Living in Thailand?
Housing and Healthcare in Thailand
Finding Your New Home in Thailand
To find appropriate housing for their new life, most expatriates enlist the services of a relocation company or a real-estate agent. Some foreigners specifically search for furnished or serviced apartments rather than compound villas or normal flats.
In any case, since there are no multiple listings for property ads in Thailand, it’s recommended to get in touch with several realtors. That way, you can choose from a wider selection.
Expats who have been living in Thailand for some time are a valuable source when looking for recommendations of reliable estate agents. If you embark on life in Thailand, your employer’s HR department or your colleagues may also be able to help you.
Expat parents at your kids’ school(s) can be of help as well. For example, the International School in Bangkok publishes an online contact list of Thailand realtors. In that way, they help foreign families find a home.
There are certain legal restrictions on foreigners buying property in Thailand. They are allowed to purchase flats, condominiums, and houses, but not the plot of land on which the building stands.
People looking for a holiday home or retirees wishing to immigrate to Thailand often make use of special tenancy agreements instead. These rental contracts or so-called “land leases” can be valid for up to 30 years. In some cases, they can even be renewed for another 30-year period.
However, most foreign employees simply rent rather than buy property, with rental agreements of far shorter duration. Sizable Western-standard flats and houses are not that hard to come by in major cities and specific expat neighborhoods. However, they are anything but cheap.
In some parts of Bangkok, such as an expat compound with family villas, accommodation may cost up to 100,000 THB per month, or even more. On the other hand, you can spend about 10,000 THB on a decent, but rather basic one-bedroom apartment for singles.
Most accommodation is partly furnished with basic items, a fridge, and a stove that runs on bottled gas for cooking. (Gas connections in the home are rather uncommon in Thailand.) Costs for utilities and phone bills are not included in the basic rent. You may pay the rent for several months or even up to one year in advance, and have to hand over an additional one to three months’ rent as a security deposit.
Health Advice: Avoiding Unwelcome Ailments
In addition to housing, healthcare is a vital component of expatriate life everywhere. In preparation for living in Thailand, you should make sure to get all necessary immunizations at home and to gather information on taking precautions against common diseases.
Recommended vaccinations for Thailand include tetanus, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, MMR, influenza, and hepatitis A. Moreover, for longer stays, you should also get immunizations for hepatitis B, rabies, typhus, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis.
While some institutes of tropical medicine have issued a swine flu warning for Thailand, and there have been occasional reports of avian flu in the country, it’s insect-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and chikungunya that are actually a greater risk for the average resident. You should make sure to wear light, but long-sleeved clothing, use anti-insect repellants daily, and hang up mosquito nets at night.
Moreover, in order to avoid diarrhea, pay attention to proper food hygiene, and never drink any tap water. Don’t even use it for doing the dishes or brushing your teeth.
How Thai Healthcare Works
Since the 1990s, Thailand has had a national public health insurance scheme. However, so far the Social Security Scheme mainly covers employees aged between 15 and 60 years in private companies with more than ten staff members. Their contributions are deducted directly from the employee’s salary and paid into the Social Security Fund.
There are other public healthcare policies as well. The Civil Servant Medical Benefit Scheme covers public sector employees and their dependents, and since 2002, the Universal Coverage Scheme provides for poorer families. The latter, though, does not always cover the same treatment that the other two plans provide.
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