Hello, Eugene, Alla. So let's start with the general, and, probably the most common question: Why did you choose Thailand?
Of course, Thailand was attracting us by its culture and exotics. Another thing was visa policy which played a huge role in choosing the country for immigration. Thailand is very open for Ukrainians. I’m not familiar with visa policy questions, but we thought that getting six months visa without personal attendance of the embassy is a good option.
Also, it is a widely known fact that Thailand is a very popular destination for people from the former Soviet countries, which means there are many blogs and forums with different guides and tips about any question.
Moving to Thailand was a sudden decision for us. And it was a new country which we knew only by our friends’ stories. All reviews and stories we heard were great, that's why we couldn’t wait for this adventure to start.
What a brave decision! Was it a completely new company? Did anyone help you to relocate and how much time did it take?
We didn’t have offers and interviews in the process of relocation to Thailand. At that moment I was working at the company that organized relocation. I think this is the best way of moving to a new country. The only thing that changed was the country where you work. But in spite of this, we had many difficulties. I guess I should say more about them.
The entire relocation process went quite fast. It took only three weeks from the moment we’ve made the decision till our arrival to Bangkok. We spent this time for getting visa and booking tickets.
We’ve arrived in Bangkok in a small group without any particular place for accommodation. We’ve decided to stay in Bangkok for the first time and then pick a place to live. Our company paid for a temporary condo for this period so that we could take a break after acclimatization and cultural shock ( an unavoidable consequence of relocation). :)
At the time when Eugene and his company went to Thailand to explore and find a place to live, all girls including me stayed in Ukraine. I had to pack all stuff and finish some plans here as were about stay there for at least six months.
As for the job, I have a good situation since I work remotely as a designer. So in my case relocation to Thailand affected only time zone changing.
How much money is needed for living in Thailand? Is it hard to find accommodation?
Concerning the cost of living in Thailand, it depends on many factors. Of course, guys and girls need different amount for the living.
For example, living in Bangkok is more expensive than living on islands. It’s hard to say how much exactly, but rent is twice bigger for sure. Food is cheaper on islands too, because it’s not from grocery stores (food that we used to is expensive in Thailand, especially wine and cakes :). But if we talk about specific numbers, rent should be no more than half of income. Rent in a good district costs about $450-600. Therefore total amount for the living should be equal to the double rent.
More about this topic you can find here: https://nomadlist.com
Personally, I was worried about prices and choice of clothing and cosmetics in Thailand, so I bought everything I might have needed in Ukraine. But when I've arrived in Bangkok, I saw that I was wrong. The variety of makeup, skin care, clothing and shoes in Thailand is huge. You can find all brands starting from luxury, well known mass market and finishing local brands. Also, price variation is very appealing. There are some big markets (Chatuchak Weekend Market, Rod Fai Night Market) where you can find cheap and good quality clothing and shoes. Makeup and cosmetics you can find in drug stores such as Watsons and Boots. So buying local products doesn't just give you a local experience but also saves you some money.
As for accommodation and finding the location for living Eugene was in charge of that.
We have chosen the accommodation in an easy way — developed infrastructure and logistics were the key factors, the closeness to the seaside was more of a bonus. Pattaya was a compromise among these key factors. It is situated on a mainland part of Thailand with a sea and stable internet connection. The only missing part from Pattaya is Thai authenticity and culture. It was the main reason why we’ve decided to move back to Bangkok after two weeks of living in Pattaya. Phuket and Samui were among options too, but we all voted to stay in Bangkok as in the well-developed cultural place with many ways to explore Thailand.
After arriving in Bangkok, we had to look for the accommodation on our own. Lucky, we were in Bangkok before and already knew the areas suitable for living. At this second time in Bangkok we were living in a condo rented by the company, but after work, we were searching for our own accommodation.
We’ve tried many different ways of searching apartments: exploring realtor sites, help from people we know who lived in Thailand, and even walking into buildings and asking questions. But it didn’t bring a result. It definitely has its pros and I strongly recommend to explore the area that you like before choosing the apartment. All in all, the most efficient way was to go to a local realtor agency and ask for help. It is usually a small office inside a condo, where brokers help searching for the apartments. They are always aware of the available apartments in closest buildings and area. That’s how we found ours, moreover, this realtor helped almost all of my coworkers. Maybe we just got lucky, but we’ve spent a lot of time on searching, so I believe that we deserve this luck.
You can rely on BTS Skytrain line while searching for accommodation. We got our apartment three stops from central station. It was a good district even though there were two legendary streets with strip clubs. :)
One of the concerns during relocation is whether your salary is enough. What is the average income level in Thailand?
We were thinking about the average income level in Bangkok a lot. It’s a city of contrasts: you can meet greengrocer on the street, who is working near a big new condo with parking full of expensive cars, and right next to him you can see a homeless disabled guy asking for money. So I guess average income in Thailand depends on occupation.
What are the ways to spend the spare time, entertainments? Did you find friends there? What is the general attitude to foreigners?
There are so many different ways how you can spend your free time. Thailand, so as many other Asian countries is full of huge malls, people obsessed about infinite shopping, bars and everything entertaining. You can find everything, that tourist may want to see or try here. Everything is shiny, loud and dynamic. But it’s difficult to find sophisticated places. Recreation, comfort, and relaxation are privileges of wealthy people, so they are harder to reach but possible.
