14 February 2017

Kristýna Vacková - Expat in Thailand

Kristýna Vacková - Expat in Thailand

We’ve had the chance to talk to Kristýna Vacková, 25, a Czech expat who has moved to Thailand with her fiancé. Ms. Vacková who has been living there for almost five years, now works as an interior designer. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I’m from a small city in the Czech Republic.


Q: What made you move out of Czech Republic?

A: I wanted to live somewhere where more opportunities are, warmer weather and very different lifestyle compare to the one I was used to from home. I was very excited to jump into the unknown and I didn’t really care where my new home is going to be.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I live in Bangkok. But to be honest, Thailand was our last-minute second choice. We planned to move to Egypt which luckily for us didn’t work out.

I actually haven’t been in Asia until I landed in Thailand with all my belonging and plan to live here permanently. So as you can imagine I didn’t know much about Thailand back then and I think I was very lucky to end up here.


Q: How long have you been living in Thailand?

A: It is going to be five years soon.


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

A: I came to Thailand with my fiancé (he was my boyfriend back then) which made the whole move a lot easier, to be honest. 

Expat Lifestyle isn’t something he needed to adjust to. I think his problem would be the opposite - adjusting to a “normal life” back home because he was born in a foreign country to British parents and he was an expat for most of his life in different places around the world. 


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: In the age of free internet video calls and instant messaging it is not such a big issue anymore I think. But of course, I miss my family and friends.

In five years living in Thailand we lost 3 grandparents, missed weddings, couldn’t be there for the birth of new family members and friends kids. Or we couldn’t just give a cuddle and moral support to the loved one who needed it in the moment, which isn’t always easy. 

But on the other hand, I speak to people close to me more often than I used to when I lived next door to them. And when we are together we appreciate the moments more than before. 

Thailand is my home now and as long as I’m happy here I don’t think I will be homesick after any other place it the world.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: They are friendly and always smiling. Some Thais are very shy compared to western people. But they all unbelievably helpful. 

If I go out on the street with a face of a lost baby deer it will take 2 minutes before somebody will stop and try to help me. I have never experienced something like this before I came to Thailand. 


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: It is quite easy to make new friends in Bangkok. There is a lot of social and meet up groups. Meeting new people isn’t a problem here. But the problem is that most expats don’t stay in Thailand for too long. And our circle of friends changes quite a lot every year.


Q: How does the cost of living in Thailand compare to your home?

A: The cost of living in Thailand is higher than in the Czech Republic. I can find cheaper things in Thailand than in the Czech Republic sometimes. But if I want the same quality of living it is much more expensive in Thailand. 

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A:  $ 1.40 - 3.40.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: On the street from $1. Inside inexpensive restaurant around $3.50.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: There are meals from $10 to $30 in expensive restaurants. Restaurants are usually much much cheaper here than in Europe.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine is expensive in Thailand. There is a big import tax on alcohol. The cheapest bottle of wine in a shop will not be under $20 (the cost of the same bottle in a different country would be around $6). Better wine would be around $42. 

On the other hand, cigarettes are cheap in Thailand. From $2.40 for a box.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Thailand?

A: Usually you need to have a work permit to be able to open a bank account in Thailand. But some banks let tourists open a bank account as well. A different branch of the same bank will give you a different answer regarding the opening of the bank account with them without the work permit. 

I would suggest going to a bank in one of the biggest shopping malls in the city where they are used to foreigners. Try to ask them about their policy regarding foreigners opening a bank account. The first answer in Thai banks for almost anything seems to be “We cannot do it.”. But that is normal and don’t let that stop you and try to explain to them why you need the account. 

If the banks answer is still no just go to the next door bank and try it there. And eventually, one branch will say yes. It is easier to bring a Thai friend with you for things like that. 


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: It is very time-consuming to take care of the visas and work permit. If you work for a bigger company they should usually take care of everything for you. Otherwise, it can be a nightmare and I suggest to get a lawyer who will help you with it. 


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Thailand is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: The quality of the big international hospitals is very good in Thailand. I went for an eye corrective surgery in Bangkok a few months ago and I’m very happy with the whole experience. 

But in the past, I felt in one Thai international hospital that they are more business minded than focused on the health. For all bigger health issues in Thailand, I would get at least 2 independent opinions before deciding on the treatment. 

I had one bad experience in a small clinic on the island in the south of Thailand where the doctor wanted to inject unnecessary very expensive medication and refused to explain anything to us about it. In those moments I’m very happy that I have a medical background and I can understand what is going on and refuse doctors orders if it not right. This can be challenging otherwise. 

But I can recommend Bumrungrad Hospital, BNH and Rutnin Eye Hospital in Bangkok. 

Thailand is a popular destination for medical tourism because the prices are still low but the quality is high. 


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: We were moving from a flat which we were renting in the Czech Republic which was fully furnished by the owner into another fully furnished flat in Thailand. So I didn’t own and need that much stuff. I sold most of it before moving, including almost all my winter clothes as well and I was left with few boxes which I put into my parents’ house. 

We came with 2 bags each and that was it.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: I honestly can’t think of anything. Living as an expat in Thailand was much easier than living as a local in the Czech Republic for me. Everything was a little challenge at first – buying food I have never seen before, learning first Thai words… but it wasn’t anything big or uncomfortable. I love getting lost and finding out why are things the way they are. So it wasn’t a challenge but more of an adventure. 

The biggest challenge was probably finding out where they are selling a measuring tape and cooking scale which took me over three months!


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Thailand?

A: Positives: Lovely weather all year long, the most amazing beaches, best food in the world, developed cities, friendly locals and affordable living.

Negatives: The biggest negative for most foreigners living in Thailand must be the visa issues. And I think Thailand can be too hot for some people.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: I love Thailand but I probably won’t stay here forever. I don’t have any plans yet but I don’t see myself going back to the Czech Republic.                                                                                                                                             


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Thailand?

A: This one is very helpful for expats explaining everything from visas, where to live, what to visit, etc. http://www.findthaiproperty.com/blog-homepage/

And I also write a blog which was meant to be a blog about Thailand for Czech people at first. But after the years it is more of a lifestyle/travel blog with lots of articles about my expat experiences. www.epicbetch.com

And Richards blog and Twitter account is something which every expat in Thailand should follow. Richard is living in Thailand for years and he is a journalist and blog writer. http://www.richardbarrow.com/