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When dreaming of living on Koh Samui or Thailand, images of breathtaking white sandy beaches with large limestone formations or lush green rainforests hiding enormous, ambling elephants come to mind. Expats from all over the world are attracted to the country by its colourful scenery and adventurous lifestyle, eager to gain experience in one of Southeast Asia's most competitive areas.
Many people have a dream and they must start somewhere. After your first visit, you may begin to think about the idea and plan that you want to make your permanent home on Koh Samui for you and your family, it will take some time to organise so we’re here to help.
Moving to Koh Samui, particularly with a family and children, is a big life decision.
A visa is a document in your passport that allows you to legally enter Thailand, and different visas allow you to stay for different amounts of time, so make sure you get the right one. Particularly if you and your family are relocating permanently.
The type of visa you want to apply for is determined by how you choose to fund yourself and what you plan to do.
Your employer should have a valid work permit for you under their business, as well as a Non-B working visa. If you work for a business, you will usually get Non-B visas every three months, which means you'll have to leave the country every three months to get a new working visa.
By starting your own business, you will be entitled to one work permit depending on the size/value of the company ( or 2 or more if you have set up a larger company).
Since it's your own business, you'll be the Managing Director, which means you'll be eligible for an annual Non-B visa. This visa means that you will be able to stay and work in Thailand for a year.
You should apply for a retirement visa, which is different from a tourist visa if you receive a retirement income from your home country. You must meet certain requirements, including being over 50 years old, having a new passport with at least 18 months left on it, having a certain amount in the bank, and showing income (usually your pension). Retirement Visas allow you to stay in the country for a year at a time.
If you can afford it, the Elite visa is a great choice that lasts around 5 years.
When you have a child enrolled in a Thai registered school, it can still be an international school, as long as it has a valid license. It is inexpensive, and the school will normally assist you in obtaining it.
You can apply for a marriage visa if you are legally married to a Thai national. These are long-term visas that require you to report every 90 days.
Thailand visas can be obtained in advance of travel from Thai embassies in your home country or from Asia and other nearby countries.
You are permitted to enter and stay in the country once you have received your visa!
You've paid off all debts and amassed sufficient funds to fly to Thailand. You've told everyone in your family, obtained your visa, and even purchased airline tickets.
This indicates that your big move is approaching, and you'll need to start thinking about the finer details of your life, such as what to keep and what to toss, and how to ship your belongings to Thailand.
We recommend bringing as little as possible because you can get everything you need in the country. However, as a family, there might be some things you want to hold on to and ship because they would otherwise cost more than twice as much here. You'll have to decide if the cost of exporting the goods is better than buying them in Thailand again.
Children's car seats and other critical safety items for small children are some stuff to think about. Since shipping belongings to Thailand can take up to six weeks on average, it's a good idea to get several quotes from different companies.
If you leave your work, you will probably lose certain benefits for yourself and your family, such as health insurance. While healthcare in Thailand is relatively inexpensive, it is always a good idea to get insurance in case of emergency or to prevent unexpectedly large bills.
You still have some work to do once you arrive in Thailand before you can really settle in and enjoy life on Koh Samui.
It used to be that the only way to find long-term housing on Koh Samui was to drive across the island on your own. Get on your scooter and spend hours riding through the narrow streets, where you will also find fantastic homes, bungalows, and villas.
However, times have changed and there are now a plethora of reputable agents and agencies who will locate homes for you and your family while taking care of all the legwork.
If you're dealing with a landlord directly, though, this is your chance to impress them. While they may have a set price in mind, you will find that most owners are open to negotiating a reasonable deal. It is exceedingly normal for them to offer a discount for rentals of three months or longer, with additional discounts usually available for rentals of six months or longer. You will get a better deal if you can agree to commit for a longer period of time.
When you and the landlord are both happy with the price you've agreed on, you can submit an application to sign a lease agreement. This way, you'll know that you'll pay the correct sum for the length of time you will spend in the rental.
If they've found the perfect "forever home," many families will enter into a long-term arrangement with the owner, such as a fixed rental price for 5 to 10 years, with the total sum charged annually rather than monthly. This usually saves money and allows you to make changes to the home, such as repairs or even extensions while being confident that it will be safe for you to live in for several years.
Foreigners are not essentially permitted to own land in Thailand. But don't worry, your dream of owning a home on Koh Samui is still a possibility. In Thailand, instead of the traditional way of owning, it comes down to a few concepts of ownership, such as leasehold and freehold.