Also, there are many exhibitions, galleries, and parks. Almost every condo has a gym.
Our condo had not only a gym but also swimming pool, which is not rare for most of the condos. Gym and swimming pool are free and usually opened from early morning till the dark. So it’s another good way how you can spend your free time.
Also, there are many beautiful parks in Bangkok with playgrounds, places for meditation, gazebos, running and biking tracks and bike rental. You can even meet goannas in some parks. :)
Talking about traditional entertainment, we’ve tried to fill our free time variously and went to many different interesting places. For those who love animals, I suggest to visit Dust Zoo in Bangkok and one of numerous cat cafes, where you can pet and feed cats. There is also a similar place with dogs. As for cultural sites, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) was one of the most memorable. It shows Thailand from the authentic side. And of course, you can’t visit Thailand without going to one of many temples (Was Pho and Was Arun in Bangkok).
We didn’t find any Thai friends, but I think it’s a personal matter. Bangkok is full of emigrants from different countries and different nationalities, so you will have no problem in finding friends there if you’re communicative person. Once, I met a huge Swedish guy in our gym. He appeared to be a really nice person, but we end up just saying “Hi” every time we met.
Thai people are very polite and humble. And since tourism is a huge part of income, they treat everybody positively, with respect. Most people that you will meet on streets are not wealthy, so the fact that you have white skin will be taken as a sign of wealthiness.
Did you like the local food? Do you eat it on a daily basis?
Food is what for you can go to Thailand. It is something incredible! We ate local food every day, and I still would eat it now. But be careful with calories and spiciness. :)
I still can’t forget local fruits, that’s what I miss the most. I’ve never tried this kind of pineapples, watermelons, and mangos after Bangkok. And also fresh seafood and delicious rice. The variety of Thai cuisine is huge, so you can’t get tired even for a long time.
Apart from Thai cuisine, we also have tried the traditional Indian food for the first time, and it was a good experience.
So don’t be afraid to try everything, but don’t forget to add “not spicy” to your order.
Is it possible to relocate with family? Did you have such experience? If yes, was it possible for them to find work and education?
It turned out that we didn’t have coworkers with family members, who needed to find a job or school in Thailand. So it’s hard to answer this question from our perspective.
Is it hard to accommodate because of the language? How often do people speak English there? What are the culture differences?
Thailand is not the best place to practice English. English is a mixture of Thai and simplified English words. It even has a name “Thaiglish”. But in general, you can easily communicate using simple words. That’s what we did and never had any problems in communication.
As for cultural differences, I can say that it was like a parallel universe for me. You can’t be prepared for this, and it even makes no sense. So relax and enjoy it!
I think that there is a beauty in this big cultural difference. It helps to see the world from a different perspective, understand how different and at the same time similar we are. You will show respect and look nice for Thai people if you learn just a few simple words in Thai such as "hello" and "thank you”.
What is the quality of social institutions: educational, medical, insurance?
Fortunately, we didn’t go to the hospital in Thailand. But we were prepared and took many different medicines with us. It’s interesting that one Thai woman asked us to give her some medicaments that were left when we were going back to Ukraine. She found some of them very useful. But it’s good to have insurance, which we didn’t have in our time and I regret about this.
Yes, we were lucky enough that we didn’t have any medical issues. But you can buy any medicaments in drug stores without recipes if you need, whether it local drugs or European.
Did you travel during work and where? What are the most popular travel destinations?
There are many flights with reasonable prices available from Bangkok to any part of Thailand. You can spend a good time on islands if you can take at least 3 days off. We went to Krabi on vacation. As for weekend plans there are many good locations with the sea in two hours from Bangkok, for example, Huahin.
Krabi was one of the brightest memories about Thailand. You definitely should see heaven islands located not far from the city. You can go there by boat, and this trip is an adventure by itself.
What was the funniest case you had in Thailand?
For me, the most memorable funny story was during our vacation on Krabi. We were walking upstairs to a Buddhist temple Tiger Cave Temple located on a 600-meters high mountain. Long 1,237 steps leading to the top. We felt great and energetic at the beginning. But after a quarter of the path, we’ve started to see lagging people. It was getting harder with every step that we’ve made. The more steps we’ve made, the more people were behind us willing to go back rather than finishing this road. So when we went through the biggest part of the path, we saw a monk, who was going downstairs with a big smile on his face. He asked everyone who was going up how is it going. And then he encouraged us saying that this was his third climbing for today. After that, we just couldn’t stop reaching the top. By the way, going down wasn’t easy either, but it was worth it!
Funny story was when we were in a small Indian restaurant having dinner with our friend and having a very vivid discussion about affability and smiling to strangers. At some point, we’ve noticed that all staff got frightened and looked carefully at us. I guess what was just a discussion of a very positive topic during the dinner for us, looked like a potential fight with knives for them. :)
What would you recommend to others who want to relocate?
Just do it! Thailand became one of the biggest adventures for us.
Thailand is a country where you will definitely want to come back and more than once!
Thank you for sharing your experience and good luck with the future adventures!