15 Pros and Cons of Living in Thailand

Ashley Fike Authors Bio Picture

Whenever people ask me what my most memorable travel destination is, I always have an immediate answer – Thailand. It’s simply magical. The people are incredibly warm and friendly, the food is delicious, the beaches and mountains are stunning, and the cost of living is surprisingly affordable. There are tons of pros of living in Thailand.

Of course, nowhere is entirely perfect. Even the Land of Smiles has its downfalls, and there are a few cons of living in Thailand to consider before traveling long-term or making a more permanent move. I’ve compiled all of the pros and cons of living in Thailand in the list below.

15 Pros and Cons of Living in Thailand

Thailand flags

There are many reasons why Thailand is a hot destination for tourists, ex-pats, and digital nomads. I was lucky enough to spend over two years in this special country and loved every minute of it. While living there, I experienced so many amazing moments and memories and encountered some struggles as well.

Below, you’ll find my list of advantages and disadvantages of living in Thailand based on my own personal experience, speaking with other foreigners who have lived there, and extensive online research on residing here.

Where is Thailand?

thailand

Thailand is a vibrant country nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, surrounded by Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. It’s a treasure trove of experiences; famous for its stunning beaches, lush jungles, and bustling cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Whether you’re into the chill island life, street food sampling, or temple hopping, Thailand has a bit of everything for everyone.

Getting to Thailand is super easy (although time-consuming), with flights from all over the globe landing in Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai. Known as a hot spot for backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between, it offers a mixture of affordable stays and high-end resorts to fit every budget.

So, whether you’re looking to explore on a limited budget or live it up, Thailand’s welcoming vibes and easy access make it a go-to destination for travelers seeking the ultimate Southeast Asian adventure.

SEE ALSO: 15 Pros and Cons of Living in Bangkok
SEE ALSO: 15 Pros and Cons of Living in Chiang Mai

Pros of Living in Thailand

I highly recommend that everyone experiences Thailand at least once in their lives. It’s a destination that will forever live in your heart. These are some of the biggest pros of living in Thailand that I found during my time there.

1. Affordable Cost of Living

thailand bungalow accommodation

Thailand is a place where you can live like a king without draining your bank account. From street food that costs less than a cup of coffee back home to apartments for any budget, living here can be surprisingly affordable. The savings made allow you to enjoy more of what you love; whether that’s exploring local markets or weekend getaways to nearby islands, you’ll be able to experience much more without having to worry about your spending.

Eating out is the norm rather than the exception because it’s so budget-friendly. Imagine having fantastically delicious Thai meals every day for just a few dollars. When it comes to accommodation, you can find something that fits your style and income level, from cozy city apartments to beachside bungalows. The average one-bedroom can range from $200 to $5,000 a month.

The lower cost of living goes way beyond just food and housing. Transportation, healthcare, and entertainment are also quite affordable, making it easy to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without spending a fortune. This affordability is a game-changer for many expats and digital nomads, letting them grow their savings or earnings much further than is possible in many Western countries.

SEE ALSO: Cost of Living in Koh Samui for Digital Nomads

2. Friendly Locals

thailand friendly welcoming

Thailand is nicknamed the “Land of Smiles,” and it truly lives up to its name. The locals are incredibly friendly and welcoming to foreigners, making it easy to feel right at home. Whether you’re navigating the bustling streets of Bangkok or the ancient walled city of Chiang Mai, you’ll find smiles and helpful people everywhere.

You’ll even find that warmth in everyday interactions, no matter if you’re shopping at a local market or asking for directions. Thais are known for their hospitality and are usually eager to share their culture and traditions with those who are curious. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to a local festival or a family dinner.

The friendly atmosphere makes it easier for expats and travelers to blend into the community, no matter where you are. Language barriers exist, but the willingness of the locals to communicate bridges these gaps. Plus, you can go a long way with charades!

3. Delicious Food

thai food

Thai food is one of those comfort options that you can never go too long without. Living in Thailand means you’re never far from your next delicious meal. A spicy bowl of Tom Yum Goong, a yummy plate of Pad Thai, or the sweet treat of Mango Sticky Rice – it’s all usually found around any corner. The variety is endless, and the flavors are phenomenal.

Street food in Thailand isn’t just food – it’s a cultural experience. It’s where you’ll find some of the most authentic and delicious dishes at incredibly low prices (I’m talking $2-$3 USD). Each region has its own specialties, so you can try something entirely new just by traveling from one part of the country to another.

