Thailand and cities such as Pattaya have always had a high proportion of British Expats. Many of those are retirees living on British pensions or an income from the UK. Others are working in the area, often in oil gas, real estate or financial services. However, in the last couple of years, it has been noticeable how many of the familiar faces have returned to the UK for good. So, what are the reasons for this?
Strength of the Baht
The Thai Baht has rapidly grown in strength against all major currencies in the last three years, but one of the biggest sufferers has been Sterling. To a large extent, this has been compounded by the poor performing pound since the UK voted to leave the EU. However, with uncertainty over Brexit negotiations, the situation has got progressively worse. As of today, the GBP stands at THB37.2 whereas at the start of 2016 it was THB53.2. Naturally, that means the cost of living in Thailand for Brits living in Thailand on a UK income has increased substantially.
Tighter Controls on Visas
As most people living in Thailand will be aware, the restrictions on long-term visas are increasing. The slogan “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out” may be the intention, but in reality, it is often the good guys that have lived years that are hurt. Many retirees now struggle to keep THB800,000 in a Thai bank account for the required periods due to factors such as the strong Thai baht. The has resulted in many British expats having no alternative other than to return to the UK as they are now unable to stay legally.
Reduced Western Expats
Thailand and Pattaya, in particular, is undoubtedly getting more tourists now than a decade ago although the numbers coming from western countries such as the UK are decreasing. It has had an impact on many local businesses, including those run by expats with many real estate companies going to the wall resulting in their owners being forced to return to the UK. Unfortunately, reducing western numbers seems a trend that is likely to continue.
A decade ago, many British expats worked in the oil and gas industry in Laem Chabang and Sriracha. However, the industry has been in decline w jobs with many being made redundant or expats replaced by locals. British and American expats have been some of the hardest hit.
There are alternatives to Thailand such as Cambodia and Vietnam who are keen to welcome tourists. These countries are currently far cheaper than Thailand with visas easier to obtain. The two destinations are viable alternatives to Thailand, especially for retirees who are perhaps unable to return to the UK.
Returning to the UK?
If you are considering returning to live in the UK and you would like your Thai wife or Thai girlfriend to accompany you, we can help. You can call us on: +66 (0)80 102 2328, +66 (0) 38 420 313 or +44 (0) 20 8133 8059, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively contact us via our website.