Freelancing in Thailand or any other exotic location is no longer mission impossible. Still, the dream scenario can get complicated when you break out the details. We believe that not knowing can be a major obstacles that stops you from doing cool things in life. Our mission is to be as informative as possible and we applied that philosophy to out web app. That is also why we’ve decided to come up with a series we’ve announced some time ago – we will present to you a MODERN DAY NOMAD WORLDWIDE GUIDE TO FREELANCE JOBS (wow, that’s a mouthfull) that we’ve announced in our recent INTRO POST. Many of you see Thailand as the next best thing after paradise and requested we tackled this first. We’ve collected some intelligence so that you can assess if that dream of yours of living in a tropical country is something in your reach!
The idea behind a great freelance job is to have a job you can do outside the rigid structure, in a place of your choice. It obviously demands a certain mindset and a bit of courage mixed with self-discipline. After all – you are the one responsible for doing you job well and delivering the value someone, thousands of miles away, wants. But this is all you know and chances are since you are reading this post you either decided this could work out for you or you simply want to give it a try. Nevertheless you’ll also need some basic facts that will make your freelance job in any given corner of the world possible.
Legal aspects of Freelancing in Thailand
Foreigners are allowed to work in Thailand if you have a valid visa, a work permit and are employed with an occupation that does not violate the Alien Employment Act. If you are a foreigner and you intend to work in Thailand, you are subject to the Alien Employment Act, which requires you to have a work permit issued by the Department of Employment, Ministry of Labour, or unless it falls within an exception of the said Act.
Freelancers are not recognized as employed by the Thai Government so the best way is to actually find an employer to hire you and that can provide a work permit for you. This entitles you to get a long term visa (1 year) to stay in Thailand. This way of course you’ll have to combine the two and somehow juggle between the regular job and a freelance one. That’s just one option. Obtaining a Thai work permit in Thailand is perhaps the most convenient and most rewarding way for the enchanted visitor to enjoy the country’s many promising attractions while immersing into the exotic and opulent Thai culture without worrying much about a Thai visa or time. A Thai work permit allows you to work and operate a business in Thailand as a skilled professional or even as an employer.
Before you can apply or be issued with a work permit you must have a non-immigrant visa first. This is required to apply for a Thai work permit in the Kingdom. Ideally, it should be acquired prior to your arrival in Thailand. There are numerous agencies that help with that and you can check Siam Legal or HR umbrella company RSM. The Thai work permit once approved allows you to work at the noted company and location. If you change employers or place of work, you must submit a new application. Prior to your application you might want to also check the prohibited occupation list. Chances are your dream job is not here, but it would be kind of stupid to go through all this not knowing that you can’t do some specific job there anyway.
Accommodation for freelance job seekers in Thailand
To find appropriate housing for their new life, most expatriates enlist the services of a relocation company or a real-estate agent. Some foreigners specifically search for furnished or serviced apartments rather than compound villas or normal flats. In any case, since there are no multiple listings for property ads in Thailand, it’s recommended to get in touch with several realtors. That way, you can choose from a wider selection. Thailand may not be the most expensive place to live, but still no one is giving away apartments for free. Basic apartments in Bangkok – the capitol city – are normally single room studio apartments with an ensuite bathroom and balcony, but NO kitchen. Some of you might not view it as a problem since street food is both tasty and cheap, but in the longterm you might want to get a place with a kitchen. Apartments often come with basic furnishings that include a bed, a small table and maybe a closet to hang your clothes – if you’re lucky you might get a desk and chair. Anything else you desire is up to you to furnish. If you decide to rent in Bangkok avoid the Sukhumvit Road area, as this is the most expensive in Bangkok. It is far better to live in a Thai neighborhood. Look on the Thonburi side of the river or in the neighborhoods around and north of Victory Monument. Do not pay more than 4000-5000 Baht per month (approx $160 US).
The other option is renting a house. This is primarily for those who are looking to stay in Thailand long-term (at least 3-5 years). The most commonly-rented type of house is what the Thai real estate market refers to as ‘the townhouse’. It typically has at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen area, a living room, sometimes a maid’s room, and also a front and back garden. When it comes to renting a house in Bangkok prices can vary, but if you do not necessarily have to live in a major city there are dream options to look out for. If all you need is a laptop, good internet connection and peace you might want to check out the amazing Phuket huts like the one we’ve found. It’s cheap, has great views and all the thing a modern day nomad would dream of. You can find many more huts like this one here.
