Expat living in Krabi

Most people are enchanted by Krabi

Most people are enchanted by Krabi

By Sarah Duffy

A few thousand expats reside in Krabi, which is no surprise considering the beauty of this karst-dotted coastal province. If you are considering living in Krabi as an employee, a retiree or other, there are a few practical considerations to take into account before taking the plunge.

Most people choose to settle in Krabi, not for employment, but for retirement or an extended holiday. Aside from a handful of international companies such as hotels, few employers in Krabi hire foreigners. There are, however, limited opportunities to teach English and diving. You could, of course, set up your own business but this requires a lot of research.

Despite Krabi being a major tourist destination, expats living here will inevitably find the language barrier a little frustrating at times. It is worth investing time in learning some Thai language basics such as ordering food by signing up for a Thai language course as soon as you arrive. Papinporn Language School offers fun conversational classes as well as more in-depth courses.

If you have kids in tow you will need to consider their schooling. Krabi is home to just one international school, which is close to Ao Nang, but there are further choices in Phuket (2 to 3 hours’ drive away). Most expats end up sending their kids to one of the more affordable Thai schools in Krabi Town, with some offering bilingual programmes. More on speaking Thai.

Krabi lacks in international standard healthcare, which could be a consideration if you have existing health problems that need regular monitoring. The closest international hospitals are in Phuket though Krabi Hospital is able to treat most minor conditions. There is also a private Muslim hospital in Krabi Town as well as a handful of private clinics. Getting medication from local pharmacies is not a problem but dental care is best sought in Phuket.

If you plan on driving in Krabi you may wish to purchase a vehicle. To do this you must possess a non-immigrant visa or purchase in a Thai national’s name. Second-hand motorbikes are popular and cheap while pick-ups and cars are considerably more expensive but are safer and better suited for travel during the rainy season. You can acquire a Thai driving license at Krabi’s Land Transport Office if you are here long-term though it is possible to drive on an international license.

There are many decent watering holes for expats

There are many decent watering holes for expats

Most expats living in Krabi get homesick for Western food at some stage during their stay. You may be able to stick to a Thai diet most of the time but when that McDonald’s craving kicks in you’ll need to head to Krabi Town, home to the largest range of Western fare. All the main tourist areas such as Koh Lanta, Ao Nang and Koh Phi-Phi have eateries serving popular Western food like pasta and pizza in high season but expect prices to be double or triple local Thai dishes. Wine is hard to come across and expensive so stock up elsewhere such as in Phuket.

ADSL internet is only available in Ao Nang and Krabi Town. Internet shops in out-the-way tourist areas and on the islands have satellite connections but these are expensive to set up privately. If you plan to set up an internet connection at home, check whether the property you intend to rent or buy already has a phone line. Don’t assume it will as not all do and getting a line can be a lengthy process.

Unlike internet coverage, mobile phone coverage in Krabi is good. Thai television leaves a lot to be desired so you may like to consider setting up cable TV with English language news, movie and sports channels. Prices for services like UBC are in line with prices for similar services back home, however, unless you live in a condo where UBC is included in the rental rate.

Krabi’s ex-pat scene is small but friendly and is centered round the main tourist areas of Ao Nang, Phi-Phi, Krabi Town and Koh Lanta. Clubs and groups are few and far between but getting to know other expats is rarely a problem if you frequent the more popular bars and eateries. The bar girl scene of other Thai resorts is non-existent here though Ao Nang and Phi-Phi have a handful of tame beer bars so Krabi is not the best place for expats looking for local female company.

Setting up a bank account as a foreigner in Krabi has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Only those in possession of a non-immigrant visa will be able to open an account and often additional documents such as a house contract are required. If you can’t open a local account and need to receive money from home, Western Union offers this service, albeit at poor rates, at all tourist spots. It is also possible to draw money on your home account through Krabi ATMs.

While the practicalities of setting up home in Krabi can be a headache, the rewards of living in such a beautiful part of the country are hard to beat. Forget the traffic jams and constant rat race of life in the West as you slip into laid-back Thai beach life and make new friends.

More more on Krabi's highlights.

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