Tens of thousands of westerners move to Bangkok, Thailand every year. Some stay and some don’t. For some, soon after arriving, they realize it was the biggest mistake they ever made because, let’s face it, living in Bangkok isn’t for everyone. If you’re planning on moving to Bangkok, here are some things you want to consider before you do.
Can You Handle the Pollution? – Even though it’s better than it was 10 years ago and improving all the time, Bangkok’s pollution problem is world famous. With buses and cars spewing out lung-clogging emissions, from the minute you arrive in Bangkok, you can smell it and see it. With the intense heat on top of that, many people realize quickly they cannot live in a city that has this much of a dirt-air problem. So, before you make the move to Bangkok, make sure the pollution won’t drive you nuts. And, if you have major allergies, it’s probably not the best choice for you.
Can You Handle the Heat? – According to National Geographic, Bangkok is officially the world’s hottest city. What that means is it doesn’t get as hot as some cities in Africa but, whereas those cities cool down at night, Bangkok doesn’t. With average temperatures all year round in the high 90s and sometimes over 100 degrees fahrenheit, make sure you like extreme heat before you move to Bangkok. Sure, there’s a lot of air-conditioned places, but you’ll have to be out in the heat some parts of every day and, if you hate hot weather, you’ll hate Bangkok too.
Can You Handle the Thai Relaxed Attitude? – With Thais favorite saying being “Mai bpen rai”, basically meaning, “Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter”, Thais have to be the most relaxed people in the world. Nothing works in a hurry, nothing gets done fast and Thai girls have to be literally the slowest people in the world when it comes to walking. Spending most of your life outdoors behind a group of Thai girls walking the pace of a snail and taking up the whole sidewalk so you can’t get passed has driven more than one westerner in Bangkok nuts. So if you like cities with speed and rush, then Bangkok definitely isn’t for you.
Can You Handle the Spicy Food? – Sure, you can get western food all over Bangkok, but it’s a lot more expensive than Thai food, which makes your living expenses very high. Can you handle the, sometimes, very spicy Thai food on a daily basis and learn to love it. Those who can love Bangkok. Those who can’t soon see their food budget out-pacing their accommodation budget, which is not a good position to be in.
Can You Handle the Thai Way of Being Honest Or Not? – Thais have something they call ‘Greng jai”, which means, they would rather lie to you than tell you the truth if it would risk hurting your feelings. So, if you ask a Thai if they want to go out for dinner or see a movie, they are likely to say “Yes”. However, you have to learn to figure out if they’re practicing ‘greng jai’ or not because, if they are, there’s no way in hell they’re actually going to see that movie or have that dinner with you, they just didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Greng jai drives more westerners nuts than almost anything else in Thailand, so if you love the truth, then Bangkok just may not be for you.
Can You Handle the Lower Salaries? – Sure, the cost of living in Bangkok is cheaper than the US or Europe, but salaries are much lower too. Before moving to Bangkok, you need to consider can you handle living on less than 40% of what you were making in your own country and still carve out a good life for yourself? If not, stay home. Seriously.
All in all, I highly recommend living in Bangkok. I’ve lived here for going on seven years and will probably never leave. However, I’ll be the first to tell you, it may not be the best place for everyone so make sure you can handle these six things, plus, do some research to acclimatize yourself with the city. It can be brutal for a lot of people, if they’re not the type that are built for the Bangkok-style lifestyle and being so far from their own culture.