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Home / Recreation and Leisure / Travel

Relocating to Pattaya, Thailand - making it happen

By:Peter Mills

Relocating to Pattaya – making it happen!
Every year, thousands of folks of all ages, from all over the world, pack their bags and set off for a long awaited vacation in Thailand, which happens to be my home now. They stay for just a couple of weeks or up to perhaps 3 months, before reluctantly booking their flight home, and for many, this is sometimes their 20th or 30th yearly trip!
And, like myself, thousands of these vacationers have spent a great deal of time and effort, trying to work out how they can live in Thailand permanently, and this first section in our Relocate to Pattaya series, is an attempt to explain why you too should perhaps consider life in the Land of Smiles.
Although much of the information in this series can be applied to all of Thailand, most of our Club Members live in Pattaya, or are hoping to move here soon, and the information presented here is mainly as a result of our work with the Pattaya Expats Club.
My name is Pete and I am one of the founders of the Pattaya Expats Club, which is dedicated to all of us expats enjoying the good life in Pattaya, and those of you across the world that would like to join us here.
The Pattaya Expats Club is all about expats helping expats and all Nationalities are welcome. Whatever your question or problem, you can be sure there is another expat in the Club who has "been there, done that". New friends who are ready to share their experience and expertise on anything and everything to make your stay in Pattaya more enjoyable. Free assistance on one year Visas, medical insurance, home buying etc., so find out the facts BEFORE you make an expensive mistake.
So what better group to explain to you why they wake up each morning with a smile on their face, happy to live in this beautiful corner of the world. We have in excess of 10,000 expats living in Pattaya, and all of us have a different story to tell, but I have tried to distil the experience of many of our members to explain the magic of living in Pattaya, so here goes:
If you are middle aged, or older, you can be sure that living in Pattaya will knock at least 10 years off your age, and probably 30 years off your attitude to life. You truly will start thinking like you did as a young man or woman, full of anticipation in each new day, and happy to be alive.
Need some proof of this? Just spend a few days in Pattaya and try to explain the smile of contentment on the faces of expats young and old.
The magic is in the people of Thailand, and particularly in the friendliness of the young Thai women. Where else in the world would a 70 year old be greeted by a friendly smile from a beautiful and graceful Thai girl as you walk along Beach Road? And that smile is a genuine expression of her happiness that you are visiting her country ¡V and you will be walking on air all day!
A cartoon in the Pattaya Mail recently said it quite succinctly:
Before moving to Pattaya: 68 years old, wife died, no job, small pension, lonely, family never come to see me, neighbors do not speak, body aches with rheumatism and arthritis, rain 11 months of the year, high gas, electricity and food bills, savings being gobbled up, crap TV, nobody cares. Just waiting to die.
After the move to Pattaya: 68 years old, widowed, pension, never lonely ¡V who cares if the family visits? Neighbors are so friendly, rheumatism and arthritis gone, sunshine all year. Cheap gas, electricity and food bills, savings intact, pension goes farther. TV great, football, movies, no license fees. Best sex in 40 years. Lovely people, thank you God, thank you Thailand.
And here is a similar view from one of our members:
The friendly welcome I always get from Thai people, young and old, rich and poor. A beautiful smile as you pass a stranger in the street that makes you feel on top of the world and happy to be alive in Pattaya.
Beautiful weather, even the rain is warm!
Breathtaking beaches, just take a bike ride down Jomtien Beach Road in the morning.
Low cost of living, you can live like a King on $1,000 a month or less!
Something about the Buddhist religion that seems to help people get along with each other.
The joy of getting to know Thai families and their beautiful and well behaved children. The nice feeling you get when all of the neighbors come to your home to share a meal in the cool evenings.
The relief to be able to live an uncomplicated life without the day to day stress that is just a normal part of life in many Countries.
Delicious food with a fantastic abundance of fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood etc.
Excellent medical care, knowing that the doctors and nurses really care for you as a human being, rather than a calculation about how many dollars you can be charged. No waiting, well trained staff and low, low prices.
Thank you Pattaya, thank you Thailand.
All I can tell you is that young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, fat or thin, healthy or not so healthy, you are missing out on the time of your life if you do not visit Pattaya at least once. But, be careful, odds are that you will fall in love with the place and start to plan full time living here in the Land of Smiles.
Cost of Living
Not only is Pattaya a fun and exciting place to live, but here it is possible to enjoy life very comfortably on well under US$1,000 per month, or about 40,000 baht. This would be enough to rent a comfortable, two bedroom home for yourself and your partner, and take care of all of the essential expenses, and with enough left over to enjoy your leisure time – golf for instance or any other sports, and a night on the town every so often etc.
Here are some typical examples of the essentials – with low end, moderate and luxurious options. These examples are for a couple, say an American or European etc., with a Thai partner. Everything is in Thai Baht and US$’s and the cost is per month. Note that the exchange rate varies somewhat but the baht numbers are exact.
Item Low end Moderate Luxurious
Rent home 4,300 ($100) 10,000 ($233) 15,000 ($350)
Electricity 400 ($10) 1,000 ($24) 3,000 ($70)
Cable TV 300 ($7) 300 ($7) 300 ($7)
City water 350 ($8) 430 ($10) 645 ($15)
Drinking water (delivered) 80 ($2) 160 ($4) 250 ($6)
Food (groceries) 2,500 ($58) 4,500 ($105) 8,000 ($186)
Fresh fruit and vegetables 1,000 ($23) 1.500 ($35) 2,500 ($58)
And here are some individual items for comparison with home prices:
Jar of Chivers Marmalade 12oz 86 ($2)
Bottle of HP Sauce 255 grams 90 ($2.10)
Can of premium beer 35 ($0.81)
1 Kilo various fruits in season 30 ($0.70)
Large Pineapple 10 ($0.23)
One Pound of bananas 5 ($0.10)
Local telephone call (unlimited time) 3 ($0.07)
Internet connection (per hour) 8 ($0.19)
And how about eating out?
