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  1. #1
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Sarong it's right: Coining it in Thailand without a visa

    Sarong it's right: Coining it in Thailand without a visa ? The Register

    Top money, cheap rent and food ... and fear of a late-night knock

    By Simon Sharwood, 16 Nov 2014

    The eXpat files In this week's eXpat files, we're speaking to … well, actually we're not going to use this person's real name, because they may work in Thailand without all the necessary paperwork. Our expat has therefore suggested we use the name “David Green”. So without any further ado, tells us what life's like over there, “David”.
    The Register: What kind of work do you do and with which technologies?
    David Green: I found out recently that I'm a full-stack developer. I started out with HTML/CSS and that extended into PHP/MySQL. Then the server admin in the start-up I was working with resigned, so I suddenly inherited a load of Amazon AWS instances which included PostgreSQL and Apache SOLR, and backend code using JavaBeans. The Java led into some dabbling with Android apps, and nowadays one of the websites I work with is based on Python Django.



    The Register: Why did you decide to move to Thailand? Where do you live there?
    David Green: My standard answer to this one is “because I could”, which is a good enough reason for anything sometimes. But I was at a crossroads in my life and realised that I was living to work and working to pay the bills, and if I stopped and cashed it all in, I could raise enough to live on a beach and not have to do a stroke of work for a few years. I moved around the country a bit at first, but have settled in a very small town on the mainland just south of Koh Samui, and have been there for eight years now.
    The Register: How did you arrange your new gig?
    David Green: When I needed to start earning again, I picked up very low paid jobs from sites like Scriptlance and oDesk, mostly because that was all I could do with my limited experience. I got a couple of longer-term jobs, including a US-based start-up for a year or so and built up my reputation. Then I was approached by a potential client to debug a rush-job website she had commissioned, and I've been working for her and her associate since then, which is nearly four years.
    The Register: Pay: up or down?
    David Green: In retail banking I was taking home about £1,700 each month and spending most of that. I now take home about £4,500 and spend about a third of it. It's taken a while to get there though.
    The Register: How do workplaces differ between the UK and Thailand?
    David Green: I used to wear a suit and tie and worked mostly as a manager in a high-street branch, so lots of contact with people and customers. Now I work from home and my uniform is fisherman's pants or a sarong, and I speak with my clients on Skype and email when we need to. So very, very different.
    The Register: Will your expat gig be good for your career?
    David Green: I've got a good portable skill now, which, for me, is more important than being on a career ladder to a top job. I know I just need a laptop and an internet connection and I can make enough money to live pretty much anywhere. And I could probably get by working about 10 hours a week if I really wanted to.
    The Register: What's cheaper in the UK? What's more expensive?
    David Green: It's a bit difficult because I've not been back for 10 years, but pretty much everything produced in-country is cheaper. So imported electrical goods are maybe similar in price, and some foods from back home are difficult to get hold of. The overall cost of living just doesn't compare though. I pay £125 UK per month for a three bedroom detached house with office, £18 for electricity and £5 for water. The average meal out is about £8 for three people
    The Register: What will you miss about home?
    David Green: Guiltily, I admit I miss very little. I know I should miss friends and family greatly, but having made the decision to move here, I had to change the way I felt about "missing" anything. It does get hard at Christmas time when I remember being together with family in the past, but I have chosen to put myself in this position and accept the consequences of that.
    The Register: What's your top tip to help new arrivals settle in?
    David Green: If you expect anything to resemble the lifestyle and culture that you are coming from, you may struggle. We grow up closely experiencing the societal environment in which we live and do not always recognise the inconsistencies and dichotomies that exist. Some people come here and rail against Thai ways of doing things because they cannot reconcile with the inconsistencies and dichotomies that exist in Thai society and culture. It's probably a good idea to avoid becoming one of these sorts of bitter, misanthropic expats.