Freehold needs your help in forming a company with Thai citizens. The land will be purchased by the company. Of course, you'd be the firm's CEO and have full leverage over the property. This is the only way to obtain real estate.
If you don't want to start a business (and deal with the laws and tax obligations that come with it) in order to buy property, leasehold, Thailand's most common form of foreign ownership, will appeal to you.
For a 30-year long-term lease, you obtain possession of the property with the leasehold. This contract will be renewed for another 30 years, giving you at least 60 years of ownership of your home.
Do you have your heart set on the villa and your gaze fixed on the beach? The leasehold road would be the most advantageous option. It's legal, it's your villa, and there is a lounge chair and a drink waiting for you and your family with your name on it.
So you've visited Samui many times and like the hustle and bustle of Chaweng or the serenity of Taling Ngam. However, you must ask yourself this question: "Is what I want on vacation the same as what I want at home?" Will you like to linger in Chaweng after a night on the road, as fun as it is? Do you want to drive 45 minutes to school and back every day, as lovely and peaceful as Taling Ngam is? These are the considerations that must be made. A retired person can have more options than someone who wants to run a business or has school-aged children since easy access to business areas and schools is essential.
The majority of ex-pats live near, but not in, the key tourist attractions. Living in Samui, where tourism is the most important industry, most ex-pats are active in the tourism industry in some way, so it's not about being close to tourist attractions, but rather about being close to work. Those with children would still need to be close to their children's school, and everyday tasks such as grocery shopping must be taken into account.
Bang Rak, Plai Laem, Choeng Mon, Bophut, Mae Nam, and the outer areas of Chaweng have the largest working ex-pat populations on Samui. Lipa Noi, Bang Po, Laem Set, and Taling Ngam are common retirement destinations because they are less established and often cheaper. Wherever you go, it's a good idea to rent a property in the area before deciding to buy one to make sure it's the best fit for you and your family's needs.
Finding the best school for your children if you're a newcomer with a family moving to Koh Samui would be one of your biggest headaches. It can be difficult for children to adjust to a new social environment, a new type of learning, a new educational system, and to make new friends. Thankfully, Koh Samui has a wide range of schools to choose from, international and state schools. For a full list of schools see the article here.
It is better to migrate to the island if you already have a source of income from outside the Country. Whether it's work online like becoming a digital nomad, good-paying savings, or a pension if you're over 50. Getting by on a western wage would be the most convenient, but keep in mind that if you have children in school, you will have to pay school fees, which you would not have had to do back home.
If you feel compelled to open a business on the island, it is worthwhile to do months or even years of study. Many businesses open and close quickly here, so you want to be one of the ones that stay and thrives.
You may be able to find employment with a company already operating on Koh Samui, but these roles are scarce. Usually, the positions available are for young backpacker types searching for a little extra cash to fund a gap year, and the pay would not be adequate for a family to survive on. Of course, if you are able to commute to the big city, you will find better employment in Bangkok.
Even though you'll miss your family and friends back home, you'll be shocked by how many people come to visit once they learn that your new home is on a tropical island! In comparison to the days of snail mail, staying in touch is much simpler with today's social media. But, of course, you'll want to make friends with the locals, and it's not as difficult as you would think. The locals on Samui are friendly, and the ex-pats are similarly inclined, having all come to bring their sense of adventure with them.
Of course, joining a gym or yoga studio or taking up a sport is a perfect way to meet people who share your interests. There are various gyms, sports arenas, and yoga studios in Samui. There's even a tennis court, a badminton court, and a football field. If you're moving with kids, they'll need to make new friends as well, so schedule play dates with other kids from their school and bring the parents along so you can meet new people.
Samui is a great island for families, with plenty of activities and games to keep the kids entertained. Naturally, the beach and the sports available here are the most common pastimes in Samui for both children and adults, from building sandcastles to frolicking in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Read here a full article on activities to do with children on Koh Samui.
Koh Samui is a great place for kids of all ages to live with their families. The island offers a wide range of clinics, schools, play areas, and an all-important outdoor lifestyle, which is suitable for those in their early years of life or of any age! Living on an island with toddlers and young children has many benefits for the whole family. The sea breeze and soft sands provide an ideal place for children to explore, play, and develop away from the stress of modern society.