March 21, 2010
When moving overseas it is best to make a plan. The following are some steps you can take to help organize your move and a checklist that will help you to put those steps in order.
1. Know your time frame: Know how long you have before your move will take place. Leave yourself enough time to do the hundreds of things you’ll need to do before pulling up stakes. If you are selling your house you may not be able to finalize your time frame until the status of your home sale is known. Plan on using more time than less.
2. Know your budget: Moving isn’t free. There will be shipping costs, storage costs, airline tickets, taxis, and lots more. Budget accordingly.
3. Know what to keep and what goes? You won’t be able to take everything. Make piles of what to take with you, what to sell, what to give to family or friends, what to give to charity and what to toss. This won’t be an easy task. Do you keep all your books, all your photos, that painting that aunt Bess made? You have to be brutal.
4. Know a reliable shipper: Once you have decided what to take with you decide on a shipping company that understands international regulations and who can advise you on the best method to ship (boxes, crates, 20’ container, 40’ container, etc.). Make a detailed list of everything you are shipping. This will help with customs and insurance in case of breakage or theft. Also, list the contents of each box on the outside. This will save lots of looking-around time later. You should also have an agent in-country to help the customs walk-through and to get your stuff to your house.
5. Prepare your travel itinerary: You may have to move out of your house and ship your stuff before you are ready to leave country. Know where you will stay until that plane leaves. Know where you will stay once in-country and how you will get around. You can check with other expats or travel guides to find out the best places for a temporary stay and car rentals.
6. Prepare your documents: make sure your passport is up to date and that you have the necessary visas for a fairly long stay. It’s a bother to get in country and then two weeks later have to renew your visa. Know as much about visa regulations as you can. Make sure your paperwork back home is also in order (wills, powers of attorney, etc.) Also get copies of your medical and dental records especially if you have any specific problems that local medical people should know about.
7. Prepare for the unexpected: Things will usually take more time and more money than you will expect. Be ready for the proverbial wrench in the machinery. It’s a guarantee.
Send notification of address change to:
- Post Office
- Electoral Registrar
- Taxation department
- Life, car, and health Insurance companies
- Credit card companies
- Friends and Relatives
- Publications you subscribe to
- Doctor and dentist
- Your Lawyer
- Your Place of Worship
Discontinued these services for:
- Gas or oil companies
- Cable Television
- Newspaper / Publication Delivery
- Internet Subscription
- Defrost your refrigerator
- Disconnected your washing machine
- Return books to library
- Return videos
- Pick up clothes from the dry cleaners.
- Put aside items (passports, tickets, etc.)
- Wash items that may be of interest to quarantine (i.e. mowers, garden tools, golf equipment, bicycles, etc.).
- Take all important telephone numbers and addresses
Note to Thai nationals returning to Thailand after living abroad.
You may be eligible for a one-time custom free shipping of personal items. This will save lots of money and allow you to ship furniture and household good duty free. Check to see what the latest regulations are.
Currently a Thai living abroad for a certain length of time is exempt from paying customs fees. You will have to prove that you have lived abroad (your passport stamps are acceptable proof). Students and Thais who are returning to Thailand to retire after living abroad are the ones who can usually take advantage of this rule.
March 15, 2010
It seems that every time you turn around there is another Thai national holiday. They seem to always occur when you need to go to the bank or to immigration. In fact, there are 15 Thai national holidays. That compares to 10 U.S. federal holidays and only 8 “bank” holidays in England.
For New Years, the Thais celebrate January 1st, Chinese New Years, and Songkran, also known as Thai New Years. In true Thai fashion, Songkran is a three-day celebration of partying and water splashing. For Songkran, many old-time expats will stock up enough provisions so that they can stay home for the three days to remain dry and sane.
Chinese New Years is not an official holiday but lots of businesses, especially restaurants, will be closed for up to a week or more.
Another unofficial holiday celebrated around the country is Loy Kratong. This is one of the favorite Thai holidays when people all go down to the local lake or river and float (loy) their ceremonial vessels of flowers, candles, and burning incense (kratong). There are parades with larger floats, and lots of fireworks. It is one of the many “festivals of light” celebrated around the world at the end of the year. But remember, it is still a work day.
Constitution Day is an interesting holiday. You would think that with the frequent constitution changes, the day you celebrate it would be forever changing. But December 10, Constitution Day, is the celebration of Thailand’s first constitution back in 1932.
It is useful for visitors to Thailand to know what holidays are coming up. For instance, you may want to schedule your visit so you can take part in the Songkran celebrations. Or, you may want to schedule your visit so you will miss Songkran. Check below to see when the upcoming holidays will be celebrated.
You can download thaivisa.com’s 2010/2553 calendar here: http://www.fnrf.science.cmu.ac.th/ftp/Calendar_2010_hirez.pdf showing these and some other holidays celebrated in Thailand.
