How To Ruin Your Life As A Foreigner In Thailand

Last updated: February 7th, 2020 | in Living

Ruin Your Life in Thailand

You may think living in Thailand is paradise and sure there is nothing wrong about it – as long as you are playing the rules and don’t make some major mistakes. I’m not talking about cultural faux pas like kissing in public, not queuing in line at the BTS or putting your feet on the table.

It’s much more severe things that you might not even consider problematic on a three week trip around the country but the longer you live in Thailand, the more likely you are to ruin your life as a foreigner with the following things.

Being Addicted to Girly Bars

There’s no problem with hanging out in the beer bars or go go’s once in a while, if you are in Thailand for a holiday it might even be every other day just because you haven’t got it at home. It’s exciting. But if you are really living in Thailand for months and years you should realize that it’s mostly a tourist thing.

I do enjoy going to bars regularly for playing pool and I mean all sorts of bars, and sure why not having a good time in Walking Street once every two months but the problem starts when you don’t go for “normal Thai girls” at all but pay bar girls for sex every other night. Worst scenario when a foreigner marries a bar girl and believes he can “convert” her into a good girl and ends up totally broke, everyone has heard the stories.

There’s a nice saying: You can take the girl out of the bar, but you cannot take the bar out of the girl. Dating Thai girls is super easy so just don’t get lost in Red Light Thailand.

Not Learning Thai

Okay, you probably won’t ruin your life in Thailand in terms of getting broke, but as for any other country in the world if you want to understand the local culture you need to learn the local language. If you go to Spain you study Spanish. If you go to Brazil you study Portuguese. It seems different with Asian countries and especially Thailand where I guess more than 70% of all expats are not fluent in Thai.

Most of them think it’s difficult but the truth is it’s not. The five different tones are indeed a bit tricky for the first few months but that’s just a matter of time until you got it and then the grammar is super easy – no conjugations of verbs, no past or future tenses, words that you can use from English, many combined words etc. Just start learning Thai and you will see Thailand in a whole different perspective.

Setting Up a Company / Buying Land under your Girlfriend’s Name

Giving control over your business worth several thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to a woman that you know just for a couple of years or even less – would you do that in your home country? Probably not. So don’t make one of the biggest mistakes by giving a Thai woman a 51% ownership of your Thai limited company or buy land in her name.

Sure the law clearly states the majority of company shares have to be Thai owned – but that doesn’t mean it has to be a natural person! Inquire at some of Thailand’s legal firms and they all have solutions how you can keep control over your Thai company legally.

I remember how some German guy told me the first crazy Thailand story back four years ago down in Hat Yai. The parents of his best friend died in a car accident and all the money he inherited he invested in a nice beach restaurant – giving the majority of shares to his Thai girlfriend. Three months later they had a fight and she told him to basically fuck off and never enter “her” restaurant again. Another classic to ruin your life in Thailand.

Not Making Money

May sound general but it’s true. If you don’t find a job that pays enough for your living or if your retirement pension is not sufficient – you will get broke. That’s easy. Very common thing in Thailand that you see are foreigners that open restaurants or hotels without having ever had prior experiences in these industries. Again: Would you do that in your home country? Probably not.

It’s not just the lack of experience in the relevant industry, but also the constraints and difficulties for foreigners to run a business in Thailand (Work Permit, Company Set-Up, Corruption etc.). Do what you’re good at and make money or you’re broke quicker than Nok can say “short time”.

Eating Too Much Street Food

Yes, you may rather save money than getting broke by eating cheap street food, but then be careful what you are eating. There are no two opinions that Thai food is great but the range of dishes and snacks is so huge that you can also get a lot of stuff that is just not good for you. Take all the fried food for example, Gai Tod (Fried Chicken), Kluay Tod (Fried Banana) or Manfarang Tod (Fried Potato). Not just the oil as such but also the fact that many vendors fill it up in plastic bottles by the end of the day and re-use it the following few days to save a few Baht.

