23 November 2017

Emilie Terpstra - Expat in Thailand

Emilie Terpstra - Expat in Thailand

We’ve had the chance to talk to Emilie Terpstra, 28, a Dutch expat who has moved to Thailand alone. Ms Terpstra, who has been living there for about one year, now works as a Content Creator. Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?
A: The Netherlands


Q: What made you move out of the Netherlands?
A: Plenty of reasons! It started with me wanting to explore the world by travelling around. I fell in love with tropical temperatures, beaches, a quiet lifestyle and so much more that I decided to leave the Netherlands behind.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?
A: I live in Thailand at the moment, in the south. I came here for the first time four years ago, and I love the mix of culture, nature, food and climate here.


Q: How long have you been living in Thailand?
A: In total about one year, spread out over two years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?
A: Alone


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?
A: Not really. Yes, I miss family and friends sometimes, but I absolutely do not miss home whatsoever. For me, Asia has become my home, and whenever I come back to Europe, I can’t wait to return to Asia. I guess I’m homesick for Asia. I cope with that by returning as soon as possible!


Q: What do you think about the locals?
A: It’s one of the reasons I love it here. People here are so much more welcoming, generous and open. In the Netherlands everybody is stressed, only thinking about work and money and nobody would ever start a conversation with a stranger on the train. That is so completely different here. Every time I come back to Asia I feel like I am welcomed like a long lost friend or family member. Often you see that people here have very little, but want to give as much as possible, while in the Netherlands, people have a lot but don’t want to give a thing.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Thailand? How did you manage to find a social circle there?
A: Yes it’s very easy here. For some reason, people start conversations more easily here. It’s not that strange to start talking to a stranger here. I have both local friends and expat friends, but more local friends. To be honest, my social circle began when I came here for the first time and started talking with the owner of my guesthouse. He introduced me to his friends and family and from there on it grew pretty fast and naturally.


Q: How does the cost of living in Thailand compare to your home?
A: Ha! It’s a LOT cheaper here. It gives me the opportunity to only work half days and have enough money to comfortably enjoy. One of the reasons why I live here.

Q: How much is a cup of coffee?
A: Depending on where, very local 15 baht, more touristy 50-60 baht.

Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?
A: 100-150 baht

Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?
A: You can go as expensive and luxurious as you want in Thailand. Spend thousands of euros on caviar and champagne, if you want. You have something here for every budget.

Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?
A: I have no clue about wine, it’s rather expensive here and bad quality. But a beer in the supermarket is about 30 baht, in a bar about 60 baht. A pack of cigarettes is 100 baht.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Thailand?
A: Not really, it’s pretty straight forward and easy. There are so many expats in Thailand that they are used to these questions and used to help foreigners.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?
A: Visa’s are a pain. Because I work on the internet through my company in the Netherlands, it is not possible for me to get a business visa (you will need a Thai employer for that first). It might be possible for me to get a residency visa at some point, but it’s very difficult, a lot of paperwork and a lot of hassle. For now, I just go up and down to Malaysia every month to renew my visa, you can do that as often as you like.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Thailand is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?
A: Yeah in Thailand it’s pretty okay compared to the rest of Asia. There’s a lot of medical clinics and private hospitals where everything is super clean, and doctors speak good English. They are more expensive than the public hospitals, but of a lot better quality. Public hospitals are decent, but I wouldn’t go there for major problems.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the Netherlands or Thailand? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?
A: No, I have a health insurance that is specifically designed for expats. (Cigna Global)


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Thailand? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?
A: I didn’t actually move more than my backpack, so that was rather easy! My most important and valuable stuff I put in a storage box back home, and one day I want to transfer this to Thailand but how and when I am not sure yet. It’s not the most important for me. I rent a furnished apartment, and everything here is so cheap that it’s easy to make something nice and comfy of your home.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?
A: Finding work to get stability. It wasn’t easy to find a job that I would be happy doing every day. Many expats in Thailand are English teachers, and I just really don’t want to do that. Or chefs, but I am not the best cook. So eventually I put up a business in the Netherlands which allows me to work on the internet as a translator and content creator, with my biggest client now being Mrkortingscode. Best thing I ever did; it also allows me to move wherever I like if I want.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Thailand?
A: Positives: weather, people, tranquillity, peacefulness.
Negatives: People here are generally speaking a lot poorer than in western Europe, and you would like to help everyone but you can’t. Some laws are pretty strict and old-fashioned (example: I can’t elaborate on this because if I do, I might be denied entry to the country next time).


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?
A: Island hopping of course! The most beautiful, magical islands are around here, with white sandy beaches, jungle mountains, waterfalls, hot springs and everything. You can find everything, from completely secluded deserted beaches to fancy resorts, whatever rocks your boat. The natural wonders here are amazing. Drinking coconuts with the sunset is one of my favourite activities.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?
A: Yeah a different country, at some point, probably. I am not really the person to stay in the same place for too long. But not back home, that’s one thing that’s certain.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?
A: Be kind, be open and go with the flow.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Thailand?
A: Not really. I prefer to talk to people ;)