Moving to Thailand

Old Jun 28th, 2010, 04:55 AM
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Moving to Thailand

Yeah, like many of you, the thought has crossed my mind quite a bit. Been mostly a vague desire / fleeting notion kind of thing until recently. But time changes all things. Kids are out of college. Retirement looming. Debt free. Pensions and income streams in place. Time to get more serious and do some research and soul searching.

I've made about 30 short visits over the past 3-4 years... fell in and out of love, been scammed (but not for much), amazed, repulsed, over-joyed, pissed off, frustrated.

But I still remain excited and positive and persist with making basic plans:

Location: BKK most likely, but have an open mind to other places.

Must haves: Pool, gym, book stores, movies, variety of restaurants, health care, nightlife, easy access to international flights, access to national parks and beaches, ability to interact with other farangs, opportunities to do volunteer work or be a silent partner in a business.

Game plan: Use Thailand as a long term hub from which to periodically visit other Asian countries.

Concerns: being sucked into too much drinking and partying, not having a wide enough circle of friends, having the heat and traffic wear me down

Any body making the leap in the next year or two?
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 05:03 AM
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Just curious to know if the age of the King has any weight in your decision? I'm concerned about the future of the country when He is no longer there to help maintain calm. I would like to think more in the lines of part time USA/part time BKK, with lots of visits to other parts of S E Asia while in that part of the world.
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 05:07 AM
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Carol, yes, that is a concern. But I plan to rent and not buy for the first year or so.
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 05:12 AM
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Good choice, renting first! Go to the long term rentals thread, as I think you should read guenmai's new posting(s). Very good info for someone thinking of making the move!
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 09:23 AM
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Carol, small, baby steps: got a debit card from the Thai Farmers Bank on the last trip. Using it made me feel some movement to eventually being a long term resident.
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 12:05 PM
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If you go over to McBeanie's thread then I've just printed information that should be useful to you. It's the "Long-term rentals in Thailand" thread. Happy Travels!
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 03:06 AM
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Thank you Guenmai - great stuff.
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 01:11 PM
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You're welcome and good luck to you on your move. And don't give up on learning Thai. Happy Travels!
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 01:30 PM
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I forgot to add that,some years ago, I also got a debit/bank card, different bank than you have. It was my first step. And it's good that I got it when I did because I went into my same bank on my next trip back to BK, less than 9 months later, and there was a sign in the bank stating the "new" requirements for foreigners getting a debit/bank card/ account and I wouldn't have gotten one under the "new" requirements, as I don't work in Thailand.

In November 2009, I tried to get my account set up so that I can access it over the internet to check my balance etc. I took my Thai friend in with me to translate, but wasn't granted internet access to my account because I don't live there long term and my account was set up as a "tourist" type of account; in other words, short stay, I think is what they meant.

So, if you can get your bank to give you internet access to your account, then I suggest that you go for it. Rules to things in Bangkok change very fast and unexpectedly.

Also, in November, I asked an ex-pat friend of mine who's lived in Bangkok most of her life, about the bank situation and she said that, I think it was, CitiBank was having special offers to open an account with them in Bangkok. That might be a way of easily making deposits into one's account while out of Thailand. I'll have to re-email her and ask again. And if it was Citi-Bank that she told me about, then I'll have to look into it.

And remember that your bank probably charges a yearly fee to have the account. Mine does. So, then there needs to be enough left in the account to cover the fee if one is out of the country. If the balance on the account falls below the annual fee, then the account will most likely be closed out. And once it's closed out, it might not be so easy, if possible at all, to get it back. Happy Travels!
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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Not only are the general bank rules changeable, it's up to each branch manager to interpret and enforce them. The answer you get at one branch may be different than the response you get from another branch of the same bank.

Citbank does not have a branch banking license in Thailand. Their primary business here is credit cards. They don't have any ATMs of their own. You may be better advised to go with one of the international banks that has bought a local bank, like Standard Chartered or UOB.

