I love Thailand and have lived here for years. However, if you plan on coming to live here, do remember there are still disadvantages to living in Thailand, especially for Westerners. ]
Thailand is an exotic country, it’s hot, it’s frustrating and Thais do think differently than Westerners. Here are my top five frustrations with living in Thailand.
The Heat. A huge disadvantage about living in Thailand is the weather. The Thais joke they have three seasons – Hot, Hotter and Hottest. It’s always hot here.
Of course, Thailand has a ‘winter’ but, in Bangkok, it normally lasts for about three days and the heat only falls to a temperature of around 85 degrees. It’s still hot. So, even though many of the Thais are wearing down jackets and sweaters (seriously!), most Westerners will still find it uncomfortable, sweaty and hot.
According to the World Metereological Organization, Bangkok is the world’s hottest city, so when a Thai tells you they have a winter, don’t believe them.
The Traffic. The traffic in many Thai cities, but especially in Bangkok, is terrible, and this is probably the biggest disadvantage of living in Thailand for most Westerners. Traffic jams are a daily occurrence and, despite the Thai government saying they are trying to solve the problem, they seem to get worse every year.
If I leave my house to go to work at 6am, it takes me less than 15 minutes to get there. If I leave my house at 7:15am, my commute to work now takes 80 minutes as the one main street I travel to work on will simply be one huge traffic jam, which barely moves.
Bangkok is also gridlocked on almost every street and every major freeway. Many Thais spend hours every day just sitting in traffic jams. This is also why they will normally organize meetings between 10am and 2pm. It is the only time the traffic isn’t horrendous.
The Pollution. Bangkok pollution is bad and getting worse. It hangs in a gray pall all over the city and never really dissipates. For the first few months I was here, it always seemed difficult to breath and was a huge disadvantage to my well being.
Unfortunately, you do get used to the Bangkok pollution, and now I barely even notice it. My lungs probably do though.
Conversation. Most Thais do not speak much English so conversation is difficult. I work in an office with all Thai employees, (I am the only Westerner), so that can sometimes be a little frustrating when I long for a ‘Western conversation’. However, Thais are so nice and friendly, this fact does make up for the lack of Westerners at work.
Obtaining Visas and Work Permits. This can be frustrating in Thailand as the rules change all the time. I used to teach here and all teachers now have to have university degrees and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification, as well as at least 2 years teaching experience.
Without this, you cannot get a work permit in Thailand and, even with these qualifications, it requires many trips to immigration before you are completely legal.
As for getting visas to study in Thailand, retire in Thailand, or do business in the country, the requirements change often for these as well.
Overall, living in Thailand is really wonderful and I do plan on staying here permanently. The above five disadvantages are frustrating at times, but the advantages so far outweigh the disadvantages, most of the time they are nothing more than a minor nuisance.