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Deciding where to live

With its seductive combination of sprawling urban cities and tropical beaches, Thailand is a popular expatriate destination.

It also boasts a relatively low cost of living, and, depending on the area, can offer a variety of different lifestyles.

Located in the monsoon region, Thailand enjoys a tropical climate. Humidity is often high and the hottest months of the year are April and May, with the temperature staying moderately high all year round. This is a great draw for expatriates looking to enjoy a different way of life.

Thailand’s three seasons are:

  • Winter: From November to February you’ll experience lower temperatures, particularly in the mountain regions. It’s also the driest time of year.
  • Summer: From March to May temperatures can rise as high as 35 degrees Celsius.
  • Monsoon: During the months between June and October flash floods are common with rainfall heavy and long-lasting. This can sometimes begin in September.

Whether you’re looking for a high-rise luxurious apartment in the business district of Bangkok, a rural existence and a more traditional way of life amongst the locals, or a tropical island, Thailand has a lot to offer with its diverse lifestyles and low cost of living. Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Koh Sumui and Pattaya are all popular areas for expatriates to settle, and all offer different experiences.

Here are some of the most popular places to live and work:


With its high-rise luxury apartments now sculpting the horizon, Bangkok has undergone much development in recent years.  It is the largest urban development in Thailand, with approximately 9.3 million people making a home there. The average temperature in summer is 30 degrees Celsius, in winter 26 degrees Celsius. A city of contradictions: alongside the new areas sit the older parts of the town, with their bustling markets, traditional trades, and wealth of cultural heritage. Bangkok, the business powerhouse of Thailand, sits in the Central Plains area of Thailand and is thirty times larger than the next biggest city in Thailand. Established in 1782 by Siam’s King Rama I, Bangkok was built on a bend in the Chao Phraya River on the site of an existing fort called Bang Makok — ‘the place of olive plums.’ Still bisected by the great river, the canal forms an integral part of life in the city, which lacks a single ‘centre’ and is instead made up of districts. Bangkok is ranked 67th in Mercer’s Quality of Living Rankings 2017.


There is a broad cross section of expatriates working in a myriad of jobs living in the centre. There are no areas designated specifically for expatriates, but popular locations include the Central Business District, Sathorn District, Sukhumvit Road and Silom. Many international businesses are based here, so it’s a great location if you’re looking for corporate work. These are near to the Bangkok Skytrain, as well as the many amenities and leisure facilities the centre of Bangkok affords. It’s important to check where the Skytrain goes, as in some places it may be difficult to commute to one of the stations.

Property in some areas is relatively cheap and the housing in the city includes serviced apartments or non-serviced apartments — the former resemble hotels and are staffed and often have leisure facilities; the latter are cheaper but often come with longer-term leases. Renting a city centre apartment is much more affordable than major cities like London, where it can be as much as 69% cheaper. The centre of town has bad air quality and a lack of parks and green spaces, plus there’s a prevalence of red light districts. With a reputation for a great nightlife and relative safety — it’s still important to keep an eye on the political climate and news updates.

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The suburbs are very multicultural with some international schools and gated communities. The most popular areas with expatriates include Nonthaburi, Suan Luang, Samut Prakan — all accessible for working in the city centre by use of the Bangkok Skytrain, which extends towards the South and the East. Outside the sprawl of the city, expatriates can escape the bad air quality and heavy traffic, and still commute to work. The suburbs are well-suited to families — being quieter, safer, and cheaper than the locations closer to the city.

Chiang Mai

The second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai’s average temperature in summer is 29 degrees Celsius; in winter 20 degrees Celsius. Less moderniszed than Bangkok, this city may suit people looking for a more traditional way of life closer to the country — 13km north of Chiang Mai is the lush Mae Sa Valley and you can now access one of Thailand’s remotest provinces, Mae Hong Son, by air from Chiang Mai.

Udon Thani

As the largest city in Isan Province in the northeast of Thailand, Udon Thani home to even more expatriates than Phuket, attracted by the low cost of living to both buy and rent. There was a U.S. air base in the region and many expatriates have been residents in Udon Thani since the Vietnam War. There are no beaches here and the area is rural, but the city enjoys airport connections to Chiang Mai and Bangkok, and has a wealth of bowling alleys, gyms, golf courses, and other leisure facilities. The new developments are popular with people based in Bangkok and looking to buy a holiday home.


Humidity can be as high as 75% in Phuket with average temperatures reaching 29 degrees Celsius in summer; in winter it’s still a balmy 27 degrees Celsius. Property prices are high too with some developments aimed particularly at the expatriate market. The largest island off the coast of Thailand, Phuket is home to a large number of expats who benefit from an international hospital, an international school, and an easy commute to the mainland. Supermarkets and other facilities are available, and it’s the perfect place for anyone keen on working in the tourist industry.

Koh Sumui

Predominantly a tourist destination, Koh Sumui is Thailand’s third largest island with an average temperature in summer of 29 degrees Celsius, and 25 degrees Celsius in winter. Popular with those working in the tourism industry or retiring in Thailand, there are plenty of shops and leisure facilities but the island’s popularity means property prices are high.


Like Koh Sumui, Pattaya is a popular holiday destination and is busy all year round. Less than 100 miles from Bangkok, the average temperature in summer is 30 degrees Celsius, and 26 degrees Celsius in winter.  Pattaya is infamous for its red light districts, and Jomtien is an area that has been particularly popular with British, Russian, and Scandinavian expatriates. Property prices are on an upward trajectory here, so buying would be a good investment — there are choices of property from the basic to the luxurious. With good flight connections to Bangkok, many companies are relocating their headquarters to Pattaya from Bangkok, which means many potential new jobs in the business sector, as well as tourism.

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