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Do You Want to Live in Thailand? 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Live in Thailand (2023)

(Content updated January 31, 2023)

Guide to live in Thailand

Thailand has become a hugely popular destination for foreigners in which to work or retire.  Expert estimates say that hundreds of thousands of westerners are living and working in the country.

Can foreigners live in Thailand?

The UK Institute for Public Policy Research published a recent study that calculated there were between 40,000 and 50,000 United Kingdom citizens residing in Thailand.

Do many Americans or Australians want to live in Thailand?

Other studies estimate similar levels of Americans, Australians and Canadians, plus large populations from other European countries, New Zealand, as well as the Near and Middle East and India.

Thailand is popular for many reasons.   The weather is excellent, rarely falling below 30°C or 86°F in Bangkok.

How much do you need to live comfortably in Thailand?  What is the average cost of living?

The cost of living is a fraction of that in Europe or America.  Livingcost.org calculates that it is about a third of the United States, with rent only one quarter.  So, with USD 25,000 a year you can create a lifestyle that would probably cost you USD 80,000 stateside or close to AUD 120,000 in Australia (based on exchange rates at time of writing).

How to live cheaply in Thailand?  Where is the best place to live in Thailand?

Many people can therefore afford a much more luxurious standard of living in the capital, Bangkok, and still save money.  Some aim to get the cost of living even lower.  They reside in one of the provincial centres where rent is even less, as are many other living expenses.

Stay in Thailand long-term.
With a Privilege Entry Visa
that is valid from
5 years up to 20 years.

Live in Thailand

Is it dangerous for foreigners to live in Thailand?

Thailand is regarded as a very safe country.  Medical care is good and comparatively inexpensive, as is public transport and infrastructure in Bangkok.  Foreign residents have plenty to do, with huge numbers of first-class golf courses, water sports and resorts, mountain get aways in the north, large numbers of restaurants of all cuisines and shopping malls with every conceivable luxury brand.

Many foreigners want to live and work in Thailand long term, not surprisingly.  As a result there are large expatriate communities, which makes it easier in many ways for newcomers.

A large group of long term foreign residents see one particular visa type, unique to Thailand, as the path of choice.  It is called the Thailand Elite-Visa.   The Thailand Elite-Visa is a long-term visa categorized as PE or Privileged Entry by Thai Immigration.

Can you live permanently in Thailand?

The visa gives the recipient a 5-year renewable multiple entry.  It allows them to have residency in Thailand, along with a number of other benefits, for between 5 and 20 years, depending on the option chosen, in return for a membership fee that starts at THB 600,000 (USD 16,800 at the time of writing).

Thailand Elite Members receive a number of exclusive privileges.  They get fast track immigration and passport checking when they arrive in Thailand or depart.  Some Thai Elite member levels also get complimentary limousine travel to and from the airport and use of an airport guest lounge.

One of the most valued privileges is the government concierge service.  Members of Thailand Elite can use this for business networking and immigration services; as well as to help obtain a local driver’s license and a foreign currency or local bank account.  They are also not required to have medical insurance.

Thailand Elite-Visa holders, in addition, get special discounts at selected partners.  This includes duty-free shops, shopping malls, hotels and some restaurants.

What are the requirements to live in Thailand?

If you want to live in Thailand with the Thailand Elite-Visa, the step-by-step application process is as follows.

Step One, foreigners applying for membership must first decide which of several versions of the Thailand Elite-Visa they want.

Step Two, they must ensure they have the requisite fee for that version.

Step Three, they must meet several, not especially difficult legal requirements.  For example, they cannot be the subject of bankruptcy proceedings.

Step Four, they must then fill in the application.  If everything is in order, the whole process takes about 45 days.

Step Five, they can then collect the visa when arriving on their next international flight, at a Thai Consulate overseas, or from the Immigration Department in Bangkok.

Unlike some visas, the Thailand Elite-Visa allows holders to work.

Is it hard to retire in Thailand?

“Thailand is a wonderful country in which to live for retirees, digital nomads or people seeking a better lifestyle,” explained Mr. Bastien Trelcat, Managing Partner of Harvey Law Group, an international law firm that works on investment and business immigration matters.

“It is located in the middle of South East Asia, with more than a dozen countries within a short flight of two or three hours. The standard of living is also extremely attractive with a warm climate, low costs and many entertainment options,” continued Mr. Trelcat.

He further advised that, “There have been some recent revisions to the immigration laws that make it even more attractive as a destination and which have generated a lot of attention in foreign media.”

Many people who have applied successfully recommend applicants obtain professional advice to ensure they make no mistakes in the process.