There’s nothing wrong with street food once in a while, but the longer I have been living in Thailand the more I go to the food courts (especially in malls where I know it’s clean) to eat Thai food. Or if I eat on the street I’m at least more picky on what I eat. So be careful not to ruin your health in Thailand by eating bad food for years and years.

If you keep all that in mind, you may really be able to live the dream in Thailand.

26 Responses

  • Wayne says:

    There is a lot of complaints about Thailand and money all over the internet. Ask yourself about your own country. The whole world is about money and a fool will be parted with it very quickly no matter where he or she is. I’ve been coming to Thailand for 7 years and loved every trip here. I always save up for each trip, take a bit of cash, travel insurance and two different travel money cards. You can sit at home being scared or you come for a holiday first to experience it. If you don’t have money then obviously stay where you are.

  • Tihora says:

    I am surprised you have not mentioned to most obvious of all, the drinking problem, many farangs get drunk twice a day, drinking daily will inevitably Ruin Your Life.

  • Capt Cook says:

    Lots of Thais are able to live in Europe. I think this forum is mostly dedicated to bar girls and working class/illiterate Thais. Of course they would struggle to live in Europe on account of poor education and earning prospects.

    A brickie/chippie from UK can still holiday and gorge on bar girls in Thailand on account of their earning power. I doubt a Thai spark has enough baht to travel to UK.

    I don’t live in Thailand but know some thais needless to say they are uninterested in foreigners or living in UK. They are also graduates and are not thieves, liars and degenerates. If you don’t want to get wet, stay outta the rain

    You are comparing lemon to durian!

  • Capt Cook says:

    What has this whinge of your about visa regime got to do with how to ruin your life in Thailand? UKVI did you a favour in not granting a visa as I suspect you ‘wife is ‘illiterate’. If she is good looking with nice curves, he will dump you the minute her eyes are opened.

    Count your blessings me ol China

  • Vanessa Riordan says:

    Hi all, I am a South African, considering working in Thailand teaching English. I am really concerned from what I have read in the comments. I am 48 years old. Sounds like I shouldn’t even consider going to Thailand.

    • Pocket says:

      I have only one thing to say don`t do it. Your in the prime of you life. Why work for peanuts. I have seen so many people here stuck here. Some not enough to money to even go home so they have ended their life. It happens all the time

    • Ivan says:

      Dude ime from South African been to Thailand, you will have so much fun.. Just go and enjoy. Don’t let fear stop you :) .. buy a return ticket, problem solved.

  • Jey says:

    I think staying in Thailand long term generally will ruin many westerners, myself included. Psychologically, a lot of people will probably get burnt out trying to deal with the locals, getting tired of being unable to trust anyone, dealing with the language and cultural barriers, always being treated as an alien and always being ripped off. Not to mention the physical things, the substandard government healthcare (or good healthcare but only if you are super rich), lack of support for westerners, eating dodgy food and general problems of living in a polluted, third world country.

    In my personal experience:
    I moved to Thailand in my early 20s to teach English. I had a degree I wasn’t using and had a boring job at home and craved adventure so off I went, initially just as a gap year but ended up staying longer. After 3 and a half years, I’d met a good woman and had carved a life for myself in Pattaya (not the best place I know but I craved creature comforts, the beach and close proximity to Bangkok). Generally I was ok but I had grown empty and jaded towards Thailand. Onto my 4th year with school and with new, harsher bureaucratic restrictions on teachers, an increased workload with no pay increase, I’d had enough and was already looking for a way out. I saw no real long term future for us there. Should I have hypothetically chosen to stay in Thailand, I would have been subjecting myself and her to:
    – A life of minimum wages teaching English, 90 day check ins and dealing with ever worsening visa requirements till age 60
    – After age 60, I would no longer be allowed to get a work permit and have no choice but to either stop working, make my own business or take on private tutoring under the table and take monthly border runs. With no savings accumulated from my minimum wage teaching job and no pension (as I wouldn’t have paid taxes in my own country) I would have no choice but to work till I die.
    – Being unable to come home regularly (because Europe is so far and with the currency values, it could have taken me at least a year to save enough to go back. Not ideal when I could be missing important events (friend’s weddings, family events, births, deaths)
    – Should I have fallen sick which I inevitably would at some point due to either pollution, dodgy food, disease, stress, alcohol abuse, depression or should I become injured, I would either use the basic government healthcare at the one hospital my school insured me with (a place which looked more like a warzone than a hospital and standard of service I wouldn’t trust with my worst enemy’s wellbeing) or hope I have enough money saved to either pay the extortionate cost for half decent, western standard healthcare or book a flight back to my country where it’s free.