If you love to cook, Thailand offers tons of fresh, affordable goods and lots of fun cooking classes. It makes it easy to learn how to recreate your favorite dishes at home with fresh and cheap groceries and produce.

4. Breathtaking Beauty

thailand waterfall natural beauty

Being surrounded by the country’s natural beauty is a major benefit of living in Thailand. From the crystal-clear waters of the Andaman Sea to the lush jungles and mountains in the north, there are postcard-worthy scenes anywhere you visit. It’s a stunning paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are endless opportunities for both adventure and relaxation.

You can dive among vibrant coral reefs, hike through dense jungles to find hidden waterfalls, or simply lounge on pristine beaches; Thailand has it all. The country has an amazing commitment to national parks and conservation, meaning that much of its natural beauty is preserved and protected, which is amazing.

Living in Thailand allows travelers to experience the evolving landscapes and seasons throughout the year. Witness the lush greenery of the rainy season, the mild temperatures of the cool season, and the constant sunshine of the hot season. Each season offers its own diverse beauty and options for activities.

5. Huge Ex-pat Community

expats community friendships

Another advantage to living in Thailand is that it’s home to a diverse and vibrant expat community, which makes it easy to find friends and network with people from all over the world. Cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket are especially popular among foreigners, offering a perfect blend of Thai culture and familiar feelings of “home“.

The ex-pat community is an awesome resource for newcomers as they can help provide insights into living in Thailand; from figuring out visa requirements to finding the best local eats. Expat clubs, online forums, and social groups provide opportunities to connect with others with the same interests and experiences.

Since there’s the presence of a large expat community, it also means that many amenities cater to international tastes. It’s truly a unique living experience where you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

6. Warm Weather

tropical weather

If you’re tired of cold winters, Thailand is a great place to escape. The country has a tropical climate, meaning it’s warm and sunny most of the year. This makes it ideal for those who love being outside and want to avoid the colder conditions. The average temperature year-round is 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

I loved the warm weather because evenings were spent enjoying beach sunsets or enjoying a meal outside. The weather just makes you feel healthier and alive since you have access to so many activities, no matter the season.

The heat can definitely be intense during the summer months (with temperatures in the upper 90s), but the beauty of living in Thailand is that you can always find some sort of relief from the heat. You can head to the mountains in the north or find a beach getaway on an island. Modern conveniences like air conditioning are often found in most accommodations and indoor businesses.

7. Rich Culture and History

grand palace bangkok

Thailand’s culture is one-of-a-kind. Traditions, festivals, and historical sites are found all across the country. History buffs will go nuts for Bangkok’s incredible Grand Palace, or the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. The country’s Buddhist beliefs are found everywhere, from majestic temples to the monks making their morning rounds.

Festivals like Songkran (Thai New Year) and Loy Krathong (the Lantern Festival) are my favorite festivals during the year. It’s impossible to not feel immersed in Thai culture, and it’s a great way to connect with the locals.

8. Ease of Travel

suitcase travel airport

Thailand’s central location in Southeast Asia makes it a perfect home base for exploring the entire region. You can always find affordable flights for weekend getaways to neighboring countries or one of the many islands. What’s more, Thailand itself is super diverse, so you can hop around the country and find something entirely new at each stop.

The domestic travel options range from budget-friendly buses to easy flights connecting cities all around SE Asia. The ease of travel was a major perk to living in Thailand, especially when I needed to leave the country to renew my visa.

9. Quality of Healthcare

healthcare

Thailand’s healthcare system is known for its modern infrastructure and affordability. It’s known as a major destination for medical tourism. Major cities have state-of-the-art hospitals with English-speaking doctors and services that cost a fraction of the price in most Western countries.

For expats, this means excellent access to top-quality healthcare, especially if you have the country’s health insurance or travel health insurance. It’s also a great spot for simple things like a dentist visit, regular check-up, or simple procedure.

10. Great for Digital Nomads

digital nomad

Thailand is known as a popular destination for digital nomads, and it’s easy to see why. Cities like Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Lanta have coworking spaces that aren’t only affordable but come with lightning-fast internet (with average speeds of 220 Mbps), comfy workstations, and a super welcoming community vibe.