For nearly a decade, Thaielite Express has been an authorized General Sales and Services Agent.  Interested prospects can find the option that best suits them and helps them understand the details in their guide at Thai Elite Visa costs, as well as the various benefits.

You can also visit their website and contact them to ask questions on the Thailand Elite-Visa and Membership, or send your questions directly to them via email.  They usually reply within 24 hours. They can even let you apply for it online here!

Stay in Thailand long-term.
With a Privilege Entry Visa
that is valid from
5 years up to 20 years.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible for Thai elite visa?

The applicant/the Member must have and maintain to have the following qualifications: Being allowed to stay in Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws or any related law of Thailand.(no overstay record) Holding foreign passport. Not having been sentenced by a judgment to imprisonment in any countries except for an offense committed through negligence. Not having been adjudicated bankrupt. Not having been declared as a person of unsound mind incompetence, or quasi incompetent.

How long can I stay in Thailand with Elite Visa?

Thailand Elite offer a 5,10 or 20 years membership and ensure the renewal of your visa during the validity of the membership. Each time a member goes through the Thai immigration, he/she will automatically get a one-year visa stamp in his/her passport until expiration of the membership. If the member happens to stay for more than 1-year consecutively in Thailand, then a simple renewal at the immigration office will grant another 1-year visa stamp.

Is Thailand Elite a scam?

The Thailand Elite Visa is a program initiated and approved by the Royal Thai government in 2003. The Thailand Privilege Card Co., Ltd, which runs the Elite Visa program is a fully owned subsidiary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, under the Ministry of Tourism and Sport. ThaiElite-Express empowered by HLG Law Firm is an authorized sale agent.

Can I work with Thailand Elite?

After becoming an Elite member and obtaining your Thailand Elite Visa, you can apply anytime to a non-immigrant business visa and a work permit allowing you to work in Thailand. You also have the option of applying to the Elite Flexible Plus, invest at least 1 million USD in Thailand either in real estate, a limited or public company, or in stock exchange, and be granted a work permit.

How do I pay for Thailand Elite?

The payment is required only after submission of your application, the immigration background check by the Thai immigration, and receipt of the Approval Letter by email. Applicants could then choose to proceed to their membership fee by local or overseas bank transfer, credit card or depositing money to Thailand Elite bank account directly.

Is the Thailand Elite visa for Digital Nomads?

The Thailand Elite Visa is perfectly suitable for Digital Nomads. As business or retirement visas are not necessary a good match for digital nomads, the Elite Visa answers to all nomads with numerous privileges to cater members’ needs. With very little documentation needed, as well as the flexibility of applying from anywhere, regardless abroad, on arrival, or within Thailand. The process is seamless and fast. Moreover, from a study by The Instant Group, Bangkok has recently been voted as the world’s second-best city to work in as a digital nomad (best city in Asia). This is down to the innumerable benefits in which Bangkok brings, which are but not limited to; Internet broadband speed, culture, scenery, transportation, weather, affordability, cuisine, and more. Having already welcomed 35 million digital nomads from all over the world, in 2021, it’s forecasted that there would be more arrivals to the Land of Smiles with constant technological and infrastructure improvements.

What is the long term visa available in Thailand?

Applying to a Thailand Elite program is a viable and easy solution to stay and live for a long period of time in Thailand. Only Thailand Elite can offer a 5,10 or 20 years membership and ensure the renewal of the visa during the validity of the applicant membership. As of today, all other non-immigrant visa options are limited to a validity period of 1 or 2 years.

Thailand elite vs Retirement Visa

To retire in Thailand, the Elite Visa is a worry-free option compared to the Retirement Visa from the application, during holding period to the renewable. At the application time, for an Elite, the documentation is minimal, and no medical insurance nor proof of funds is required for instance. During the holding period, Elite members enjoy numerous privileges such as an assistance for their 90 days report, a fast track at the airport immigration, the lounge access and airport limousine, assistance in opening a bank account in local or foreign currency, a 24/7 call center and much more. The Elite Visa offers you an easy renewable of the Privilege Entry Visa for the duration of your membership.

What is the long term visa available in Thailand?

Applying to a Thailand Elite program is a viable and easy solution to stay and live for a long period of time in Thailand. Only Thailand Elite can offer a 5,10 or 20 years membership and ensure the renewal of the visa during the validity of the applicant membership. As of today, all other non-immigrant visa options are limited to a validity period of 1 or 2 years.

Is the Thailand Elite Visa legit?

The Thailand Elite Visa is a legal and legit program under Thai law to stay long-term in Thailand. The “Thailand Elite” is operated by Thailand Privilege Card Co., Ltd. It has been initiated in 2003 by the Royal Thai Government itself. The company is fully owned subsidiary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, under the Ministry of Tourism and Sport.

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