If you’re a digital nomad and you’ve considered making a transition from tourist to expat in Thailand, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know it’s an adventure filled with both challenges and incredible rewards. 

Navigating this transformation might be a bit of a puzzle, especially when it comes to immersing yourself in Thai culture. However, Thailand’s charm lies not only in its challenges but also in its abundant rewards.

The cost of living is quite low, allowing you to relish life to the fullest on a modest budget. Even more, the nation’s landscapes are nothing short of breathtaking. Thailand has pristine beaches, lush jungles, and an environment that nurtures both body and soul. 

As you set foot on this enchanting terrain, be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime – one that promises to transform and enrich your life in more ways than you can imagine. 

Now, let’s discuss a few factors which you should take into consideration before taking this big step.

Researching the Country and the Area You Plan to Live In

As you’re planning your transition, one of the most important things to do is to research the area you’d like to live in and how much it would cost for you to reside in your city of choice. 

This includes everything from rent and utilities, to food and transportation. It’s vital to determine a precise estimate of your living costs to ensure comfort. 

Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the region you’ll reside in is essential. Factors like climate and overall quality of life can play a significant role in your living experience.

If you’re not sure where to start, Shelter has covered the city of Chiang Mai, Pai and Koh Phangan, as well as 5 affordable places to live, in the hopes that it will make your transition from tourist to expat in Thailand much easier.

Understanding Local Customs and Etiquette

Thai women smiling

​When traveling to a new country, it’s always important to be respectful of the local customs. By understanding and following the basic rules of etiquette, you can make sure that your stay is enjoyable for both you and the locals.

One of the most important things to remember is to be respectful of religious customs. 

If you’re visiting a country with a different religion than your own, be sure to research the basics of that religion before you go. In some cases, it may be appropriate to dress conservatively or to cover your head out of respect. 

Equally important is to be mindful of local customs when it comes to greetings and communication. 

In some cultures, it is considered impolite to make direct eye contact when speaking to someone. In others, it’s inappropriate to speak loudly in public. By learning and being aware of these cultural differences, you can avoid offending anyone.

Last, but not least, make sure you understand the unspoken rules of tipping. In some cultures, it’s customary to tip service workers, while in others it’s frowned upon. Make sure you’re up to date with the tipping habits of your destination before you go to avoid bumping into awkward situations.

Overall, when you transition from tourist to expat in Thailand, respecting the locals’ customs and etiquette will make them more than happy to welcome you into their culture.

Planning Your Finances Before Moving

​Moving to a new country can be both exciting and a bit scary, especially when it comes to your finances. Let’s review a few things to keep in mind as you plan your big move:

Moving to a new country can be a big financial undertaking, but by planning ahead and being mindful of your spending, you can make the transition smoothly.

Finding Your Ideal Place to Live

One of the first thing to consider before you take such a big step is whether you want to live in a big city or a small town.

Big cities have a lot to offer, like a variety of things to do and a fast pace of life, but they can also be expensive and crowded. On the other hand, small towns are more relaxed and often have a closer-knit community feel. 

The cost of living is another important factor to consider. You’ll need to think about things like housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. 

In some places, the cost of living is very high, which can make it difficult to afford certain things or to save money. But in other places, the cost of living is more affordable, and it can give you more financial freedom and allow you to save up for things you want.

Of course, there are a lot of other things to consider when trying to find your ideal place to live, aside from the ones listed above. So, take your time and weigh all of your options, and don’t forget that Shelter can provide guidance during your search for the perfect place to call home. 

On Shelter’s official website, you can find a variety of blog entries briefly describing various areas of Thailand, from the small, secluded villages to the bustling streets of big cities!

Making Connections within the Thai Community

Thai people smiling

If you’re looking to make connections within the Thai community, there are a few things you can do to get started. 

For example, you can join a Thai language class. This way, you can learn about Thai culture and possibly make friends while doing so. You can also look for Thai cultural events in your area, such as festivals or concerts. 

Another good way to meet people is to volunteer with a Thai-focused organization. This would be a perfect way to give back to the community and make some lasting relationships.

Of course, you can also use the power of the internet to make connections. There are many online forums and groups dedicated to Thai culture. Joining one of these groups is a great way to meet people from all over the world. 

Regardless of how you forge connections or cultivate relationships, being a member of the Thai community offers a fantastic opportunity to delve deeper into this captivating culture and potentially form lifelong friendships.

Establishing Your Identity as an Expat in Thailand

​In Thailand, it can be a bit challenging to establish your identity as an expat. That’s because Thai culture is very different from most Western cultures. However, there are many things that you can do to help yourself feel more comfortable and gain a sense of belonging.

One of the best ways to establish your identity as an expat in Thailand is to join a club or an organization. This can help you meet other people who are facing similar challenges and who can relate to your experiences. Even more, it can be a good opportunity for you to learn more about Thai culture and make friends.

Furthermore, consider reaching out to other expatriates residing in Thailand. Numerous online forums and websites provide platforms to engage with fellow expats. Social media also offers avenues to connect and share experiences with them.

Lastly, to truly find your place as an expat in Thailand, it’s essential to remain authentic. Thai culture is renowned for its inclusiveness, welcoming individuals from diverse backgrounds. By being genuine, you’ll seamlessly integrate and resonate with the local community.

Taking Advantage of the Benefits of Living in Thailand

​There are many benefits to living in Thailand, and one of the best is the opportunity to work remotely. With Thailand’s great weather and infrastructure, it’s the perfect place to set up shop and get some work done.

Not only is the cost of living in Thailand relatively low, but there are also a number of coworking spaces and cafes that make it easy to find a place to work. And with a strong internet connection, working remotely in Thailand can be a breeze.

There are also a number of expat communities in Thailand which can make the transition to living in a new country a bit easier. Not to mention the many things to see and do in Thailand, which will never fail to keep your lust for knowledge and adventure alive.


Life is full of opportunities and the world is big and beautiful, waiting to be discovered by us.

If Thailand is on your list of countries and cultures you want to experience, Shelter can help you transition from tourist to expat. This way, you can fully immerse yourself in this amazing, life changing journey. 

You can apply for a visa, get more information on Thailand, and focus on your remote work while we take care of the transition process. Together, we can make it happen!

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