New Year’s Day
Happy New Year, January 1. Celebrated next on 3 January 2011
Chinese New Year
The new moon day of the first lunar month. Not a true national holiday but widely celebrated. Celebrated next on 3 February 2011
The full moon day of the third lunar month . The Lord Buddha’s sermon to the first large gathering of monks. Celebrated next on 18 February 2011
Celebrates the founding of the current dynasty, April 6.
First day of Songkran
April 13. Wet
Second day of Songkran
April 14. Wetter
Third day of Songkran
April 15. Wettest
International Labor Day, May 1. Celebrated next on 3 May 2010
The crowning of Rama IX, May 5.
The full moon day of the sixth lunar month. The birth, enlightenment and death of the Lord Buddha. Celebrated next on 26 May 2010
The first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month. The annual three-month rainy season retreat. Celebrated next on 26 July 2010
Also Mothers day, August 12.
The death of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, October 23. Celebrated next on 25 October 2010
The full moon day of the 12 lunar month. Not a national holiday but a beautiful festival of lights.
Celebrated next on 21 November 2010
Also Fathers Day, December 5. Celebrated next on 6 December 2010
The celebration of the 1932 constitution, December 10.
New Years Eve
Drive Safely, December 31.
March 1, 2010
We continue with how much living in Thailand might cost you. All prices are Chiang Mai prices and are as of today, Mar 1, 2010, and of course are subject to change. All prices are approximates. Local prices will vary greatly. Check the daily exchange rate at www.bangkokbank.com .
Getting around town
You’ll need to get around, from one town to another, or from your home to the local market, etc.. Here is some idea of how much it will cost to get from A to B. When you first arrive in country you will probably be using public transportation. This can be an interesting experience. Here are some typical prices in Chiang Mai.
- Metered Taxis, house to airport, approx 10 kms, ฿150
- Red taxis (converted pickup trucks), ฿15 anywhere in town, longer rides negotiable.
- Public bus, when you can find one, ฿10
- Other pickup taxis, usually upcountry between towns and villages, ฿20 or more depending on the distance.
- Bangkok and some towns will have motorcycle taxis where you ride on the back to your destination. These are quite inexpensive as the rides are usually very short (main road to your house). Some towns have motorcycles with side cars or other homemade additions. These will cost about the same as Chiang Mai’s red taxis.
Later, out of convenience, most people opt to get their own transportation.
Travel in country
One of the joys of living in Thailand is that there are so many interesting places to visit in country. You have many choices on how to get around.
Air travel – There are quite a few airlines that service the different cities in Thailand. Here are a few popular destinations on Thai Air. Other airlines may be quite cheaper. Prices quoted are for round trip and are taken from the Thai Air web site. Check with a travel agent or the airline itself to see what promotional deals they have. It can save loads of money. (e.g. We just bought a round trip ticket Chiang Mai – Phuket for ฿8,500 on Air Asia which is much less than the price for Thai Air quoted below). Also, prices will vary depending on the season.
- Bangkok – Chiang Mai ฿5,200
- Bangkok – Phuket ฿6,500
- Bangkok – Ubon ฿6,400
- Chiang Mai – Phuket ฿14,400
- Chiang Mai – Mae Hongson ฿3,250
A nice way to get around. For long hauls the sleeper cars can be comfortable although they are quite slow. Prices are for 2nd class, air condition, sleeper cars.
- Bangkok – Chiang Mai ฿881
- Bangkok – Ubon ฿761
- Bangkok – Hat Yai ฿945
Seems like there are buses going from everywhere in Thailand to everywhere else. There is a range from really inexpensive, non-air conditioned buses to beautiful tour buses with air conditioning, music, TV, and DVDs. Here are some prices for the first class, air condition, “tour” buses.
- Bangkok – Chiang Mai ฿1,197
- Bangkok – Ubon ฿1,080
- Bangkok – Hat Yai ฿1,243
You’ll need a driver’s license to drive a car or motorcycle in Thailand. Officially you can use your old home license for one month. Only residence of Thailand (with long term visas) are allowed to apply for a driver’s license.
- Rent Small compact car, liability insurance included, ฿1,500 per day with monthly rates cheaper
- Buy Used 5 year old Toyota, good condition, ฿275,000
Many people rent motorcycles as soon as they get in country. This should not be the first thing you do. The first thing is to make sure you know how to ride a motorcycle. And riding one in Thailand can be a harrowing experience. Be careful, drive defensively, and always wear a helmet.
- Rent 125 cc new Honda Dream, ฿150 per day
- Buy New 125cc Honda Dream, ฿36,000
- Used 125 cc Honda Dream, 3 years old, ฿24,000
Accommodations (when traveling in country)
Thailand has so many places to visit and explore, from the big cities, to the mountains up north, to the beaches and islands in the south. For a good idea of what is available check with travel guides like Lonely Planet.
- City hotels – There are luxurious world class resorts in many places and their prices are also world class. But nice comfortable hotels in population centers, even in Bangkok, will cost between ฿1,200 – ฿3,000.
- Upcountry hotels – Not a lot of world class hotels up country unless you are in a tourist destination. Nice clean places can be had for ฿500 – ฿1000.
