relocation to bangkok

Dec 1st, 2005, 09:35 AM
  #1  
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relocation to bangkok

I have lived in nj usa for 3 yrs originally from the UK and in 2006 are moving to Bangkok, i have 3 kids 7/6/2. any advice.
nj33 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 10:02 AM
  #2  
 
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you are very lucky....you will live like kings in comparison to costs in UK and NJ.....pick your housing carefully....hire a child's assistant....hire a driver....live on one of the sois off of sukhumvit----soi 12-50 or so.....lovely places....take a good look around before you commit....

things are amazingly cheap in SEA and especially bkk.....

almost anything you will need is available in bkk....no problem shopping at all for most products...huge ex-pat community there from almost every country....especially americans and british....very active british community and huge embassy....
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 10:46 AM
  #3  
 
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A lot depends on the "deal" you are getting from your employer- assuming this is an employer move. I suspect the biggest challenge will be adapting to the culture/weather. Its like a NJ summer all year long! You will need to scope out a good internatiional school and these are not cheap so hopefully this is part of your package.
BillT is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 12:33 PM
  #4  
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thank you for responding and it so good to hear good things! we will probably put the kids into the Harrow school or maybe the American school and i think both have excellent reports. Did either of you live over there? if so how long? did you like it? what was the biggest shock for you? thanks in advance
nj33 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 12:38 PM
  #5  
 
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i was the child of an expat and we lived overseas for years (orig from NJ as well). We lived in Singapore when I was aged 6-9. Your company should take care of everything, and the american schools are best so that your kids can have continuity in their education. I recommend you join the American women's club over there (don't know exact name of club, but each major int'l city has one). They'll help you with the little things like..where to find American items and fun social events. Enjoy...we are all envious.
jacqui72 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 12:40 PM
  #6  
 
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oops just realized you are british. Well the brits will have similar communities, but often non-American expat women join the Women's Club since it usually is more wide ranging. And with you living in NJ, you will have assimilated some American tastes. What company does your husband work for that he was transfered to NJ and then Thailand? Quite a contrast!
jacqui72 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 12:51 PM
  #7  
 
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Read Mei Pen Rai by Carol Hollinger. It's a bit dated but will give you an idea of the difference in cultures. It's also just a wonderful read.

Just make sure you have plenty of space for fodorites to visit! Most of us absolutely adore Bangkok.
glorialf is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 07:46 PM
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I have been an expat for almost 17 years, in Singapore, Switzerland and this is my second posting to Hong Kong. You have probably learned a lot yourself in the last 3 years, but I can suggest a few things to consider:

1. Contact schools you are interested in ASAP to determine if there is a waiting list, as I understand that most international schools in Bangkok have waiting lists. Private schools are expensive, so you would need tuition assistance from your employer.

2. The best source of information is people at your company who are currently working and living in Bangkok. Get phone numbers and e-mail addresses and give them a call or send an e-mail. They will have the most precise and current information on schools and housing.

3. Rhkkmk's comment notwithstanding, certain things are quite expensive in Thailand, primarily rental housing in Western-type accommodation. You would certainly need assistance from you employer on this, I don't know what your current housing arrangement is with your employer in the US. Utilities are often included as part of this cost. Fewer companies are offering cars, club memberships, etc as part of a package, a relocation company might be able to give you an idea of what other companies are offering to employees at your level (see below). Whether the cost is paid entirely by the employer or you are given a stipend could have tax implication to you on your personal income tax in Thailand, this is something you would want to discuss with a Thai tax advisor; i.e. whether it may be more advantageous to take the housing allowance as a lump sum payment or to have the company pay the rent directly.

4. It would not be unreasonable for your package to include the services of a relocation company who can answer your questions now before you make a decision and then help you find apartments, schools, etc. Also you would need to determine if the cost of living adjustment to be paid by your employer is adequate for Thailand (gas is US$7 a gallon, certain Western food goods you may be used to are more expensive), a relocation company could assist you in evaluating this.


5. I am assuming you are not a US citizen, and I believe Thailand has a rather low personal income tax (at least compared to the UK) so you will enjoy paying lower taxes and of course as a UK citizen won't pay any UK taxes. If you ARE a US citizen they are issues to consider with this, as you will continue to be liable to pay US federal income taxes while you are living in Thailand (with some exclusions). You would need to speak to a tax advisor now to negotiate the tax issues as part of your compensation package.

