Ex-Pat life in Thailand - Chiang Mai - Are there dangers?

My name is Matt and I am seriously considering moving to Thailand / Chiang Mai.   I am starting dialog with many people. some good and some negative.

I will need to have work so I can sustain living, but I am looking to re-connect with myself.
Born, raised and living in US culture for 50 years is not working for me any more. I need more for my being.

Saying all that, some of the response of moving to Thailand has been negative, and I wanted input.

Here is what I was told: (what are your thoughts on this?)

Things for expats in Thailand have gotten a lot more difficult in the past 10 years. They really do not want us there any longer.
Unless you are wealthy, and do not need to work, I would not recommend moving to Thailand and trying to make a go of it. I lived there for 12 years, and watched many a man come and go.

You can't own land there. So you will have to rent. And when they see you are a foreigner, they will charge you double or triple what they would charge a local. If you buy a house, it will have to be in a Thai persons name. Most times that ends in the Thai person swindling you out of what you paid for.

You will be stopped by police for absolutely nothing, and they will make up some reason you have to pay them money.
Each week it will be something different. Any dispute, accident, or anything else between you and a Thai local, will automatically be your fault and you will have to pay.

Are you married? Do not go to Thailand looking for love. That will guarantee you a very bad ending to your adventure. 99% of the ladies there see you as a great big dollar sign. The more money you have, the more they will love you. When it's all gone, they will be gone as well. They will do their best to get all of your money for them and their family.

Is this person truthful or is he just jaded?

What are your thoughts?


Jaded and full of BS. ✌🏻

I agree with Villagefarang... most of that is BS...
Having said that, if you're looking for work, it may be very hard to find a job here unless you're a teacher with proper certifications. It is much easier to relocate here if retired and not looking for job...
You cannot legally own land & house... that's true... You can form a company to buy, but it will be majority owned by Thais. You can buy a condo in your name, but why would anyone want to buy when they first come over until they decide if they are going to stay, rent is cheap enough.
I've never been stopped by police... don't know where that is coming from...
The Thai women I know are wonderful, very sweet... Everyone is polite and very respectful... That is their culture...

Thank you much for the reply.   This is seriously in my mind. Maybe just a several month sabbatical to see how I fit in.

I am at a place in my life where I need a drastic change in my life.

Part of me is saying just go and figure it out.

Maybe I will.

Wow Matt, so sorry for all the negative comments about moving to Chiang Mai.  Work wise there is that possibility to apply for a international job from the US to work in at a large company here. We have a friend that works in the tobacco industry, and she makes good money. But, to just walk in here to land a job like that I think would not work. If your a computer person, and in marketing you could work on line. There are a lot of English teachers here who are expats. But , this is not going to pay you State side wages. You can get a work permit, but remember your wages will not be like the US. But, the cost of living here is not like the US. Depending on what your back ground is for work you might want to look for a  position from the states to land a job in Chiang Mai. We know of several people who have work permits , and are working here. 
As far as a Thai wife, we have several friends that have thai, wives or husbands, and or girl or boy friend status . We love all of our Thai friends, and there spouses. Really wonderful people. Certainly Thailand culture is a bit different from other parts of the world but we have not found a bad Thai yet. The friends we have that are in there 30s and 40s here are making it work for them, and they are very happy. Other than that. My husband and I are not rich, but we are on a retirement visa and we are doing fine.  Good luck to you. Chiang mai is a great place with wonderful people.

Referencing your need for more in your life and re-connecting with yourself, Thailand can be a great place for self exploration.  Personal growth is definitely a possibility here but so is the possibility that your personal demons will completely overwhelm you.   It might be a risk worth taking but only you can make that call.

I like the fact you don’t seem to be focussing on the mundane aspects of life like food, shelter, transportation and how cheap can I live.  You seem to be a little higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is refreshing and encouraging.

Thank you all for the replies!!

The thought of moving has been on my mind for a while. I just did two weeks in Thailand from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to Phuket to PhiPhi to Pattaya back to Bangkok.  I loved it all, but I especially liked my time in Chiang Mai.
Maybe the next step for me is to take a month in Chiang  Mai to see what’s it’s really like and how it feels. 

villagefarang,  I do think about those other things, but they will be whatever they are. If and when I make a decision to come there. I will start looking at costs and I will use this network of good people to make sure I’m on the right path.

Again, I’m a 51-year-old guy, just divorced after 20 years, and do not like where my life is right now. I need a drastic change to get in the right direction. I’ve started studying and learning to meditate.  I believe with a change of direction and focus, this could be very cleansing to my soul and psyche.

