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5 Reasons to Become an Expat in Laos


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Planning to Move to Laos – Five Reasons to Become an Expat in Laos

 

Expats move abroad for many reasons. Some sign up for a new job, some move looking for a more affordable place, while others desire a relaxed and enjoyable retirement. The small Asian country of Laos ticks almost all the boxes when it comes to being a popular expat destination. Lets talk about some reasons to become an Expat in Laos.

 

The beautiful and peaceful landlocked country of Laos was an overseas colony of the French until the 1950s. During the 1950s, a conflict broke out between the royal forces and the communist resistance, which went on for about 20 years. In the long struggle, the communist forces prevailed, leading to the establishment of a communist government that has continued to govern the country since. Over the years, Laos has become a part of several global organizations, including the World Trade Organization, which accepted the country’s membership in 2014.

 

One of the few aspects that Laos still lags in is its not-so-efficient healthcare system. Those who wish to seek any major or complex medical care and treatment often cross the Mekong River to go to hospitals in Nong Khai or Bangkok in Thailand.

However, that’s just one of the major things that expats have to forego after become an Expat in Laos. They may choose to overlook it because of the many amazing and distinct things about this beautiful country. The fact that Laos is one of the best countries for retirees and has a minimal crime rate, only makes it an even more preferable nation to settle in permanently.

 

Continue reading: https://goexpat.com/5-reasons-to-become-an-expat-laos/

 

-- GoExpat.com

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Siamrat said:

What about immigration and visa issues? What visas are available and how easy/hard is it in practice for an expat?

It is impossible to get a visa to live as an expat there.

 

For example there is no retirement visa or way to stay there long term (possible exception being a work permit for a company that is employing you, but then your contract ends and you have to get out). 

 

This article is rubbish if it does not even mention visas. You can't even buy and own a scooter there, let alone buy a condo!

 

So no security at all, no appropriate visas, and you need to leave and re enter the country every few days, one time they might refuse to let you back in if the think you are doing it too often. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by jak2002003
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6 hours ago, simon43 said:

No suitable visa?  Huh?  How come I have been living here for the past 2.5 years, with an annual renewable business visa, work permit for my self-employment, online science teaching and local ID card, all much less hassle than when I used to live in Thailand.

 

I have a motorbike, yes registered in a local's name. But I've never had any issues at all, nor with my local bank account (8% pa interest), nor with the house that I rent.  I am the only shortwave radio 'ham' in the country, but I had absolutely no problems to import my radio transmitters and to obtain a radio licence from the Lao government.

 

The lack of government/police poking their noses into my private life is wonderful.

 

I live up in Luang Prabang, and I might suggest that how things 'work' in this town may be very different from Vientiane.

Oh. That is good to know..

 

So how does your visa work in practice. Is it expensive? How often do you have to go in and out of the country?

 

What happens when you retire from teaching...would you have to leave your possessions and family?  

 

 

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14 hours ago, simon43 said:

No suitable visa?  Huh?  How come I have been living here for the past 2.5 years, with an annual renewable business visa, work permit for my self-employment, online science teaching and local ID card, all much less hassle than when I used to live in Thailand.

 

I have a motorbike, yes registered in a local's name. But I've never had any issues at all, nor with my local bank account (8% pa interest), nor with the house that I rent.  I am the only shortwave radio 'ham' in the country, but I had absolutely no problems to import my radio transmitters and to obtain a radio licence from the Lao government.

 

The lack of government/police poking their noses into my private life is wonderful.

 

I live up in Luang Prabang, and I might suggest that how things 'work' in this town may be very different from Vientiane.

I turned down a job in Laos because basically iwould lose almost everything I'd earned in Thailand. 

The biggest problem was a truck or car...I got the impression I could own one in the end but it was about 30% more expensive than in Thailand. The local Thais living their seemed to keep their Thai vehicles . Officially you could do it for 6 months, then the Laos authorities changed it to 1 month.....I did this fir a bit, but it really is a hassle in the end.