If you decide to retire in Thailand, a retirement visa is quite easy to get (assuming you sort out the bank). I just changed my work visa to a retirement one, and it took just a few hours at immigration. However, if you just want to test the waters, then you should consider getting multiple "O" visas from the Thai embassy or consulate at home, rather than relying on 30-day entries. The O visas are good for 60 or 90 days each, and by getting multiple ones, you can just leave the country before one expires and use the next one on your return. You generally want to avoid trying to get more O visas in neighboring countries, since there's a bit of a crackdown on people using multiple O visas to stay (and work) in Thailand indefinitely.
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 06:09 PM
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Congratulations on your retirement, Michael!
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 07:09 PM
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so if you retire, who is going to be rewashing the paper coffee cups??
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Old Jun 30th, 2010, 10:13 AM
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MichaelBKK: Thanks for posting the bank info. I had forgotten about those two banks. I just googled UOB and we have it here in L.A. I'll google the other one,too. Maybe I'll also open an account with one of them along with having my Thai account. Happy Travels!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2010, 09:03 AM
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Thanks for the feedback.
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 04:47 AM
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UOB is a S'pore bank and it has limited branches in Bangkok. It will not open a bank account for foreigners without a work permit (I've tried asking!).

I managed to open a savings a/c with Kasikornbank in Siam Paragon without a work permit. I got a passbook, an ATM card which is also a debit card (useful for buying groceries without fishing out cash from your wallet) and Internet banking access (you can top up your prepaid phone card).

You must do at least 1 a/c transaction during the year to avoid the account being closed.

I can get a credit card provided I put in a similar amount as a fixed deposit (which will be blocked).

I have bought a condo in Childom, Bangkok, which serves as a great weekend home. I have also another unit in the same development as a rental investment.

I find Bangkok a great place to retire (in the future, for me). You can spend as little as a few hundred Bahts to as much as thousands of Bahts a day and it all depends on what you want or what you do.
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 02:54 PM
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bkkbest:Thanks for posting the info. Maybe I'll go with Kasikornbank as it provides "internet access". I've had Bangkok Bank for some years and also have an ATM/ debit card and passbook, but no internet access. I'll also look into Standard Chartered as there's one right here in my city in L.A. County. What does "a/c transaction" mean in your above post? Happy Travels!
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 11:48 PM
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Guenmai, you may want to try asking Bangkok Bank to see if there is a change of policy that will allow you to have Internet banking access. Bangkok Bank (certain branches) is another bank known to be friendly to foreigners opening bank accounts.

My experience is that you do not need to use the same bank in your home country and in Thailand. In fact, because of the different banking laws and incorporation status, Standard Chartered US may not necessarily "talk" to Standard Chartered TH.

Most if not all banks in TH require some movement in an account during the year or the account may be closed due to in-activity. Making a deposit or doing a withdrawal constitutes account movement. Hope this helps.
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Old Jul 5th, 2010, 03:05 AM
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The "no account without work permit" is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about in terms of policies. That may not be UOB's policy. It might just be the policy of the branch, or even the person you talked to. Ask a different person at a different branch and you might get a completely different response. The expat forums like ThaiVisa are full of complaints about this.

I've heard that setting up an international bank transfer with Kbank Internet can be a huge hassle, but then, considering it's not even possible with a US bank, a lot of hassle may still be better than a trip to the bank. I haven't even bothered getting an Internet setup from Kbank (which is my bank) because I can do everything like paying utility bills at an ATM or a 7-11.
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Old Jul 5th, 2010, 07:13 PM
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bkkbest: Thanks. I flew over to Bangkok just in November 2009 to take care of the banking business and a few other things. That's when I was told that due to the classification of my account, I didn't qualify for internet access.

As for showing activity on the account at least once a year, when I arrived to Bangkok in November 2009, my account was a month short of two years of having had any activity on it and the account was still open and fine. They charge an annual fee to have the account, so maybe that's why it was still open.

MichaelBKK: Thanks for the info. Happy Travels!
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