I will be thinking about this currently moving forward, and I highly appreciate all of your truthful inputs.

Thank you,
Matt S

Sex, drugs, alcohol, violence and depression can take a heavy toll on vulnerable people here in Thailand.  A little mind numbing sex can do wonders for a lonely divorcée but most guys can’t read Thai women, are vulnerable and easily deceived, so stay single and play the field for a few years until you get the lay of the land.  A month or two in Chiang Mai is a very good idea.  You don’t want to jump off a cliff without checking the depth of the water you are diving into.

If you're afraid of a little danger and wary or taking risks, then maybe the adventure of moving to a new country isn't for you.

Some expats are running away from something; I don't expect they will run away from themselves. I would suggest finding something here to run toward.

Hey Ruffian,
It is not at all that I am afraid. I just like to be aware of the dangers that I’m jumping into.    I know this type of move will be life altering, and I am thinking deeply on it and meditating about it.   I must review all the consequences of my actions understand how they will affect me and my family that I’m leaving back in the states.
This will happen, it will happen when I am prepared to the best extent that I can.
But I am also looking forward to be complete unknown. It excites me and filled me with wonder.  I am looking forward to reaching out and grasping at this new life, something that I believe I have longed for for a very very long time.

My best,
Matt S

The only danger being. you might have a happy life in a rich culture. friendly people. Great climate. Among many other wonderful things

I would stay where you are. hehe

Thanks Ray!!

To be honest, of course Thai traffic is dangerous. That's on a world scale. If you are disturbed by air pollution, at least northern Thailand may be difficult for you.
The people are very nice, but they have their faults (generalizing greatly about the Thai culture of course).
There are less "dangerous" countries, but who would choose to live there???

Hi Matt,

I was in a similar predicament and ended a 10 year relationship/marriage that went pear shaped. I felt I needed a big change. I had been to Chiang Mai for a month about 3 years ago and remembered thinking to myself that if I was to ever retire, I would move here.

Having friends already here helped a great deal so I think you coming here for at least a month to scope out the scene is an important first step.

My best advice would be to live lean so that you can maximise your time to settle in while you take your time looking at opportunities to make an income. The great part is you don't really need much to live a quality life. About $1000 USD per month, you'll be able to live a basic but comfortable life. I like my weekly massages, movies, and exploring cafes/restaurants on an almost daily basis so I'm on a budget that is almost 2k/month. The biggest savings will likely come from housing costs. I used to pay $2,000 USD per month and now I pay $300 USD per month for a similar size house.

The challenges of living here for a westerner would be the rules of engagement. Everything takes a bit more time from banking to setting up wifi. Some things don't make sense but if you are a patient person, these minor challenges are far outweighed by the positives of living here. Thais are just like any other culture/country. There are bad apples in the lot but overall most are great people to be around. You'll have a head start if you are open to learning about the language and culture.

Hope you find what you are looking for in life. At the end of the day, listen to your heart. Something tells me you're not going to find peace continuing with life where you're currently at. So it sounds like you have nothing to lose. Just go for it!

All the best!

That was a great reply.

With all due respect, a weekly massage needn’t be a budget busting indulgence, at least not here. I just scored an excellent traditional legit Thai massage for 200THB.

2 hours x 2people x 2-3 times a week is the norm for my partner and I. That's roughly 6000 per month which for some people would be cost prohibitive.

Hi Matt,  If you are planning on coming to Chiang Mai, take a visit to the 19th Hole bar in San Sai.  Most clients are level headed expats that have offered me some great advice and helped out with settling in. Owned by a Canadian expat, Dave Peat, the place is good for relax, good food and some friendly chaps happy to assist with information when you need it.


MSimpkins, sir. There is a book "Money Number One" (by A.B. Thistlewaite) available on both Amazon & Ebay. I believe reading that book will answer most of your questions. A truly worthwhile investment, from what I've been told. Good luck. :cheers:

Best reply ever.

I sometimes wonder how those of us who came here pre-internet and before all the books were written managed to survive and thrive in Thailand. :unsure

villagefarang :

I sometimes wonder how those of us who came here pre-internet and before all the books were written managed to survive and thrive in Thailand. :unsure

People take themselves. everywhere they go. Indeed, a positive attitude determines one's altitude, everywhere.

That ^, coupled with an open-minded, humble, but stand-up studend disposition, coupled with astute brain-work abilities, carried you far, in the old-days, no doubt.:cool: 

And, that ^ much is evident, in the (apparently) evolved, and usual manner of your current posts. Hope this answers your question. :cheers:

Many people need a dramatic change in life, and choose to come here including me.
Good luck.

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