Why it is better to live in Thailand than in other Southeast Asian countries

Last edited: October 04, 2021 at 09:19:55

Despite all its lacks and problems, hundreds of thousands of foreigners have chosen Thailand as a place of long term abode. Thailand is probably the most popular country within Southeast Asia for foreigners to have a home, work, or retire. The reasons for this are different for everyone, but a few major reasons are:

1. Reasonable level of development

Within Southeast Asia (and with the exception of Singapore), Thailand is one of the most developed countries. This means you can get nearly anything you have at home: infrastructure, houses, shopping malls, swimming pools, health care, you name it. Although not perfect, most of these things are simply worse in the neigboring countries: internet in Bali sucks, poverty is dominant in the Philippines, pollution is striking in Vietnam and war has left its marks in Cambodia.

2. Fairly competitive market economy

Thailand has a fairly competitive 'market economy'. This means that prices for most things that you need are reasonable, or in other words the cost of living can be low. Try booking a hotel in Myanmar, a country that has only just started to open up, and you'll realise you have to spend a fortune compared to what you can get in say Chiang Mai.
Read more about cost of living in Chiang Mai.

3. Peace loving people

Thai people are extremely peace loving, relaxed and tolerant. This is probably one of the most important reasons to stay here, because it makes quality of life so much better. There is hardly any stress or fight in daily life. Compare that to the more violent culture in the Philippines (predominantly Catholic), to more cunning behaviour in Vietnam, and to less tolerant practices in Malaysia.

4. Long term visa possible for everyone

Although visa procedures always change and by some are considered troublesome, it's simply something everyone has to go through in every foreign country, no matter what background or what purse you hold. The good news is that in Thailand, there is always a way to stay long term. In the Southeast Asian region, especially Malaysia appears to be more welcoming than Thailand for certain types of visa holders (for example, long term or life time visa for investors or owners of property), while some other countries like India have tightened visa procedures even for backpackers without sufficient proof of income.

5. Great food

Overall, food in Thailand is great. Only Malaysia can rival Thailand in terms of variety and quality of the food. Hong Kong food is usually spoiled by MSG, food in China by too much oil, the Philippines hardly has any authentic local dishes, Cambodian and Indonesian local food isn't that great, but all of the former French colonies (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) do offer some very good western food.

There is an abundance of great local food in Thailand and in addition, there are a great number of good foreign restaurants.

6. Many expat communities

There are expat communities everywhere in Thailand so you can always engage and be active, you don't need to be lonely. Browse Chiang Mai communities.

7. Safe

Overall, if you stay away from trouble, Thailand is extremely safe. You can walk around nearly everywhere by yourself, people don't hassle you and you won't easily be robbed. (However, if you engage in the wrong circles or in conflict, the value of life in Thailand can be very cheap.) Safety is more of an issue in Cambodia and the Philippines, for example. Road safety in Thailand, however, is a concern as the number of road fatalities in Thailand is amongst the highest in the world, but in general you can handle this issue by being careful in traffic.

8. Good weather

The climate, of course, is tropical, nice for people from cold and rainy countries, but much of Southeast Asia has similar tropical weather and is influenced by similar factors, such as the Monsoon, for example. Read more about weather conditions.

9. Beautiful people

Last but not least, Thai people are beautiful. Especially Thai women keep attracting foreign men, and no suprise why.

Downsides and risks of living in Thailand

Besides all these obvious great assets that Thailand can offer you, it also has some serious downsides that ultimately drive people away because they realize they can't find what they want. Read more about risks and downsides.

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