    We got married and came to Europe where we both have a much better quality of life, even though I do miss some things (cheap living costs, nightlife, christmas on the beach, islands). I have no interestin returning to Thailand, at least to live there.

    I don’t want to sound like I’m Thai-bashing, I’m just being realistic. Of course I know 60 is a long way ahead, and Thailand could become a functioning, democratic country with equal rights for all by that time. But I like to plan ahead and won’t pin my hopes or anticipate that happening. Thailand has had every opportunity so far to become at least as developed as Malaysia if not Singapore, but yet it still lags far behind and I don’t see that changing for the better in the near future.

    Realistically, a foreigner should only look at long term stay in Thailand if he has either:
    1- a good, consistent source of outside income (business revenue or pension from a western country)
    2- a very large chunk of savings that they know how to budget responsibly
    3- Good health insurance if he/she is old

    Come for an adventure, work for a year or 2 and travel but realistically think wisely if you plan to stay long term and think very wisely if you plan to invest in anything there. Hope I’ve been of help!

    • Ed says:

      Well spoken Jey. I have been here for 11 years now, have a reasonable job (>100k/mnth), wife and kid. Still I find it a difficult and expensive place to survive. Everything has to be paid for, and you as farang pay more than Thai. Schools are expensive, there are no proper sport-clubs, hardly any parks where you can go for a stroll for free and that is clean & maintained, for nearly everything you pay upto 10x entrance fee than Thai (even with social security card), majority of Thai always trying to rip you off, no job or service is ever done with quality in mind, every encounter with their culture is a struggle. For holidays it is near-paradise, but to live…. you see a very very different (dark) side of the country, one I wished I had not seen before.

  • Cpt. Picard says:

    How to ruin your life in Thailand? Have feelings other than a stiffie for a bar girl. I believe the days of finding a good Thai wife have all but vanished. The country consensus is that farangs are ATM’s to be milked until dry. To have a good retirement here my plan is simple…cook much of my food, stay where big stores are, don’t give money to bar girls unless it’s ST (that way they don’t get in your house and steal your stuff, yeah, it’s happened. My friend also got drugged and robbed while just on holiday.) Realize that there is just not much to do here if you’re living on a pension or Social Security so you will be BORED unless you’re a drunk or monger! I’ve been ripped off by farangs, Thai women, (had “supposedly” months long girlfriends cheat on me), building owners, landlords. Etc. I’ve now been here 2 years with a retirement visa and I doubt I’ll stay in a land where lying and taking advantage of every foreigner is a way of life. Furthermore, some of the expats that run businesses here can’t be trusted. I’m American and I never met so many people that are just not credible, anywhere, in my life. I’ve experienced workers in major stores treat me with contempt while doing my best to actually buy something. They are too used to money just flowing in for doing as little as possible in regards to customer service. Note that the survey by ThaiVisa that said over half of expats are considering leaving. I am one that is. There is no place that is paradise unless you’re rich, and if I were rich, I wouldn’t be here.

    • Andy says:

      Never a truer word spoken ! Anyone who is learning about Thailand and perhaps has been once or twice and is considering trying to have a relationship with a thai and going to live there ,
      The majority of Thai have this mindset . Before is was not so prevent but now it’s just engrained in to their minds . Farang = ATM. Sure you may find true love , I sincerely hope you do .
      But be warned .. They will get your money .

  • Older people says:

    2000 baht a day is what I get approximately and no rent

  • American Input says:

    Different people are different. If there was only one person in Europe, you would have an answer. I believe that the British, Dutch and French share a fascination with the Thai people, and a humility about colonial abuses in SEA that causes them to maintain gentle manners even when there is a misunderstanding. People of certain European heritage seem to enjoy the beauty of people of certain Asian heritage.

