Start Up in Thailand Guide

Living in Thailand

Traveling to Thailand is Hugely Attractive

Before living in Thailand, most visit the kingdom as tourists. 35.4 million international tourists visited Thailand in 2017.  This number grew by 8.6 % from the previous year and puts the kingdom on rank ten of the World Tourism rankings compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

In the same year, Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index classes the Thai capital Bangkok as the most popular city among tourists with  20.2 million international visitors.

Visitor Arrival Numbers and Tourism Awards Boost Thailand Image

Further evidence for Thailand’s unabiding popularity from travelers the world over comes from Condé Nast Traveller, one of the world’s leading and highly respected travel publications:  Readers of the Condé Nast Traveler voted Thailand in the 2018 Readers’ Travel Awards the World’s Best Country for People.

The accolades continued with Thailand’s 3rd spot in the Best Country category behind winner Italy and runner-up Greece.

Thai hotels fared well in the Best Asia and the Indian Subcontinent categories. The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok and Six Senses Yao Noi in Phang Nga secured the 4th and the 5th spot respectively.

And last but not least the resort island of Samui earned the 9th spot on the top 20 list of the World’s Best Islands.

But is living in Thailand a Good Choice?

The U.S. News & World Report ranks Thailand as the 26th best country overall out of 80 major countries, just behind Russia and ahead of Greece.

The U.S News research looked at a set of 65 country attributes that are meant to be relevant to the success of a modern nation.  These Attributes by land were then presented in a survey of more than 21,000 people from across the globe. Participants assessed how closely they associated an attribute with a particular country.

Living in Thailand ranks particularly high in the categories ‘Adventure’ #4, ‘Movers’ #6, ‘Heritage’ #8, and Open for Business #15.

The category Adventure comprises of the attributes  Fun,  Scenic, Pleasant climate, Friendly, and Sexy. Only Brazil, Italy and Spain ranked higher than Thailand in this category.

The Category Movers includes the attributes Distinctive, Different, Unique and Dynamic. The winner in this category is the United Arab Emirates ahead of India and Singapore.

The category Heritage consists of the attributes Culturally accessible, Many cultural attractions, Has a rich history and Has great food. The countries topping the list for Heritage are  Italy, Spain, and Greece.

Thailand scores moderate rankings for the categories Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Open for Business, Power, and Quality of Life.

Living in Thailand May not Offer the Highest Global Quality, but Does Promise Uniqueness

Let’s also look how living in Thailand performs in two more highly respectable surveys about quality of life that bear relevance for the choices of international expats:  The Mercer Quality of Living Survey and The Global Liveability Index by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU).  Both are long-standing and methodically sound research bodies. However, they rank cities rather than countries.

The EIU’s Liveability Index looks at how a city is doing regarding Stability, Healthcare, Culture & Environment, Education,  and infrastructure. Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey takes 39 factors into account including political, economic, environmental, personal safety, health, education, transportation and others related to public service.

It goes without saying that a country can offer very different living experiences based on the location, such as city, beach, and countryside. For Thailand, Bangkok offers a distinct lifestyle compared to the rest of the country. Nevertheless, the quality of life in a city is indicative of the whole country. Unfortunately, the only Thai city making it into the rankings is Bangkok.

The Mercer Quality of Living Survey places Bangkok on the spot 132 out of 231 cities. At the top of the table are Vienna,  Zurich,  Auckland, Munich, and Vancouver. At the bottom are Sana’a, Bangui, and Baghdad.

On the Global Liveability Index by the EIY Bangkok ranks  98 out of 140 cities.

So we can see that based on standard criteria for the general quality of life Thailand and its capital Bangkok are at best mediocre.  So, why does Thailand attract so many people if the quality of life as suggested by the mentioned surveys is no top-notch?

Living in Thailand, even in Bangkok, is a great choice, if…

The findings of the US News & World Report point in the direction that is consistently supported by other surveys: Thailand attracts significant tourist crowds because it has warm weather, beaches, diverse topography, unique and exotic culture with friendly people, outstanding food and is generally quite affordable.

Thailand’s political stability, infrastructure,  health, and education system are generally no pull factors for immigration, but the so-called soft-factors of the kingdom are very strong.

Thailand is a Great Choice for Entrepreneurs, Retirees, Global Nomads, and Adventurers

International Living, a veteran in the living overseas publication scene, always has held Thailand in high esteem as a retirement location.  In the Annual Global Retirement Index 2018 Standings Thailand scores a 14th place ahead of France. The five top reasons for retiring in Thailand are an affordable cost of living, safety & stability, access to health care, availability of proper visas and relative ease of getting settled.

Thailand also scores high with younger, adventurous folks. The digital nomad scene ranks Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Ko Samui as among the best locations for remote workers to stay. Nomadlist, relying on community reviews, holds Chiang Mai and Bangkok in the 2nd and 4rth spots respectively. And The World Travel Guide names Ko Samui as the 4th best location in the world for digital nomads to be.

As a result, it is no wonder that living in Thailand has increasingly become a popular choice for adventurers, global nomads and overseas retirees alike.

And let’s not forget the booming Southeast-Asian technology startup scene. Forbes recently called it the ‘new frontier: the Wild East.’ Stereotypical perceptions of Thailand and South-East Asia at times focus on lack of infrastructure, but in truth, a city like Bangkok is in parts super-modern, and its mobile Internet availability shames some of its European peers.

How Are You Going to Thrive in Thailand?

The reasons for living in Thailand may be manifold and individual. The most obvious ones refer to the weather in the kingdom, the delicacies of Thai food,  Thai culture, and hospitality. The moderate cost of living compared to many other international destinations does not hurt either.

Whatever may be your motivation, Thailand has a lot to offer, and opportunities abound to live large in the land of smiles.

So, where to next?

Learn about  Thai Visa as a prerequisite for staying and living in Thailand. Check out the Property Market for a place to stay and to invest, get to know the Thai Stock Market as a great way to make money (juicy dividend plays) and the technicalities of doing business in Thailand.

ThaiVest Editorial Team
The Thaivest Editorial Team is a dedicated group of writers and editors with a passion for Thailand's vibrant economy, culture, and lifestyle. With diverse backgrounds in finance, economics, and journalism, we provide valuable insights into living well in Thailand, making money online, and practical tools for navigating its dynamic market. Our mission is to keep our readers informed about the latest developments, opportunities, and challenges in Thailand's economic and cultural landscape. Stay connected with Thaivest for reliable, well-rounded coverage of all things Thai.