HSBC Expat Survey 2014: Cheap and cheerful: money goes further in Thailand so be sure to explore
Thailand emerges from the 2014 Expat Explorer survey as the best destination for expats looking for an improved lifestyle at a low cost. Over two-thirds of expats say they associate Thailand with a higher quality of life (69%) and 72% say they have greater levels of disposable income than they did before moving to the country (much higher than the global average of 53%).
This greater level of disposable income can be attributed to the high proportion of expats who say they spend less on utilities (71% compared to a global average of 26%); on accommodation (70% compared to a global average of 23%); on public transport (69% compared to a global average of 35%) and on groceries (66% compared to 22% globally). However, this does not mean a drop in quality – looking at accommodation, for example, over three-quarters of expats say the quality of their accommodation improved or stayed the same since moving (78%).
It’s lucky that expats in Thailand have lots of disposable income as the country is not short of exciting opportunities to spend it. Thai cuisine is clearly popular with expats, with 85% saying they enjoy eating the local food, while the shopping is also highly regarded. One expat who completed the survey reported the shopping as ‘amazing, ranging from local markets for cheaper goods to world class shopping centres that have everything’ – although clothes shopping can be challenging, with expats from western countries noting it can sometimes be difficult to find clothing in the right size13. Thai culture holds no less appeal – 90% say they enjoy experiencing local culture, from Buddhist temples to ancient historical sights and the Songkran festival to celebrate the New Year.
Language can be a bit of a struggle, with 77% of expats saying that they found it difficult to learn Thai when they first moved to the country. However, this doesn’t seem to stop people getting around: over two-thirds of expats say they travel more since moving to Thailand (68%), taking advantage of the beautiful destinations across the country and Bangkok’s position as a gateway to the rest of Asia. 79% say it is simple to travel around locally, be it to historical sites and temples, the national parks in the mountains or the stunning beach resorts.