Survey shows half of expats in Thailand considering leaving

Published:  7 Nov at 6 PM
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A recent survey conducted by Thailand’s largest and most popular expat forum has revealed 50 per cent of expats have considered relocating elsewhere over the past year.

The survey results came as somewhat of a shock to the forum’s administrators, as a previous vote taken earlier in 2016 seemed to suggest most expats were happy to be in Thailand. In the current poll, 84 per cent of respondents who’d considered moving on stated they were unhappier than in previous years.

For decades, Thailand has been a popular expat destination for Westerners desperate to reshape their lives in a friendly, inexpensive country with year-round sunshine and warmth. Especially popular with older, retired expatriates, its charms have traditionally included the chance to marry a Thai national and start a family.

The most-used visa options are ‘retirement’ and ‘marriage’, although no official totals of expats living in the country have ever been given by immigration authorities. According to the survey, recent arrivals are less content with their decisions than long-stayers, with 38 per cent of those living in Thailand for less than three years unhappier than when they first arrived.

Traditionally, the average age of expats has hovered around 55 years old, but has now fallen to around 50. The most popular expat havens are still Bangkok and Pattaya, with coastal Hua Hin’s popularity rising and rural Udon Thani’s dropping to just 1.75 per cent of the total number of foreigners at present in the country.

One reason for the increase in dissatisfaction with life in Thailand is the recent sharp increase in the cost of living, with 60 per cent of respondents stating rising prices are affecting their lifestyles.Other forums seem to reflect the results of the survey, also mentioning a perceived increase in anti-foreigner sentiment amongst Thai people, especially in Thailand’s larger cities.

Recent changes in visa requirements and the introduction of extra paperwork requesting personal details such as social media habits and regularly visited places are being seen as increasing insecurity amongst long-stayers, especially those with Thai wives and families.
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