and it was only 700 baht, so, to me a bargain [laughs]. Less than I, my, my daily budget for, for, you know, food.

Carlie: Brett, what about entertainment, clothing, appliances, other indulgent kind of costs? Are you looking at cheap prices in that category as well?

Brett: You get what you pay for. If you’re looking, say, for computers and whatever, basically a good, you know, product is the same price everywhere in the world. So if you’re looking for a, for a, you know, an iPhone or something, you’re not gonna pay that much less. With appliances, there are local brands that are cheaper, but I’ve been burnt almost literally [laughs] with a, with a fry pan that I bought locally, but [laughs]. So, yeah.

I tend to stick with the brands I know, they’re a little bit cheaper. But things that are cheap, but again, televisions and things like that have come down generally around the world. Clothing, I’m a big guy, so I tend to get my clothes, I go to a tailor and I, I can generally get good quality shirts, I probably pay $70-100 for a dress shirt if I want one. Which is probably OK. But, but other clothes, because this is the, you know, the centre of a thriving clothing industry, I mean if you just want a T-shirt and a pair of shorts and some slip on sandals, I mean, you know, you can kit yourself out…

Carlie: Pretty much your yearly uniform in Thailand anyway.

Brett: Yeah, exactly, yeah, no-one, no-one’s wearing long pants here, that’s for sure!

Carlie: Are there any hidden costs that retirees and digital nomads and others moving to Thailand don’t think about before they get there?

Brett: People don’t think that, that they wanna go home, or think that they won’t want to go home, but you absolutely will, and you’ll absolutely need to. So, you’ve gotta factor that in. Visas and reporting, bureaucracy, bank accounts, setting up all those bits and pieces cost tu-, [unclear 00:29:35] money, but sometimes people don’t factor in. And they have to be renewed every year. If you want a vehicle, that’s one thing we haven’t covered, cars are very expensive. Cars are more expensive than they are in Australia, anything imported, although motorcycles are quite cheap, but you have to be licensed. I know everybody says that’s for tourists, but it’s true of expats too, get yourself a motorcycle license before you get on one, because it’s not worth the bother if you have an accident, and the accident rate here is very very high.

Carlie: Do you need a car or a vehicle in Thailand?

Brett: Well, I haven’t driven since I’ve been here, on this occasion or before, because here every 5 or 10 minutes from before I wake up till after I go to bed, I can get a, I can get a Baht Bus from one, one end of the beach to the other, so. There’s a service called Grab Taxi which is like Uber. Between them, it’s pretty good. But there are some, Thailand is quite notorious for taxi drivers who have it on, particularly with tourists, you have to know how to handle them when they ask you for an absurd price. When you become an expat, you’ve been here long enough, you know how to say no. But a lot of tourists end up paying way over the odds for things that are, that should be quite cheap.

Carlie: How are you rating your trial retirement so far, Brett, and what do you love about living in Thailand?

Brett: I like, I’ve got a lot of friends here, so I mean it’s a, it’s kind of a natural place for me to be. But I, I’m trying to find, as a journalist and writer, I’m trying to find a creative space. I’m hoping that’s sorta happening. But, it’s too early to say whether I’ll, for a number of reasons, including changes to the visa system, that, whether I’d, I’ll be here, again, this time next year, whether I’d be, you know, whether I’ll be in Cambodia or Viet Nam, or, or whether I’ll be back in Australia. It’s, it’s hard to know.

I do enjoy the life, but I, I also enjoy travel, and I think that’s a lot of the nomads, this idea of saying like this place, but, you know, getting, getting itchy feet, maybe, maybe the next place’ll be better. But, and maybe home’s good too, I, you know, I’ve written about this as well, people underestimate how much they, they will miss home, and how, and how important it is not to sever your links. ‘Cause I see so many people here, and elsewhere that I’ve lived, who are completely lost, because they’re cut off from their families and friends back home, and they’re drifting, the friends they make here move on, or die, or whatever, and there’s a lot of lost souls, and, as you get older, you don’t wanna be one of the lost souls, you wanna belong somewhere.

Carlie: That’s it for today. If you want to share your own experiences of living in Thailand, or ask Brett any questions, head over to expatfocus.com, follow the links to our Thailand forum or facebook group. You’ll find more episodes on our website, also on iTunes. We dive into all aspects of expat life all over the world. If you like what we do, please leave us a review, and I’ll catch you next time.



2019

 
Link  QR 


Expat Health Insurance Partners


Bupa Global

Bupa Global is one of the world’s largest international health insurers. We offer direct access to over 1.3m medical providers worldwide, and we settle directly with most so you don’t have to pay up front for your treatment. We provide access to leading specialists without the need to see your family doctor first and ensure that you have the same level of cover wherever you might be, home or away.

Cigna Global

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.