    There are currently rising sentiments in the west against immigration, but this is about specific populations that have exploited and attacked us because of open policies. I don’t think the Thai have ever been among those people.

    I’m American and the Thai communities here are isolated in some very strange places not noted for openness. Houston, Texas, is an area of settlement for many Thai in America, and Houston is a very strange, very large city, not known for health and happiness and racial harmony. Why do Thai choose Houston? Many Thai immigrants in America seem to prefer the exclusive company of other Thai, and Houston is where they are. I suppose the wet, hot and humid climate is also familiar.

    Across most of America we want new immigrants from special places to connect with us, to share who they are and what is unique about their home countries. We travel abroad less than other nations, but it’s very comfortable at home. We also like mixed families, we tend to think that people of mixed race and culture are more beautiful and more American than people of a single heritage. We want to borrow from everywhere.

    • Capt Cook says:

      Fascination with their fanny nowt else. Most Thai immigrants, you will find, are mail or ex bar brides. I suspect that is not healthy for the seeds

  • Roberto says:

    I’ve never known such terrible people, thank god I have a well shaped blue eyed English wife, I would have nightmares waking up to a flat faced, flat chest and flat bottomed woman

  • Garry Hoddinott says:

    Head to a small city. I live in Lampang, have 4 businesses here and will add another soon. Met a lovely lady when I went to the local table tennis center, we have been together 5 years. Problem number 1 – HEAT / HUMIDITY. I am seriously considering a move to Mae Sot. I follow the weather both here and there – 4 hours drive apart. I have seen it up to 12′ cooler (feels like temperature) in Mae Sot. It is a few hundred feet higher. Now that a major new road is nearing completion the place will boom. Its on the border, there are lots of amenable Myanmar workers and some look most attractive and come without baggage that can be a concern. Although there may be pressure to marry, it is silly to do so. You must recognise that it is a total requirement that the children support their parents. A minimum of $50 month should be budgeted for that. In regional areas a modest house can be had for $150 a month. Dont buy no matter how cheap something seems to be. While you are paying the rent you will get some type of loyalty if you are half reasonable. There are 2 ways you can buy with safety and some others that are frowned on fiddles. There are innumerable ways to make money here and you don’t need a license for any of them. Don’t ever work, just direct.

  • Garry Hoddinott says:

    Most farang don’t look past the tourist areas. Truthfully, Phuket and Pattaya and much of Bangkok is not really Thailand.

  • S.B. says:

    I was in Thailand as a tourist for the first time and I am quiet sure that Thailand i a paradise if you have money and it is a hell if you have not enough. I am sure there are a lot of decent thai people, but I didnt met any of them in my short trip. All is about money.

  • I eat Thai street food since birth, no problem. Just avoid the one that look dirty or unhealthy like deep fried foods.

  • Newbi says:

    Not an expert but I think to live here successfully the biggest things you need are self control, common sense and regular income. Surprisingly lacking with many who come here. If you know you have problems with drinking, hookers, drugs etc in your home country these will just magnify once here and this country will chew you up and spit you out leaving you broke or crazed..probably both. Get yourself set up with a good salary somehow, dont hang out in the red light areas and learn the language and culture. Then everything will be fine. Otherwise stay away!! Way too easy to dance with the devil here.

  • Jonatan says:

    Alex, the best advice I´ve read in this website. Excellent!!!

    Thank you!!!

  • Steve says:

    Hi All

    Can anyone tell me how long an expat can stay in Thailand without any form of a special visa? I am from Ireland and curious if I need a visa to come and how long can I stay until I need to leave and do a ‘visa run’? Thanks – Guys

  • Ocelot says:

    500 USD you can scrape by in Chiang Mai, Bangkok or a resrt town ,no. 1000 usd, you can do okay if you are cautious, 1500 USD, you live well. 2000 or more a month, living well.

    At any point, if you have an addiction, ultimately, you won’t last in Thailand, because its so very, very easy to indulge.

    But the old retired guy can do well there.