16 Pros And Cons Of Living In Thailand in 2024

Last Updated: April 12th, 2024

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If you’ve dreamed of packing up everything you own and escaping somewhere with a more tropical feel, perhaps a unique cuisine, and a world-famous landscape, chances are you’ve considered Thailand. Thailand has made a name for itself as one of the top retirement destinations, but it is now becoming one of the best places for freelancers and digital nomads to call home.

However, there are a few things you should be aware of. Thailand has some downsides, including high humidity, potential dangers, and foreign prices; there are certainly some cons to choosing Thailand over other countries.

While many people talk about the advantages of moving somewhere while brushing over the ‘bad stuff’, which is essential to know, we will provide a comprehensive look at both sides of the spectrum to help you decide.

A Quick Overview & Comparison

Pros of Living in Thailand Cons of Living in Thailand
The Scenery Strict Requirements
The Food High Humidity and Rain
The People Potential Dangers
The Low Cost of Living Language Barrier
Stunning-Beache-In-Thailand
One of the many stunning beaches in Thailand

Thailand is in South East Asia, neighboring Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Myanmar. Its location is one of its significant pros since it is surrounded by fascinating countries, which can be explored easily if you live in Thailand.

Thailand is entirely situated in the northern hemisphere, which affects the climate and weather patterns which we will discuss further. Its prime spot in the center of Southeast Asia means it has access to the Gulf of Thailand and The Andaman Sea, and there are 1,430 partially inhabited islands, making it an extraordinary country to discover.

Pros of Living in Thailand

1. The Rich Culture

One of the main reasons people move to Thailand is because it has a rich and fascinating culture. All over the country, you will find incredible temples and witness customs and traditions formerly known as Siam; Thailand dates back as far back as 3,000 BC, and remnants of history can be spotted throughout the country.

One of the most fascinating things about the country is its multicultural society, which has shaped the Thailand we know and love today. The culture is heavily influenced by ethnic groups from India, Cambodia, China, and Southeast Asia, which gives this country a unique and captivating ambiance.

2. The People

If you have visited Thailand, you will know why this country is often referred to as ‘The Land of the Smiles’, since everyone is always so smiley and cheerful. Of course, one of the main things we look for when choosing a potential new home base is a friendly nation because this makes a massive difference to how we integrate into the country, how it makes us feel, and how we make new friends.

Thailand is a country where foreigners are welcomed, and because the Thai culture values respect, a non-confrontational attitude, and being kind to others, living here can be very fulfilling. 85 – 95% of Thai people are Buddhist, dramatically impacting their etiquette.

Northern-Thailand-And-Jungle
Northern Thailand and its jungle landscape

3. The Low Cost of Living

One of the pros of living in Thailand is most certainly the low cost of living, so it’s no wonder freelancers, and retirees have decided to move to this tropical country. Not only do you get more bang for your buck in Thailand, but what you get is excellent quality, from the local street food to the authentic handmade crafts.

You can easily live on under $1,000 a month by eating locally and living in an apartment. Since your money goes a long way here, many invest in luxury beach villas and enjoy the best restaurants, but that is up to you and your lifestyle. The overall cost of living is 46.9% lower than in the USA, while rent prices are 72.1% lower than in the USA.

4. The Expat Community

Yes, it’s all about community, and one of the top reasons to live in Thailand is because many others have. This means that you will find solace in a community of people who have taken the leap just like you have; plus, this is an excellent way to get tips and learn about the customs and way of life while you are still settling in.

As of 2023, it is said that 3-4 million foreigners live in Thailand, with many of them being skilled migrant workers. Most of these migrants are from neighboring countries, but according to a recent study, it is estimated that 41,000 Brits live in Thailand. In addition, there are around 30,000 American expats, and the Chinese expat community has doubled between 2011 – 2016.

5. The Landscape

The landscape of Thailand is one of the best in the world, which is why it is almost always used for adverts, movies (The Beach was filmed there), and social media content. The beaches of Thailand are world-class, and there are thousands of islands to explore, but it doesn’t stop there. Thailand also has forested mountains, rugged cliffs, fertile rice lands, and tropical jungles.

The diversity is enough to keep anyone enthralled for years, and the array of activities to undertake within these areas is endless. Thailand has an area of 20,000 sqm and is the second largest nation in the Southeast Asia region, so you can guarantee that there are a multitude of natural sights to see.

