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Thailand the Top 10 Most Desirable Country for Expatriates

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Thailand Makes Top 10 Most Desirable Countries for Expatriates

According to InterNations’ Expat Insider 2022 survey, Thailand ranks 8th among the top 10 most desirable countries for expatriates.

Berlin-based InterNations, the world’s largest expatriates in the community with more than 4 million members, surveyed expatriates life in 52 destinations, gathering online responses from nearly 12,000 members.

The survey measures expats’ satisfaction with their countries of residence in four areas: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, and Personal Finance. Digital life, administration, housing, and language are all covered in a new Expat Essentials Index.

In the Personal Finance Index, Thailand ranks fourth, and in Ease of Settling In, it comes in eleventh. In terms of Expat Essentials, it ranked 18th, yet in terms of Quality of Life, it placed a mediocre 35th. Working Abroad (45th) lowered the country’s overall score. The majority of expatriates in Thailand, 77%, say they are satisfied with their lives here, compared with 71% globally.

In 2019, the country ranked 25th out of 64 destinations, up from 14th in 2021. Bangkok ranked 20th out of 82 cities ranked by InterNations in 2020.

There were three top destinations worldwide: Mexico (1st), Indonesia (2nd) and Taiwan (3rd), with high scores for Ease of Settling In and Personal Finance. Among the remaining top 10, in order, were Portugal, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.

Expats in Kuwait (52nd), New Zealand, and Hong Kong perform poorly in terms of personal finances.

Money goes further in Thailand

A majority of expatriates (85%) in Thailand feel that their disposable household income is sufficient or more than sufficient to lead a comfortable life (compared with 72% worldwide). As compared to the global average of 45%, expatriates rank Thailand third for the general cost of living — 71%. According to respondents, Thailand ranked first in the housing subcategory, with both affordable (74% vs 39% globally) and easy-to-find accommodation (85% vs 54% globally).

Paper chase

However, the Expat Essentials index tells a different story, with respondents particularly dissatisfied with the lack of online administrative/government services (43% vs 21% worldwide) paperwork for everything,” comments one expatriates from Chile. More than half (51%) say dealing with local bureaucracy and authorities is difficult, compared with 39% globally.

While 70% of Expats are able to live without speaking the local language (compared to 51% globally), 68% have difficulty learning it (in comparison to 38% globally). A total of 78% of Americans speak the language only a little (54% compared to 25% globally) or not at all (24% compared to 10% globally).

Easy connections in Thailand

Ease of Settling In is a highlight, though, and expatriates rate Thailand particularly well in the Local Friendliness subcategory. The majority (86%) find the residents to be generally friendly (vs 66% globally), and another 81% describe them as friendly towards foreign residents (vs 65% globally). They enjoy their social life (69% satisfied vs 56% globally), and more than half (52%) say that making local friends is easy, compared to 42% globally.

Leisure and healthcare in Thailand

The Quality of Life index (35th) is a mixed bag, according to InterNations. When it comes to Leisure Options (5th), expatriates are especially happy. They vote the country second worldwide for its culinary variety and dining options, only beaten by Mexico. Some 77% are satisfied with the culture and nightlife, compared to 67% globally.

Expats also are impressed by healthcare in Thailand, ranking the country 11th in the Health and Wellbeing subcategory. More than three-quarters (77%) say they have access to all the kinds of healthcare services they need (vs 67% globally), and with good quality (85% vs 72% globally).

Not so green

On the other hand, the Environment and Climate subcategory (44th) is a major concern for expatriates in Thailand. Two in five believe the government does not support policies to protect the environment, more than double the global average (18%).

“People are not aware enough about pollution, and it is sad to see nature spoiled by rubbish,” a French expatriates complain. Furthermore, 45% rate the air quality negatively (vs 19% globally) and 32% are unhappy with the urban environment (elements such as green spaces, noise levels and eco-friendly architecture), compared to 17% globally.

Unhappy workers

Thailand’s main weakness is in the Working Abroad index (45th), with a ranking of 48th in the Work Culture and Satisfaction subcategory (48th). The local business culture, they say, does not encourage creativity (41% vs 26% globally), nor does it promote independent work (45% vs 28% globally).

Expats also rank Thailand among the bottom 10 for Salary and Job Security (46th). However, 35% of the respondents to this year’s survey do not have to worry about this, as they are already retired, compared to the global average of 10% retirees. In fact, 19% of expatriates in Thailand moved there specifically to retire, compared to only 3% globally.