American Breakfast (Eggs, bacon, toast, coffee) 38 ($0.88)
English Breakfast (Egg, Bacon, Sausage, Fried Bread, Toast, Tea) 70 ($1.65)
Thai lunch (Chicken soup and chicken breast on rice) 30 ($0.70)
American Soup and Salad Bar 90 ($2.10)
Draft Beer (half pint) – Happy Hour 30 ($0.70)
Draft Beer – regular prices 45 ($1.05)
British Sunday Roast Beef dinner etc 195 ($4.50)
First Class Continental dinner 295 ($6.90)
American Fast Food Chains – complete meal) 70 ($1.65)
Ice cream cone 7 ($0.16)
The cost of medical care in Pattaya is very reasonable. Although you do not need a Doctor’s prescription to purchase antibiotics for instance, there are some excellent drug stores here (including Boots the Chemist of England) where you can get excellent free advice. As an example, a 5 day course of antibiotics would cost about 200 baht or under $5. Boots also provides an excellent value health insurance vacation package (up to one year) for coverage while you are traveling, but you need a UK address. Check out the details at for this and other options.
There are two or three excellent hospitals in Pattaya, with European or USA trained doctors, and the service here is excellent. As an example I recently had to go to the Emergency Room at the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital after a motor cycle accident. I required X-rays to my head and foot (luckily nothing broken), a check over by the doctor, dressings on my foot, and several medications for 10 days. Including one follow up visit, the total cost was 1,690 baht or $40!
Earlier in the year I had two moles removed by a specialist in Dermatology there – no waiting, excellent care and a total bill of 1,300 baht or $30. Compare that to my experience in the USA where I had planned to have the moles removed. There was a wait of 3 months to see the Dermatologist, a minimum fee of $300 just for him to tell me the moles should be removed and then who knows how much for the actual surgery!
Golfing – Pattaya has 18 world class golf clubs in the immediate area and the greens fees vary from 400 to 600 baht (about $10 to $14) for guests during the week, to about 1,000 baht ($23) on the weekend.
It is possible to live in Pattaya without learning a single word of the Thai language. Happily, the staff in the hotels, restaurants and shops speak at least a little English, German and French etc., and you will have no difficulty in making yourself understood - especially if you smile a lot!
No doubt too, it will not be very long before you find yourself a companion, and then you will have someone to translate for you when necessary. It is amazing how quickly the young people in Thailand learn your language, and there are several language schools in Pattaya to help them. In fact, for just 50 baht (US$1.25) a month, your Thai girl friend or boy friend can go to school for a couple of hours daily, to learn the language.
It is also true that, no matter how poor you are at learning a new language, you will eventually know enough Thai words to make yourself understood wherever you go in Thailand, just by listening everyday to those around you. Never mind that you are saying the word on a rising note instead of a falling one, eventually you will get it right and your Thai friends will stop giggling every time you open your mouth.
However, there is a great deal of satisfaction in at least being able to speak the language fluently, and being able to understand what others are saying. You will have so much more fun, and doors will be open to you that were previously closed, so why not go ahead, make the effort and get a lifetime of benefits. Who knows? One day you may even be able to write and read in Thai!
There are several choices when it comes to learning the language:
1 Learn from your spouse or friend. Not a great idea because neither of you will put a great deal of effort into the task and also, you may end up speaking the Thai equivalent of a broad cockney accent!
2 Buy one of those computer programs that walks you through the sounds, and even grades your progress. Not a bad way of learning if you can stick to it, but most people I know find it a great effort to sit in front of your monitor for hours on end. Certainly not much fun and soon the attractions of Pattaya will be calling you and the computer disk gathers dust in your drawer.
3 Sign up for some one on one lessons with a professional. The prices are reasonable (100 baht or less for an hour) and you will probably make good progress. I tried this myself for a time, but I found that although I could say the words OK in class, they were all forgotten in an hour! What you really need is practice, practice and more practice, preferably on a small group of words at a time until they are firmly fixed in your head. One other disadvantage of the one on one method, at least from my point of view; I found the lessons somewhat tense as I tried to master some of the more impossible pronunciations.
4. So my favorite way of learning a new language is in a small group of say 4 or 5 friends with a really competent instructor. The lessons are fun as no one minds embarrassing themselves with friends, and as you all start to see progress, there is a real incentive to learn more and more. In fact my son is presently learning Oriental Languages at CSUN, and he has made incredible progress since starting a Japanese social club on campus - so I think this is the way most people learn the best.
As it happens, we have set up a small group learning environment in the Pattaya Expats Club. So the next time you are in Pattaya you are invited to our regular Sunday breakfast meetings, where you can also sign up for your first group learning module, with a great instructor. Details on our web site at
One of the more surprising things we have found out, regarding obtaining a one year Visa (with multiple entries), is that it is much easier at one of the Honorary Thai Consulate General offices in the USA, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and possibly many other Countries. Once you get to Thailand, or the general South East Asia region, it is much more difficult.
These are the options you have for a long term stay in Thailand. Note that the Visas are issued yearly and often you will be required to leave the Country every 3 months. This can be done by making use of the many Visa Run services from Pattaya to Poipet (on the Cambodian border), where you would leave at 8am and return home at about 6pm. The cost for the coach trip and the Visa fees is 2,000 baht ($48).
Note that the Thai government has recently increased most Visa charges. Check at the end of this section for the new fee schedule and also log on to for up to the minute visa information.
Option I (recommended)
Before you leave your home Country, contact any Honorary Thai Consulate – not the Thai Embassies in the large cities). You can see a list of these Consulates in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany on our web site at
These consulates are run normally by citizens of the Country in which they are located, and provide a good service issuing Visas for Thailand. Here you can normally obtain a one year Visa with multiple entry options (allowing you to go in and out of Thailand during that year without having to apply for another Visa). You can ask for an (O) Visa for simply living in Thailand or a (B) Visa which allows you to apply for a Work Permit once you are in Thailand. Again, more complete details on our web site at Incidentally, your Visa can be processed by mail at any of these Honorary Consuls.
Option II - Retirement Visa
For this option, first obtain a 90 day Tourist Visa from any Thai Embassy, before you leave your home Country, or in Malaysia or Cambodia if you already are in Thailand. On the internet you can search for the keywords “thai embassy” for the location nearest to you. Note that this 90 day Visa allows you to enter Thailand during the next 30 days, and to stay in Thailand for a total of 60 days from the date of your arrival. In Pattaya, you can get this extended another 30 days for a payment of 500 baht ($12).
