Moving to Thailand from the US
Thinking of moving to Thailand? Congratulations, the “Land of Smiles” is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Pristine beaches, the bustling city of Bangkok, and tropical islands brimming with wildlife, Thailand has it all.
There’s still a lot to research before you make your decision – how to apply for a work permit, for example.
Worry not, because we’ve done the research for you. This complete guide on moving to Thailand covers everything you’ll need to know.
If you’ve already made up your mind, you could always start the moving process by filling in this form. We'll connect you with our trusted suppliers, who’ll get in touch with bespoke quotes.
Bangkok is a brilliant blend of tradition and exciting modernity
Cost of shipping to Thailand
Shipping goods to Thailand is made easier by the fact the country has access to sea ports. Most goods typically go to Laem Chabang, which is a busy port city roughly 100 km from Bangkok.
Any goods shipped to Laem Chabang will then be transported via truck to wherever it is you move to in Thailand.
To help give you an idea of the cost of shipping to Thailand, we’ve created a handy table with the average rates of shipping from either New York or Los Angeles.
The rates below were sourced from Go Comet, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20 ft container of used furniture worth $40,000 (the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom home).
|Los Angeles to Laem Chabang||$1,277||23 – 28 days|
|New York to Laem Chabang||$1,100||24 – 29 days|
Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only. Data up to date as of June 2022.
Select the size of your move to get free quotes
Cost of flying goods to Thailand from the US
If you need to get your belongings to Thailand fast, then flying is the best option. As is usually the case with added convenience, you should expect to pay more than you would to ship your items via freight.
Take a look at the prices for flying goods from the US to Thailand in the table below.
These figures come from Freightos, and they’re based on 250 kg of household goods (typically valued at around $40,000). We’ve outlined the average cost of flying goods from both New York and Los Angeles to Bangkok.
|New York to Bangkok||$3,644||2 – 4 days|
|Los Angeles to Bangkok||$3,539||2 – 4 days|
Healthcare in Thailand
Healthcare in Thailand is funded entirely by the government, primarily from revenue generated by taxes.
Known as the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS), it has reduced infant mortality, decreased sick days for workers, and made it much easier for families to afford healthcare — UCS costs just $80 per person annually.
Expats working in Thailand get access to the UCS, because all workers including expats contribute 5% of their salaries into the Thai social security scheme.
Despite this access, having access to private healthcare insurance is still recommended because waiting times can be high for public hospitals. English speakers in public hospitals can be limited too, so communicating issues might be challenging.
We’ve partnered with Cigna Global for this very reason. Their comprehensive healthcare plans will give you peace of mind in case of any unfortunate events. Start building a customized plan today by simply filling in a few details.
You’ll receive a personalized quote shortly after. For information on healthcare in Thailand, read our helpful guide here.
Thailand's many beaches are stunning
Cost of living in Thailand
How much it costs to live in Thailand will vary depending on where you are, but to make things simpler we’re using Bangkok as a benchmark.
Please note that this is just a rough overview of what you might expect to pay in Thailand.
|One-bedroom apartment in in city center (900 sqft) ||฿18,651.57 ($526.48)|
|Meal for two at a typical restaurant in city center||฿1,000.00 ($28.23)|
|Monthly ticket for public transport||฿1,300.00 ($36.70)|
|Imported beer (33 cl)||฿150.00 ($4.23)|
|One liter of milk||฿57.46 ($1.62)|
|12 large eggs||฿64.80 ($1.83)|
|Internet (60 Mbps or more)||฿559.12 ($15.78)|
|One liter of gas||฿43.39 ($1.22)|
|International primary school for one child, annual fee||฿519,900.31 ($14,675.26)|
Source: Numbeo (2020)
Transferring money to Thailand from the US
Before you move to Bangkok, you’ll need to sort out your finances and convert some of it into Thai Baht (abbreviated to THB).
It’s a good idea to compare money transfer services first before going to your local bank, because oftentimes the latter’s rates will be substantially higher.
To help you out, we’ve done the legwork and researched the best money exchange services around. Take a look at our expert ratings and find the best money transfer provider here.
Working in Thailand
Thailand’s growing economy has made it an attractive destination for investors, who are welcomed into the country with open arms.
The most popular job for expats in Thailand is teaching English, with the average salary being $945–$1,481. Salaries are highest in Bangkok, but this corresponds with the cost of living being around 30% higher than elsewhere in the country.