The internet – a bare necessity for Freelancing in Thailand
One thing that makes most jobs impossible these days is the lack of internet. That is why you have to realistically examine the availability of internet, once you decide to live somewhere in Thailand. If your job depends highly on mailing, sending large files, research and stuff, then fast internet is a must. Best solid internet providers in Thailand are True Internet and 3BB with their average offer at $70 for 20Mbps. The internet providers often offer different tariffs with the same transmission rates which only seem to differ in price. Besides the price, the difference usually lies in the so-called Content Ratio. This specialist term expresses how strongly the provider loads the ADSL technology when loaded by multiple users. That means that a Content Ratio of 50 for example, means that 50 customers must divide the bandwidth. So make sure that the price is not your only criteria when it comes to choosing a provider.
The costs of living when Freelancing in Thailand
One of the most important things to take into account when picking a place to live has to be the cost of living. The most essential part of a family’s budget is food. Thailand, with its arable land and seasonal weather, abounds with locally grown, fresh food which makes food preparation easy and low in cost. Street vendors also offer excellent food that is extremely cheap. When it comes to prices it is no surprise that some places are more expensive than others. Thailand compared to most of the Western World still offers relatively great prices. Below you’ll find some exemplary products:
Milk (2000ML – slightly more than a half gallon) – 84.50 baht
Eggs (10) – 45 baht
Bread – 32 baht
Butter – 72 baht
Brown Rice – 39 baht per kilo – 5 kilo bag = 165 baht
Lipovitan – 12 baht
Red Bull – 10 baht
M150 – 10 baht
M-Sport energy drink – 10 baht
Bananas (1 Bunch – 14 bananas) – 91 baht
Young Coconuts (10) – 220 baht
Tuna Chunks in Water (Nautilus Brand) – 45 baht
Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila (Silver) – 479 baht
These are just random products to show you the price range. If you want to read more there are plenty of sites where you’ll find great deal of lists with precise product prices.
Transport and commuting for freelance job seekers
I’m sure you’re not going to need public transport that much, if you choose to live in a cosy little hut somewhere in Phuket, but if you decide to live in Bangkok you’ll certainly have to take some extra costs into account. The average working person living in Thailand spends 2 hours everyday travelling to and from work—fortunately, there is a multitude of different means of transport to make commuting a breeze, even for the Bangkok novice. You might choose renting or even buying a car meaning you’ll just add up to a already crowded bedlam of Bangkok streets. If however that is what you want the rental rates are between B. 1,500 – 15.000 per day and B. 9,000 – 20,000 per week, depending on the car brand. Taxis may not seem to be the most budget conscious option, but they are a good solution if you are a plain novice and terrified of driving on the crazy streets of Bangkok. The taxi charge is 35 Baht for the first 2 kms, then fares increase from 4.50 – 5.50 Baht depending on the distance. Perhaps in long term the best solution is using the subway. Bangkok’s newest mass transit system, the subway, was inaugurated in July 2004. With fares ranging from 14 – 36 baht, the subway run from the city’s main railway station, Hua Lampong, under two major thoroughfares, Rama 4 Road and Ratchadaphisak Road. You’ll find more information on all transport forms available here.
Co-working spaces for freelance job seekers
Working freelance does not necessarily mean you have to work at home. Obviously there are people who can seriously not only enjoy it, but also have the right attitude to take on this kind of work model. There are others however who would go absolutely nuts and need to socialise a bit. But then again, renting an office to sit there in solitary wouldn’t change much, would it? Like in many other countries Thailand offers a rather great solution – co-working spaces. You can find your place with a desk in a nice friendly quiet environment like Pun Space in Chiang Mai or a very popular co-working space for tech freelancers and startups in Bangkok called HUBBA. The prices will not petrify you and the full list with many options can be viewed here.
Thailand has something for everybody and the lower cost of living makes it possible to lead a more luxurious lifestyle than you could back home. For true modern day nomads it may become a great destination to settle for some time, enjoy the culture, the food and people before starting yet another great adventure.
photo credit: ShotHotspot.com via photopin cc
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc
photo credit: Edgar Barany via photopin cc
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc