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Sarong it's right: Coining it in Thailand without a visa

Top money, cheap rent and food ... and fear of a late-night knock

I'd prefer to be able to pay tax

The Register: What will you miss about home?

David Green: Guiltily, I admit I miss very little. I know I should miss friends and family greatly, but having made the decision to move here, I had to change the way I felt about "missing" anything. It does get hard at Christmas time when I remember being together with family in the past, but I have chosen to put myself in this position and accept the consequences of that.

The Register: What's your top tip to help new arrivals settle in?

David Green: If you expect anything to resemble the lifestyle and culture that you are coming from, you may struggle. We grow up closely experiencing the societal environment in which we live and do not always recognise the inconsistencies and dichotomies that exist.

Some people come here and rail against Thai ways of doing things because they cannot reconcile with the inconsistencies and dichotomies that exist in Thai society and culture. It's probably a good idea to avoid becoming one of these sorts of bitter, misanthropic expats.

The Register: What advice would you offer someone considering the same move?

David Green: Know and understand the visa requirements. It is not easy for non-retirees to stay here long-term without setting up a business (which is very expensive) or having a Thai partner.

The Register: You're working in a - shall we say - mode not entirely supported by Thai immigration law. How's that possible? And are you afraid of the midnight knock on the door?

David Green: I work illegally, and I'm not comfortable with it. I have to lie to people and tell them I don't work, just in case it becomes known what I do and it gets back to immigration. I'd prefer to be able to work legally and pay tax, but there is no visa that allows for this.

I do get nervous, especially when I have to renew my visa. I live off the beaten track and keep under the radar enough to avoid any attention, and that's all I can do really.

And for those readers who might romanticise my situation here, I would point out that in the eyes of many Thais, and certainly in the eyes of the officials here, I am viewed in exactly the same way as many people in the UK view the illegal immigrants from the various EU states.

The Register: Thailand's had a rough time of it lately, between the floods and the coups. How's that been?

David Green: The coup was no great surprise really, and a lot of steps taken by the military in the last few months have been very popular so it can be seen as a positive move, even though the motives for the coup have been questioned by supporters of political democracy. And there has been a lot of world attention on the murders on Koh Tao recently, and this may result in changes to policing procedures being brought in.

Events like this seem to force the Thai people and authorities to look at things differently, and this can be the catalyst for change. It's very sad that these events often involve loss of life, or freedom in the case of the media restrictions following the coup, but this always seems to be the case no matter what country it's happening in.

Ultimately, I do take a selfish point of view and consider how it affects me and my family, and though we have been affected by all of these recent events, they haven't caused us to change our lives.

The Register: What can you get up to in weekends in Thailand that isn't possible at home?

David Green: Honestly, not that much around where I live. We have a couple of cinemas in town 30km away, so there is little of that sort of entertainment.

But on a Sunday morning I'll go out for a cycle ride up to the local waterfall, then back home along the beach road with a deserted stretch of golden sand fringed by palm trees and remind myself that this is somewhere that people save up all year to travel thousands of miles to come on holiday for a few weeks.

And I live here :)

Are you an eXpat with a story to tell? This column is always on the hunt for new folk to profile, so drop us a line if you'd like your turn. ®

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