Dealing with homesickness in Thailand

Hello everyone,

Being an expat in Thailand can turn out to be a wonderful human, social or professional adventure... with potential moments of nostalgia and homesickness along the way.

What are your personal tips to prevent homesickness?

How do you deal with such feelings?

Are there shops or stores offering products from your home country in Thailand? Or maybe venues with music and ambiance from your homeland?

Thanks for sharing your experience,


I had an unusual preparation for being an expat, related to living in Hawaii for two years before moving abroad, sort of a stepping stone.  It was still a shock.  In Bangkok there are equivalent products for almost anything sold in the US, with a few minor exceptions, and lots of malls, different restaurants, etc., so all that can offset some of the shock.

People seem to break two different ways related to being homesick, or at least say that they do, related to completely integrating and having no issues adapting, or feeling out of place and having problems with adjusting.  I suspect that relates more to people being inclined to communicate one extreme or the other, and more people are in the middle.  Part of the relevant context would be how "Western" one's everyday environment is.  Someone moved over to work in a Western corporation or NGO would be working in a Western work environment, with American and other European colleagues.  Replicating an American diet or bar-scene environment wouldn't be difficult, especially with such a starting point.  Someone teaching English out in Isaan would be up against a different set of challenges.

The question is framed as more about my experiences though.  I sort of just gutted it out; the transition was difficult for a few years but I lived through it.  I don't know many Westerners, and I've attended a few expat meet-ups in a few years.  Essentially I just didn't do a lot with that, especially since I'm really not into a bar scene, the most obvious starting point.  I met a few guys through a professional group, which I was in related to the subject theme (IT service management), but I didn't become close to them.  I have a Thai family here though, so there was that to focus on, the challenges of working and raising a young child, now two of them.  Western television can help to provide some familiar ground, but that's easy enough to arrange, just upgrade a cable package.  Or take other related steps; there are different options in today's world.

It might be as well to not make it about the cultural difference more than it has to be.  Moving to any new city someone needs to develop new connections, do different things, adjust habits.  Of course being in a different country adds layers of adjustment but you can't really change the basic assumptions or general look and feel or options related to where you are.  People tend to say "learn Thai," and there's that to help, but there's no magic bullet, with different people integrating differently.  When you see people ask about moving and they want to replicate every aspect of their prior life (is there the same gym?  the same products? etc.) it seems unlikely it would work, to recreate all of a former country in a new one, defeating a lot of the point.

Some recommendations:
1.  Keep busy.
2.  Join some groups to meet people and activities like the Bangkok photo group or volunteer work teaching your native language.
3.  Learn or do meditation.
4.  keep a diary to an be able to record and keep track of new learning experience.
5.  On time off set out goals for new experiences.

This question is very simple to answer.
I escaped from Germany because of the political status=chaos and since I emmigrate, things became more worse with the EU and 'refugees'.
I need to read only the newspapers and I'm cured directly from homesick.
Best Regards, Michael

I fully agree with BKK Tea Blog above. Circumstances differ for every person. If you were a refugee and unable to return to your home the homesickness might be a very powerful emotional  wrench. If you are an expat in business or working then you are most likely here for a finite time and so there will be a future  time to return home after a set period  to look forward to.
I am a retiree and chose to settle in Chiang mai after a long experience with Thailand and being married to a Thai lady for 25 years. So for us it was a clear choice. We prepared for ten years in advance so it was a positive experience ( mostly ) there were and are still things to learn.
My wife wisely suggested not to sell our house in Australia until I was completely sure that I would be able to stay here. I am very sure but we still have not sold that house.
I think a big  factor is the feeling that if it all turned ugly I could still return to Australia so I have a positive reason for being here and enjoy it very much coupled with a sense of freedom to return home if ever the need arises. I think this is important. I always tried to at least send my wife back to Thailand for Songkran each year for that reason and make sure that the money for a flight was always there if she needed to go.