While in Thailand, you then need to apply for a Retirement Visa, but be advised that this is sometimes a frustrating and lengthy process.
These are the regulations posted by at least one Thai Embassy on their web site. Note that even if you are under 50 years of age, our expats can probably suggest some alternatives. If you need additional help or clarification, please attend one of our regular Pattaya Expats Meetings or check out the continually updated Visa Information at To the best of our knowledge, the information on this site is correct but if you have information to the contrary, or feel that there is something we have missed, please let us know at

This type of visa will be issued to applicants aged 50 years and above, wishing to take a retreat in the Kingdom for a period of at least one year..
• A foreign national whose age is 50 years or above.
• Not being prohibited from entering the Kingdom under the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (A.D.1979).
• Having in their possession an amount of money that is not less than 800,000 Baht
or a monthly income of 65,000 Baht, or savings and annual income totaling not less
than 800,000 Baht. For instance, if you have an income of 30,000 baht a month, you would need to show savings of 440,000 baht - 800,000 less (12 times 30,000)
• A copy of visa application form completely filled out.
• Two passport-sized photos of the applicant taken within the past six months.
• Photocopy of the applicant’s travel document with validity not less than 18 months.
• Financial documents (copy) as stated in I.
Applicants can submit their applications both at the Thai consular missions abroad and at the Office of the Immigration Bureau in Thailand.
The whole process will take about one to one and a half months.
Option III – On Entry Tourist Visa
Enter the Country with no Visa, and you will be allowed to stay for 30 days as a Tourist – as long as you are a resident of one of the following Countries:

14. FIJI
27. KOREA, Republic of
37. OMAN
At the end of the 30 days you may apply for an extension (10 days only) at the Pattaya Immigration Office (500 baht)
And these are some other options for a Tourist Visa:
• Before leaving your home Country, apply for a 60 day Tourist Visa at the Thai Embassy. Just recently, in Washington, the charge was $15 and it was a requirement to apply on one day and pick it up the next day. This Visa is valid for 2 months from the date of entry to Thailand, and you can obtain a 30 day extension (500 baht) by applying at the Pattaya Immigration Office. You may also apply for a double entry Visa which means you can enter Thailand twice, on the same Visa, allowing you a total of 6 months in the Country – 2 months plus one month on the first entry and two plus one on the second entry.
• Apply for the same 60 day Tourist Visa (or double entry Visa) in a neighboring Country, such as Cambodia or Malaysia (Penang is probably the least hassle although the Embassy staff in Pnom Phen are also very helpful).
• Note that for all of these options you must cross the borders of Thailand to obtain extensions, other than the 10 day or 30 day extension issued by the Pattaya Immigration Office.

Option IV – Residence Visa
Who can apply?
A foreign National who has been permitted to stay in Thailand for a total of at least 3 years up to the date of the Application for Residency.
What are the Categories under which Residency may be granted?
Investment of a minimum of 10 million baht or,
• Employment in Thailand with a salary of at least 80,000 baht per month or,
• Relationship with a Thai Citizen – wife, husband of at least one year, father, mother or children under 20.
• Having a particular expertise, with at least a Bachelor degree and a certification from your Government.
When can you apply?
• Normally the applications may be submitted from about the 15th of December (each year) until the end of December. Exact date is announced by the Minister of the Interior.
Where can you apply:
• Applications are accepted at Section 1, Sub – Division 1, Immigration Division 1, Immigration Bureau (Room 301), Soi Suan Plu, South Sathorn Road, Sathorn District, Bangkok.
How much does it cost?
• The non – refundable application fee is 2,000 baht.
The Residence Permit Fee is 25,000 baht if you have a Thai family and 50,000 baht otherwise.
If you have any questions regarding Visas to Thailand, please contact Pete by e-mail at
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised all Royal Thai Embassies and Royal Thai Consulate Generals to begin charging the new visa rates beginning August 26, 2003.

Transit Visa US$20.00
Tourist Visa US$25.00
Non-Immigrant Visas: Single Entry US$50.00,
1 Year Multiple-Entry US$125.00,
3 Year Multiple-Entry for persons who hold the travel documents of the APEC member countries to enter the Kingdom of Thailand for the purpose of business US$125.00
There is some indication that the Retirement Visa (O-A) is considered to be an extension of an existing an “O” Visa. If true, the new fee would be 1,900 baht.
The new Visa fees in Thai Baht are -
Transit visa, single entry – 800 baht;
Non-immigrant visa, single entry – 1,000 baht;
Non-immigrant visa, multiple entry for use within one year - 5,000 baht;
Application for visa extension - 1,900 baht;
Application for a single re-entry permit – 1,000 baht;
Application for a multiple re-entry permit – 3,800 baht;
Application for a residence permit - 7,600 baht;
Approval of a residence permit (payable on receipt of residence book) - 191,400 baht; Approval of a residence permit (payable on receipt of residence book) for a foreigner married to a Thai, the spouse of a resident, and any of their children who have not reached the status of a Thai juristic person (i.e., unmarried children aged below 20 years of age) – 95,700 baht.
Health Care
As explained in an earlier section in this series – health care in Pattaya and the surrounding areas is generally excellent and relatively inexpensive. And perhaps the best way to provide you with the information that you need is to detail the various options open to you.
One word of caution – wherever you are treated (pharmacy, clinic, hospital etc.) there seems to be a general tendency to over prescribe prescription drugs. Often a simple sore throat or fever will result in you taking home four or five different medications, so use common sense in limiting the variety of prescriptions. Find out exactly what each medication is for, before you start taking it.
Pharmacies or Drug Stores:
There are many excellent pharmacies in Pattaya, two of them open 24 hours, but our recommendation is to use one of the Boots the Chemist branches – there is one in the Royal Garden Mall and another on Walking Street.
Here there is always a pharmacist on duty and you can probably rely upon the quality of the drugs prescribed. There are sometimes accounts in the newspaper about fake drugs on sale (such as look alike versions of Viagra) so it is prudent to purchase your drugs and prescriptions at a large, well known company.
Remember that many of the drugs and medications available in your home country may not be available in Thailand. For instance, Lotrel is a medication for hypertension that is widely prescribed in the United States, but is just not sold in Thailand. However, there are equivalent drugs (in this case two tablets to replace one capsule), so you need an experienced pharmacist or doctor to recommend the available drugs. At, and at other similar sites, you can find information about your particular medication, and its equivalent if necessary.
