Thailand is marketed as the Land of Smiles, but not everybody seems to agree. One of the most successful posts on my Dutch-language digital nomad blog, in terms of both visits and comments, is a very controversial one. It quotes an email I got from a follower – a guy who didn’t seem particularly charmed by Thailand. When I revealed my plan of moving to Thailand, these were the reasons he gave me to please stay in Europe.
1. Have you ever tried to buy a plot of land with a house in Thailand? IMPOSSIBLE. Well, it is if it’s for a Thai lady. But if you have bad luck and she dumps you, you have a problem. This is what happened to Karel Noe. He is a Flemish Belgian who married a Thai woman in Belgium. The marriage isn’t registered in Thailand because
she loses for example the right to own land in Thailand, to start a company there, etc. After running a cafe for 8 years he suddenly had to pay a big amount of money. His ‘wife’ got married to a Thai man that day. She left his clothes in a plastic bag at the front door.
2. And buying an apartment? This is only possible if there is an exemption for THAT BUILDING. Though there is a maximum of 40% for foreigners. Moreover the price is a lot higher for foreigners than for Thai people.
3. Starting a company is only possible if you start a PLLC with 7 people. At least 51% has to be owned by Thai people and Thai people are not allowed to have shares for foreigners. The consequence is the confiscation of the other 49% and being deported from the country.
4. Try to think of this: you are riding a scooter with a helmet and you are arrested by the police. Why? Because they couldn’t see your eyes through the windscreen of your helmet. The fine? 300 baht. Thai people pay 200 baht, but as you are a farang you can pay more, so you get a higher fine.
5. A farang winning a case from a Thai? I have never heard of it with my 17 years experience of business in Thailand.
6. Eating, drinking, clothing, public transport: well, it’s cheap if you aren’t in the tourist area.
7. Renting a house or an apartment: 3090,000 baht each month. EXTREMELY expensive for foreigners.
8. Always make sure that the meter is used in a taxi and that the driver known how to ride, otherwise you’ll also get a sightseeing tour which is not for free.
9. Going into the national park. Access for westerners: 200 THB. The Thai letters say: 20 THB.
10. Eat out with Thai people: they chitchat with each other in the Thai language until the bill arrives.
11. Retirement: 65,000 THB each month needs to come in from abroad,
otherwise your retirement visa won’t be extended for another year. Do you have an
appartment, car or something else in Thailand, why don’t you sell it (for a cheap price)?
Each year you’ll have this uncertainity. If you have some bahts less documents are
needed. It’s the same thing with the extension for a company, TAV and partnership’s tax.
Agreed! I didn’t go to Thailand for business, but I can see and subscribe to each of these points, as I also have a close Thai/Italian friend with a crazy family situation because of these laws and rules.
I must admit it was always in more or less touristic areas – but I also found that “all these “smiles” pretty much happen because the average Thai tries to appear REALLY friendly while he’s thinking about the most effective way to squeeze as much money as possible out of your pockets. More often than not, I felt like I was an ATM with legs. In one shop something will cost you 300 baht, in the next shop the price for the same item has skyrocketed to twice as much.
Most of these points are irrelevant for most nomads and not unique to Thailand. I’ve spent years there and have never been overcharged, scammed or arrested. Most of the locals are very friendly too and aren’t after your money. Europe is nice but I’d take Thailand over it any day, especially in the winter!
If paying $5 more for a country you’re not a part of and haven’t contributed to your entire life is so unfair, then by all means don’t go to Thailand. 😉 Sometimes it’s worth just “playing the game” and paying the $5 extra without getting angry about it. Is life worth $5?