The Stickman settled into Bangkok somewhat reluctantly, but has since travelled to nearly every niche of the nation, learned Thai and moved out into the suburbs with his local family. Despite his laid-back lifestyle he's never afraid to share an opinion. Read his expat interview below.
About the Stickman
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Auckland, New Zealand
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Bangkok, Thailand
Q: How long you have you lived in Bangkok?
A: 12 years
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I was a young man seeking adventure…
Q: What do you enjoy most about Bangkok, how’s the quality of life?
A: I like the warm climate – it is hot for much of the year, arguably too hot for a fair few months. I also like the food, not just the Thai food, but the huge variety of food from all around the world that you can find here. It’s also nice to live in a place with a relatively low cost of living and the knowledge that if you need to tighten your belt financially, you can.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Irrespective of time spent in a country, fluency in the language and even having a local family, foreigners are always just that – foreigners. The visa situation is a bit of a Mickey Mouse operation, and the city’s traffic jams are world famous for all the wrong reasons. The pollution is pretty bad too!
Q: Is Bangkok safe?
A: If you stay in the central / downtown areas and the places where most Westerners like to go, it is relatively safe. Also, so long as you keep to yourself, you should not have any real problems. Those who have problems tend to be those who stick their nose into other people’s affairs, venture into the wrong areas or are out very late at night.
About living in Bangkok
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Bangkok as an expat?
A: It’s impossible to answer because different people want different things. Most foreigners like the Sukhumvit Road area which is where many foreign-oriented bars and restaurants are. Personally, I don’t like that area because of the traffic, noise and general craziness – none of which are traits I like in the area I live!
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Bangkok?
A: If you want Western quality, it is actually quite expensive. If you can live “Thai-style”, it is downright cheap.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Thailand compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: If you live a Western lifestyle, Bangkok is much more expensive. Quality accommodation is more expensive than home, and imported food products are very expensive. If you can go “Thai-style”, it’s cheap.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: The locals are generally very friendly and welcoming of foreigners. If you are polite and respect their culture they will be very pleasant in return. Most of my friends are native English-speakers so my closest friends come from New Zealand, Australia, the USA and England.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends in Bangkok?
A: It is very easy to meet other foreigners here but you do have to be careful. Bangkok attracts a certain element and its reputation as a seedy city is warranted. There are a lot of dodgy characters here and it is wise to take the time to get to know someone before you allow them to get close to you.
About working in Thailand
Q: How does the work culture in Thailand differ from home?
A: It is much more relaxed. Deadlines come and go and unless you’re near the top rungs of the corporate ladder, there won’t be anything like the same sort of pressure and demands placed on you that you have in the West.
Family and children in Bangkok
Q: What are the schools in Bangkok like, any particular suggestions?
A: There are some very good schools here, but they are very expensive. Apart from the top tier international schools, I have serious reservations about the general quality of schools in Thailand.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Thailand?
A: It is excellent. There’s a reason why Thailand is a popular destination for medical tourism.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Take time to get to know your fellow Westerners. Like I said in a previous question, there are some questionable folks here, plenty of scammers and con artists and you should not allow people to get too close to you without getting to really know them first!
– Interviewed July 2010