Clinics or Doctor’s Offices:
There are literally hundreds of these health care Clinics in Pattaya, many of them specializing in a particular field (urology, dermatology etc) but often claiming expertise in everything from sexual dysfunction to plastic surgery!
Many of these Clinics are well run but the licensing regulations appear to be quite lax, so unless you have a specific recommendation from someone you trust, be careful about risking your health care at these Clinics – even though they are so convenient and are open sometimes round the clock.
Our recommendation for a General Practitioner is Dr. Oliver who has an excellent office in Soi Day Night, close by to the Pattaya People newspaper office. I have no connection with Dr. Oliver (other than as an occasional patient) but all of the expats I know, who have used his services, recommend him highly. He was trained in Switzerland and then took the exams all over again in Thailand, when he married a Thai wife and moved to Thailand. Here you will get the best of care at a reasonable price, and with very little waiting.
One other tip – if you are paying for your Thai partner to attend one of the many Clinics in Pattaya, do not go with them when they seek treatment. The cost probably will be inflated if a rich “Farang” is about to pay the bill.
There are four or five hospitals in the Pattaya area, all providing excellent care but at widely varying prices. However, compared to the United States the cost at all of them is minimal (even if you have no insurance) and the convenience (access to specialists, little waiting time) sure beats service in the United Kingdom.
Two hospitals go out of their way to provide health care services to foreigners with up scale facilities, packaged health care options and no language barriers with the nurses and doctors. There is the Pattaya International Hospital and the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital, and this second one has the lower prices.
My recommendation is to use the Bangkok Pattaya hospital and to consider purchasing one of their health care packages. For 2,000 to 3,000 baht (US$45 to US$70) you get a thorough physical, plus good discounts on any future visits to the Emergency Room and treatment as an in patient at the hospital. Check out the available packages soon after you arrive in Pattaya, rather than waiting until you need their services.
Health Insurance:
There are a variety of health insurance plans available, from several different companies, but the Buyer should beware. Even though you may have purchased a comprehensive policy on paper, the real test is the amount of the bill that is actually covered and the speed with which your claims are settled.
Our web site at has up to date information on several insurance plans (expect to pay between 30,000 to 70,000 baht per year depending upon your age), but you may also want to check at the Bangkok Pattaya hospital to find out their experience with the various companies.
Pre existing conditions will not be covered, at least for a period of time, and you need to check if your policy can be renewed as you get older. There have been cases of policies being cancelled after a claim has been paid, so check with other expats before you purchase your health insurance. The Pattaya Expat Club and Expat Friends of Pattaya meetings are a great place to get advice on this and all other aspects of living in Pattaya.
If you have an address in the United Kingdom then Boots the Chemist has an extremely attractive policy for overseas travelers – it is called Gap Insurance and can cover you up to one year, and similar policies may be available in the USA and other Countries. Again, check our web site for details.
What about dental care and eye care? High quality services are available throughout the city but, particularly for dental care, choose a doctor affiliated with the Bangkok Pattaya hospital or rely upon the recommendation of a trusted friend. For instance, there is a very good dentist on the opposite side of the road to the Friendship Supermarket in South Pattaya. Many of the eye care clinics are very up to date but just use care in finding out the cost and what it covers, before you commit yourself.
If you have any questions on health care in Pattaya, please check out our web site at for continuously updated information, or e-mail Pete with specific questions at
Luckily, accommodation is not a problem in Pattaya, with rooms, hotels, condominiums to rent or buy and homes of every sort to rent or buy. All at reasonable prices but with the best bargains available during the slow season, from May through September each year.
You can spend as much as 2,000 baht and up at some of the luxury hotels (the Dusit Resort for instance) and this is still a bargain compared to many other Countries, but here I will try to give you some suggestions for the more typical hotels.
But first, unless you are arriving at the peak of the high season (November, December or January), it is preferable not to book in advance. Unless you have stayed at a particular hotel before, it is nice to be able to see the room being offered before you pay for it, and often, you can negotiate a lower rate at Reception – especially for long stays.
If you are nervous about arriving in a strange place with no hotel arranged, then my recommendation would be to book for one night at a reasonably priced hotel (800 to 1,000 baht or about US20) and then find the hotel of your choice for however long you are in Pattaya.
If I was asked to recommend a hotel to my family or friends, these would be my choices:
Luxury – the Dusit Resort in North Pattaya. Estimate 1,500 to 2,000 baht per night (about US$35)
Mid Range – the Silver Sand Villa on Jomtien Beach. 500 to 1,000 baht (US$12 to US$25). I stayed there for 3 months a couple of years back and there are two beautiful pools and the service is so friendly. Highly recommended.
Low End – good, clean, quiet, comfortable rooms, with air conditioning will cost just 350 to 400 baht (about US$8) per night at the Apex Hotel in Central Pattaya. I have stayed there myself a couple of times and I can tell you that this hotel is a real bargain.
Of course there are many, many other excellent hotels, from 300 to 2,500 baht per night, so it is easy to find the perfect hotel for you, in the right location and at the right price. And if you need help with this, just e-mail Pete at
If you are planning on a long stay of 3 months or more, and you are on a limited budget, then you may want to consider renting a room – normally in a low rise or high rise apartment block.
These are pretty basic, with a fan rather than air conditioning, and everything in one room (except the bathroom) but at really low prices of 3,000 to 5,000 baht monthly.
This includes electricity and water (but no telephone normally) and you can make yourself quite comfortable in this basic accommodation. In fact it sure beats a cold, unfriendly bed sitter in rain swept England! And at US$70 to $115 per MONTH, you can spend your cash on enjoying the good life in Pattaya.
Renting a Condominium:
There is an over supply of condominiums in Pattaya and Jomtien, so if you look around a little you can find a beautiful place (with a great view) at a very reasonable rent.
You will be required to sign a contract for at least 6 months, probably be required to pay the first and last months rent upon moving in, and the rental will be about 8,500 to 15,000 baht monthly, plus electricity and telephone bills of course. So for approximately US$200 to $350 per month, plus US$45 for moderate use of electricity and the telephone, you would typically have a large living and dining room, a kitchen, separate bathroom and shower, a nice bedroom and the use of the community pool and spa.