The other thing that bothers be is the appallingly blinkered and corrupt government that are systematically selling up or destroying Laos natural resources..

I'm not a fan of Thai healthcare but in Ksos outside Vientianne and Lusng Phrabang it is dismal. I was shocked!

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1 hour ago, simon43 said:

I pay about $700 a year for business visa, work permit and local ID card.  There is no requirement to leave the country, nor to do any kind of immigration or police reports. The last time that I met an immigration officer was 2.5 years ago, when I entered Laos at Nong Khai.  

 

I (very happily), live alone in Laos, with 3 ex-wives kept at a distance.  As a scientist, (I'm a space scientist first and a science teacher second), I can apply for permanent residence after 3 years.  There is no large fee involved and no need to have any family members.  The Lao government encourages 'technical people' to live in the country.

 

I learnt over years of living in different countries not to acquire too many possessions 🙂  I have 2 pairs of shoes, one pair of jeans, you get the idea maybe...

 

Corrupt government?  Welcome to Asia 🙂  I'm no fan of corruption, but can do nothing about it. I have little contact with the Lao government, except for my satellite development and ham radio work. I'm too old to get worked up about the terrible things in this world that I can do nothing about.

 

There is a new private hospital opening this week in Vientiane.  Luang Prabang has a free hospital for children.  The health system is very basic outside of these 2 cities, (it's hardly good in those cities!). But the tough people survive.  It's mainly issues over malnutrition etc in the young.  But if you require decent medical care, don't live in Laos!

I'm envious. I have a Lao wife but as we married in the UK, and had a kid before we married, the marriage is not recognised in Laos. Apparently getting it recognised in Laos would take years, cost a lot in both official and unofficial payments and even open us up to legal charges. So living in the house we built in Laos permanently seems out of the question.

 

Maybe the ridiculous outdated policies will change in the future.

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On 7/2/2021 at 1:48 PM, simon43 said:

No suitable visa?  Huh?  How come I have been living here for the past 2.5 years, with an annual renewable business visa, work permit for my self-employment, online science teaching and local ID card, all much less hassle than when I used to live in Thailand.

 

I have a motorbike, yes registered in a local's name. But I've never had any issues at all, nor with my local bank account (8% pa interest), nor with the house that I rent.  I am the only shortwave radio 'ham' in the country, but I had absolutely no problems to import my radio transmitters and to obtain a radio licence from the Lao government.

 

The lack of government/police poking their noses into my private life is wonderful.

 

I live up in Luang Prabang, and I might suggest that how things 'work' in this town may be very different from Vientiane.

 

You didn't mention the very unstable currency and banking. Look at the exchange rate history of Laos kip against the baht or major currencies.

 

Good luck with your 8% interest Simon...

Development of inflation rates in Laos

During the observation period from 1989 to 2020, the average inflation rate was 17.7% per year. Overall, the price increase was 8,416.58 %. An item that cost 100 Kip in 1989 was so charged 8,516.58 Kip in the beginning of 2021.

In only a very few countries, the price increase is that high. The rate of 125.3% in 1999 means, that compared to the previous year all prices have been increased by an average of 125.3%. In comparison to other countries, the drastic price increases are no longer on average. Usually this is a sign of political and economic turmoil.

 

https://www.worlddata.info/asia/laos/inflation-rates.php

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2 hours ago, simon43 said:

Inflation of course, is undesirable, but the actual effect on my living standard is negligible, because (for me), the cost of living is so low.  My house rent ($350 per month) is easily within my budget, and there are nice, modern apartments renting in Luang Prabang at $150 per month.  My water bill is $2 per month and my electricity bill is about $30 per month.  I eat healthy, fresh food from the local market, typically spending about $5 or less per day.  So I don't care if inflation is high!  I have a reliable motorbike, since I don't need a car, and my expat medical cover comes from France, and I expect as I age for the premiums to rise by several hundred % for my age group - again all planned and covered by me financially.

