This post is the first of a series of posts we’ll be releasing about Working in Thailand: How to Ditch the Desk, Board the Flight, and Land the Job.
Disclaimer: In this guide you’ll come across affiliate and partner links. When you click and use their services or buy their products, Expat Den gets a small commission. You won’t pay anything extra for these services or products, but the small commission helps us cover the costs of running this website.
Working in Thailand–an Introduction
Why did you come to Thailand?”
Most expats have been asked this question at some point or other, usually by a sincerely curious local. To me, the answer should be fairly obvious. After all, Thailand welcomes millions of tourists to its shores (over 32 million in 2016), lured by its world-class beaches, stunning scenery and cheap, delicious and plentiful food.
Perhaps a better question, then, is
Why did you stay in Thailand?”
What led you to torch your return ticket, switch from a hotel to a long-lease apartment, and disappear into the mysterious East? What half-crazed compulsion led you to abandon friends, family, and the comfort and security of life in a first-world, developed country, and set up halfway around the planet? Are the beaches really that good?
It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer, if one is to believe much of what is written about Thailand. After all, the received wisdom among some foreigners is that Thailand is on the whole a closed shop to those seeking to make a life for themselves here. Rampantly protectionist—even xenophobic—labor laws. Ever-shifting, Kafkaesque visa regulations. Deranged, even dangerous employers, emboldened by a corrupt court system. Ream upon ream of stories from spurned foreigners can be found online, all repeating the same mantra: Visit Thailand for a holiday. Don’t stay long term. Thailand doesn’t want you here.
Are they entirely wrong? Not exactly. Thailand’s labor laws can be comparatively restrictive, their visa regulations can seem obtuse at times, and there are undoubtedly a few shady employers out there, as we’ll soon see.
However, after talking to a whole host of expats about their experiences, it soon became apparent that this wasn’t the whole picture. In fact, there are thousands of foreigners making comfortable lives for themselves here, all legally and above board, and across a whole spectrum of careers. There are lawyers and insurance salesmen, scientists and journalists, models and chefs.
So perhaps, then, an even better question for these successful expats is:
How do you stay in Thailand?”
How do you manage to score one of these enviable positions in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations? What skills, qualifications, and experience are required? Where does one even find such positions?
It’s these questions that this book intends to answer—or at least point the curious in the direction of something resembling an answer, as obviously the requirements are many and varied depending on your chosen career path. We can’t promise to offer a foolproof path to gainful employment in Thailand. Every employee is different, as is every employer. However, we can show you what’s worked in the past, and what those in the know are looking for.
Of course, finding a job in Thailand is only a part of it. There are also all the other myriad aspects of moving to a foreign country to consider—sorting out visas, finding accommodation, meeting new people, and more. There are the trials of everyday life to figure out—the cultural differences, the occasional bureaucratic and legal frustrations and so on. We’ll delve into all of that, too.
For ease of reading, we’ve split the book into three sections. In the first part, we’ll cover the basics of finding work in Thailand. We’ll answer a few frequently asked questions and run through how one goes about finding work. In the second part, we’ll meet the expats themselves and endeavor to find out what makes them tick, as well as looking at the states of their industries in greater depth. In the final part, we’ll look at the process of starting (and eventually ending) work in Thailand, from acquiring visas and work permits to negotiating office politics, and from dealing with taxes to moving your hard-earned money out of the country.
It should be stated here that we’re not employment consultants, or lawyers, or financial advisers—not, in fact, experts in many of the fields that we will cover throughout this weighty tome—although we have sought advice from some of those experts to give our initial scribbling a careful once-over, for which we are extremely grateful.
While we have striven to ensure that all the information here is correct and up-to-date, we are dealing with the notoriously fluid worlds of economics, finance and law, where everything is true right up until it isn’t, so to speak. Of course, this has involved straddling a tightrope between excruciatingly detailed minutiae and irritatingly cryptic vagueness—enough details that the information is actually useful, but not delving too deeply into specifics to avoid dating the book almost immediately upon publication. To cover our behinds, we’ve tried to include links to resources where you can keep track of any changes in the kingdom wherever possible, and we’ll be working closely with the Thailand Starter Kit blog to keep track of these changes for the foreseeable future.
Ultimately, though, this book is about the expats themselves—the brave, the bold, the mavericks and pioneers who decided to make a go of things in the Land of Smiles. Like the aforementioned curious local it’s the stories we’re interested in—and there are no shortage of those, from ringside Muay Thai bouts to partying with Tiesto. After all, beyond all the pencil-pushing and box-ticking, living in Thailand is about the experience—the sights, the sounds, the smells.
Why else would you come here anyway?
Now, on to You
Looking for more posts on Working in Thailand? You don’t have to wait for each post to come out.