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In Job cities: living in Bangkok

19 May, 2015

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Date of Publication: 19 May, 2015
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and gateway to southwest-Asia, is a city of upscale malls and slums, of beautiful breath-taking views as well as pollution: a city of contrasts, where the international framework is filled with a cultural system that is nothing but pure Thai.

If you are moving to Bangkok, there are some downsides you should be aware of.First and foremost, the city is right at the centre of geographical and political tensions.In 2014, a bloodless military coup overthrew the government, and although it left the expat community unaffected, something is beginning to change.As you may know, many foreigners stay 3, 5, or even 10 years in Thailand on tourist visas, extending their stays through border stamps: this is no longer allowed as graciously as it used to be.

But if you have been properly hired and are in Bangkok on a working visa, things should go as smooth as they can with the otherwise very laid back Thai culture.

In other words, the city makes up for its flaws and does so beautifully.

The entertainment scene is certainly vibrant, the constant injection of new people is refreshing and the warmth of the citizens is a safe bet. Plus, the city offers high quality international schools as well as high standards of healthcare at affordable rates (so much so that its hospitals attract people from all over Asia).

Accommodation-wise, there are no such things as expat neighbourhoods. Given the crazy regular traffic jams and the frustration commuting, many expats tend to live close to their workplace or at least, if they have children, near their international school of choice.

Housing varies but, given the government restrictions on foreigners buying property, expats tend to rent in the city and prefer fully equipped apartments that often come with services such as cleaning staff, small gyms and swimming pools.

Non-serviced apartments are cheaper, of course, but require a longer commitment.

There are also Western-style houses in gated communities (rather similar to those you find in American suburbs).

Favoured areas are Chao Phraya River, Thonglor and Rachatewi, especially among those expats who want to live a bit of night life and don’t mind the chaos that comes with it.

Downton Bangokok (Silom, Sathorn, Sukhumwit) is also a popular choice with its shopping malls, museums, international restaurants and business centres.

Suburbs (such as Nonthanburi, Suan Luang, Samut Prakan) are chosen by those who crave for fresh air and seek a more orderly environment. Thanks to the BTS (Bangkok Sky Train), commuting to the centre is possible and very easy. These areas are perfect for families, some also boasting outstanding international schools while still offering a lively multicultural scene.

Bangkok is a city of charms, not always easy to grasp. Thai culture is very different from anything else you will have experienced and the language is almost impossible to manage - even though the majority of people there speak English, it’s often a broken one (i.e. when they say 70, it sounds like 20). Thai language classes are strongly recommended as Thai people will appreciate any effort you make.

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