Add your choice of a live-in partner and the fun of living in Pattaya and you will wake up each morning with a smile on your face – guaranteed!
Renting a Home:
This is another good choice if you enjoy getting to know your neighbors – chances are that the local Moms and Dads and their well behaved children will often be sharing a meal with you in your front garden.
Even if you eventually plan on buying a home or condominium, it’s a good idea to live in the neighborhood for a while before buying. There are normally many homes available for rent – single and two story for about 8,000 baht to 15,000 baht (or more if you are looking for a luxury home). US$185 to US$350 per month plus utilities.
For the last couple of years I have been renting a nice bungalow in Suksabai Villas. This is in South Pattaya, off Theprasit Road, and has a nice mix of about 60% foreigners and 40% Thais in the development.
Most of the expats are from the USA, UK, or Germany etc., with most having permanent Thai partners. Just on our road there are 4 or 5 families with very young children (6 to 18 months) so it is a great place to make friends in pleasant surroundings.
Most of the homes have gardens – with either lawns or tiled areas for outdoor picnics, and there are flowers growing everywhere. You just have to put a dead looking stick in the rich soil and in 3 weeks you have the start of a papaya tree!
My home has a huge living room with a separate kitchen and dining room, 2 bedrooms, two bathrooms and air conditioning. The rent is 10,500 baht per month (US$250) and the only other monthly expenses for the home are:
Electricity 1,000 baht (US$24), telephone (mostly computer use) 800 baht (US$20), water 200 baht (US$5), cable TV 350 baht (US$8). So estimate about US$300 a month for your home.
Buying a Home or Condominium in Pattaya
How do you go about it? Very carefully seems to be the best advice, so do yourself a favor and join us at the regular Sunday morning breakfast meetings of the Pattaya Expats Club – berore you commit to buying a home. Here you will find many expats who have “been there, done that” and you will get invaluable, free advice on buying your home, and many other aspects of life in the land of smiles.
Here is some general information, but please e-mail Pete at if you need answers to specific questions not covered here.
Can I buy a condominium in Pattaya?
Buying a condominium, is perhaps the simplest and easiest option available to foreigners. The only restrictions on purchasing a condominium, are that the percentage of units sold to foreigners cannot exceed forty nine percent (49%) of the total number of units in the condominium block; and that the funds used to buy the condominium have been remitted from abroad and correctly recorded as such by a Thai Bank. Purchases of condominiums by foreign individuals come under the jurisdiction of the Condominium Act B.E. 2535 (1992).
The owner of each condominium is issued with a certificate of unit ownership. The certificate also has a statement saying exactly what percentage of rights over the common areas of the building each owner has.
Can I own a house and land in Pattaya?
Ownership of land is governed by the Land Code BE 2497 (1954), the Civil and Commercial Code, Land Reform for Agriculture Act BE 2518 (1975) and the regulations set forth by the Ministry of the Interior.
Although Thai law prohibits foreigners from owning land in Thailand, there are various ways in which you can structure your affairs so that you can own land, and still comply with existing Thai laws:
Nominee with Lease and Option to Buy - you can use a Thai Nominee to purchase the house/land and have a 30 year lease with a 30 by 30 year option from the nominee. In order to be enforceable, any lease for a period of longer than three years must be registered, which involves payment of a registration fee and stamp duty based on a percentage of the rental fee for the whole lease term. The original registered lease remains in force and effect even if the property is sold. The drawbacks to a lease include the fact that the parties can contractually agree to renewals, but this right cannot be registered and is not effective against a purchaser of the property, and that the lessee cannot (without the lessor's consent) sublease, sell or transfer his or her interest.
Nominee with Mortgage - you can use a Nominee to purchase the house/land and have a mortgage (registered with the appropriate land department office) on the property in your favour. However, in some circumstances the Thai courts have ruled that this was not a bona fide mortgage, but rather it was a mortgage contrived to circumvent the existing laws of Thailand prohibiting foreign ownership of land. It is important to note that only the owner of the land is entitled to mortgage the land; the lessee of land does not have the same privilege.
Usufruct Interest (Sidhi-kep-kin) - gives you temporary ownership rights to things on or arising from the land. In practice, a usufruct is limited to a 30 year maximum period; like leases, the agreement can be successively renewed. In contrast to a lease, a usufructury interest can be sold or transferred, although it expires upon the death of the holder of the usufruct and therefore cannot be inherited.
Limited Liability Company - this form of purchasing property is the most popular with foreign investors as the Articles of Association can be varied to allow greater protection for foreign minority shareholders where majority Thai ownership is required under the Alien Business Law. Thai law requires that 51% of the shares be held by Thai juristic persons, however, any company with more than 40% foreign interest that purchases land will be investigated by the Central Land Office in Bangkok (under Section 74 of the Land Code) to ensure that the company has not been organized in an attempt to circumvent the prohibition against foreign ownership of land.
This results in the foreign ownership of the company being limited at 39%, but with the recommended changes to the Articles of Association, the foreigner can be the only director of the company, and the only officer of the company who can commit or bind the company in any contractual dealings - effectively giving the minority shareholder control.
What is a Tor Tor Sam (3)?
A Tor Tor Sam (3) is an official bank document issued by the receiving bank upon the receipt of foreign currency into your bank account in Thailand. You must request a Tor Tor Sam from your bank when you are remitting funds to Thailand for the purpose of purchasing a condominium, and the Tor Tor Sam must specify that the remittance is solely for the purpose of purchasing a property - Code 5.22.
Are there Title Deeds in Thailand? Can I purchase Title Insurance?
A Title Deed is the purest form of evidence that an individual owns a piece of land. Title Deeds are given only for areas of Thailand which are surveyed. For areas which are not surveyed, there are other documents for land possession such as evidence of the possession of the right to utilise the land or other interests in the land. These documents are called "Nor Sor Sam (3) and Nor Sor Sam (3) Kor". Unlike the Title Deeds, these Nor Sor documents are issued to show the possessors' exploitation of the land. Though these documents do not provide ownership rights, as do Title deeds, they can still be registered for transfer of the lands for which they are issued. Title insurance is not available in Thailand.
Can I get a Mortgage Loan in Thailand?
