How to Live in Thailand as a U.S. Citizen

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With its stunning natural beauty, distinctive culture, world-famous cuisine and warm, friendly people, living in Thailand can be an unforgettable experience. Living, working and/or studying in the country will offer insights into Thai culture that you won't get as a tourist. Whatever your objective for wanting to experience Thailand, it is possible to live legally in the country as a United States citizen and make the most of your time in this fascinating Southeast Asian country.


Apply to work or study in Thailand. To reside legally in Thailand, you will need a work or student visa. As a native English speaker, you can apply for a job as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Landing an EFL job in Thailand will require a certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). You can earn your TESOL certificate in the U.S. or in Thailand. Earning your certificate in Thailand will allow you the chance to get used to the city and decide whether you want to stay there. Look on the website Dave's ESL Cafe; this resource features teacher forums where you can receive advice from U.S. citizens currently living and working in Thailand. If you are not interested in teaching, you can apply to study Thai at a language school, or research other job opportunities for English speakers in Thailand. You can apply to an American company based in Thailand or for a Thai or international company looking to hire English speakers. Look on the website GoAbroad to learn about the possibilities.


Obtain the appropriate visa. United States citizens require a visa for stays in Thailand of more than 30 days. When you arrive in Thailand, you will receive a stamp on your passport with the date of entry. Remaining in the country beyond this date can result in fines, jail time or deportation. You can obtain a work or student visa before entering the country if you have a job offer or are registered at a school. Alternatively, you can enter the country on a tourist visa and search for a job while in Thailand. If you find a job in-country you can then apply for a work visa.

Study the Thai language. Although in populous cities such as Bangkok, you might easily find English speakers, your time living in Thailand will be easier and more enjoyable if you attempt to speak Thai with the locals. The foreign script might appear intimidating at first, and it is possible to study spoken Thai only. However, learning to read the script will make daily life much easier. Being able to read in Thai will enable you to understand signs, product packages, packaging, menus and other such necessities. The website Omniglot features an introduction to the Thai language and a chart for learning the Thai script, as well as links to online Thai language study resources.


  • For security reasons, all U.S. citizens are advised to register with the local embassy while living abroad.

    Decide on a budget before you go. Depending on the salary you expect to make while abroad, you might want to bring savings to facilitate travel, language classes or costly cultural activities

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