Moving to Thailand. Advice?

Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 12:07 PM
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Moving to Thailand. Advice?

I just found out that my employer is sending me to Chiang Mai in March for at least two months, probably up to a year. They will be providing me with an apartment. Other than that, I'm on my own. I'm in my early 30s, married, and my husband will be going with me.

I realize this is a rather general question, but do you have any suggestions for preparing for such an extended stay in Thailand? Are there any "necessities" that can't be found there? Will I be able to find clothing there that fits me? (I'm 5'9" and weigh 150 pounds.) If I need to bring an entire year's worth of very-hot-weather-clothing with me, is there anywhere you'd recommend I buy it? Most stores around here (Dallas, TX) don't carry modest summer clothing in February, and I don't really know where to begin looking online. I'll be teaching at a university over there, so I will need to look at least somewhat professional.

Any help or advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 12:15 PM
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You should be able to find some thing that fit but not a huge variety. But you can get several professional things tailored for a very good price.
You should ask this question on some of the thailand expat forums, they will have a ton of info for you. There are also several people on here that live in Thailand now atleast part of the year that will be able to help. Make sure you understand how the visa program works before you leave so you don't get into yrouble in you stay longer than those 2 months.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 12:34 PM
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Thanks for the info and the suggestion to check out expat forums. After a quick search, I found a number of them that look helpful.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 01:10 PM
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You can have whatever clothing you need custom made for you for less than you can buy it in Texas.

I assume your employer will take care of the work visa, but do make sure you know the rules.

Frankly, I can't think of anything you won't be able to find in Thailand... oh, wait... good chocolate ;-)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 06:08 PM
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What is your husband going to do? Unlike the many clubs/groups that are set up the expat wives, there are very few set up for expat husbands. He'll need to find something to do (work) or another big project or it might be difficult for him.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 07:11 PM
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Angela, I've never lived in Thailand but I've lived in worked in Asia for several years now.

If your organization has sent other people to Thailand or other Asian destinations then they most likely have "rules" or at least precedent that you can draw on. If, on the other hand, you are the first or only you can take a proactive role in drawing up an agreement that serves your priorities.

Some things I would want to understand before going:
1. Accommodations
Do you have any choice if you don't like the place? What kind of facilities does it offer? Telephone, computer access, television, laundry, gym, pool?
Who pays utilities and how much do they cost?

2. Health care
Are you both covered in your company's existing policy? Make sure you get emergency evacuation coverage?

3. Transportation
What are the home leave arranangement? What if there's a family emergency back home? A non-emergency health issue?

How much leeway do you have on fares? Who makes the reservations?

How will you get around? If you have a car/driver will you have to share with your spouse?

4. Extras
Do people in your organization often have domestic help? (Don't be surprised; this is perk of expat living.) If yes, who pays? Is there a room available for a live in?

5. Spouse
What kind of visa will your husband get? Can he work if he wants to?

6. Taxes
You will still have to pay U.S. tax. I'm not familiar with Thai taxes. Some organizations tax equalize. Some leave you to your own devices. Know what the arrangements are. Who pays the accountant?

6. Extras
Club memberships? Long distance telephone privileges? Mailing assistance?

7. Clothes
I'd stock up before leaving. You can have clothes made but it's not so easy to find fabric and at any rate it's better to give the tailor something to copy. As for shoes or undies, forget about it.

As a figure of authority I'd suggest that you dress conservatively -- jackets and skirts or pants.

All of the U.S. catalogs and on-line stores have spring merchandise in stock now. Try Lands'End, Talbots, J. Jill, Macy's.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 07:21 PM
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Hi Angela,

Welcome to Chiang Mai, we love it here and Iím sure you will too. As others have said, you can have clothing tailored here for less than you would pay in Texas. If you are only here for two months starting in March you will be here for the hottest and unfortunately the most uncomfortable months of the year, so if you can, check on the air conditioning situation with your accommodation. If you are here for the full year then youíll need some cool weather clothing, we were down to 15 last night and have been down to 12 this year.

You will need both a Visa and a Work Permit; your employer should sort that out for you. Generally you will only get the work permit after you arrive. Your husband will also need a Visa and if you are staying for a year his is likely to be the more difficult one to get, so you should have your employer look after that also. You donít want him to be making visa runs at frequent intervals; particularly as unbroken visa runs are no longer accepted.

Some of the expat sites are very useful, but it pays to check the information you get there, as it can be coloured by one personís experience. Most Thai Government Departments have Web sites in English including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that deals with Visas http://www.mfa.go.th/web/12.php the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police http://www.imm.police.go.th/nov2004/en/base.php and the Revenue Department (Tax) http://www.rd.go.th/publish/5998.0.html

There is quite a large US community here within the general expatriate community. I donít think that your husband will have any problems filling his time, particularly if he plays golf. If he does want to work then he will also need a Work Permit, even for unpaid volunteer work.

