Every time somebody asks me about traveling in Thailand I tell them there’s always somewhere to stay, someone who wants to take them where they want to go, and there’s always great food to eat. Not only is Thailand an easy country to travel in, it’s becoming more modern every day which makes it even easier to live in. From modern infrastructure like Skytrain and subway systems to a stable and secure financial system, to world-class hospitals, Thailand has everything a Western expat needs to be comfortable while pursuing FIRE.
Of course, it’s possible to have a comfortable lifestyle in many countries, but what makes Thailand the best country in the world for FIRE is a unique combination of:
- High salaries
- Low cost of living
- Low taxes
Expat salaries in Thailand can be extremely high, especially in Bangkok. It’s not uncommon for expats who are posted from their home countries to pull in over 500,000B (16,000 USD) per month. Qualified international school teachers can easily make between 100,000B (3,200 USD) and 200,000B (6,400 USD) per month and even unqualified teachers can make over 50,000B (1,600 USD) per month. Many expats are teachers, but there are also a lot of people working for technology companies, government service, and multinational corporations.
The cost of living in Thailand is very subjective, but it’s safe to say you can spend as little or as much as you like while still maintaining a decent quality of life. While inflation has been high during the past 10 years with the prices of some items doubling, Thailand still provides good value for money and it’s easy to have a much higher quality of life than in Western countries for the same money.
Rent can be anywhere from 6,000B (200 USD) per month for a multiple story house in Isaan or on the outskirts of Bangkok, to 10,000 – 20,000B (320 – 640 USD) per month for a single bedroom condo with a swimming pool, to greater than 100,000 per month for luxury accommodation. Meals can be found for as cheap as 40B (1.30 USD) on the street to hundreds or thousands of Baht in Western restaurants or hotels. Buses, taxes, and the Skytrain and Subway are quite cheap.
Low taxes are probably the best part of FIRE in Thailand. It’s no coincidence that Asia was booming while the West was in recession. For most people, the Thai tax system is extremely simple compared to what you’re used to and only requires a few calculations. If you can make a Western salary in Thailand, you will most likely only pay one third to half of the tax you would at home if you max out your tax-deductible investments.
Click here for more detailed information on why the tax system in Thailand is the best in the world for FIRE.
Thailand provides a modern, first-world quality of life at reasonable prices and taxation levels. That is why Thailand is the best country in the world for FIRE.
Having said all of that, there some downsides to living in Thailand that need to be considered.
The main downsides of living in Thailand are:
- Cost of school
- Addictions and other life/health problems
- Culture shock
Many expats have schooling for their children included in their benefits package. If it’s not included you need to seriously think about where you are going to send your kids to school and how much it’s going to cost. Even most Thai people don’t want to send their children to government schools if they can avoid it, and international schools can range from 300,000B to 1,000,000B per year per child. Don’t let your kids start at the bottom of the social-economic ladder just because you are pursuing FIRE.
If you are addicted to drugs, alcohol, video games, sex, gambling, or have any mental health issues, Thailand has a way of making them much worse. Also, if you messed up your life at home, Thailand is even more difficult to be successful in. You have been warned!
Thai culture is very different from the West, and a lot of the time things might seem downright bizarre or ridiculous. The language can also be difficult to learn which can make it a challenge to interact with a lot of people you see daily.
Thailand isn’t for everyone, and it’s recommended that you spend at least six months here before making any permanent life changes.
Click here to find out why you need a financial plan if you live in Thailand.