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Moving to Koh Phangan with Family

21 Dec 2020

Images of stunning white sandy beaches with massive limestone formations or lush green rainforests hiding huge, ambling elephants can be conjured up when thinking of living on Koh Phangan or Thailand. Expats from across the world are drawn by the country's vibrant scenery and adventurous lifestyle, wanting to get an experience of one of the most competitive regions of Southeast Asia.
A lot of people have a dream that has to begin somewhere. After your first visit, occasionally it will start and maybe it will take a while to think up the concept and plan that you want to make your permanent home for you and your family, on Koh Phangan.

Koh Phangan Beach
Koh Phangan Beach

Planning

It’s a huge life choice to decide to move to Koh Phangan, especially with family including children.

It's important to cope with all the important things you're not going to be able to do while you're in Thailand when still in your home country. Before you book plane tickets and receive your visa, you'll want to manage these. Things such as paying off any debt, saving money, securing your property if any, and also breaking the news to family and friends or ending any work contracts or commitments.

Family Koh Phangan
Family Koh Phangan

Visa

A visa is a document in your passport which allows you to be in Thailand legally, and different visas can imply that for different periods of time, so it's important that you get the right one. Especially if you are relocating permanently with family. 
Based on how you are going to finance yourself and what you are going to do, depends on the sort of visa you choose to apply for. 

 

Employed

Your company should have a job permit valid for you under their enterprise and a Non-B working visa goes with this. Typically, if you are a business employee, you can get Non-B visas every three months, which ensures you will need to leave the country every 3 months to secure a fresh working visa. 

 

Your own business or organization 

You would be entitled to one work permit under that business by starting up your own firm, based on the size/value of the company ( or 2 or more if you have set up a larger company). 
You will be the Managing Director since it is your own company, ensuring that you will be entitled to an annual Non-B visa. This visa ensures you will stay and work for one year in Thailand.

Lawyer Koh Phangan
Lawyer Koh Phangan

Live from Retirement / Pension 

If you get a retirement income from your home country, you can apply for a retirement visa that is distinct from a visitor visa. You must satisfy certain criteria, such as being over 50 years of age, a new passport for at least 18 months remaining, displaying a certain sum in the bank and also displaying revenue (usually your pension). Retirement Visas enable you to spend one year at a time. 

 

Elite Visa

The Elite visa is a great option if you can afford it and is roughly 5 years at a time.

 

Dependent Visas

A dependant visa is when you have a child in a Thai registered school, it can still be an international school but it must have a proper license. It is affordable and usually, the school will help you obtain this.

 

Marriage Visa

If you are legally married to a Thai national man or woman then you can a marriage visa, these are long-term visas but usually, you have to report every 90 days.
 

Visas for Thailand can be collected either from the Thai Embassies in your home country before you travel or from Asian and other countries nearby. 

When you have your visa, you're allowed to enter the country and remain there! 

Children on Koh Phangan
Children on Koh Phangan

You’ve settled any debts and saved enough money to travel to Thailand. You have broken the news to all family and received your visa and you even purchased tickets for the airline.
This suggests that your major step is moving closer and you're going to have to start worrying about the finer elements of your life, such as what to hold on to and what to get rid of, and how to ship your belongings to Thailand. 

 

Belongings

We would suggest coming with as little as possible, you can get everything you need here in the Country. But as a family there might be certain items you want to keep and ship, otherwise, they might cost more than twice the price over here. You’ll need to weigh up if the expense of exporting the products is better than purchasing items in Thailand again. 
Some things to consider would be children’s car seats and other important items of safety for little ones. On average it can take about six weeks to ship belongings to Thailand, it is wise to get different quotes from a range of companies.

House on Koh Phangan
House on Koh Phangan

Insurance

If you are leaving your career then you're definitely going to miss some advantages for you and your relatives, like health care. One thing to note is that healthcare is relatively affordable in Thailand but it is still a good idea to get insurance for emergencies and to avoid sudden large bills.

