Working in Thailand
Finding work in Thailand is difficult, mainly due to the fact that it is illegal to work in Thailand without a valid work permit. Work permits will only be issued to people performing jobs that are not on the list of disallowed occupations. Basically, if a Thai person can do the job, then you will not be able to arrange a work permit. The list does change frequently and you should check with your local Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate if you need to know if your profession is on the disallowed profession list.
Working as an English Teacher
The most popular job performed by non-Thai people is that of an English teacher. Almost every good Thai school will employ one of more foreigners to teach English. A short, inexpensive course run by TEFL will secure you a teaching certificate. Pay rates vary from 25,000 Baht per month up to around 40,000 Baht per month. All good schools will help you arrange a work permit. Avoid any school which asks you to work without one; you could end up being deported.
Running Your Own Business
Foreigners who own and operate a business in Thailand are eligible for a work permit. However, there are some very heavy restrictions on this. Firstly, it is not possible for a non-Thai national to own more than 49% of a company. There must always be Thai shareholders holding the principal amount of 51%, this can be either a single shareholder or a group of shareholders. The danger here is obvious, you will never actually own your own company, only a 49% (non-controlling) share. Secondly, each foreign operated business must employ a minimum of 4 Thai staff; this is to dissuade freelance workers from setting up shop in Thailand and avoiding taxes. Lastly, a bond must be posted, which can be anything up to $50,000 before the company can be incorporated, this money must be left in bond whilst the company operates. It is possible to run a company in Thailand, but it is far from easy.
Many expats take this route, and decide to ignore the Thai laws on work. For some it is never a problem, and they live out their lives with no stress. For others, a single wrong word to the authorities has seen them arrested, fined and deported. Working illegally is an option, although it does come with certain risks.
Owning a Bar or Restaurant
Many westerners visit Thailand each year on vacation, and decide they would like to move there for good. A large percentage of these decide that buying a bar or a restaurant will give them the life they want. Unfortunately, a very high percentage of these business ventures fail, as very little due diligence is performed before making an investment. If your idea of moving to Thailand to live revolves around running a bar or restaurant, then think again, it is highly likely you will fail.
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