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Expats in Bangkok and Their Living Requirements

Mar 26, 2008
Bangkok, known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon in Thai, is the capital as well as the cultural and commercial center of Thailand. Bangkok is situated on the Chao Phraya River Delta, about 40 km from the Gulf of Thailand, in the central region of the country. With a population of about seven million people, Bangkok is the city where the majority of expatriates in Thailand are based.

In other words, about 25% of the city's population is expatriates. Many of them are working, while some are retired or tourists on a long term vacation. Majority of the expats in Bangkok are westerners including Americans, British, and Germans. Most of them primarily work in foreign-owned and managed companies. A good number of Japanese expats can also be seen here, of which many of them work in Japanese legal firms in the city.

Expats living and working in Bangkok also include a lot number of people from other Asian destinations, such as, China, Indonesia, Korea, and Philippines. Many of them work as teachers and some in export sections in order to communicate with foreign customers. In short, it is no wonder that why Bangkok is regarded as the most diverse of all the Asian cities.

One of the prime reasons why many foreigners prefer to relocate and stay here for a long period is due to its affordable cost of living. Housing and daily consumer items plus food items are relatively cheap in Bangkok. However, cost of living in the city depends on your income. For a corporate executive working in the city with a salary of more than 150,000 baht per month or teacher with salary of about 35,000 baht per month can comfortably live here.

Middle class community with 10,000-20,000 baht a month can also live well here. For instance, an apartment studio coupled with facilities including furniture, phone, cable, and hot water are available for rent for 5,000-7,500 per month. Likewise, two-storied townhouses can be availed for rent for just 5000 baht a month. But, the rent of an apartment or a single detached with high-end facilities may go up to 10,000-20,000 baht per month. It may be even higher if you are well-heeled enough to choose a top-end condominium or serviced apartment with a rent between 25,000-100,000 baht.

Since many foreigners consider Bangkok as a destination to spend their retirement life, majority of expats are now showing interest in investing in Bangkok's property market. However, there are certain restrictions for foreigners who are interest in investing in property market. A foreigner can own a land or house in Thailand through a registered Thai company, provided he owns more than 39% of company's share.

Likewise, an expat can own land or house in the country through his Thai spouse. In other cases, an expat can lease land for 30 years, with a choice to extend it for another 30 years, of which the first 30 years are guaranteed since they are registered with the Land Department. However, there are fewer restrictions for owning a condominium in Thailand. In other words, condominium is the only type of asset that can be legally owned by a foreigner in the country.

When comes to food, everything from traditional Thai and seafood cuisines to exquisite Chinese and French cuisines are available. Eating or buying food from hawker stalls or a food court in the shopping centers is exceptionally cheap. There are also options for those who want to dine sumptuous dishes within luxurious comforts, in the form of international fast food restaurants or top-class eateries located within most sophisticated hotels. But, it may be expensive. Then also the bill would be lower when compared to similar restaurants in America or Europe.

The prices of other food stuffs are also relatively cheap. For instance, a can of coke is just 14 Baht. A loaf of bread can be bought for 25 Baht and a bottle of milk for 10 baht. Similarly many westerners' items including cornflakes, Tescos, pasta, jams, cheese, and bacon are available at big supermarkets and that too at local prices.

Of the expats in Bangkok, majority of them live in the city's Central Business District (CBD), the Silom sub-district, or on or close to the Sukhumvit-Phloenchit Rd. Some of the expats also live in the suburbs of Bangkok where economical housing options are available. Almost, every western country has an embassy in the city, including the Australian Chamber and the American Chamber.

Likewise, many organizations and business firms are here to provide visa services. In order to ensure high standard of treatment, many world-class hospital function here such as Bangkok General Hospital and Bamrungrad. Above all, a plenty of organizations operate here for the expats living in Bangkok, such as, the European Young Professionals Society and Hash House Harriers.
About the Author
Wantanee K. is an independent author evaluating and commenting on leading International Property Consultants in Thailand, especially CB Richard Ellis.
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