Other popular jobs for expats include the tourism industry, and the automotive, finance, agriculture, and electronics industries. Speaking Thai can be useful, but not essential.
Getting a work visa in Thailand
To legally work in Thailand, you will need a work permit. This is a legal document that states your position, current occupation, or job description for the Thai company you hope to work for.
In order to get a work permit, you’ll first need to secure a non-immigrant or resident visa. You can apply for this via the Thai embassy and it must be obtained before you travel to Thailand.
Once you’ve sorted your visa and moved to Thailand, you can apply for your work permit from the Ministry of Labor office. Here’s what you’ll need to provide them:
- Passport photo
- Medical certificate
- Original passport
- Letter of employment
- Certificate of degree
- Your address in Thailand
Your employer will also have to provide various documents, including a copy of the letter of employment, the company’s financial statements, and salary details.
Average salary in Thailand
Thailand’s average salary is ฿96,900 ($2,904), which is substantially higher than the nearby countries. Cambodia for example, has an average salary of just $290 per month (though expat salaries are higher than this).
Salaries will vary substantially between industries, with teaching jobs typically lower than positions in financial or electrical industries.
Income tax in Thailand
Thai income tax rates are progressive, meaning that the more you earn, the more you’ll pay. Here’s a table showing Thailand’s income tax rates:
|Taxable income per year (USD)||Income tax rate|
|113,109 and above||35%|
Job hunting in Thailand
Thai companies have a legal obligation to employ four Thai nationals for every one expat, so competition for the highest paid roles can be fierce among foreigners. You should start job hunting at least three months before you make your move.
To get you started, here are some of the best job searching platforms for expats moving to Thailand:
Climate in Thailand
Thailand’s climate is tropical, with monsoon winds bringing seasonal changes. In May, the warm air from the Indian Ocean causes heavy rainfall that lasts until October, though that doesn’t mean rain every single day.
The best times of the year are from November to February, where the climate is at its coolest and least humid. It’s still warm, averaging at 77°F, but far more manageable than the 98°F seen in April.
Does it snow in Thailand?
You will not see snow in Thailand, because the climate never reaches a point where it is possible.
Snow was rumored to have occurred in 1955, which saw the coldest weather ever recorded in Thailand. Temperatures “plummeted” to 35°F, which is just about cold enough for snow to happen.
Needless to say, the reports of snow have never been officially verified and you can all but guarantee it won’t happen again.
The best places to live in Thailand
Bangkok: best for work opportunities
Home to roughly 14 million people, Bangkok is easily Thailand’s busiest place to live. Subsequently, it’s the best place to find work in the country, with most of the big multinational companies established in the city.
The cost of living might be 30% higher on average than the rest of the country, but the salaries pay more to compensate.
Chiang Mai: best for culture
A calm and serene place to call home, Chiang Mai is filled with Buddhist temples and excellent dining opportunities. The beautiful surrounding mountains and lower-than-average temperatures — 77°F — are big bonuses too.
Hua Hin: best for education
This stunning beach town has a selection of excellent international schools, which all stick to a similar curriculum to that found in British schools (one of the best educational systems in the world).
Hua Hin is also packed full of plenty of attractions and amenities for every age, so you can rest assured knowing your children won’t be bored growing up here.
7 quick facts about Thailand
- Thailand's capital, Bangkok, is only called that by expats. Its real name is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom. We’re not joking.
- You can see the world’s largest golden Buddha statue, which weighs an astonishing 5.5 tons and is 15 feet tall.
- The Thai language has 76 letters (and you thought learning your ABCs was difficult).
- It is considered rude to point at someone with your index finger. Shaking hands is uncommon too — instead, place your hands together, raise them to your face, and lower your head in a bow when you greet someone.
- There are more than 40,000 temples in Thailand. When you visit one, make sure you cover up to show respect.
- The Songkran Festival is the world’s largest water fight.
- Thai people absolutely adore their royal family, so be careful not to criticize them openly.
For more information, check out our 21 things to know before moving to Thailand guide.
That’s all for our guide on moving to Thailand from the US – hopefully you’ve got a better picture of what it’s like to move to the Land of Smiles.
The next step is to start thinking about moving your belongings over to Thailand, and we can help.
All you need to do to get started is answer a few simple questions on this quick form. We’ll put your answers together and pass them on to our suppliers, who’ll get in touch with quotes for you to compare in no time at all. How easy is that?