Elephant-Sanctuaries-In-Thailand
Elephant sanctuaries are common to see across the country

6. Hot Summer Days

The hot summer is one of Thailand’s biggest pros since it is ideal for those who love exploring the outdoors, enjoying the pristine beaches, and soaking up the sun. Summers are gorgeous, and the sea is a perfect temperature to bathe in, and at this time of year, the country comes alive with tourists and is the epitome of a tropical paradise.

The summer season runs from March – June, and you can expect average temperatures of between 37-38°C, although it can reach 40°C at times. During this season, it is the perfect time to take boat trips to the islands, do watersports or swim in the sea at night; it rarely goes below 28-29°C, so if you love the heat, Thailand is for you.

7. The Cuisine

Thai food is extraordinary, and those who have tasted it in Thailand say it hits differently – and that’s a fact. Thai food is inexpensive, easily accessible, and delicious, but it varies from region to region, so you can always try something new if you move around the country. One of the pros of living in Thailand is that you can thoroughly integrate into society by learning to cook from the locals and trying everything on offer.

Food is a central cultural aspect in Thailand, and people take great pride in conjuring up and enjoying delicious food. It is ideal for vegans and vegetarians and features five distinct flavor profiles which are spicy, salty, sweet, sour, and creamy. Cooking Thai food is tricky since these profiles must be perfectly balanced to get the required result, but when living there, you can aim to master the art.

8. The Relaxed Lifestyle

If you can picture working remotely from a tropical Thai Beach or dipping in and out of the sea on your days off, Thailand’s lifestyle will suit you well. Thailand is often referred to as ‘The country where fun is a way of life’, and this is very true, especially if you observe the locals who are always smiling, enjoying what they do, and socializing positively.

The concept of Sanuk (fun in Thai) is a crucial element of the Thai lifestyle, which certainly rubs off on you when you live there. There are various places famous for being relaxed, like Chiang Mai and Pai in Northern Thailand, and if you are keen to take on a relaxed lifestyle in Thailand, there are many regions to choose from the coast to the mountains.

Cons of Living in Thailand

9. Extreme Weather

One of the major cons of living in Thailand has to be the extreme weather patterns. While summers are glorious and sunny, with very little rain, the same cannot be said for the rest of the year. As with any country with a tropical monsoon climate, Thailand has rainy seasons and very high humidity at certain times of the year.

Most notably, the rain is at its worst from July- October, which can feel like it lasts a long time. Like many countries that have monsoon seasons, the rain comes as a heavy downpour quickly and often, which can result in flooding or road blockages. Alongside the rain, the exceptionally high humidity deters people from moving to Thailand since it can often reach 95% and can be very uncomfortable.

Beach-Huts-At-Thaland
Beach huts are the norm across many of the Thai islands

10. Potential Dangers

If you are considering a move to Thailand, you might want to be aware of the potential dangers of the country. Currently, Thailand is ranked 102nd on the Global Peace Index, and while it is certainly not considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world, there are regions to avoid since they are highly dangerous.

Thailand is considered the safest country in Southeast Asia, but precautions must be taken. Gun violence is rare among tourists, but it has happened, and one of the main things to watch out for is robbery and theft, as well as violent sexual assaults, which have occurred in tourist areas across the country. Drink spiking is very common, so always be aware when out in busy areas at night, and never walk in unknown regions of the dark, as this can be dangerous in Thailand.

11. The Language Barrier

Being able to communicate can sometimes be frustrating, and Thailand is no exception. While the country has the advantage of having many tourists and ex=pats, Thai people speak some English, especially in urban areas, but not everyone can speak it well or English in rural areas.

When trying to integrate into society, it can be hard to make local friends if you don’t know the language or expect them to know your language. According to a 2021 survey, 44.6% of people speak English, but this is focused on tourist hubs like Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Phangan, Chaing Mai, and Ko Samui. If you plan to live in rural Thailand, away from these areas, you may struggle to communicate if you don’t know the local language.

12. The Social Customs

Like many countries like Japan and India, Thailand has its social customs, which can be tricky to come to terms with. If you plan to move and live there full-time, it is crucial that you learn the local ways and always abide by them to avoid causing any offense or disrespect. For example, Thai people always use the right hand to pass and receive items, never pointing their fingers or the soles of their feet at people, which is considered rude.

