How to Move to Thailand Without $1000’s in the Bank

Ever see influencers that travel the world and wonder “How the hell do they do it?”  Well, I can’t speak for everyone else, but for me to achieve my move to Thailand, it was all about prioritization.

I changed my mindset on what I thought my life should look like, saved as much as I needed for the move, got a job overseas & lived beneath my means to afford one year of living/traveling abroad on my own terms. 

move to Thailand

Why did I move to Thailand? 

I’d always wanted to study abroad to experience culture and a different lifestyle, but never had a free summer to do so. 

It wasn’t until I learned about teaching abroad, that I began to take the necessary steps toward making life abroad a reality. 

I was completely over the Buckhead scene in Atlanta; over being surrounded by narcists and disingenuous people, done with the bar scene, fed up with the traffic… I just had to get out!

However, as a teacher in the States, I wasn’t exactly “rollin’ in the dough” :/ But I was determined to change my life for the better and have my “Eat, Pray, Love” kinda journey.

How much did I have to save? 

I knew that I didn’t have the means to live abroad without a job, so I got my TESOL, costing $150. Most schools abroad require some kind of second language teaching certification.

There are tons of teach-abroad websites! I went with teachaway.com. I spoke with an actual recruiter, but you can apply to jobs on the site without a recruiter. 

She gave me 3 options: Thailand, Korea, or China. I didn’t trust being in China (I didn’t want to kiss my social media, Google & Gmail goodbye), I knew little about Korea (other than North Korea was too close for comfort), and I loved Thai food. So, I went with Thailand!

I was told the transition to work there would be easiest if I got a 1 year Multiple Entry Non-Immigrant B visa (that’s a mouthful) . The visa was about $200 from the Royal Thai Consulate in Chicago (you can mail everything in). 

The cost of a one-way ticket to Thailand was about $650

All I needed once I got to Thailand was 1st months rent and money for food & transportation. This would last me until my first paycheck!

  • Rent $500/mo and because I love food I saved $300/mo for that, but I didn’t spend it all. PS. Food is Thailand is super cheap! Most local dishes cost about $2. 

To sum up my embarkment from US to Thailand the total cost was $1800.

How did I save money to move to Thailand? 

As I said before I was teaching in the States, so, like most Americans, I was living paycheck to paycheck BUT I knew I wanted to travel and live abroad, so I PRIORITIZED! 

I stopped caring what my life looked like and focused on what I wanted it to be. Which was a life in Thailand. 

I began eating more meals at home, brought lunch to work, gave up clothes shopping (I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my entire wardrobe with me so no point in adding to it), changed my TV/Internet package, even quit daily visits to Starbucks! I basically budgeted using the oh-so-popular Dave Ramsey method of envelopes! *look into that 😉

It wasn’t hard. And ANYBODY can save if they change their priorities. To be blunt, if you haven’t saved enough money to travel, then you must not want it bad enough, yet. And that really goes for anything you want in life.

How I afford to continue traveling & living abroad:

If you’re planning to live abroad, I would do so only if you are able to bring in income for the first year, at least. This way, you can cut living expenses (cost of living is soooo cheap in SE Asia) by living abroad and save as much as you can.  

For example: a 1 bed/bath in Bangkok (with pool and gym) cost around $500/mo for rent, $200 for food, and ALL utilities (cell, power, water) about $100. Total of $800/month to live. 

Your paycheck (lets say you don’t have teaching experience) will probably be $1,500+. So that’s $700/month you could save x 12 months = $8,400! 

*Obviously, you could spend less a month depending how frugal you are. 

Now, I was able to save a lot more because I was a veteran teacher, and therefore my salary was much higher.

However, I still lived beneath my means and was able to save a FULL YEARS SALARY in one year. And, aside from freelance editing & photography, I am still living off of my savings of 2 years teaching in Bangkok. 

Tip to save: Eat local cuisine as Western restaurants are double, sometimes triple, the cost of local food. And the Western restaurants are never as good as what you’re used to. 

Is it hard to get a work visa? 

Not at all, if you have a job lined up. Luckily, your employer pretty much takes care of all the paperwork.

Once you move to Thailand, your employer is on the clock to prepare everything needed for your work permit, you just have to show up. 

I do recommend applying for a job before you move, and getting a 1 year Non-Immigrant B Visa from your home country. 

Once you get your work permit, you have to check-in every 90 days.

This can be done at the immigration office; you can take a trip to another country and your re-entry counts as a check-in (MAKE SURE YOU GET A RE-ENTRY STAMP BEFORE LEAVING THAILAND! If you don’t, your visa will be automatically cancelled).

There are also multiple companies you can pay that send off your passport and check-in for you for a small fee. (THIS WAS A LIFESAVER beacuase getting to/from immigration in Bangkok is a NIGHTMARE!)

The work permit itself only needs to be renewed every 2 years, and the process from your employer will begin again. 

Is there a certain time limit you are allowed to stay?  

Each country in Asia has different amounts of stay, and it also depends on your Passport country. So, I would check on the country you plan to visit’s Immigration website.  But this is what I know for US Passports: 

Thailand:

If you are working in Thailand, you are able to stay one year without exiting, but with 90 day check-ins. 

There’s also a 90 day visa you can apply for before you leave your home country. 

Or, when you land you have 30 days (without any visa), which you can extend for another 30 days. Total of 60 days. 

Japan:

You can stay for 3 months without a visa, but it cannot be extended. So after 3 months, you have to leave. 

Vietnam:

You can pre-purchase your visa online and you have 30 days to stay, and you can extend for another 30. 

Malaysia:

Without a visa, you have 90 days. 

Indonesia:

You can stay without a visa for 30 days, then you must leave. OR you can get a 30 day Tourist visa for a fee, and extend for another 30 days. 

I hope you found this information valuable and helpful. As always, if you have ANY questions feel free to drop them in the comments, email or DM me on Instagram. 

If you want more for your move to Thailand, check out these posts! 

Do Not Miss This Town in Thailand: Kanchanaburi

The Best Beach Town in Thailand: If you hate touristy islands

Bangkoks Great Escape: The Green Lung