Feel free to email me, [email protected] if there is anything specific you want to ask.

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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 07:38 PM
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health care prep would be my main concern....get all your shots before you leave home....

many are available there but i would be sure and up to date before i left home...

everything else you want should be available...

buy only cotton and linen things to take....

bangkok is a short distance away and cheap to get to so if CM does not have what you need, fly south for it....

i would not bring much....maybe undies you like would be a choice...

have fun...
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 12:03 AM
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Iím not going to comment on ladiesí undies but there are dozens of shops here selling cottons and other fabrics and of course we consider ourselves to be the silk capital of the world!

Shoes are something that you readily have made here but, unless you are very large feet (as I do), you can also buy off the shelf.

There is really nothing that we cannot get here that you can get in Bangkok, although you may have to wait for something special to be shipped up. Health services here are excellent, thanks to to the medical and dental faculties of Chiang Mai university.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 01:10 AM
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Your husband won't need a work permit if he's willing to work for "under the table money". But if he's lucky, you'll just let him play golf everyday, while you're working 8-6pm 5-6 days/week.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 01:17 AM
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You won't have to pay US Federal Taxes if your salary is below $85,700 (it will change for next year).
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 02:03 AM
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Hi

What can I say...lucky you I would love to work in Thailand for a year. I have been there on vacation a number of times and it is a great destination. To prepare I would buy the Culture shock Thailand book. I bought it when going there on vacation but it also includes quite a lot of info on how to do business in Thailand. There is another book called Very Thai that might be of some interest to understand the Thai culture. Have a great time in Thailand

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 06:20 AM
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Wow, thank you all so much for your replies! You've given me a lot to think about.

I am a full-time university instructor here in the States, and I'm being sent over to start an international branch of our department. I will remain fully an employee of my American university while working in Chiang Mai. Unfortunately (or, fortunately?), I'm the first and only instructor being sent over at this time. As long as I can get the department up and running successfully, others will follow at a later date. (No stress, right?) So I'm the ground-breaker.

As for my husband, he has worked remotely from home for years now, and we expect him to continue doing that overseas. That should keep him occupied during working hours.

Do you know if he can just be on a dependent visa? I'll be the one with the work visa and he'll be coming along as my dependent.

The basic accommodation questions will hopefully be answered this week, as the VP of our department is over there right now renting me an apartment.

My biggest concern at this point is just how many unknowns there are regarding living and working arrangements. I suspect that most of my questions won't be answered until I arrive in CM.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 07:11 AM
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"As for my husband, he has worked remotely from home for years now, and we expect him to continue doing that overseas. That should keep him occupied during working hours."

I presume you mean by using the internet. If so, just keep quiet about it and get him a dependent's visa.

I'm off to Hong Kong tomorrow for a spot of work, but I expect to get on the Internet from time to time.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 08:54 AM
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If you can E-mail the person renting the apartment, you might pass along some of the concerns expressed here.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 09:23 AM
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Plenty of good advice has already been given.

I would ensure 'top of your list' is to ensure your visa status is correct. I pressume your University people have been to CM to set all the paperwork/registration/local partners for this operation already ?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 09:30 AM
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"I presume your University people have been to CM to set all the paperwork/ registration/ local partners for this operation already?"

Yes, they're over there getting all the paperwork and contracts signed even as we speak.

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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 09:32 AM
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Good !

That is so vital as some times people are 'sent' to sort things out not appreciating the paperwork necessary. So that sounds fine. Do not that you need the B visa from the USA and also that from when you arrive it can take average 2-3 months to issue a w/permit, you 'cannot' work until that is issued.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 02:15 PM
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"You won't have to pay US Federal Taxes if your salary is below $85,700 (it will change for next year)."
You may not have to pay, but you and your husband will still have to file and your return(s) (U.S., State, Thai) can be quite complicated with housing, airfare, foreign tax, days worked in and out of the U.S. You should get an accountant that has experience in preparing U.S. returns.

I think being the pioneer is a good thing as you can personalize the perks to your needs. You are right that a lot of questions/requirements will come up when you're actually there so try to pre-negotiate some leeway into your arrangements.

I've had three jobs in two Asian countries and although I've been affiliated with Fortune 500 companies I've always been the Lone Ranger overseas. The HR and accounting departments of U.S. organizations that don't have a big international presence can be fairly dense and inflexible, so you need to be assertive -- and informed. The more you can anticipate and document before you go the easier it will be once you're there.

Don't get me wrong: Working in Asia is a wonderful and fullfilling experience -- both professionally and personally. I highly recommend it. But it's important to protect yourself financially and legally as it ain't Kansas.

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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 04:22 PM
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Marmot, I experienced the whole overseas income tax issue when I worked for a year in South Korea. As I did then, I will definitely be hiring an accountant come tax time next year!

And I agree - working in Asia is a great experience. Although I'm full of questions and uncertainties, I'm also quite excited at the prospect of living overseas again!
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