More than 160,000 people leave Thailand each year to seek employment overseas. This guide provides helpful information about life as a Thai person in the UK, including how to get a job, how to save money and the best way to send money to Thailand from the UK.
There is a significant Thai community in the UK, with around 40,000 Thai people living there, according to the 2011 UK census. More than 90% live in England, and there is a large Thai community in London. There are also significant Thai communities in Manchester and Bath.
Many Thai people migrate for better employment opportunities and to earn money in a stronger currency than the Thai baht. After securing employment in their destination country, most expats send money to Thailand. In 2019, remittances to Thailand exceeded $7 billion, according to the World Bank.
What is the cost of living in the UK?
The cost of living in the United Kingdom varies significantly depending on the location, but costs are significantly lower than destinations like Switzerland, the Nordic countries, Hong Kong or Singapore.
As you might expect, major cities in the UK are more expensive than surrounding towns, but usually provide better employment opportunities. London is significantly more expensive than the rest of the country. The average rent for a home in London is around £1600 per calendar month, compared to a national average of around £950 per calendar month.
Thai people moving to the United Kingdom should have a clear idea of the cost of living in their preferred city or town. Sites like Numbeo can help you compare the cost of living in Thai cities with cities in the UK.
Working in the UK
What sort of work is available in the UK?
The UK’s large economy and global importance as a trading partner provide many employment opportunities for expatriates. The average overall salary in the UK is around £29,000. The minimum wage that an employer can legally pay a member of staff over the age of 25 is £8.72 per hour, as of April 2020.
The most common jobs in the UK for expatriates include teaching, accounting, nursing, software engineering, architecture, UX design and product management. You can find open job positions on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn.
What are the work permit and visa requirements to work in the UK?
Thai nationals do not have the right to live and work in the UK without a visa and work permit. To get a visa to the UK, you will need to apply at the British embassy in Bangkok by filling in a visa application form.
If your visa application is approved, your employer in the UK can then apply for a work permit on your behalf. Usually you are required to have a job offer from a UK company before you can apply for your visa.
How to save money while living in the UK
The UK is a relatively expensive place to live and costs can quickly add up. Here are some of the ways you can save money while living and working in the UK:
Share a home
Sharing a house or flat can reduce the cost of living in the UK by a huge amount. Living on your own can cost as much as 40% of your salary, so look out for sharing options on sites like Spare Room.
Get a UK bank account
With proof of a UK address and your Thai passport, you can open a bank account in the UK. This will help you manage your money in one place, and make it easier for your employer to pay you. You will also receive bank statements to your UK address, which are helpful when applying for loans and mortgages.
Reduce your household bills
Take advantage of competition among UK utility suppliers by switching your provider for a better deal. By changing your energy supplier, you can save over £300 per year. Use sites like Compare the Market to find the best utility deals.
Find bargains at the supermarket
Wait until off-peak hours to buy quality foods at low prices from supermarkets. Reduced items are usually gathered on a single shelf, and often marked by a bright yellow price tag. Some restaurants also slash prices as closing time approaches.
Make a budget
Budget carefully. Establish the amounts you want to spend per expense category and stick to your plan. Leave a little wiggle room for price adjustments and unforeseen charges. Avoid impulse buying and never go to the supermarket while you’re hungry.
What is the cheapest way to send money to Thailand?
In 2017 alone, around $275 million was sent in money transfers to Thailand from the UK. As a result, there are many different ways to transfer money from the UK to Thailand.
What to watch out for when sending money online
Examine the provider’s website and look for evidence that they’re regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This confirms that they’re a legitimate financial service provider.
Confirm that the provider offers secure encryption and anti-fraud technology, such as Verified by Visa or Mastercard Securecode. That way, you know your money is protected.
The foreign exchange rate
Always check the exchange rate for GBP to THB to see how many baht your recipient will get for each British pound you send. Many banks and offline providers offer a poor exchange rate, which can cost you as much as 10% in hidden charges. You can get far better rates with online money transfer services. Use a service like MoneyTransfers.com to compare exchange rates from different providers.
In addition to their markup on the baht exchange rate, most providers charge a flat fee called a transfer fee. Always check the total cost of a transfer by looking at the exchange rate and the fee before sending. The fee to send money to a Thai bank account with Azimo is only £0.99.
If you need to send money in a hurry, always check the estimated delivery time when sending money online. Transfers to a Thai bank account are instant with Azimo.
Use independent reviews websites like Trustpilot to check out providers before you send. Look for red flags such as unresponsive customer service, poor rates, hidden fees and delivery delays. Azimo has a 4.6/5 rating on Trustpilot.
Should I use a money transfer service or a bank to send money to Thailand?
Money transfer services
Online money transfer services usually offer lower fees and better exchange rates than high street shops like Western Union. For instance, you get two fee-free transfers when you sign up to Azimo, and low fees on all your subsequent transfers. Sending £1000 to Thailand with Azimo will cost you just £0.99 in fees, which is up to 90% cheaper than banks and other providers.
You can use banks such as RBS, Lloyds and First Direct to send money abroad. With fees of up to £40 per transfer and exchange rate margins of around 5%, this is rarely the best way to send money to Thailand.
Moving to the UK from Thailand is not easy, but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life if you get it right. Make sure to plan ahead and budget carefully to maximise your chances of success. You’ll get to live and work in one of the world’s most progressive and dynamic nations, with a fantastic opportunity to send money back home to the people you love.