You must also know that shoes are always removed before entering temples or people’s houses, you never touch people on the head, you should never cause a scene in public, and it is considered disrespectful to pen a gift in front of the giver. Dressing modestly is also essential when visiting a temple or someone’s home to show a sign of respect.

Peoples-With-Motorbikes-In-Thailand-Street
Motorbikes are the go-to vehicle in Thailand

13. You Will Never Fully Integrate

While this might be something you don’t want to hear or doesn’t matter to you, we need to explain why you will never fully integrate into Thailand as a foreigner. No matter how long you have lived in Thailand or how well you speak Thai, you will never shake off the fact that you are not a local and never will be.

This may be something that does not affect your decision to move to Thailand, but it is certainly something to know beforehand if you intend to integrate into society. Everyday things that can happen are that you notice discrimination or people looking down on you even after you’ve known them for years, and while this isn’t always the case, it is relatively standard in Thailand.

14. Healthcare Issues

There is good and bad news regarding healthcare in Thailand, and you need to know both sides to make an informed decision. One of the pros of living in Thailand as an expat is that you may qualify for discounted healthcare from any country’s public hospitals.

The downside is that most public hospitals are understaffed, and private healthcare is generally a much better option. Unfortunately, some of Thailand’s private hospitals and medical centers take advantage of foreigners by charging them extortionate rates to get treatment, which can be very frustrating and is considered very unfair for expats who genuinely need medical care.

Wooden-Thai-Jetty-At-Thailand-Beach
A typical wooden Thai jetty

15. Its Touristy

In 2022 Thailand received 11.15 million visitors, and 2024 is set to surpass that number. Of course, Thailand has always been a tourist hub, but one of the cons of living in Thailand long term means tourists will always surround you. While this may be excellent for those who want to feel like they are on an extended holiday, others may find it hard to live a normal life with hordes of people arriving every year.

If you live near a famous beach, you might get frustrated with the crowds of people there whenever you want to go and enjoy some quiet time, or perhaps your favorite eateries are busy, or attractions are overrun. Unless you live in rural Thailand, you need to be okay with crowds of visitors arriving throughout the country each year, something which will only increase as the years go on.

16. Foreigner Prices

One of the things you need to consider is that you will likely be ‘ripped off’ from time to time. Whether you live there or not, locals will see you as a foreigner (farang), and with this comes foreigner prices. You can expect to be ‘scammed’ when it comes to shopping, taking taxis or even for rent, so always try to bargain with them or bring a local friend with you to prevent this from happening.

This ‘foreigner pricing’ issue can become tedious if you live full-time in Thailand, which is why one of the benefits of learning Thai can come in. By knowing the language, locals will see that you are a ‘local’ and are less likely to rip you off. A good tip is to research beforehand to know the usual prices for goods and services; therefore, you can stand your ground and pay what the locals pay.

Traditional-Thai-Boats-At-Beach
Traditional Thai boats take people to and from the many islands

FAQs Living In Thailand

What is the best area to live in Thailand?

Chaing Mai and Pai are beautiful areas to live in the north, while the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao are popular options.

Are Thai people friendly?

Yes, they are very friendly and welcoming to tourists and expats.

What should I know about moving there?

It will be tough to integrate with society fully; it is inexpensive, and the food is excellent.

What is the weather like?

The summer is blissful and sunny, while the monsoon season can be extreme, with high humidity and heavy rain.

About The Author

Jade is a seasoned traveller, yoga enthusiast, adventure seeker and travel writer passionate about seeing the world and sharing hidden gems with others. As well as having travelled to 91 countries thus far, she has written for several websites and published her first book ‘The Ultimate Irish Road Trip Guide’. She is a keen writer of satirical articles, as well as ‘The best things to do’ and ‘The best dishes to try’ around the globe. Jade is currently on a campervan adventure around Europe, where she continues to get her travel and food inspiration. She is excited to share what she discovers with her readers.

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Picture of Jade Poleon

Jade Poleon

Jade is a seasoned traveller, yoga enthusiast, adventure seeker and travel writer passionate about seeing the world and sharing hidden gems with others. As well as having travelled to 91 countries thus far, she has written for several websites and published her first book ‘The Ultimate Irish Road Trip Guide’. She is a keen writer of satirical articles, as well as ‘The best things to do’ and ‘The best dishes to try’ around the globe. Jade is currently on a campervan adventure around Europe, where she continues to get her travel and food inspiration. She is excited to share what she discovers with her readers.

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