I soon found the foodstuffs I enjoyed in Australia including the infamous Vegemite that all Australian kids have rammed down their throat from infancy. I was already well adapted to Thai food and these little delicacies are a treat rather than a necessity. At first i would arrange " care packages " from friends in Australia but the need for these has diminished mostly.

I have found like minded friends here from Australia, Norway and USA as well as making Thai friends and occasional visits from my wife's family who I like very much. I miss my work colleagues but the internet keeps me in daily contact with many of them just  as it would have in Australia as they are widely dispersed around the world and it is strange how many long lost cousins want to visit me now that we live here.

Access to media, news and particularly radio via the internet is very important to me and sometimes makes me glad I don't live there any more. Skype means I can contact anybody at almost any time if there are things to discuss. So I don't have that sense of isolation I used to have when traveling to remote areas of the world thirty years ago.

After two years here we returned to see our house in Australia. I didn't go in despite the tenant asking if I would like to.  I sat outside and looked at it to test myself for any longings to live there again but after a few minutes concluded that i missed Chiang Mai more and really wanted to get back to my home. Having traveled and worked in many countries for forty five years it was easy to just see the house in Australia as another chapter and now onto the new one.

I suppose I am lucky to have such a positive spin on living here and if I didn't it would simply be a matter of going to the airport to remedy that. I don't feel trapped or compelled to be here and that for me is the key.
We have always tried to incorporate the best things about Australian life  with the best things about Thai life into our lives and discard the rest. So in conclusion I don't think I am homesick at all. I still love Australia as my country and my culture but I love this place just as much.

1.  I am an American citizen and continue to be a patriot in admiration of the foundation ideas of my nation.   Thus I reject the label expat.
2.  Over the period of 1985-2000, I became more and more disgusted with the foreign policy of Washington and some domestic acts as well.  I found that they did not represent me nor the Founding Fathers' ideals.  The differences are deep and important to me.
3.  Because I am Buddhist and feeling so badly governed in USA, it was a clear choice to move to a real Buddhist nation and region and to separate myself, at least geographically, from the national policies I feel are so repugnant.

My move to Thailand was much more liberation, and I only miss nachos from USA and them not so much, either.

Home is where the heart is. Everything in life is temporary, including life itself. Some foodstuffs might be missing here and those few friends of 40 plus years, but the internet allows us to be in touch. You should not miss what you do not have.

I made some longer «test stays» before permanently moving to Thailand. So I also could figure out, which products are available in Thailand.

Meanwhile, I find most things - same brand or similar products from brands - I need. There are some fruits and vegetables which are not available or crazy expensive. I miss them a little bit, but I don't have to deal with homesickness.

There are somethings I miss from Switzerland, like better infrastructure, common sense and more environmentally awareness. But on the bottom line, I am happier here in Thailand.

I still keep in regular contact with my friends via messaging, calls, and even PSN. These ties keep me grounded when I start feeling like a "stranger in a strange land."

The positives about moving to a completely new place are the things yet to be discovered - food, people, places - new experiences every day.

I do not have homesickness as I only have to read "Politics Today" or one of the local home country newspapers  "Burger etc"and that any homesickness is immediately cured.
I visit my home country twice a year to see my children and friends.I moved to Thailand with the mindset that it was voluntarily and had done my homework as I had been coming to Thailand since 2001.
I have found all my home foods here at Makro  Tesco etc and accept that I do not live in my home country when it comes to health matters and cleanliness.
The driving I have learned to drive here as I drove  "dodgem " carts at the Merry go round as a child.
The lifestyle is very relaxed and that at times I find it a bit boring.
I use Skype etc to keep up to date with the kids and friends.
The heat was a bit much in the beginning but I have either acclimatized or the heat is less but it does not effect me as much as in the beginning
I have not burnt my bridges but I doubt if I will ever go back
The only problem that would make me go back is a serious sickness but as I have just had a cancer opp in my home country I do not see even that keeping me there forever again

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