The goal of this area is to provide you all with a list of frequently asked questions and their answers. If there are any questions that you feel you want a more in-depth answer to/explanation of, please just let me know.
Planning & Flights
Q: How should I arrange and pay for flights?
Teachers hired from overseas, as well as their spouses and approved dependents, receive air ticket allowance (for economy class at the best available rate) from the agreed upon point of hire to Bangkok. Once a flight has been agreed upon, you will receive the tickets paid by the school.
Occasionally you will be advised by the Purchasing Manager to make payment for the ticket(s), which will then be refunded by the school to the bank and account of your choice. Note that many teachers prefer to simply have this money paid into their newly created Thai accounts. If you are arranging the tickets yourself (for reimbursement), then the school will ask you to provide three or more estimates from a variety of carriers before giving approval for the purchase of your tickets. Any suggested flights must arrive no later than the evening before the first day of orientation.
However, please do NOT purchase tickets before receiving approval from the NIST Purchasing Office.
Q: What should I bring on the plane?
Other than basic necessities, there are only a few items that you should ensure you have in your luggage:
- Original copies of your transcripts, diplomas and certificates/teaching licenses: In order to properly process your work permit and Thai teaching license, the Government Liaison Office must have these documents. Do not pack them in shipped luggage!
- Laptop and/or external drive: You will receive a school-issued MacBook Air almost immediately, so you may want to bring backups of your teaching resources and files on your own laptop, or on a thumb drive or external drive.
- Dress clothes: You will need enough professional work clothing to last you until your shipment arrives, and more casual outfits for weekends, exercise, etc.
Apart from these, you do not a great deal. Bangkok is a wonderfully relaxed city that has a large and historic Western community. Very few products are truly difficult to find as long as you are flexible in respect to brands. If you have a preference for a certain product or brand, consider stocking up and placing a few in your checked baggage and the rest of your stock in your shipment. You do NOT need to bring any of the following:
- Heavy clothing: Bangkok is generally hot, or hot and wet. There is usually a month around December to January that is cool enough to wear a light jacket, and throughout the year people will occasionally use a light sweaters or jumper when in areas with heavy air conditioning. However, these are generally exceptions to the rule.
- School resources & books: Books in particular are typically heavy and can sometimes be a pain to get through customs quickly. It is much more effective to scan some of the resources/books/documents that you feel you do not want to wait for and put them on an external hard drive that you can then pack in your checked bags or carry-on. (Note that shipments will not arrive until some time in October after your work permit has been processed.)
Q: How much money should I bring to Thailand in order to get settled?
You will not need to bring very much cash. During the first few days of orientation, overseas hires receive THB 50,000 (subject to taxation) as a settling-in allowance. This helps cover initial setup costs and amenities/furniture that you may want to purchase. Additionally, the school can provide a loan if necessary to cover the deposit required on your new housing. If you still need more money before you receive your Thai ATM/debit card, most ATMs will accept international debit cards. (However, as a precaution be sure to contact your local bank before you depart for Thailand and let them know that you may be using the card abroad. We also recommend checking on fees for overseas use.) Credit cards are widely accepted by department stores and can therefore be used for initial purchases.
Q: When should I arrive?
You should plan to arrive no later than Monday, August 1, 2017. If you arrive within a day or so of this date, then a member of the NIST staff will be at the airport to greet you as well as to transport you to the hotel. If you wish to arrive earlier, then we will still try our best to send a van to pick you up from the airport, and we can also help you arrange for accommodation (however, you will need to pay for any accommodation beyond the five days that the school pays for). For those who wish to wait to find housing until after they arrive, but who want to get a head start on the search for accommodation, arriving 1-3 days in advance is an excellent idea.
Q: What types of items do I need to buy upon arrival?
You will probably not need to make many initial purchases, as owners often prefer to rent their apartments partly or fully furnished. Also, you might be able to buy items from departing teachers, particularly if you opt for an apartment previously rented by one. Early in the orientation process you will have the opportunity to visit Ikea to pick up any items you may want in addition to those already provided by your leaser.
Q: Who will be helping me when I arrive?
Your first point of contact will be Tara Holm, the New Faculty Orientation Coordinator. As the orientation week progresses, the Elementary and Secondary Leadership Teams (NEST) will also help introduce you to the school, and you will meet your respective coordinators. Most of you will also be given a peer partner (someone with a similar timetable) who will help familiarize you with the curriculum and the school in general.
On a more social side, you will each be assigned a buddy – someone who will help you get used to Bangkok in a more informal way (i.e. someone who will invite you over or out for dinner and/or who will show you around the city a bit). A variety of outings/excursions during orientation will be arranged during the first few weeks of school and the first few weekends just to help you get a taste of the city and surrounding areas.
Q: Which type of accommodation is right for me?
To a large extent this comes down to personal preference, but there is generally a greater variety of condos and apartments near the school than houses.
