Straw poll predicts the demise of Thailand as an expat destination

Published:  25 Jan at 6 PM
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As the air in Bangkok get even more polluted, a survey by a well-known expat forum tells it like its members see it..

For decades, Thailand has been a favourite expat destination for its weather, its very low cost of living and its reputation as an easy-going place to work or retire. However, over the past several years, increasingly restrictive visa regulations and a feeling that expats weren’t as welcome as in the past have soured the dream, with many Westerners leaving for Cambodia, Vietnam and other more promising and permissive locations.

A recent poll held by the country’s leading expat forum seems to indicate discontented expat rumblings have risen to a roar, with 76 per cent of respondents believing their lives will only get worse over the next five years and quoting ever-increasing long-stay visa restrictions as well as lack of affordability due to rising prices. One very pessimistic respondent said there won’t even be any expats in the Land of Smiles some five years from now.

Others suggested they’d read the Thai economy was ‘going down the drain’, with others stating the constantly-changing visa requirements were causing panic at worst and depression at best amongst the expat community. This, they said, will drive potential expats to choose other destinations where their situations are far more settled and they feel more welcome. Another troublesome issue for many was the comparative and, to some, inexplicable strength of the Thai baht, meaning their pension and investment returns transfers were worth far less than in the past.

A few positive voices were heard, with one respondent suggesting life in Thailand was ‘as good as you make it’, and the usual suspects came out with their mantra of ‘if you don’t like it, why don’t you leave’, perhaps missing the point that many have already left! Given that the poll only involved 314 expats out of the many thousands living, working or retiring in the country, it could be said it’s hardly representative, but at least it gives a perspective to would-be expats convinced the country is the proverbial land of milk and honey.
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