As an American expat living in Bangkok, Thailand, I originally came for a year but almost a decade later have never left. Other American expats have done the same thing. When an American expat first gets to Bangkok, they’re often surprised at everything the city has to offer. Nightclubs, great restaurants, cheap shopping, cool culture – there are so many things that American expats love about Bangkok.
American Restaurants – Even though you’re an expat living away from home and obviously trying to get to know Thai culture, you’ll still find you crave American food now and again. Unlike a lot of Asian cities, where American restaurants are not easy to find, there are tons of American restaurants in Bangkok that are often frequented by American expats.
Some of the most popular include Au Bon Pain, Sizzler, Burger King, Bourbon Street, Charley Brown’s, Hard Rock Café, Great American Rib Company, and Roadhouse Barbecue – just to name a few. You can get excellent American food that actually does taste like home, cold American beer and, in some cases, an American manager who knows all about baseball, Obama and why the US economy is in the toilet.
American expats love the American restaurants in Bangkok because, even if they don’t really want to be home, they can pretend they are – at least for a couple of hours.
The Freedom – As an American expat in Thailand, even though Thai culture is quite restrictive for Thais, as Westerners we often get away with behavior that Thais wouldn’t. Many Americans find they can actually behave a little more liberally than they can at home and Thais will just look at it as “it’s a crazy American” and accept it as ‘normal’.
Of course, you want to be careful that you don’t let the freedom get out of control. Mass bar brawls, trying to pick up a Thai woman who already has a boyfriend, or doing drugs will likely land you in a Thai jail and, in the case of drugs, can even get you the death penalty. But, overall, there are less rules in Thailand for Americans than we have back home, so the freedom becomes quite addictive.
Beautiful Thai Beaches Are Close By – It’s possible to get to a beautiful Thai beach within an hour and a half south of Bangkok (or just an hour if you take a quick plane ride to Phuket or Koh Samui.) It’s wonderful to be able to take a weekend trip to a Thai beach, soak up some sun, go para-sailing, play golf, or relax by the hotel pool and all for a fraction of the cost of a similar weekend in the US. A weekend away in Phuket or Pattaya at a lovely hotel can cost you as little as $23 a night and, with cheap food everywhere, cheap beer and cocktails, and cheap shopping – American expats love that it’s so easy to go to the beach from Bangkok.
Thai People – Thai people are the nicest in the world. Helpful, friendly and non-aggressive, working in a Thai business is so much more relaxing than in a comparable US business. In the US, I used to get tired of the competitive atmosphere, the back stabbing and the fight-now-ask-questions-later mentality. American expats love working in Thailand because Thai people make it so much fun.
The Lifestyle in Thailand is Better – The lifestyle in Thailand is just better than it is in the US. Overall, you tend to work less, have a more relaxed time at work, work with nice, friendly people and, even though you make less money, cost of living-wise and tax-wise you make a lot more. For Americans who are on true expat salaries, they live 5 star lifestyles in Bangkok with gorgeous apartments, maids, drivers to take them anywhere they want to go, and enough money to buy pretty much anything they want.
Even for American who are not on the true expat salaries (teachers, sales people, business owners etc.) the salaries that can be made in Thailand are still so much more than the national average, it’s very easy to get spoiled. I make about 50% of what I made in the US yet my tax rate is only 10%, I live in a serviced apartment with maid and cable TV, I eat out three meals a day, I travel to the beach often, I buy a lot of books, CDs and DVDs, and I still manage to save at least $500 a month.
In the US, with a salary in excess of $60,000 a year, I had problems saving anything and, some months, could barely even pay all my bills. For many American expats, they get so used to the wonderful lifestyle in Thailand, there’s no chance they’re ever going home.
So, if you’re an American and getting tired of the rat race and the dismal economy, why not try Thailand. With an estimated number of 150,000 American expats living in Thailand and more coming every year, honestly, you’ll feel right at home and the Thais will make you feel welcome too!
Photo – The lifestyle is more relaxing for just about everyone in Thailand