    The Register: What advice would you offer someone considering the same move?
    David Green: Know and understand the visa requirements. It is not easy for non-retirees to stay here long-term without setting up a business (which is very expensive) or having a Thai partner.
    The Register: You're working in a - shall we say - mode not entirely supported by Thai immigration law. How's that possible? And are you afraid of the midnight knock on the door?
    David Green: I work illegally, and I'm not comfortable with it. I have to lie to people and tell them I don't work, just in case it becomes known what I do and it gets back to immigration. I'd prefer to be able to work legally and pay tax, but there is no visa that allows for this. I do get nervous, especially when I have to renew my visa. I live off the beaten track and keep under the radar enough to avoid any attention, and that's all I can do really.
    And for those readers who might romanticise my situation here, I would point out that in the eyes of many Thais, and certainly in the eyes of the officials here, I am viewed in exactly the same way as many people in the UK view the illegal immigrants from the various EU states.

    The Register: Thailand's had a rough time of it lately, between the floods and the coups. How's that been?
    David Green: The coup was no great surprise really, and a lot of steps taken by the military in the last few months have been very popular so it can be seen as a positive move, even though the motives for the coup have been questioned by supporters of political democracy. And there has been a lot of world attention on the murders on Koh Tao recently, and this may result in changes to policing procedures being brought in. Events like this seem to force the Thai people and authorities to look at things differently, and this can be the catalyst for change. It's very sad that these events often involve loss of life, or freedom in the case of the media restrictions following the coup, but this always seems to be the case no matter what country it's happening in.
    Ultimately, I do take a selfish point of view and consider how it affects me and my family, and though we have been affected by all of these recent events, they haven't caused us to change our lives.

    The Register: What can you get up to in weekends in Thailand that isn't possible at home?
    David Green: Honestly, not that much around where I live. We have a couple of cinemas in town 30km away, so there is little of that sort of entertainment. But on a Sunday morning I'll go out for a cycle ride up to the local waterfall, then back home along the beach road with a deserted stretch of golden sand fringed by palm trees and remind myself that this is somewhere that people save up all year to travel thousands of miles to come on holiday for a few weeks.
    And I live here

  2. #2
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    "I live off the beaten track and keep under the radar"

    Not any more, he doesn't. There's enough information in that article to find him. Plonker.

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by baldrick
    If you expect anything to resemble the lifestyle and culture that you are coming from, you may struggle. We grow up closely experiencing the societal environment in which we live and do not always recognise the inconsistencies and dichotomies that exist. Some people come here and rail against Thai ways of doing things because they cannot reconcile with the inconsistencies and dichotomies that exist in Thai society and culture. It's probably a good idea to avoid becoming one of these sorts of bitter, misanthropic expats.
    A good idea which will go unheard by all those misanthropes clogging up TD with their anal stupidity.

  4. #4
    ความสุขในอีสาน
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    Another Class one idiot from Eaton by the sound of it

  5. #5
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    Is he one of those digital gnomes?

  6. #6
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Didn't an immigration officer state recently that they were not concerned with people living here and working remotely ?

  7. #7
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    I would think that it is not that hard to work remotely in Thailand.

    The hard part seems to be keeping your mouth shut.

  8. #8
    Lord of Swine
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    Quote Originally Posted by baldrick View Post
    Didn't an immigration officer state recently that they were not concerned with people living here and working remotely ?

    Yes, in Chiang Mai, they rounded up everyone at a virtual office joint then let them go when they found they were remote workers.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat VocalNeal's Avatar
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    ^ Makes sense as they are not doing work a Thai could do?

  10. #10
    En route
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    Quote Originally Posted by nigelandjan View Post
    Another Class one idiot from Eaton by the sound of it
    What do you mean?
    Seems reasonable to me.

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat
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    Just because it was said in Chiang Mai, that does not make it law. We will see how long it takes for them to reverse their stance and then they will have names of some working remotely.

    It would have been better to stay quiet IMO.

  12. #12
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    ^ he will be one of thousands - I doubt he will have any issues

    I would not be surprised that the chiang mai turnabout was because of outdated laws that did not envision the ability to remote work.

  13. #13
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by nigelandjan View Post
    Another Class one idiot from Eaton by the sound of it
    More commonplace than not.

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