The country’s reliable and fast internet can also be found outside of coworking spaces, making it possible to work from pretty much anywhere – like a beachside cafe or your apartment. The fast connectivity, combined with the low cost of living, means you can focus on growing your business or freelancing gigs without the stress of spending a ton on a workspace.

Cons of Living in Thailand

As I mentioned earlier, although Thailand has many pros, every country has its cons. These are some of the struggles and difficulties I found while living in Thailand.

1. Confusing Visas

american passport

Navigating Thailand’s visa system can feel like you’re trying to learn a new language, except the words keep changing. No matter if you’re on a tourist visa, education visa, or the coveted digital nomad visa, the rules can be confusing, and they can change at any time. So, if you want to stay legally (which I strongly recommend), it can involve a lot of paperwork and frequent trips to immigration offices, which is never fun.

For many expats, the visa situation can be stressful. You might have to leave the country every few months for a visa run, which can be a hassle if you have work to do. It’s manageable, though. I always turned my visa runs into two-week-long vacations in a new destination.

2. Language and Cultural Barriers

removing shoes temple thailand

Even though Thailand is undeniably welcoming, the cultural and language differences can sometimes make you feel like you’re on a different planet. Thai is a very unique language, making it hard to learn and easy for miscommunication to occur. Even in areas popular with expats and tourists, not everyone speaks English, so it can be hard to sort out things like utility bills or lease agreements.

Living in Thailand also means learning new social norms and expectations. What’s considered polite or rude here can be quite different from what you’re likely used to, and you might end up doing something offensive unintentionally. Be sure to do your research and remember to always be respectful in temples and religious sites.

3. Extreme Weather

tropical storm thailand

Thailand’s weather is overall perfect… but it does come with extremes. One of the cons of living in Thailand is that the hot season feels like living inside a sauna. It’s very hot, and there’s no avoiding the fact that you will be sweaty. Then there’s the rainy season, where sudden downpours can flood streets and leave you stranded in whatever location you’re in.

The intense heat and humidity can be hard for some people to deal with. And even though the rain brings relief from the heat, it also brings mosquitoes and tons of humidity, making it feel even hotter. It’s a tropical paradise for sure, but one where the weather dictates a lot of what you can do and when.

4. Smog and Air Quality Issues

bangkok air pollution smog

If you suffer from any breathing issues, larger cities in Thailand might not be best for you. In certain parts of Thailand, especially in the north around Chiang Mai because of agricultural burning, air quality can be pretty awful. During the burning season, the air fills with smoke and haze, making it hard to spend any time outdoors without feeling it in your lungs.

The pollution isn’t just a seasonal issue, unfortunately. Bangkok and other urban areas can also have major smog due to all of the traffic. While it’s not a deal-breaker for everyone, it’s a big thing to consider for health-conscious expats. You might want to consider some of the smaller, less popular islands.

5. Traffic and Road Safety

thailand road traffic

If you’ve ever been in the streets of Bangkok during rush hour, you know that traffic in Thailand can be chaotic, to say the least. The congestion in major cities is next level. I once spent 3 hours in Bangkok traffic, to travel less than 10 miles.

Road safety standards in Thailand are also a big concern and the country has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world. Whether you’re driving a car, riding a motorbike, or simply crossing the street, the risks are higher here, and you always have to be hyperaware. It’s not uncommon to see tourists and foreigners walking around with bandages from road incidents.

Is Living in Thailand Worth It?

thailand solo traveler

The pros and cons of living in Thailand, of course, all need to be considered before moving. On one hand, there are tons of amazing perks: delicious food that’ll have you drooling, stunning spots that look straight out of a postcard, and incredibly warm people to welcome you. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to pinch yourself to check you’re not dreaming.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There’s the headache of visa runs, and sometimes, you might find yourself lost in translation or sweating through the heat. However, I found that the pros far outweigh the cons. Thailand offers the ultimate mix of advantages and disadvantages, but honestly, it’s mostly pros in this vibrant corner of the world.

SEE ALSO: 15 Reasons Why Thailand is a Digital Nomad’s Dream Destination

Ashley Fike Authors Bio Picture

Written by

Ashley Fike

Ashley Fike is a travel writer and local of Jacksonville, Florida where she travels around the entire state of Florida on her own, and with friends and family. Having lived in the state her entire life and showing people around for much of it, she has a unique perspective of things to do and places to visit in Florida.

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