 

Simon, I'm interested in your posts. For your teaching are you paying tax in Laos? Do you teach any local students online and would that make a difference? I'm full-time in Thailand at the moment but do some extras online and have a few students in Laos that I'm working with. Would it be viable to go all-in in Laos and teach online, mainly to students outside the country? Do you avoid teaching local students? I also participate in a couple of online projects working with teachers in Laos. Is that a plus or to be avoided if I were actually based there?

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2 hours ago, simon43 said:

Inflation of course, is undesirable, but the actual effect on my living standard is negligible, because (for me), the cost of living is so low.  My house rent ($350 per month) is easily within my budget, and there are nice, modern apartments renting in Luang Prabang at $150 per month.  My water bill is $2 per month and my electricity bill is about $30 per month.  I eat healthy, fresh food from the local market, typically spending about $5 or less per day.  So I don't care if inflation is high!  I have a reliable motorbike, since I don't need a car, and my expat medical cover comes from France, and I expect as I age for the premiums to rise by several hundred % for my age group - again all planned and covered by me financially.

 

As for the banks, I bank my $2,000 of unspent income every month in a Belgian-Franco bank, with a very solid track record.  Even if I lost all my modest savings, my UK government pension is (perhaps surprisingly for many to hear), quite adequate to cover all my living costs.

 

The young bank manager always has time to meet me, is very friendly, speaks great English, (I speak Lao also), and is always very professional in his service.  I have absolutely zero complaints about my own situation.

 

Now of course, I could moan about corruption, graft, one rule for the rich and one for the poor etc etc.  But my moaning won't change anything!  So I don't moan and continue to have a zero-stress, healthy and happy life here 🙂
 

I forgot to mention the exchange rate.  I get paid in USD. Last year, I received about 9,000 Lak for very dollar.  Now I get about 9,400 Lak for my dollar.  Since I live here, spend Lak here, and intend to remain in this country, it seems to be that the exchange rate is going in a beneficial direction!

Are you single? What do you get out of life there? Working and nothing else?

 

 

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7 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

Peace and tranquility and doing what the hell he wants when he wants to do it I magine.

What I know of him he his very happy in his own skin, needs very little and expects little from anyone in return.

He seems very contented and settled in his choices. Personally I quite envy him and the situation he has now created for himself in Laos. Smart cookie !

You are speaking for him??

 

I bet you have never even met the guy of spoken to him.

 

My post is a genuine question as I am curious to know why he would choose that life.....not allowed to own a house / condo / car / motorbike / scooter.  I would feel a bit insecure there like that. 

 

And if he lost his job or wanted to retire he would loose his visa and be booted out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by jak2002003
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28 minutes ago, KhaoNiaw said:

 

Simon, I'm interested in your posts. For your teaching are you paying tax in Laos? Do you teach any local students online and would that make a difference? I'm full-time in Thailand at the moment but do some extras online and have a few students in Laos that I'm working with. Would it be viable to go all-in in Laos and teach online, mainly to students outside the country? Do you avoid teaching local students? I also participate in a couple of online projects working with teachers in Laos. Is that a plus or to be avoided if I were actually based there?

I don't have any local students - my rates are too high for them 🙂 Most of my students are from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Russia etc.  My local accountant handles any local tax affairs, and the cost is low.

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Reading Simon43's posts, it's easy to see why to some, albeit a minority, Laos could/would be an option (visa dependant of course) ....................I'd be interested to know what the internet speeds and service is like in Luang Prabang, Vientienne and up country...............................

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3 hours ago, bojo said:

Reading Simon43's posts, it's easy to see why to some, albeit a minority, Laos could/would be an option (visa dependant of course) ....................I'd be interested to know what the internet speeds and service is like in Luang Prabang, Vientienne and up country...............................

Back in 2012, (when I lived in Luang Prabang), internet speeds and reliability were lousy!  Now, it has improved.  I have 2 fibreoptic lines into my house on the edge of the town.  Both provide 50 MB/sec up and down for connectivity within Laos, as well as 10 MB/s for international connections.  It works fine for my online teaching.

 

I also signed up for Elon Musk's Starlink service, which will cover my region from early 2022...