- Guest houses – Can be as low as ฿200 – ฿600. You’ usually get what you pay for.
- National Parks – Thailand has a great national parks system and they all seem to have cabins and bungalows available (except on national holidays and in the high seasons). A very nice bungalow can be had for ฿1,000 per night.
- Camping – For ฿50 – ฿100 you can bed down in a national park tent (provided). When Thais go tenting they tend to stay up singing and drinking all through the night. So be aware that tranquility is something not found much in the tent grounds.
It used to be keeping connected to friends and family, and with your culture back home was quite difficult. The 21st century communications system takes much of the isolation away from living so far from what we used to call “home”.
- Cost of phone – ฿1,000 – ฿10,000
- Cost of call (using prepaid cards) In country – ฿1 per minute in country
- Cost of call (using prepaid cards) Overseas – ฿5 per minute
- Computer to phone – less than ฿1 per minute anywhere
- Computer to computer – free (webcam available)
Home phone – Very expensive to get a line to your home. If one already exists then it is a flat rate of about ฿150 per month plus whatever calls you make at between ฿2 and ฿5 per minute depending on your plan.
- Internet cafes – ฿10 – ฿30 per hour depending on speed.
- Home internet – This is usually part of your phone bill. High speed Internet can be around ฿1,600 per month.
Postage – Quite inexpensive in country. Just a few baht per letter and packages are also cheap to send. International mail is very expensive, especially EPS, or express mail. A small package sent EPS overseas can be more than ฿600.
One has to eat, and in Thailand this becomes as much of a recreation as it is a necessity. As with everything, one can live very frugally. You could survive on ฿100 per day if need be. Or lunch alone could cost many thousands of baht. We’ll give supermarket prices here leaning more to the frugal side.
Cooking at home (condos may not have kitchens)
- One kilo of chicken ฿65 per kilo
- One kilo of pork ฿105 per kilo
- Fish (talapia) ฿89 per kilo
- Shrimp ฿125 per kilo
- Eggs ฿89 for 30
- Milk ฿70 per liter
- Soft drink ฿124 for 12 bottles
- Kale ฿24 per kilo
- Iceberg lettuce ฿55 per kilo
- Tomatoes ฿23 per kilo
- Cabbage ฿22 per kilo
- Rice ฿18 per liter
Eating at restaurants
As with just about everything in Thailand, you can end up spending very little for a nice meal, or you can spend as much as you would in a major world city. We’ll go with the lower end of the spectrum here.
Single plate dishes
- Servings with rice – ฿25 – ฿60
- Noodles – ฿24 – ฿40
- Family style – prices vary, ฿50 – ฿100 per dish, usually a meal has at least 3 dishes
- Pizza – ฿300
- Burgers – ฿150
- Spaghetti – ฿150 plate
- McDonalds Big Mac meal – ฿130
- KFC – 3 piece meal – ฿120
- From ฿70 – ฿140 at less expensive places
- As much as ฿600 at the nicer hotels
A large number of expats fill a large portion of their day imbibing. Probably not a great idea for longevity but to each his own. Whichever kind you choose, Thailand’s hot climate makes it so you’ll have to fill yourself with liquids. Here is a list of of what some of these will cost.
- Bottled water ฿10
- Soft drinks ฿20
- Beer ฿50 – ฿100 depending on size. Some bars will be much higher
- Wine – ฿400 and up
- Whisky, gin vodka, etc. ฿1,000 per bottle and up
- Fresh juice, shakes – ฿20 – ฿40
- At a Thai shop ฿20 – ฿60
- At Starbucks ฿150 or more
We’ll just list a few here. If you have specific questions please ask it in the comments section and I will see if I can get you an answer.
- Visa renewal – This is one thing that lots of people forget when they make a budget. All visas, and renewals, currently cost ฿1,900. This is charged whenever you leave the country and get an exit visa, or renew your retirement visa, or you make a run for the border. This can get pricey depending on how often you have to do this. Although all long term visa holders must report to Immigration every 90 days, there is no charge for this.
- Gasoline 1 liter of 95 octane ฿35
- Men’s haircut – ฿70 at a barbershop, ฿350+ at a hair stylist
- Bangkok Post & The Nation newspapers – ฿25
- Readers Digest – ฿150
- National Geographic – ฿250
- English paperback books ฿300 – ฿450
- Used paperbacks – ฿40 – ฿80
- TV – 42” plasma, ฿30,000
- DVD – ฿2,000
- Desktop computer – ฿15,000 – ฿25,000
- Laptop computer – ฿20,000 – ฿30,000
- Night out (bar hopping) – This question was asked on the www.ThaiVisa.com web forum and the answer depends on what activities you partake of, how much you imbibe, and whether you answer the ringing bell and buy the whole bar drinks. You can spend anywhere from 1,000 – 30,000 in a night.
- Movie at a theater – ฿100
- Movie rental – ฿10 – ฿30
- Massage – ฿100 per ½ hour
- Use of a hotel swimming pool (when you are not a guest) – ฿100