Why are so many expats leaving Thailand?

Author D D

Why are so many expats leaving Thailand?
I can only answer you for myself, and I’m certain others will disagree and will have their own and different reasons.

I’ve lived in Thailand for 15 years and I am now faced with having to leave the country where I had intended to spend the rest of my life. My wife is Thai, my kids are Thai, I made an honest if only middling successful attempt to learn the language including teaching myself to read and write.

I created a company years ago to ensure I could work legally and pay taxes honestly. I have always done my utmost to stay within the law, to never overstay my visa and to ensure my work permit is current and correct.

My company works under permanent contract to another company because this convoluted arrangement is the only way everyone can work and remain entirely legal. However the result is that every baht I earn comes from outside the country and virtually every baht I spend is spent within the country. It’s not that I make staggering amounts of money, but if you put 1000 expats like me together that’s a significant amount of pure income for the country.

I invested heavily in my kids’ education here to try and ensure they have a solid future with every intention of remaining here and growing old in a beautiful country.

Despite all that I find increasingly that I am treated by the system as though I am virtually a criminal. After 15 years I have no more rights or stability than someone who arrived a month ago.

Every year when I renew my visa the restrictions are tighter and tighter. In my own country if you qualify for a residency that’s it…you don’t need to qualify repeatedly and meet the tougher requirements every year.

I am required to report to the immigration every three months and confirm that I am still here. Granted there is an online way to do this but it only ever works half the time so this means half a day off work and a trip to to the immigration office.

If I stay away from home even one day night I must then immediately go to the immigration office the next day with the owner of my house to report that I am still me and I am back to doing exactly what I was doing 48 hours ago. The owner of my house is a great guy but he has businesses to run and can’t be coming to immigration with me all the time. He’s signed power of attorney over to my wife so she can do it but this means she has to take a day off work to do this. Another day off work for me and also one for her.

I’m tired of being treated like a criminal all the time. I’m tired of being charged 10 as much as everyone else in my family when I want to visit a national park, even if I shown my passport and work permit to prove that I live and work here and pay taxes that support these parks.

I’m tired of having to send my wife to do basic shopping because when I walk in the staff all find something more important to do and/or the prices immediately go up.

I try to support the locals but stopped shopping at the market down the road when I went to buy pork and they charged me three times what they charge my wife. Now I shop at Tesco and support the big box stores that will put these guys out of business simply because Tesco doesn’t steal from me.

I’m tired of the useless political drama that goes nowhere and results in endless squabbles. People constantly grumble about having a military government but when they had a proper democracy they couldn’t deal with it.

I’m tired of this chopping and changing of the laws so muddled and confusing that even the immigration officials struggle to know what the law is today. We’re told that retirees will have to maintain minium amounts of health insurance, then we’re told that no they’re won’t. Will they? Won’t they? What’s next?

I’m tired of situations such immigration officials coming to my workplace, struggling to find find non existent problems with my working documents and then just demanding 10,000 baht or they will put me in prison. I’m tired of then hearing later the same day how corruption in immigration is now non existent.

Most of all, though, it’s the fact that I have realized the rules do and always will change and to date they almost always change to be more restrictive for foreigners. If I do retire here there is absolutely no guarantee that the law will not change when I am 85 and I will suddenly find myself at that age forced out of the country where I would, by that time, have a lived for most of my life.

Many people will say, absolutely correctly, if you don’t like it then leave. They are dead right. It’s not my country and if I don’t like it then I should and will leave.

The original poster asked why expats are leaving. Those are my reasons. I’m not not asking Thailand to change but I think if they don’t they will lose a large part of of their expat community and with it a lot of skilled labour that the country needs.

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