When deciding which job to take in Thailand many people look straight at the salary and think the "extras" aren't that important. However, I have come to realize that there are many other important factors that you should consider too, some of which are just as important as the salary.
Visa and Work Permit
If your job doesn't include a visa and work permit then you will be doing costly border runs and face the risk of being denied re-entry into Thailand. Having done one border run from Bangkok to Vientiane I can tell you that it isn't fun or cheap. Three days and 9,000 Baht later I was ready to look for a new job to escape that hell.
If you are a native speaker and have a degree then there is no reason that you shouldn't get these documents and secondly that your employer pays for them. My first employer made me pay for mine which wasn't a good surprise.
Getting a new visa and work permit update each year can cost you upwards of 5,000 Baht plus travel and time expenses. Make sure the job covers these and pays for them.
Linked to visas, my current company has a "visa guy" whose job it is to sort out everything regarding visas and work permits.
You know the guy who cuts to the front of the queue at immigration and seems to know everyone there - well he is my company's visa guy. I had to apply for my yearly visa last week and I arrived 15 minutes early at Chaengwattana and met my visa guy who had all the documents for me to just sign.
We spoke to the security guard and got queue number 5 despite there being over 200 people in line already. I was out of the immigration department within 15 minutes with a new visa, single re-entry stamp and the promise that my work permit would be updated and back to me in a few days. I don't go to immigration for 90 day check ins - it is all done by my visa guy.
The amount I save in time, effort and cost is huge to me - it's a great perk of my job.
I also have foreign support staff at the head office who look after HR, contract and tax issues for me - I don't have to do anything myself and if I have problems I have experienced native English speakers to assist.
You should check what assistance you are offered. My first job was in the sticks and meant a 1,000 Baht round trip cab fare to go to immigration without any help or assistance from my agency - it's a situation that I didn't prepare for or ask about before I accepted the job.
Working in Thailand you will want to get insurance. Whether it is motorcycle accidents or drunken escapades on vacation I always see a steady stream of foreigners on crutches, with broken arms or just feeling the effects of a bad somtam.
Thai social security should be taken from your monthly pay check and give you access to some medical services at a selected government hospital. However, I would say that for many people this isn't enough and some form of private medical insurance is advisable. This can cost upwards of 2,000 Baht a month so if it is included in a job offer then it is a very good perk to have on top of your salary.
Check details though as many policies just cover the basics. For example my work insurance covers only 3,500 Baht per accident and 2,000 Baht per day for the cost of the room and nursing etc. This covers for broken arms and simple illness, perhaps food poisoning etc but if the worst happened I would have to pay for surgery or advanced treatment out of my own pocket.
My friend got a terrible fever and spent four nights in Bangkok Hospital and walked out with a 95,000 Baht bill - she didn't have health insurance and left Thailand the next week.
Some jobs, especially those at government schools, come with free housing or a housing allowance.
This could work both ways in that maybe the house is great or the allowance covers what you want to rent but it could also limit you to living in a certain area. Do you really want to be living on the school campus in free accommodation?
Allowances of 3,000 are typical in my opinion from many agencies and can either be in a set building or they may pay you extra and allow you to find your own place. This could turn a job which is paying 32,000 Baht into a 35,000 Baht job when you consider your housing is provided free of charge.
Holiday Pay and Bonus
It is now more common for many government jobs to only pay for 11 months (sometimes less) so really the monthly salary is less than advertised as you won't be paid for the school holiday months. So if you can find a government school job which pays all 12 months then it will definitely help your finances.
It is also more common for bonuses to be paid to staff who complete a 1 year contract especially at language centres, private and bilingual schools. Normally an extra month's salary, it is a welcome yearly top up to your funds. Maybe you see a job which pays an extra 1-2k a month but in reality this is less than one paying a bonus if you plan to stay the year.
You should also think about restrictions on when you can use your holiday. I worked for an agency and confirmed my holiday dates during the October holiday only for them to email me during my holiday to tell me school would now start a week earlier (whilst I was in the USA). This was the final straw for me as they docked me a week's pay for the time I "missed " so I left to my current job.
Working in a language centre I have to work weekends but I can also have my holiday whenever I want. I went to my sister's wedding in June, I couldn't have gone if I was in a government school job. The value of this flexibility is important to me and it is hard to put a monetary value on it.
It is important to remember that certain parts of Thailand are cheaper than others. For example your money will go further in a sleepy Issan town than on Koh Samui. It is also important to be somewhere you want to be. In the end being in that sleepy Issan village might drive you insane and force you to spend a lot of money travelling away in your free time.
So yes your salary is important but also check the above to make sure you are getting the complete package. Of course you can always ask for these things at the interview stage and there is no harm asking.
In the end there are many jobs which offer all, or the majority of the above, in addition to a good salary so don't be afraid to look around and find the perfect complete package for you.
If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country
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