6. Ask about health insurance for you and your family. Health care is generally very good in Thailand and relatively inexpensive, esp by US standards, but you should have adequate health insurance coverage, esp for when you travel to the US or elsewhere, i.e. Europe. Finally, make sure that your life insurance plan covers you in Thailand and other countries you may be going to for work or pleasure (many plans exclude coverage or require a rider for people going to the Middle East or countries under terrorism risk.)

7. Currency - You might want to be paid in Sterling/Dollars and not Thai Baht. There are two reasons for this (i) you will reduce your exposure to currency fluctuations, and (ii) if the majority of your savings and investments are in Sterling or Dollars, it makes much more sense to have a Sterling or Dollar salary. If you are going to be making mortgage payments for a UK or US home, or investing in stocks and bonds on UK or US markets, you don't want to be constantly moving money back and forth and losing on the exchange rate. Finally, if your employer is paying the bulk of your rent, utilities, etc you will have surprisingly few expenses in Thai Baht. I would also encourage you to use a Sterling or Dollar-based credit card for daily living expense whenever possible, as you will get a better exchange rate than exchanging cash yourself. (Plus you get all those frequent flyer points. . .) The Thai Baht is not a major world currency and does fluctuate quite a bit, esp in the last few years with the economic downturn in Thailand at the end of the 90s and with SARS. If you can avoid having large amounts of Thai Baht that you need to convert to Sterling or Dollars, this is preferable. If your employer insists on paying you in Thai Baht, then negotiate a fixed rate of exchange, or a floor/ceiling on exchange rates. You will not get to take advantage of as much upside on appreciation, but if the value of the Thai Baht falls a lot (which is possible), you are at least protected from a reduction in salary. Generally, you would fix a rate at the average of the last year or years, or agree that the rate would never vary more than 10-15% up or down from the rate in effect on the date you take your assignment. If you fix a rate based on the average over the last year or years, do some research to determine if the rate over the last years is historically high or historically low (I think it will be the latter due to SARS.) Another compromise is to take the majority of your salary in Sterling or US Dollars, and a small amount (like a cost of living payment) in Thai Baht, and you could agree not to fix the exchange rate for this portion if it does not represent more than 10-15% of your salary.

8. As mentioned above, a good place to start a search on living in Bangkok is the American' Women's Club of Bangkok at http://www.awcthailand.org. You do not have to be a US citizen to belong. There is also a Newcomer's Club, their website is http://www.newcomersclub.com/th.html. Other places to look are the US Embassy in Bangkok at http://bangkok.usembassy.gov and your own embassy's website.

Other sites you may find useful

asia-expat.com, click on Bangkok
www.expatexchange.com
www.expat-essentials.com
www.expatforum.com
www.expatnetwork.com
www.escapeartist.com/expatriate1/expatriate1.htm
www.outpostexpat.nl

Also, I highly recommend a book called "Culture Shock! Thailand" which gives a fairly comprehensive and in my view accurate picture of culture and customs in Thailand. It is part of the Culture Shock series of books published by Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company . You can buy them on line from Amazon or your local bookstore can order it for you.
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 08:08 PM
  #9  
 
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great info...every place i have looked at or know of is way cheaper than anything similar in the west...that was my point...
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 08:31 PM
  #10  
 
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I lived in bangkok. Bob is right, it can be a great place for an expat. A decision on school is critical to your housing decsiion IMO. The Americna School is great but in the suburbs of Bangkok and traffic in the city is AWFUL to putn it mildly. if you choose to put your kids in the American School consider living in the suburbs i.e. Nichada. Close to the school and airport, golf club, a bit of a gated community, tad away from the center of Bkk. Another good intl school is at bangna which is where many people who choose to live in Sukhumvit and Chitlom put their kids. harrow is also good. We stayed at Chitlom and Loved it, 2 buildings away from Central Chitlom. The other critical aspect of living in bangkok is proximity to the BTS and to the highway. Apts which are just a short drive from the highway go for a premium which they are well worth. It makes sense to be near the BTS even tho you will prob have a car and driver as peak hour traffic in Bkk is so bad you may well prefer to use the skytrain. Ask your real estate agent all these questions re location.
hobbes is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2005, 05:07 AM
  #11  
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thank you thank you thank you, you have all been so helpful and positive. I bought the book culture shock and have started to read it, it is definately an eye opener!! i will digest all the great advice you have iven me and start contacting schools ect. Because my husband and i are both british we thought we would put the kids into the british school as we expect to return there after our time in bangkok. if you think of anything else please let me know. thank you again nj33
nj33 is offline  

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