Foreigners generally cannot mortgage properties in Thailand, however, most of the financial institutions in Thailand provide loans for real estate purchasing to Thais and Thai companies. It is common for a real estate developer to arrange for his customers to have a financing package from a financial institution. In most real estate development projects, a down payment can be made in installments from 10 to 24 months. After the down payment has been paid, the sale contract will be made and the balance amount is paid through the loan which is financed from a financial institution. The financial institution requires you to mortgage the property with it as collateral against the loan.
Land Appraisals and Valuations
Finding the exact appraisal price for land is difficult, since there are generally three different appraisal rates; the government rate, the appraisal company's rate and the rate which is considered to be fair market value of the land. Over the last few years all of these rates have begun to come closer together. Check with a trusted Realtor before you buy.
Can my Thai Wife own Land?
Prior to 1998, any Thai woman who married a foreigner would lose her right to purchase land in Thailand. She could, however, still retain land that she owned prior to marrying the foreigner. However, the recent (1999) Ministerial regulation now allows Thai national's married to foreigners the right to purchase land, but the Thai spouse must prove that the money used in the purchase of freehold land is legally solely theirs with no foreign claim to it. This is usually achieved by the foreign spouse signing a declaration stating that the funds used for the purchase of property belonged to the Thai spouse prior to the marriage and are beyond his claim.
Are there Property Taxes in Thailand?
There are no property taxes as such in Thailand that are exactly equivalent to the property taxes in the west, however, the most comparable taxes on properties in Thailand are the Land Tax and the Structures Usage Tax. The Land Tax levied on land is so miniscule, that in practice the body charged to collect it, rarely bothers to do so, and if they do, they usually wait several years until the amount accumulates. The second tax, the Structures Usage Tax, relates to buildings, is collected by the municipal office or district office, and is only applied to properties used for commercial purpose.
What are the other costs of buying a property in Thailand?
On all purchase/sale of property in Thailand there is a stamp Duty of 0.5%, a transfer fee of 0.01%, a business tax of 0.11% levied against an owner who has been in registered possession of the property less than 5 years, and Income Tax. There is no Capital Gains Tax in Thailand, unlike many countries, and Income Tax (usually between 1.0 - 3.0%) on property is the comparable replacement. There are no set rules on who pays the income tax, and it is just another part of the bargaining process, as with all the other costs of the transfer of ownership.
And if that has thoroughly confused you – don’t worry about it. It is all really quite simple if you work with the right attorney and Realtor, and our Pattaya Expats Club is always available to point you in the right direction.

Additional Income
So finally you have decided to make the big move to Pattaya, and now you have to work out how you are going to pay your day to day expenses.
If you are like many expats that are lucky enough to live in Pattaya, you probably have some money saved and perhaps even a regular income such as a monthly Social Security or Pension check (or cheque for the Brits!) or income from investments.
Whether it is enough or not depends upon your preferences and your lifestyle of course. I have friends that are living here quite happily on just 25,000 to 30,000 baht (US$580 to $700) a month, and others that feel deprived on anything less than US2,000 a month. My own experience is that a couple can live a very good life in Pattaya on 40,000 baht a month, close to US$1,000.
So you may decide that you need to make some extra money, and this section is to explore some of the options open to you.

A word of warning however. The police in Pattaya treat visa and work permit violations very seriously, and on any day it is not uncommon to find up to 10 foreigners locked up in the Beach Road police station jail under really inhumane conditions! Simply for overstaying their Visa, by a few days sometimes, or for working without a work permit.
And when these folks do eventually get out of prison (I know of some that have been incarcerated for 9 weeks or more), they are forced to leave the Kingdom and are not allowed back in! And that could put a real damper on your retirement plans. So please, do it the right way because it is not too difficult to get a one year multiple entry (B) visa (preferably in your home Country) and then a Work Permit once you arrive in Pattaya. Check out our site at for continuously updated Visa information, and visit our Expat Friends of Pattaya Club or the Pattaya Expats Club for free advice once you arrive in Pattaya. Or e-mail Pete at with specific questions. Also, check out for up to date information.
Anyway, here are a few income making ideas, but first, check out my site at for an innovative idea that may appeal to you.
1. Teaching English
If you are a native English speaker, one of the simplest ways to make money is as an English teacher. You will need a certification such as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) which you can obtain in Thailand, and then the best way to find positions is by answering advertisements in the Bangkok Post or the Pattaya Mail. Unfortunately this job does not pay too well (typically 20,000 to 30,000 baht monthly full time), but I have a good friend who makes about 47,000 baht a month in several different part time teaching jobs. See our web site for information on TEFL courses.

2. The Internet
This Company has a unique product and a really innovative way of marketing. It may be worth while getting in on the ground floor – it costs nothing to enroll and you could make a nice little income.
The product is a piece of software that, when people visit your free web site, it automatically checks out their computer for things that should not be there, and analyses how best to dramatically and immediately improve their computer’s performance and internet connection. It will show them all of the unwanted things in their computer that are slowing performance – all at the click of a button.
...All of the extra files that are consuming memory & slowing down the system, undisclosed viruses hiding in the registry, spiders, spyware software, unwanted cookies that cause numerous pop-ups and slows down their computer's performance or can cause it to crash. It will also show other maintenance and security issues.
Finally, after "test driving" this new technology product for up to a full hour by simply clicking a button & then seeing it at work, and seeing how it improves their PC's performance right before your eyes, (faster loading web pages, enhanced multimedia experiences, etc.) your visitor will then be asked "if they want to buy the product at an incredibly attractive price of only $39.95, or if they want to return their PC to its previous slow operating condition?"
If you have signed up, you will get a commission on everyone that buys from your web site. No selling, just refer people to your free web site. The product will be launching in a few days so pre register now for a good position.
Pretty neat don’t you think? If you are interested in getting in on the ground floor, you can enroll for free at
3. Your own business
Soon after arriving in Thailand for the first time, I opened up an Internet Café with one Thai and 2 expat partners. It was a good experience for me because although we made no money, at least we didn’t lose any either, so here are my guidelines based on that experience.
Spend as little up front money as possible. In the case of the Internet Café we each put in US$2,000 which was enough to get started, including the rent, the improvements, the equipment and the initial advertising. Everything we spent after that was from income. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen expats enthusiastically spend half a million baht for a bar or go go bar, then another half million improving the place, BEFORE finding out that there was very little income!