Once you arrive in Thailand, you still have a bit more work to do before you can really settle down and enjoy life on Koh Phangan.

Finding a home

 

Renting

It used to be that travelling around the island yourself was the easiest way to search for long term houses on Koh Phangan. Get on your scooter and spend hours on the narrow paths, as you can often find great apartments, bungalows and villas here. 
However, things have changed and now there are many trustworthy agents and companies that can find houses for you and your family, doing all the hard work for you. 
If you are dealing directly with a landlord, however, this would be your moment to charm them. They may have a fixed price in mind, but you will find that most owners are really receptive to negotiating a fair bargain. It is incredibly popular for them to provide a discount for rentals of 3 months and typically further discounts for rentals of 6 months and longer. The more time you can promise to stay, the more you can bargain the offer. 
When you and the landlord are satisfied with the price you have settled to, you should apply for a lease agreement to be signed. This way you know that for the duration of rental you have already invested, you will pay the right amount.
Many families, once they have found the ideal ‘forever home’ will come to a long term agreement with the landlord such as a fixed rental price for 5 - 10 years, usually paying the total amount on an annual basis rather than monthly. This usually saves money and means you can also make improvements to the house such as renovations or even extensions, knowing it is secure for you to live in for many years.

 

Buying

In Thailand, land possession by foreigners is not allowed. But hang tight, your fantasy of owning a property on Koh Phangan is still doable. Instead of the way of owning you might be used to, in Thailand, It falls down to a few definitions of possession, such as leasehold and freehold. 

Freehold needs you, in collaboration with Thai people to form a business. The business will buy the land. Of course, you'd be the head of the firm and have power over the land. This is the only way you can get real property.

If you don’t want to set up a business (and contend with the laws and tax obligations that come with it) so that you might buy land then leasehold, the most popular form foreigners own homes in Thailand, would attract you. 
You take ownership of the land with the leasehold with a 30-year long-term lease. You will renew this contract for another 30 years and get at least 60 years of possession of your house. 

Is your heart fixed on the villa and your eye on the beach? The leasehold road will be the best route to choose. It's legitimate, it's possible, it's your villa, and with your name on it, there's a lounge chair and a cocktail awaiting you and your family.

Koh Phangan Villa
Koh Phangan Villa

Which Area

Living with children means you are probably thinking of schools and activities. We will first mention that the main schools such as Si Ri Panya International School, Wisdom College and the Learning Tree are in the centre of the island Thong Sala and Baan Tai. Here is also where most nurseries for babies and toddlers are found. This area is also great for teenagers as several sporting activities, such as football, tennis and even kite surfing and water sports, take place in areas such as Baan Tai. It would be worthy of holding them focused on sports such as these. 

The island's west side is the health hub of Sri Tranu, together with Hin Kong, Had Yao and Haad Salad. It is likely to notice the saturation of yoga schools and vegan eateries here and these places are ideal for families to stay in a calming environment with a sense of health protection. 
For its frequent sunset parties, Zen Beach is popular, full of families of newborn babies, toddlers and small children who enjoy the mystical spirit of these meetings with each other. It is a lovely place to meet other families of children that are like-minded. Choosing to remain on the West Coast will allow you to have convenient access to the most gorgeous beaches in Phangan, such as Haad Yao and Haad Salad, along with a very family-friendly setting. The saturation of this hub of lifestyle options is always calmer than the hustle of the centre of the island. 

Chaloklum is a marvellous fishing village in the north of the island that has preserved its Thai charm. In this community, you can follow many other families as long as you don't mind being a fifteen to twenty-minute drive from the centre of Thong Sala. Many families prefer to settle in Chaloklum because you can find a family lodging slightly cheaper than in other areas while enjoying the beauty of the children-friendly village and its laid back beach lifestyle. 
This community has restaurants for young people with playfields, activities for other families to attend, a variety of diving schools and older children's snorkelling locations, and two of the most amazing beaches, Malibu and Haad Khom.

