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The Land of Smiles is the third-favorite destination in Asia among the global expat population and the seven best across all continents. That’s according to one of the largest-ever polls conducted by British bank HSBC of 9,300 respondents. The report stated, “Thailand emerges from the 2014 Expat Explorer Survey as the best destination for expats looking for an improved lifestyle at a low cost.”
Over two-thirds of expats say they associate Thailand with a higher quality of life and claim their disposable income here is greater than when they were living in their first country.
Most of the respondents were of middle age and working in all sectors of employment. They were asked about their financial situation, salary, savings and the local economy as well as their quality of life and family issues such as educational opportunities for children.
Switzerland emerged as the overall winner with a trusted economy, good quality of life and good salaries of around $200,000 a year. Many Swiss-based expats mentioned the better balance between work and life in general, availability of outdoor activities and a general environment favorable to the family.
Asia was also noted for its salaries with the average expat wage being $120,000 yearly against a global average in this survey of $92,000. Singapore city state was the top expat choice in Asia and the second globally as it provided good economic opportunities and an admirable quality of life. China, the second in Asia and the third overall, was the top choice for high earners with a quarter of the respondents enjoying salaries of more than $300,000 annually. The lowest ranking countries, of the 34 in the survey, were Egypt followed by UK and Brazil.
As regards Thailand, the country was less popular among expats earning high salaries than the more frugal. The less-wealthy were mostly older. The survey does not elaborate this point but may have resulted from the large number of foreigners working as teachers on modest salaries for whatever reason. Expats in general in Thailand said they enjoyed paying less for water and electric, accommodation and shopping while the most popular single feature was the quality of childcare and children’s confidence.
But Thailand ranked bottom, or near bottom, when it came to learning the local language, making friends or feeling welcome at work. Thailand also ranked poorly about environmental issues. Expats also complained about the cost of good healthcare in the country as a whole.
The famous British retailer Marks and Spencer has at last opened a branch in Pattaya, a sizeable triple unit on the ground floor of Central Festival Pattaya Beach. There is a wide choice of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, some of it traditional and some chic and even contemporary. Prices are expensive and reflect foreign import levies. Unusually for chain stores in Thailand, M and S offer some very big sizes, especially for men, and shoes go up to UK size 12 or Euro 47. However, there is a limited range for bigfoot shoppers. Foreigners wishing to join the mall’s discount card club should remember to take along their passport to register, photocopies not being acceptable.
The food section, in accordance with M and S practice throughout most of Asia, is mainly jams, cereals, sweets, sauces and other tinned or packaged products with a long shelf life. Customers hoping to find fresh or frozen food will be disappointed – there isn’t any, presumably because the market is not large enough to produce domestically in Thailand while importing freshly-made food is problematical and expensive. However, there is a particular good selection of UK-produced chocolate bars and candies and biscuits, just like you can buy back in UK.
Many visitors find that the surprisingly good wine selection is the star attraction for devotees of the grape. Wine is expensive everywhere in Thailand, thanks to a punitive tax regime, but M and S can hold its own price-wise with other stores and has some excellent French, American and Italian bottles, some manufactured specially for the M and S company worldwide. Prices start at 595 baht and quickly move up. There is a wider selection of rose wines than you would normally expect in a unit of this size.
A Laos national, identified as Miss Nok, was so depressed after discovering her husband was being unfaithful that she tried to jump to her death from an overpass on Sukhumvit Road in the Naklua district. However, police quickly blocked the road and managed to calm down the woman until they were able to rescue her from the 6-meter high bridge. She was said to be pregnant and had previously attempted to kill herself. On that occasion she had been taken to Banglamung Hospital but had checked herself out. She told investigators she was devastated by reports of her husband’s infidelity.