Advice on first moving to Thailand


Written By Bryan Flowers

I have lived in Thailand close to 12 years, therefore I get people asking me for advice about moving to Pattaya or Thailand.  Around 3 years ago I posted an article called “Total Immersion” it was picked up by a few media sites and I felt it helped a fair few people.

I am not claiming to be an expert, but I read a lot, I witness many problems and I have helped many people. Here are some ideas to help you hit the ground running.

  1.  Get a yellow Tabian baan book, driving license and Thai ID as soon as you possibly can.
  2. Get a Thai bank account and add the app on your phone, many people leave this too long
  3. Learn reading and writing Thai as soon as you can,  learning to speak clearly is far easier
  4. Keep well away from people taking drugs, you can be found guilty just by a phone call or sitting on the same bike as them!
  5. Keeping your visa up to date is a serious matter, no matter how your money situation becomes or your state of mind, always seek advice, plan ahead and get it done on time. Please do not ask me for advice, you need to seek professional help because it changes all the time and cases seem to vary depending on several factors.
  6. Get a work permit and pay tax if you are working, it helps you become a Thai citizen later, gives you some free medical treatment to fall back on.
  7. Build relationships with Thai people long term, this helps with plans in the future, it’s important to have people you can trust, practise Thai with and some support when needed. I feel people heavily rely upon their Thai wives too much, she might be bias or not around forever.
  8. Visit expat clubs, in Pattaya there are 2 large established expat clubs, (links below)  there are different types of meetings on and you can find various facebook groups for different hobbies. I have a Bangkok Entrepreneur meeting posted on and I go weekly.
  9. Not paying girlfriends a salary,  this is a complex subject, of course, if she has dependables then a reasonable amount is ok, but if she is looking to replace a loss of earnings to be with you, it’s very tough to know if she’s with you for the right reasons, personally I would be frugal for a while and open up generosity slowly.
  10. Many guys end up with the wrong girl, my advice to avoid that, is to chose a girl yourself, don’t let them choose you.  But the biggest problem in a place like Pattaya, is the girl often moves in too quickly or 1 night turns into 1 month and then its too late to go backwards. I would stick to the no sleepover rule for a while if you want to find someone serious.  Many guys are in denial that they are looking for love, then it happens with the wrong type of person.
  11. If you are going to invest in Thailand, please take your time. You need to speak to the right people, not bar stool lawyers or friends that have no experience in business here. I see many experts that have never done anything here,  the margins can be tight and its a tough place to make money, hence all the scams.
  12. Read my “Pattaya Breeds Scammers”
  13. Overpaying –  I see many people overpaying with things when they arrive, such as an oversized house.  Its good advice to move here and start in a smaller, cheaper property than you need because you might find that you are out all the time or you are spending too much elsewhere,  the longer you live here the less you spend (with most people). I also recommend getting a house instead of a condo.  Its often less money and it’s more like real living. (and less/no rules)
  14. Try to listen to the right people, I see guys getting business advice from normal Thai people, I see guys buying businesses for Thai girlfriends with no experience,  they assume that because they are Thai, they know everything.  Some guys think Thais know better than our news, because their Thai gf seen a post from another Thai in a FB group and Thais know more than farang apparently.   We have no language barrier with our team, its an equal playing field but we have a professional team looking for information and fact-checking.  A Thai guy was arguing with me that he knew better about business because he was Thai,  but that mindset alone sets you up for no improvement,  its best to stay a student and listen to everyone.
  15. I have seen many foreigners trying to change everything and standing up for “our rights”. Many of us experienced expats don’t care about some changes so much, we know we cant protest, we know we will pay more at places if we don’t have our ID, (but I think expats should pay the same as Thais) yes you can say it’s not right but do we really want to get out of control with political correctness like the west? I don’t.  We get discriminated against sometimes, but we are often trusted and treated better in many places, there are benefits and disadvantages. I see foreigners going to places that remind them of home, eating food they were brought up with, sure you can do that but it costs money.  If you read my total immersion linked below, it teaches you to go with the flow and less against the grain. I can afford farang food, but I can also eat anywhere, almost anything if we are out and about or travelling.

    One quick example,  drivers here are very impatient and selfish compared to the UK, but if you drive aggressive and selfishly, you are far less angry, just accept people will cut you up,  don’t look at them, don’t beep, don’t shout at them, don’t take it personally, it’s just a car, they don’t take it personally either until you give an evil stare or stick a finger up. My mate seen a farang getting knocked off his bike for sticking his finger up, he died instantly.

  16. Hit the ground running with a good routine that includes exercise,  I find this is so important, the first day you arrive back or move here, find a gym and force yourself to train daily.
  17. Try to get out of party mode or not get in that game, many of us came here on holiday before moving here and we got into old habits as soon as we moved here. It’s not easy (in Pattaya) to get out of the party circuit, its a trap.  I go to your party, you come to mine, then before you know it, you have to go to hundreds of parties, if you don’t go people take it personally.  I don’t go to parties at all, I have a family and I have to work. If people ask me why, I tell them that I am working, which isn’t a lie.
  18. Many people do not use the courts or apply the law because they think they cannot win.  Many farang win cases, I don’t see discrimination in the courts,  I hate seeing people giving up without trying.  Many farang do not know if they brought a house for a Thai gf/wife and she sells it,  even if its not in his name, he can show proof of sending the funds to the partner’s account, (the transfer evidence in the courts and tell the judge that he is unable to buy a house in his name) I have seen houses taken back from the people it was sold to, it gets messy then!

    I am planning to open a law firm, later on, I am planning to write a book about becoming an expat here.  There is always some value for someone for some advice.  Please do not contact me with questions, I am too busy,  but because I have no income right now, if someone wants help, I can help them for 3000 baht for an hour,  they would save tons of money.  But not bar business advice.

Related articles  (I wrote these 3 years ago, my thoughts and opinions may have changed)

Total Immersion

Building A Rock Solid future in Thailand

Pattaya Breeds Scammers

A Sophisticated Scammer in Pattaya

For guys moving to Pattaya

Pattaya Expat Clubs

The Pattaya News