Living in Thailand
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
March 7th, 2018 My wife Mem of 16 years and I left the UK and moved to Thailand.
This was the biggest step we had ever made with the plan of retiring and putting our feet up for the rest of our lives.
Originally, our plan was to work for 5 more years and then with enough money to complete the step. Life has a funny way of totally turning your lives upside down just when you don't expect it.
I won't go into details but we pretty much lost everything in the UK.
Luckily for us, we had already bought land in Thailand and then over a 12 year period had built our retirement home and already paid for it in full.
We found ourselves at a large crossroads in life, rent a property and start working hard again for maybe 15 years or take a big gamble.
I had started a Youtube channel about Thailand on January 31st, 2017 which was growing and starting to create a small income, my wife Mem is a Thai national and could get a job in Thailand. With this, we decided enough was enough in the UK and it was time to gamble.
We had a small amount of savings and a private pension of mine. We contacted a shipping company and moved 20 square meters of boxes by sea to Thailand for less than 1500 pounds including all taxes on a door to door service.
This gave us a chance to bring goods over to save us from having to buy new and in hindsight was the right thing to do. At the time of booking the service I had no clear idea whether or not there would be taxes to pay for importing the goods into Thailand, as it turns out there was nothing to pay but delivery took longer than we had expected and things were a little awkward for the first couple of months after arriving. The delivery firm kept us informed of the progress or lack of it and when the goods arrived we cold start to settle into our 'new home'.
Banking and finances in general were a major issue and to some extent still are, due to the large fluctuations between the value of the Thai Baht against the UK Pound transfers have to be timed and even then getting the best exchange rate can still be a matter of luck. Bank transfers are expensive and somewhat long winded, but I came across a company called Transferwise and they offered a service that seemed to good to be true. They also offered the first transaction free of charge and I took advantage of this to test their claims, everything went as well as they had promised and they are now my go-to way of moving moneys around the world, not free anymore but so much cheaper and far easier and quicker than a bank. Transferwise accept virtually any currency and will then offer a very good exchange rate and add a clear low charge to convert this, almost all transfers are then instantly in your stated account anywhere you may be in the world. I also opened two Thai bank accounts and these serve as accounts for day to day living, paying bills and standing orders for internet or phones.
Other issues I may have had problems with, such as health insurance and driving licences were quite simple to overcome. Health insurance is important here as private hospital care can become very expensive very quickly. After much reading I decided to go with a company called Pacific Cross which so far has been very good in the customer service area, and at paying out for my treatment for a skin condition I have developed due to a bout of water poisoning shortly after taking out the policy. I am required to attend hospital to see a consultant every two months and this is paid for under the policy and will continue to be when I renew the policy.
I had previously held Thai Driving Licenses for both a motorcycle and a car but had let these expire. I obtained an International Driving Permit from my local Post Office in the UK and along with holding the appropriate UK licence this ensured I would be legal when driving in Thailand. Obtaining new Thai licenses was as easy as getting the required paperwork sorted out and then watching a road safety video and paying 350 Baht for each licence, there is no test to take if you already hold that license in your own country.
Having Mem as my wife has no doubt made much of the red tape easier to navigate than it would be for someone without a Thai partner, and as there are no trust issues at times I can take a role of just signing whatever is put in front of me, something that I would maybe advise against for many people.