5 Things You Should Know About Living In Bangkok

Choosing to live in Bangkok presents a myriad of opportunities and challenges for expatriates. The vibrant city offers affordable living, diverse cultural experiences, and a safe environment for foreigners. In this article, we’ll provide valuable insights into the essential considerations for living in Bangkok, including the cost of living, work permits, security, transportation, and the importance of familiarizing oneself with potential neighborhoods before making a commitment.

Considering a Move to Bangkok

Choosing to live in another country can be a scary prospect. However, how well it goes will depend on your openness to new experiences, discerning the right location, and general common sense. As one of the largest cities in Asia, Bangkok has attracted a huge number of immigrants from around the world, many of whom have made it their permanent home for good reasons. As you contemplate if this is the right move for you, here are some considerations to make.

Bangkok City at sunrise, Thailand.
Bangkok City at sunrise, Thailand.

Cost of Living

In our experience, Thailand is generally considered one of the most affordable nations in Asia. From food to accommodation, it can cost a fraction of what you would spend in most countries in the West. However, this is largely down to how much of a bargain hunter you are and your willingness to live like a local.

  • If you prefer high-end restaurants and western fast food, your food bill may not be as low as anticipated.
  • Spending less than $2 on meals typically refers to street food and local cuisine at humbler restaurants.
  • Indulging in local foods, even from restaurants, can cost even less than cooking at home.
  • In more rural and coastal areas, accessing fresh farm produce and seafood can be easy and cheap.
Thai street food vendors.
Thai street food vendors.

Accommodation and Immigration

In our experience, the less extravagant your accommodation and lifestyle, the less expensive it will be to live in Bangkok. In terms of employment, stricter regulations on foreigners working in Thailand require a qualifying work permit for those seeking to make a living in the country.

  • Ensure your visa allows for a work permit and the type of work you intend to do is not prohibited to foreigners.
  • Legal firms and immigration assistance service providers can help identify the most suitable visa and guide on assembling necessary documentation for the application.
  • Retirement visas have specific financial requirements and do not permit work for holders.

Security and Safety

Bangkok’s reputation in the media can exaggerate criminal elements, but the reality is that the crime rate is fairly low compared to many major cities in the US. While petty crimes do occur, the city generally maintains safety standards.

Living in Bangkok

Bangkok is a fairly safe city where the police are ever vigilant and locals do not appreciate criminal activity that would interfere with their simple lives. Foreigners do live comfortably in the midst of it all and find that locals are quite friendly. They genuinely like to be helpful and it is in their nature to be welcoming to strangers.

Safety and Comfort

Overall, if you act sensibly, like avoiding seedier parts of town late at night and not being flashy with cash and expensive jewelry, you should not have any problems. You are more likely to encounter chaos when it comes to traffic, so do not be shocked to see even kids riding motorbikes like it is legal.

Transportation in Bangkok

Speaking of traffic, Bangkok roads can be quite hectic. Traffic jams on major roads are commonplace, often making it a better option to stick to public transport like the BTS and MRT systems. These trains arrive at stations every few minutes and link to every direction in the city so once you get used to the schedule, you should not have a problem getting around. They are also kept quite clean but can get packed and stuffy, especially during rush hours.

The bus service is also good and covers over 100 routes. There is a mix of both private and public bus and minibus providers, with options ranging from the bare bones to air-conditioned options that are more expensive. In between, you can easily get around the traffic jams by using motorbike taxis but do be prepared for something of a wild ride that most people quickly become accustomed to.

Bangkok BTS Skytrain
Bangkok BTS Skytrain

Finding Your Place

Bangkok is a city of diverse localities. It is hard to know what neighborhood you will find most suited to your interest, lifestyle, and pocket. A good option lies in trying before you buy. Whether you intend to buy a condo or rent a house, based on our insights, you need to first test out the neighborhood to see if it is a good fit.

A good way to get a handle on this would be to simply stay in a hotel or Airbnb in the area for a while. Get to know the local shops, eateries, available schools, transport links, and so on. If you are interested in living with fellow expats, focus on cluster communities like Phrom Phong which is an upscale neighborhood with many Korean and Japanese expats, or the Sukhumvit Road area which is popular with westerners. Note that if you are looking to enjoy a more laid back lifestyle with easy access to outdoor activities, you may want to consider living further away from Bangkok. There are many other cities and towns in Thailand that may be better suited to the kind of lifestyle you want and still have good transport links to Bangkok when you want to get back.

Finding the Perfect Location

Living in Bangkok offers a multitude of diverse neighborhoods. The perfect fit for you may largely depend on your interests, lifestyle, and budget. To gauge this, it’s a good idea to experience the neighborhoods firsthand before making a permanent decision. Whether it’s purchasing a condo or renting a home, taking the time to test out the area will help ensure that it aligns with your needs. Consider staying in a hotel or Airbnb within the neighborhood of interest to become familiar with local amenities, schools, transportation, and community. For expats seeking communal living, neighborhoods like Phrom Phong and Sukhumvit Road cater to specific communities, offering a comfortable living environment for people from various cultural backgrounds.

View from a rooftop in chinatown in the middle of the city Bangkok, Thailand
View from a rooftop in chinatown in the middle of the city Bangkok, Thailand

Conclusion: Whether you’re considering the move to Bangkok for its affordability, potential work opportunities, safety, transportation options, or finding the right neighborhood to settle in, thorough research and preparation are essential. Embracing the local culture and seeking advice from expats and legal experts can help navigate the bureaucracy and make the transition smoother. Ultimately, living in Bangkok offers a diverse and enriching experience for those who are open to new adventures and opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The cost of living in Bangkok depends on factors such as your willingness to live like a local, indulge in local cuisine, accept humble accommodations, and use local transport. These choices can significantly impact the affordability of living in the city.

Yes, if you intend to work in Thailand, you need to qualify for a work permit. Certain visas do not allow for a work permit, so it’s important to ensure you have the right type of visa and complete the necessary documentation for obtaining a work permit.

Bangkok is a fairly safe city with a low crime rate compared to many major cities in the US. However, as with any city, it’s important to act sensibly and be cautious, especially in certain areas at night, to avoid any potential issues.

Bangkok offers public transport options including the BTS and MRT train systems, an extensive bus service, and motorbike taxis. These options provide convenient ways to navigate the city, although traffic jams on major roads are common.

To determine the most suitable neighborhood, it’s advisable to try before you commit. Staying in a hotel or Airbnb in a specific area allows you to assess the local amenities, lifestyle, and suitability before making a long-term commitment to living there.

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