Advantages and disadvantages of living in Thailand as a freelance graphic designer

Going to a country you have never been to with a plan to stay there for few month is a very exciting experience. It is even more exciting when you have to work during such trip. Of course you had made an investigation about the place you are going to before you have bought the tickets (you can read more about preparing for a trip in my previous posts – 1, 2, 3) but there is always something unexpected happening after you have landed.

In this post I’m going to cover advantages and disadvantages of one particular country for a freelance graphic designer – Thailand. Sure it’s my personal opinion and I’ve been living there for only 5 month, but hopefully this information will be useful.

Sunset in Thailand by Marina Nozyer
Photo by Marina Nozyer.

What is good

  • The cost of living is pretty low. We (me and my girlfriend) were living in a one bedroom house 2 minutes away from sea and we almost did not cook by ourselves and the price was about 1000$ per month. 5 bedroom house with a swimming pool costs about 800$ – 2000$ per month depending on location and one meal in small but tasty cafe 1.5$ -3$.
  • Food is great there. If you don’t like spicy there’s always something mild in the menu. There are lots of fruits that can be found only in East Asia and most of them are so delicious!
  • Native people differ from place to place but majority of them look happy and relaxed. We’ve been living on island Ko Samui. It’s very popular among tourist, so tones of locals are working in this industry and they don’t have any financial troubles that might worry ’em.
  • The sun is always shining. At least from November till April there were only few really rainy days.
  • You can always find inspiration in wild nature which is all around and in Buddhist and Hindu art. Can you imagine that there are more than 40000 Buddhist temples in Thailand?
  • If you need more hardware you can buy it – laptops, cameras, etc. Lots of Nikon products are made in Thailand and lots computer stuff is made in Malaysia which is pretty close.

What is bad

  • The kingdom of Thailand is a tropical country, so the temperature is pretty high and it’s very humid every day. I’ve been living there from November 2009 till April 2010. During the day it was 86 F (30 C) and in the evening and during the night it was 80.6 F (27 C). Sure air conditioner is a great solution, but you are not sitting in the house all day long. We’ve been using conditioner only during the night, so we could better adapt to the environment. The first week was pretty hard, but later it was OK. Anyway we never felt absolutely comfortable.
  • The download internet speed in Thailand differs from 50-100kb/s (AIS 3G modem) to 2-3mb/s (ADSL). Upload speed is 2 times slower. This is tough. If you are going to rent a house ask for ADSL, otherwise you’d have to go to internet-cafe every time you need to upload few 10mb files.
  • Being a european guy I’d say that there is a cultural difference. If you don’t accept it you’d be regularly distracted. For example, it’s OK when a waiter is standing behind your shoulder while you’re making up your choice. He or she can stand there for any amount of time 5-10-20 minutes!
  • In tropics everything is happening faster – if you have forgotten to wipe the table after you had eat a watermelon, in an hour you might see 50 ants marching around. Or if you leave a cup of tea in the evening you would definitely find it decomposed in the morning. This is why it smells so horrible in the streets where the trash bins are.
  • Every withdrawal from any bank machine will cost you 5$ unless you have an account in any local bank.

Anyway, I had a great time there and I’d sure recommend you to go the kingdom of Thailand.
If you’ve been living in Thailand too, please share your experience!

13 thoughts on “Advantages and disadvantages of living in Thailand as a freelance graphic designer

  1. dima says:

    im going there this summer. isn’t it too expensive to live for 1000$ 2 people? i know there are plenty guesthouses for 8-12$ a day. or the price mentioned is overall + food and stuff ?

    • Andrei Verner says:

      I think 1000$ is OK to live but to have fun you might need some extra money. You can easily rent a house for 300-450$ per month. And the food will not cost you more than 400$ per month for 2 people (if you are not big fans of expensive restaurants).

  2. dima says:

    Im a flash freelancer and webmaster, I have several warez sites with total income of 200$ monthly, and i have regular clients for flash games and stuff, so im thinking of moving to Thailand for a year or smth like that. But making a deep research now for everything related to visas and legal stuff before I go.

    This summer, in july I’m starting my trip from ukraine (visiting my brother) and belarus (rest of the family :P ) , then if i’ll have enough money left – thailand :D

    what are the better places to live for a quiet and chill-loving person? I don’t like crowded streets and gangsters sniffing around at night :) though i’ll check pattaya and bg of course, just to see what the people are talking about. but for the rest of my stay, i’ll chose a quiet place, some tropical village, green and peaceful.

    what do you think? where should i search?

    • Andrei Verner says:

      Well, I think you better head to the island Koh Samui or Koh Pangan. Right now they are suffering from floods, but if the weather is fine they will perfectly fit your needs. Just remember to find a house with ADSL, otherwise you’ll have to go to internet-cafes every time you need to send another few MBs =) Since you are Russian-speaking guy, check out farangforum. This is the place where I’ve found most of information to prepare my trip last year.

      Have fun in Ukraine and Belarus! ;)

  3. dima says:

    Thanks for the tips :) .
    By the way, how do we (freelansers, without work-permit of course) stay in Thai longer tthan 90 days? which method do you use?
    I was thinking of an education visa for 1 year.

    P.S. may I ask where do you prefer to live in Thai when you’re there? what are the favourite cities / places ?


    • Andrei Verner says:

      I stayed in Thailand for 5 month so I’ve got a 90-days tourists visa after I had spent one month in Thailand and I did one visa-run. Have you ever been to Thailand? If not one year might be too much for the first time :)

      I’ve been living on Koh Samui island. I’ve chosen it cause it has a well established infrastructure and it is relatively inexpensive.

  4. Christion says:

    Hi , i have been to thailand a few times i am also thinking of staying 1 year , please could you email me all the relative information if possible i would really appreciate it. My NAME IS CHRISTION(im female). thank you

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