Choose your partners wisely. It is not generally the Thai people you need to watch out for but your friendly expat who is long on promises but short on deliveries. Pattaya is full of them.
And make sure you ask a million questions at the Expat Friends of Pattaya Club Saturday brunch meetings, before you commit your hard earned cash.
4. The Export Business
Here’s the dream! You live in Thailand taking care of the logistics of exporting Thai products to your home Country while your partner at home takes care of the sales and distribution.
A great idea but the reality is that the more difficult task is in your home country. And without a steady stream of orders, you have nothing to do in Pattaya, and no income from the enterprise.
But it can work, if you make sure you have taken care of the sales end properly, and that you have few up front costs while you are waiting for those first orders. Choose a product with a high margin that is easy (inexpensive) to ship, for example Stingray Leather Products. You can purchase a beautiful stingray belt with its distinctive crown markings for 1,500 baht (US$35) ship it priority to the States for US$15 and sell it for US$95, a profit of US$45 which can be improved if you can buy at wholesale prices.
Again, do not become involved in any type of income producing activity, without the proper visa and work permit. It is just not worth the risk. In fact, I recently became aware of the fact that the authorities now are cracking down on illegal businesses by tracking folks that are regularly shipping products overseas by Fedex and DHL for instance.
Finance and Banking
I am no financial wizard, so I am not about to tell you how to invest your money in this section. Rather I have included some ideas and guidelines to make sure that you have cash when you need it in Pattaya and that your savings are secure.
Most transactions in Thailand, even the purchase of expensive appliances for example, are for cash. In fact, many vendors seem to discourage credit card sales by charging you a fee of 3% if you insist on using your credit card, and, of course, many places do not even accept credit cards
However, for life’s small emergencies, please try to hang on to one or two credit cards from your home country. These should be MasterCard or Visa (the most widely used here) and make sure that you can check your balances and transactions on line and also pay your balance on line. For this of course you will need to maintain a bank account in your home country, again, preferably an online bank account.
Let me give you an example of the arrangement I have with a USA registered online bank and a MasterCard issued by another USA bank. It is necessary for you to have a USA address for any statements to be sent from the credit card company or the Bank, but as you pay all your bills online, it is not necessary for you to receive the statements in Pattaya. The same would be true for a bank based in Europe or Australia for instance. Many banks and credit card companies now allow you to sign up to receive monthly statements by email.
Each month (or more often if I am feeling paranoid), I check the transactions on my credit card (either cash advances from ATM’s in Pattaya or credit card purchases), make sure they are all valid and then log on to my online banking account at NetBank.
Here I enter the details of the credit card I want to pay up (or any other bill for that matter), fill in the amount and instantly pay my credit card bill. No telephone calls, no statements, no charges and no stress!
There are online bank accounts available from most countries in Europe, Scandinavia, USA and Australasia etc. How do you find them? Just go to your favorite search engine ( for instance) and search for ON LINE BANKING ENGLAND or AUSTRALIA etc.
Here are some suggestions that I believe will work for you:
Egg (Prudential group)
You will also need a local bank account and my preference here is the Siam Commercial Bank. It is simple to set up a Savings Account, with an ATM card for easy cash withdrawals, and I have had no problems with transferring cash from my online overseas account to my Thai account.
However, I think it prudent to keep a balance of only 100,000 to 200,000 baht in the local account (US$2300 to US$4,600) because of the possibility of a devaluation of the currency, and to limit your losses in case of fraud. For instance, when a friend of mine was out of the country, some acquaintances of his Thai wife came to visit in their home. They invited her to dinner and, on a lonely stretch of road near Pattaya, forced his wife to give them her ATM card and the pin number. They emptied the account, but luckily he only lost about US$1,000.
Most folks arrive from overseas at the Bangkok International Airport, so I will start with some advice on getting to Pattaya from the Airport. Some of you may like to stay in Bangkok overnight, particularly if you have had a long flight, but my recommendation is to head for Pattaya right away. Just make sure you change some money to Thai baht before you go for the taxi, and ask for some 100 baht notes or lower denominations.
Taxi services at the airport are more expensive than in town, as they are in most Countries, and if you decide to use the airport taxis you will often be quoted close to 2,000 baht (US$45) for the 2 hour ride to Pattaya. However, you can often bargain this down to about 1,500 baht (US$35), which is not a bad rate, and it’s even better if you can share with someone.
If I arrive during the daytime, I normally walk a couple of hundred yards (luggage trolleys are free and plentiful) to the adjacent Domestic terminal where you can often get an even better rate – typically 1,200 baht (US$28), and if you walk out to the street, the taxi driver will be happy to take you to Pattaya for 800 baht (under US$20) but be prepared for some friendly bargaining.
If you take the 800 baht taxi, the driver will normally take you to a small taxi hub just outside the airport where you will transfer to a nicer looking taxi and pay the taxi Company. The first time I did this I thought it was a scam but this has happened to me at least 5 times now and I have always had a safe and pleasant ride to Pattaya. Note also that whichever taxi you select, you will be expected to pay the tolls in Bangkok and on the freeway to Pattaya – about 100 baht total (US$2.50), so make sure you have some 20 baht notes or 10 baht coins for the journey.
Another option is to take the bus to Pattaya which leaves from the Domestic Terminal. It is air conditioned and very comfortable, but it only leaves every 3 hours. But at 300 baht one way (or maybe a little less) it is a great buy.
Getting around in Pattaya:
Baht Buses
These are converted pick up trucks with an easy step-on at the back, two padded benches and a roof to protect you from the elements. You just flag one down anywhere along their normal route, get on board and ding the bell when you reach your destination. Everybody is very friendly and you will probably get a beautiful smile from more than one attractive Thai girl, and the fare is a bargain. Most Thais pay only 5 baht, however far they travel, and some expats do this too but it sometimes causes arguments. I normally give 5 baht for a very short trip (a few hundred yards), 10 baht for up to a couple of miles and 20 baht for anything over that – say from North Pattaya to Walking Street. Just pay the driver the exact change and walk away, so make sure you have plenty of 10 baht coins.
If you want to go on a special journey which is off the normal route, or visit an attraction while they wait for you for the return journey, then always agree on the price before you start, including the waiting time. It is amazing how far you can go for 100 baht, and this is for the whole bus, not per passenger.