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Well, good for you Simon. You seem to have found your place in life and are happy there and I am glad for you.

 

However, you have a very unique lifestyle and outlook on life which most people would not want / fit into.

 

Most people are not highly qualified scientists building space equipment projects, nor are they happy to teach online sitting in a rented condo on their own every day as a permanent career and not be able to retire.

 

Most people also have a desire to socialise and no live in isolation, want to be allowed to own their own property.  Fairly sure most of us like to have family too, and even children. 

 

So, I do think for the majority of people, it will be not be possible or desirable to settle down to be an expat in Laos, despite what the OP article says.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I should emphasize that my comments about lifestyle only apply to living in Luang Prabang, which has a special ambience, due to its Unesco-protected status.

 

I would not live in Vientiane, Pakse, Savanaket if you paid me!

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On 7/2/2021 at 11:35 PM, simon43 said:

I pay about $700 a year for business visa, work permit and local ID card.  There is no requirement to leave the country, nor to do any kind of immigration or police reports. The last time that I met an immigration officer was 2.5 years ago, when I entered Laos at Nong Khai.  

 

I (very happily), live alone in Laos, with 3 ex-wives kept at a distance.  As a scientist, (I'm a space scientist first and a science teacher second), I can apply for permanent residence after 3 years.  There is no large fee involved and no need to have any family members.  The Lao government encourages 'technical people' to live in the country.

 

I learnt over years of living in different countries not to acquire too many possessions 🙂  I have 2 pairs of shoes, one pair of jeans, you get the idea maybe...

 

Corrupt government?  Welcome to Asia 🙂  I'm no fan of corruption, but can do nothing about it. I have little contact with the Lao government, except for my satellite development and ham radio work. I'm too old to get worked up about the terrible things in this world that I can do nothing about.

 

There is a new private hospital opening this week in Vientiane.  Luang Prabang has a free hospital for children.  The health system is very basic outside of these 2 cities, (it's hardly good in those cities!). But the tough people survive.  It's mainly issues over malnutrition etc in the young.  But if you require decent medical care, don't live in Laos!

How about car? Do you own a vehicle?

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Following with interest. I have lived in Thailand the last 15 years, and am married (legitimately via Lao authorities) to a Lao national, so have had the possibility of relocating there in mind for some time.

She is from Pakse which I only visited once during a flood so didn't get to see much of. It might be somewhere we use as a starting point to spend time with family etc, before heading up to LP where we have both visited several times and love. Very interested to hear the perspective of someone on the ground there, thanks for your posts simon43! 

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1 minute ago, TenDreams said:

Following with interest. I have lived in Thailand the last 15 years, and am married (legitimately via Lao authorities) to a Lao national, so have had the possibility of relocating there in mind for some time.

She is from Pakse which I only visited once during a flood so didn't get to see much of. It might be somewhere we use as a starting point to spend time with family etc, before heading up to LP where we have both visited several times and love. Very interested to hear the perspective of someone on the ground there, thanks for your posts simon43! 

My wife is from Pakse too.  How easy was it to marry legitimately?  Did you have kids or live together before you were married?  I've spent a lot of time in my wife's village and we've built a house there, but I'm not sure how practical, or sensible, it would be to try and live there while our marriage is not recognised in Laos, and our son only has UK citizenship.

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Hi, 

Sorry to give you the same answer that you would no doubt have heard before, but not easy at all; initially lots of dead-ends, wasted time and money, etc. Plus of course a LOT of documentation.

However we eventually found the right contact in Pakse and they got it all done. Happy to send you more info on PM, 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, TenDreams said:

Hi, 

Sorry to give you the same answer that you would no doubt have heard before, but not easy at all; initially lots of dead-ends, wasted time and money, etc. Plus of course a LOT of documentation.

However we eventually found the right contact in Pakse and they got it all done. Happy to send you more info on PM, 

 

 

 

Mine is from Xam Neua. We got married in HK and did marriage certs there. Then stamped and translated by the Lao consulate  in HK and then finally stamped by the authorities in Laos. 

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