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Koh Samui > Travel Guides > Living on Samui

Living on Koh Samui

Koh Samui is a popular destination for ex pats for its beautiful beaches, hot weather and cheap “amenities,” and in response to this demand, the island has attracted an increasing number of attractions and conveniences of international standard.

The restaurants on the island are first class. The shopping is convenient and plentiful. The community is international and diverse.

For many, Koh Samui provides a welcome escape into a culture that is different enough from the western world, but not too different.

Thailand Visas

The most used option is the work permit route. Work permits are usually the responsibility of the employer, and allow you to stay in the country without frequent trips out to get a new stamp in your passport. Check with any employer offering a job how soon they will secure a work permit on your behalf and make this a part of the contract. If employers suggest that the responsibility of obtaining a work permit is yours, find a different employer. When you get the permit, you can get the one year visa.

Business visas are another option. Non Thais, or “Ferangs” as they are derisively called, can not own more than 49 percent of a Thai business, so you’ll have to find a trustworthy partner. With a company you will be able to obtain a one year visa.

Over 55s can apply for a retirement visa. You’ll need to show that you have 200,000 Bt in you bank, plus 40,000 Bt per month, forever.

For a permanent visa, you’ll need to have been living in Thailand for over 5 years, or be married to a Thai, and pay 200,000 Baht, plus have another 200,000 Baht in the bank.

Living Cost in Samui

The Mc index (price of a McDonalds) tells us that Samui is roughly four times cheaper than the UK, three times cheaper than the US, and so on. In other words, services and amenities available on Samui would cost four times more in the UK.

There are, however, two economies existing along side one another, the impoverished Thai families who share shanty town accommodation and live on 10,000 Baht per month, and the expats who generally spend as much here as they would back home, frequenting 5 star restaurants and so on. For the few in between, 40, 000 Baht is a reasonable income. 10, 000 – 12,000 Baht will get you a house with air con and hot water.

Oh, and a McDonalds meal will cost you 100 to 200 Baht.

Koh Samui Property

Land is measured in Rai (1600 sqm) and land titles are only worth having if they’re titled “Chanote.” Non Thai are not able to own land in Thailand so many do so through 49% (maximum) ownership of a Thai company, which can take on board land as an asset, but mortgages tend to be high.

Lawyers will tell you the latest on the ever hanging law on land ownership, but the best advice is proceed with caution.

Learn Thai Language

Thai is a tonal language, with five different tones, meaning that if you pronounce a word in a high pitch, it may have a completely different meaning to the same word (or collection of letters) pronounced in a low pitch. Plus there are tons more letters to learn than in the English helps, and most of them are variations of the K sound.

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Don’t worry. Mind Your language is a friendly school based in Chaweng and Bang Por that offers Thai language classes. Before you arrive, check out the books by Benjawan Poomsan Becker and Linguaphone, and when you arrive, jump right in.