Motor Cycle Taxis
This is a fast and convenient way to get around, particularly when you are off the normal Baht Bus routes. Not for the faint hearted however, because most of the drivers do not have a spare helmet for you to wear (even though it is illegal for the driver or passenger to go without a helmet), will break every rule (even crossing on red at the stoplights) to get you to your destination as soon as possible, and seem to take unnecessary risks just to save a few seconds. Having said that, I have never had an accident, or even seen an accident involving a motor cycle taxi driver and I believe this is because they are so experienced and skilful at driving their machines around Pattaya.
As for the cost, 20 or 30 baht seems to be OK for most trips within the city, but it is best to have the exact change (they seem to NEVER have any change) and to agree on the fare before you start. Tips are not necessary.
Unlike Bangkok, there are relatively few taxis for short trips in Pattaya, and none seem to have the taxi meters. However, if you need a taxi to take you to the airport in Bangkok for instance, or to one of the surrounding attractions, there are several taxi services that you can telephone, and you may see the occasional taxi parked on the street ready to bargain with you.
Under no circumstances should you get into the taxi until you have negotiated the fare. Expect to pay 800 baht to Bangkok International Airport (plus any freeway tolls) and 100 to 200 baht for trips in Pattaya. Again, tipping is not normally expected, so just pay your negotiated fare.
Purchasing your own Vehicle
The simplest way to get your own wheels is to buy a motorbike. And for about 35,000 to 40,000 baht (US$820 to US$930) you can buy a brand new ‘bike, a little more for self start, and this is a great way to CAREFULLY get around in Pattaya.
Invest in a good motor cycle helmet (500 baht at least), and make sure you register the motorbike (normally at the dealership), preferably in your Thai partner’s name to avoid deep pockets liability, and that you pay about 2,000 baht per year for insurance against accidents. I recently had a small accident and there was no trouble getting the Emergency Room fees reimbursed.
Be aware though, that in any accident involving a foreigner and a Thai, the foreigner will end up paying the costs, even if the Thai was at fault. If you are involved in a small accident, it is best to settle on the spot (even if you are blameless), particularly when you can probably do this by paying the other party 500 or 1,000 baht. The alternative is to stand on your rights, get hauled down to the police station and then find you have to pay 20,000 and up when the lawyer and the police get involved. Do yourself a favor by spending the US$12 to US$24 on the spot, and go about enjoying your stay in Pattaya.
Just a couple more points – even if your Thai girl friend (or boy friend) insists, do not carry more than one passenger on your motorbike, and make sure you both have helmets. The fine is only 200 baht (under US$5), but you have to leave the bike with the police while you go down to the Tourist Police Station to pay your fine
So what about buying a car or a truck?
You can buy a nice new car or truck for about 600,000 baht and up (US$14,000) and get a good buy on a second hand car or truck for about 200,000 baht and up (US$4,500). Check out some more detailed prices at my friend’s web site at
To own and register a car you will need:
• A non immigrant visa
• Proof of residency - rental agreement or home ownership papers
• Money!
Before you buy:
• Have it clear in your mind what type of vehicle you require, and the price range. Trucks
hold their value better than other vehicles.
• Understand that cars maintain their value much better than you are used to in your home country.
• Know that Thais are generally hard on cars and typically maintain them poorly, so consider a new car if you can afford it, and use extra care in checking for mechanical damage before you buy a pre-owned vehicle.
Look for signs of Collision:
• Paint overspray on glass, rubber or trim.
• Wrinkled metal under the hood.
• Misaligned bumpers, doors, hood and other body panels.
Check the Engine:
• Have someone start the engine while you look at the exhaust pipe. A little black smoke on start up is OK, but blue smoke indicates burning oil - don't buy it!
• Check the engine runs smoothly and idles quietly.
Check the Mileage:
• Look for excessive wear on the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals. Also on the driver's side door hinges. High wear in any of these areas may indicate high mileage in excess of what the odometer is showing.
Title and Registration:
• Check the book that comes with the car. No Book? Then just run very fast to the next dealership.
• Compare the chassis number in the book with the chassis number on the vehicle.
• Check to see where the car is registered. If it's registered anywhere but Pattaya, you will have to travel to the city of registration to transfer the registration to Pattaya. Not much fun if that's in Chiangmai!
Get an experienced technician to check for problems before you buy:
• Once you have checked all of the above yourself, have the car inspected by an independent mechanic, someone not associated with the selling party. Tell the seller you want this inspection done before you buy or commit to buy. Expect small repairs but do not buy someone else's expensive problems.
• Buy from a well established dealer. That way, if you have a problem the chances are that it will be taken care of quickly.
• We can recommend Intercar on Sukhumvit - contact Martin. He will also take care of the paperwork.
To obtain a Thai Driving License:
First get a medical certificate. It costs 120 baht from the Pattaya Memorial Hospital. Just tell them it is for a Thai driving license. The whole process takes less than half an hour. You also need to get a letter from the Immigration to certify your home address in Thailand. They require photocopy of your passport (personal particulars page and visa page). You must have a non-immigrant visa. Also two photographs. Show them your national driving license when making the request. There is a fee of 200 baht and you return the next day to get the letter. I live with a friend and I use her house address. She was asked by Immigration for a photocopy of her house registration.
Besides the medical certificate and the letter from Immigration, yo

About the author:

Pete Mills experienced an interesting childhood beginning when France fell to the Germans on his sixth birthday during WWII. At that time his parents owned and operated a pub near Dover, England, located just twenty-one miles across the English Channel from the victorious German Army. Soon the Germans were lobbing one ton shells into Dover so the whole of Pete’s school was evacuated to the Sussex countryside.
Mills later joined the Royal Navy as an Electrical Engineer and served on destroyers and frigates, mostly in the Far East and the Mediterranean.
After leaving the military service Pete was fortunate enough to join ICL as a Computer Engineer at the forefront of the international computer revolution. Peter installed the first computer system in Bangalore, India, well before that city became the world-class software powerhouse it is today.
Pete emigrated to the United States in 1970. Here he worked for major computer companies in Princeton, NJ and Boston, MA. Eventually he moved to Los Angeles with the Hughes Aircraft Company, took early r

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