Every area of the island has attractions and benefits to suit every family, it just depends on the type of house or villa you want and how far from amenities you mind being.

Family Koh Phangan
Family Koh Phangan

Schools

As the island developed and more and more families chose to relocate here, the growth of good quality schools happened as there became a need for them. You can now find education for your children from pre-school upwards and also have the choice of more schools on Koh Samui, the neighbouring island for when your kids are older if needed.

 

Si Ri Panya International School

Si Ri Panya is a unique British international school. They encourage young learners, in a healthy combination of schooling and social engagement, to appreciate, esteem and cultivate a love of learning through a pleasant and interactive curriculum. The teachers have foreign teaching expertise from qualified universities and have an overall teaching tenure of 10 years, such that your child can experience accelerated learning. The school is for children aged 5 - 11 years old.

Si Ri Panya International School
Si Ri Panya International School

The Learning Tree

The Learning Tree is an independent private nursery and kindergarten for kids 2 to 7 years of age. Their goal is for children to learn in a healthy and caring atmosphere through fun and play. Around the same time, the ideals of respect, kindness, confidence, fairness and good courtesy are being encouraged. The Learning Tree is a bilingual nursery and kindergarten where children learn to speak, interpret and write the languages of English and Thai. 

 

Wisdom College Tutorial School

For Stage 7 to 9 (Ages 11 - 14) foreign curriculum is provided by Wisdom. In preparation for their IGCSE tests at ages 14-16, learners follow the Cambridge curriculum. The curriculum maintains a traditional schedule of the school year, operating on weekdays from 8:30 to 14:30 with an occasional content analysis from 14:30 to 16:00, sports clubs, and Holiday Adventure Camps. As respectful and mindful citizens, learners are expected to grow and imagination is encouraged. 

 

Thai National School

Koh Phangan's largest Thai school is situated on the main Baan Tai Road and this school is attended by lots of local children throughout the week. 
While this school is primarily attended by Thai residents, it is also available to Western children who wish to attend a local school rather than a foreign one.  The field is used for exciting soccer matches on the weekends and you can hear the excitement and movements from quite close by. 

Thong Sala School
Thong Sala School

As well as these schools there are other smaller independent ones and also nurseries for smaller tots. You can also easily find nannies and babysitters here on Koh Phangan for more short term solutions or for helping within your home.

 

Income

It is most recommended to move to the island already having an income from outside of the Country. Whether that be a job online such as being a digital nomad, investments with good earnings or a pension if you are over 50. Getting by here will be most comfortable on a western salary bearing in mind that if you have children in school you will need to pay school fees which you may not have had to do back home.
If you do feel the call to open a business on the island it is worth doing some months or even years worth of research, many establishments frequently open and close fast here so you want to be one that stays and survives.
You might be able to get a job with a company already on Koh Phangan but these jobs are few and far between. Usually, the jobs available are for young backpacker types looking for a little bit of money to finance a gap year and so the salary will not be something sustainable enough for a family to live on. Better jobs can be found in Bangkok of course if you are willing to commute to the big city.

Family Life Koh Phangan
Family Life Koh Phangan

Activities

Living on Koh Phangan will give you the perfect chance to live an outdoor life, most things you will do will be out in the fresh tropical air. As well as natural parks and attractions such as beaches, waterfalls, parties and swimming pools there are many activities tailored to children for you to enjoy, you can read about them all here.

Family Activities Koh Phangan
Family Activities Koh Phangan

Benefits

Koh Phangan is an excellent spot for children of all ages to come live with their family. The island has a variety of hospitals, colleges, play areas and the all-important outdoor lifestyle that is ideal for the first years of life or for someone of any age! Living on an island for toddlers and little kids have numerous perks for the whole family. For children to discover, play and grow, the sea breeze and soft sands provide a perfect location and more quality time together away from the stress of the western society.