Moving and Relocation Checklist and Tips

When some people think of Thailand, they think of an underdeveloped, rustic and backwater country. In reality, Bangkok is a very modern city, and you will find almost everything you need in the capital city, though it's not always easy, especially for a newcomer who cannot yet speak the language!

You should become familiar with the major department stores which are common all over Bangkok and in many large provincial towns. The biggest three chains are Lotus, Big-C and Central. These are usually multi-level department stores taking up considerable land area.

The shopping malls in Bangkok are ultra-modern, and many are better than any mall I've seen in the U.S.

Thus, the things to bring with you is a short list:

  • Your pets. Bangkok is a fairly pet friendly place, with pet sections of grocery stores and pet stores. In Thailand, most pets run loose without leashes, so you won't impose on others. Thais aren't strict about pets.

  • If you live in a 110 volt country, then you might want to bring a 220 volt to 110 volt transformer (but not a 110 volt to 220 volt one as you might find commonly in a 110 volt country). You can find these here if you look around a little, and the ThailandGuru can also supply them, as well as other electrical services such as grounding/earthing. It's advisable that you get a large transformer, and also get the polarity right, as discussed in the herementioned link. A small transformer won't power a computer, and one customer's burned out and delivered 220 volts. Getting the polarity wrong can shock you and/or damage equipment.

  • International driver's license. Those in the US can get one from AAA, whether or not you are a member. There's no test, you just fill out a standard form and provide photos. An international driver's license is just a sheet folded like a brochure that presents your driver's license information in a standard format and in English so that the police around the world don't have to figure out a zillion different driver's license formats. Notably, these international driver's license sheets usually expire after just a year, and the Thai police usually aren't interested anyway if your driver's license is in English. (Besides, many foreigners just hand over 300 baht on the spot for a driving infraction thereby avoiding all paperwork including any use of this document.) However, you should get it nonetheless, because you'll need it for car rental in Thailand and other countries, and it may prove useful with the police. See also the ThailandGuru section on driving yourself.

  • If you're going to start off in a hotel, then bring things in your carry on luggage to keep the kids and family happy.

  • Last, but not least, bring some cash, some traveller's cheques and at least one credit card. If you don't have a credit card (e.g., a visa debit card linked to a checking account in your home country) then you should bring lots of traveller's cheques and open a savings account at a Thai bank whereby you'll get an ATM card. You should read the ThailandGuru section on money and banking, and especially the subsection on credit cards.

Items to note:

  • Check your TV and other video equipment's specifications before you bring them, as noted in the section on television. Thailand operates on the PAL-2 B/G system.

  • Do not bring any appliances which require 60 Hz (Hertz, or cycles/second) in order to operate. For example, North American power is 60 Hz, whereas Thailand and most of the rest of the world is 50 Hz electricity. Most appliances that work at 60 Hz will also work at 50 Hz with a 110 volt step-down transformer, but not all. Check the rating of your appliance, usually on the bottom. I've operated "110V, 60 Hz" appliances on 50 Hz here, but no guarantees. Many appliances say 50-60 Hz or don't specify the Hz.

  • Do not bring your car unless you're really sure you want to, and are aware of all the shipping and customs fees. Notably, in Thailand you drive on the left side of the road, and a car designed for the right side of the road can be a challenge, especially in passing another car on a two-lane two-way highway.

  • If you exceed your company's shipping volumn or weight allowance, then consider leaving some of your clothes behind. This place is full of first class tailors. The main reason to ship clothes is to save time, i.e., you don't have to go shopping here.

  • Do not bring pornography (it's illegal in Thailand, believe it or not) or anything else illegal.

  • Be sure to get a reputable shipping company that is accustomed to dealing with Thailand customs, and be sure to get insurance. It's not uncommon to have items stolen from shipments, and also to have your belongings delaying in customs for a very long time pending extortionary unofficial "speed up the delivery" fees. A relocation or moving company which is well established in Thailand can prevent these kinds of problems.

What about your computer?

A good reason to bring your old computer is to save time and hassles. If you buy a new computer, then you will need to install all your software, accounts, configurations, and preferences.

There is an exception: With some expert help, you can just take an old hard disk and put it in a new computer, and switch the drivers (mainboard, video, etc.). If you don't have that expert help, then you will run a risk with your data and setup with whatever shop you find. Hopefully, you will find someone who truly understands your English. Computer shop technicians usually don't.

Of course, if you buy a new computer, you will have to set aside time and effort to go shopping for a new computer, which is usually not the first thing you need to do when you are setting up living space in a new country and getting "oriented" (pardon the pun). It would be better to be able to just plug in the power and a phone line and be on-line.

You will be going thru a lot of changes, so why take on a computer change, too?

At the bottom of the page on electricity in Thailand is advice to people with computers in a 110 V country who are coming to Thailand.

Make sure you have data backups.

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