Apartments vs. condos: The main difference between an apartment and a condo is that condos are found in buildings where the units are owned by many different people, and apartments are found in buildings where all of the units are owned by the same person or company. What this generally means is that there will be a greater number of restrictions in buildings comprising condos (for instance, most condos have a strict no pets policy), but you will pay less for water, electricity and other amenities. Contrastingly, in apartments you will pay a bit more for electricity, water and amenities, but you will have fewer restrictions. (For instance, multiple pets are generally allowed, and most people claim that it is easier to get permission to paint or otherwise modify the interiors of apartments.) Additionally, the majority of apartments and condos come either fully furnished or at least partially furnished, but it is generally easier to exchange or remove unwanted or unsightly furniture from apartments, whereas furniture cannot generally be changed or removed from condos.
Houses: There may not be many opportunities to rent a house near the school, BUT there are plenty of houses around. Be aware that houses often become available and are rented via word of mouth rather than through real estate companies. (This is where the housing page on this website comes in handy, as properties may occasionally be advertised there.) If you do choose a house, it will be very worth your while to do some extra research in order to ensure that it won’t flood during the rainy season. In general, when torrential rain hits the city the sois can quickly flood. Even the main roads through the city will be under a couple of inches (and sometimes even feet) of water.
Furthermore, if you have your heart set on renting a house, be sure to ask to visit some of the moo baans (housing estates). These vary in size from a compound of four or more houses up to large estates with hundreds of houses. This can be a good option for families, as it’s generally safe for the kids to ride their bikes around and visit other friends in the moo baan. If you have a single house, bear in mind that you will need to think about garden maintenance. Check first to see if it can be covered in your negotiations on rental price. Otherwise, labor in Thailand is generally low cost, and you can hire a team to come in regularly to keep your garden area maintained.
Q: How much will I likely pay each month for rental?
Prices vary dramatically and not necessarily with any logic! A lot depends on who the landlord is and what they believe they can get for the unit. It is helpful to use an agent, as they can negotiate on your behalf. Agents generally do not charge fees; instead, they are paid a commission by the landlord. (This is important to be aware of when negotiating rent prices!)
Expatriate areas tend to mean higher rental prices, and Sukhumvit is definitely an expatriate area. In some central Sukhumvit areas (e.g., near CentralWorld and Siam Paragon – two of the main shopping malls), you can pay well over THB 80,000-100,000 per month for a nice apartment in a new building. Also, expect to pay more for a building with more facilities some as a gym, pool and playground. On the other hand, you can pay a lot less if you are willing to opt for a different area or an older property. The best advice is to give yourself time and to view at least several properties until you get a feel for what is available. The same is true of the prices for houses.
Some people are happy to spend much more for the “perfect” place for them. Others are content to be in cheaper accommodation and to save any spare money from the housing allowance. (The housing allowance is paid with your monthly salary, so how you decide to allocate it is up to you). One final important point to be aware of in respect to the housing allowance is that it is subject to taxation.
Q: Should I sort out my accommodation in advance of my arrival in Bangkok?
Sorting out accommodation in advance does relieve some of the pressure you may feel during your arrival period. Also, by using the recommendations of present teachers you can be reassured that the descriptions are completely reliable. (Apartments and condos that become available as a result of teachers leaving and their advice as to whether or not they would recommend the unit and/or the complex in general can be found in the blog.) If there is an apartment you like, you can contact the individual in the listing for more information or to make rental arrangements.
Additionally, if you feel that accommodation is definitely the one thing you want to have sorted out before you begin the orientation at the school, please consider arriving a few days early so that you can really focus on the house-hunting process. Beyond conducting our own search, you can speak to a representative at one of the agents that NIST families often rely upon.
Q: What security is provided for housing?
Apartment blocks and condos will generally have their own 24-hour security staff, and often there will be key code or card entry for residents as an extra measure. In fact Thailand is relatively safe compared to many other countries, and while there are some problems with theft, it is quite rare, and more often than not is an “inside job”. Additionally, stories of in-home theft are generally very rare. Stories of bicycles being stolen from parking structures and pick-pocketing are a bit more common, but still quite rare overall. Moo baans (housing estates) are nearly always gated and also have 24-hour security. Single houses generally have large gates and walls, and residents in some streets may pay for police presence.
As in all other countries, using common sense is often the best precaution. Lock your windows and doors, particularly when you are out, and report any suspicious behavior that you may see.
Q: Should I employ a maid?
Home help is easy to come by and relatively inexpensive. Most maids are Thai, but there are also quite a few Burmese and Filipina maids looking for work. If you are interested in a foreign maid, then you should check that they have all their necessary papers, or they will need to do visa runs. The government does occasionally crack down on workers who do not have the correct paperwork. If you live in a large house or have a large family, be aware that you may need to hire both a maid and nanny depending on your situation. Monthly salaries for a full-time maid range between THB 8,000 per month up to around THB 16,000 per month. A part-time maid will cost significantly less. Ask for recommendations from other teachers, and gather and check references. It is also highly recommended that you interview several before making a choice.
Q: Live-in or live-out? Full-time or part-time?
There are many points to consider when hiring a maid, and usually they will indicate their preferences during the interview. Nearly all large apartments and houses will have a maid’s room if you want a live-in maid. Part-time maids can be paid hourly, daily or monthly. If you have young children, it is especially important to get a good referral or a reference that you can check. Thai people love children, but will not necessarily be very good at enforcing your rules or having the same level of attention toward safety that you may have!
As with housing, check the blog regularly on this site and the NIST Staff Portal upon starting at the school, as departing or moving teachers will often post recommendations on behalf of their maids and nannies.
Q: Does my maid/nanny get an annual bonus?
Yes. At a set time of the year it is customary to provide a bonus. This can either be a year after they are hired, or during a holiday such as Songkran, Christmas, New Year or Chinese New Year. The bonus is traditionally equal to one month’s salary. Maids and nannies are often reliant on this bonus for essential purchases or family presents, so please do remember to make this happen. More importantly, recognizing the hard work and dedication of these individuals, who are often so essential to our families, reflects NIST’s core values: integrity, caring, community and growth.
Q: Which bank will I use, and where is it located?
All NIST staff members will have an account set up with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB). Like most other banks in Thailand, SCB maintains numerous branches around Bangkok. The school’s account is registered through a specific branch:
Siam Commercial Bank PCL
Soi Chariot Branch
5 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Klongtoey-nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
Account Name: NIST International School
SWIFT Code: SICOTHBK
040-3-04109-5 (bill payment account for domestic bank transfers only)
040-2-48723-0 (alternative account, including for overseas, ATM & online transfers)
Q: How will I be paid?
Within the first few days of orientation, the school will arrange for Siam Commercial Bank to help you set up a savings account and provide the corresponding ATM/debit card. This is the account that the school will transfer your monthly pay into on the 25th of each month. All salaries are paid in Thai baht (THB). You may also request that the bank create an additional savings account for you if you wish.
Q: How am I taxed?
Taxation in Thailand is dependent on income level, as well as various deductions. More details will be provided in the staff handbook and contractual documents, but most teachers can expect to have 20-25% of their gross income deducted for taxes. NIST’s HR Department are diligent in ensuring that you pay the lowest possible rate.
Keep in mind that some countries – particularly the United States – maintain strict tax laws and may still require that you report your overseas income. More information and resources can be found on the Arriving: Finance page.
Q: Does SCB offer online banking, including for overseas transfers?
Yes. Once your account is set up you can also arrange for online banking through through SCB Easy Net. Simply click on the link for online registration after you have received your ATM/debit card, and enter the proper information along with your PIN. There is also a process that you can follow in order to arrange to be able to use online banking for overseas transfers.
Q: Can I arrange to have a Thai credit card?
Yes. However, it may take several weeks to complete the process. Please note that If you choose to apply for a credit card immediately upon arrival, you will likely receive a letter of rejection, followed by a call from the bank a few weeks later saying that you have actually been approved and that you may pick up your card at any time. The rejection usually occurs as a result of the work permit not having been processed yet.
If you do choose to have a credit card in Thailand, it is important to make an appointment at the bank so that you can discuss your monthly payment. By default, if you acquire a credit card with SCB or another bank with which you have an account, it will assign a date for payment and then deduct the full amount owed each month automatically (as opposed to the minimum payment due or simply allowing you to receive your statement and decide for yourself as to how much you would like/can afford to pay each month). It is recommended that you arrange for a payment due date that is several days after NIST’s pay day, and arrange for manual payments, which will allow you to decide how much you pay each month.
Q: How much should I expect to pay for my utility bills?
Electricity is likely to be your highest bill, particularly if you use a lot of air conditioning. For a large apartment or house expect to pay around THB 4,500 per month (and possibly up to THB 15,000 in older buildings), especially if you are going to have several air conditioners running simultaneously. On the other hand, if you are willing to bear Thailand’s heat your bills may be as low as THB 1,000 to THB 2,000 per month.
Please be aware that in apartments you may pay your utilities through the building/landlord, and it is common for the unit charge to be higher than if you pay your bills directly to the provider. However, it can also be more convenient, as bills may be included in your monthly rent, or you may receive one bill for all of your utilities, payable at the office on the ground floor of the building.
- Broadband/ADSL: Monthly costs vary, but budget for around THB 1,200 per month.
- Cable TV: Costs vary according to the package, but for a good selection of channels, the cost is around THB 2,000 per month. An alternative is signing up for Netflix or a similar streaming service.
- Water: This cost is negligible – usually between THB 100-300 per month.
- Telephone: This obviously depends on usage, and with more people switching to web calls for overseas, costs are dropping. Local calls are inexpensive.
- Mobile/cell phones: You can set up a contract or pay as you go. You will need to have a work permit if you want to have a contract. Calls tend to be reasonable in price.
Q: Can I bring my pet(s) to Thailand?
It is possible to bring pets. However, bear in mind that this is typically a lengthy process, is stressful for the pets and may impact your plans for accommodation. This site provides a helpful step-by-step guide, and you will also be required to complete this form from the Thai Department of Livestock Development.