Location Independent https://www.locationindependent.co.uk A UK digital nomads blog about travel, visas, finance & lifestyle design Wed, 16 Aug 2017 13:05:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/cropped-apple-touch-icon-180x180-32x32.png Location Independent https://www.locationindependent.co.uk 32 32 How I Travel: My Digital Nomad Packing List and Recommendations https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/digital-nomad-packing-list/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/digital-nomad-packing-list/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 10:30:07 +0000 https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=534 The most common questions I get asked through this blog are; whats on my digital nomad packing list, how I find cheap flights, and what credit cards I use. So I've put together my recommendations list - I've included everything I use to book my travel, what I take when I travel, and what gear I use when I work.

The post How I Travel: My Digital Nomad Packing List and Recommendations appeared first on Location Independent.

My digital nomad packing list

The most common questions I get asked through this blog are; what’s on my digital nomad packing list, how I find cheap flights, and what credit cards I use when abroad. So I’ve put together my packing list and recommendations, including pretty much everything I use to book my travel, what I take when I travel, and what gear I use when I work, which should answer all of those questions in one guide.

Is this packing list right for you? Maybe, maybe not. I’m a slow traveller – I find staying around one month per place is good for me to understand a place and benefit from economies of scale. I travel minimally (but like 20Kg minimally), I’m not a one small backpack type of guy. And over the years I’ve started packing things that I’ve found I can’t live without (like coffee equipment), which means I always check a bag when I fly.

There seems to be lots of focus within the digital nomad scene on minimal luggage, flying carry-on only, buying (ridiculous) travel clothing you don’t need to wash, and flight hacking. I don’t dick about with any of that stuff, I consider most of it a massive waste of time or money or opportunity cost.


My Digital Nomad Packing List
Travel Booking Tips
Travel Money & Security
Business Tools I Use
Future Purchases

Note: If an item has a “What I’m buying next” section on it, it means I’m not quite happy with my existing solution, and as soon as I can, I will be replacing my item with my next choice.

My Digital Nomad Packing List

Backpack and Baggage

I travel slowly and I like to travel in relative luxury – I am not trying to take just “carry on” and I’m happy to pay extra to stick 20Kg in the hold. Here’s what I use:

Osprey Sojourn 80L Rolling Backpack Case

The Osprey Sojourn is rugged and looks great and has heavy-duty wheels. It also has a secret compartment which transforms it in to a backpack. In a couple of years, I’ve only used it twice as a backpack, but its cool to have the option. Yes, its an 80L bag, fully packed it tends to weight around 18Kg, but I’m not overly focused on packing lightly. There is also a 60L version available if you want to make sure you’re under the 15Kg hold luggage weight limit sometimes seen out in Asia.

Coolbell 17 Inches Nylon Waterproof Backpack

A multi-pocket generic backpack from China, which is far too big; I am looking to replace it as soon as I can and get a daypack more suited for geeks/nomads. I’m eyeing up some of the Kickstarter solutions, but I’m normally put off by it not being sold by Amazon. I wanted something with a padded laptop pocket, water bottle holder on outside, and that was waterproof (to a certain degree) and this was a quick fix thats lasted me well.
What I’m buying next: TBC. Suggestions welcome! Write me a comment.

Go Travel 3x Packing Cubes

An amazing time saver and a great way to keep stuff together and pack/unpack in seconds, as well as compress clothes and generally keep organised. Travel life changing.

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Backpack

I wanted a small daypack for trips when I didn’t take my laptop. But this is a terrible terrible bag. The straps cut in to you and the stuff in the bag nudges you in the back. Any other backpack would be better than this. A fucking carrier bag would be better than this. Included only to tell you it’s terrible!
What I’m buying next: TBC. Suggestions welcome! Write me a comment.

BUBM Double Layer Accessories Bag

I never realised how much of a pain cables were until I bought this bag and realised how organised it made me. All my cables, chargers, and tiny things together in one spot, easy to move, easy to travel with. Brilliant. The Medium size is perfect for all my gadgets (I don’t put my iPad in there, maybe you would)


Designed for long-haul flights to bend around your neck and let you sleep, its pretty good at what it does, but one of those pillows you can buy at the airport does just as good a job. I don’t really fly enough to justify its space.

Work Setup

Apple Macbook Pro Retina 15″ (Late 2013)

It’s 4 years old now, but this Mac still delivers me 6-7 hours of battery and is a beast at processing everything I throw at it. The new Macbooks just look and feel like toys in comparison. The 2013-2015 models just cannot be beaten on battery and power in my opinion, and if something happened to this one, I would seek out an old model instead of buying new.

Apple Wireless Keyboard

Essential for good posture and well worth the extra weight in your bag. No other keyboard gives me the same experience with the same levels of compatibility and battery life.
What I’m buying next: Magic Keyboard
Why: Its the upgrade of the last version, now rechargeable (I’m sick of batteries) and with an on/off switch.

Apple Wireless Mouse

Not everyones favourite mouse, but for compatibility and instant connection with the Mac, it can’t really be beaten. I’ve never found another Bluetooth mouse that comes even close.
What I’m buying next: Magic Mouse
Why: The new one is rechargeable (Yes, I’m REALLY sick of batteries)

Roost Laptop Stand

Always thought they were over-priced junk until I needed physio from being hunched over my laptop. 6 months of £50 physio sessions meant that the Roost price seemed cheap in comparison. Buy one today (or buy a copy if you must), but definitely buy something to stop you becoming a hunchback.

3M Precise Ultra thin Mouse Mat

A slight extravagance, but it works well and doesn’t annoy my wrist or get sticky etc and is super thin.

Apple Earpods

The standard iPhone headphones are light, work perfectly for music and calls, and sound great, so why bother with something else? Well, maybe noise cancelling would be nice. Noise cancelling and cordless would be even better.
What I’m buying next: AirPods or Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones.
Why: Intrigued by AirPods, but want to experiment with noise cancelling too.

Apple iPhone 6S

My trusty iPhone is probably the device I spend the most time on every day. Every where you travel too, people understand it, it can be fixed easily, and you can find accessories for it in the darkest corners of the globe.
What I’m buying next: iPhone 7 or iPhone 8.
Why: iPhone 7 is the first iPhone I haven’t purchased immediately, just didn’t see the need. But I recently realised how amazing waterproof is – it changes everything! I realised I missed so many photo opportunities as I was worried about my phone getting wet. So iPhone will be my next purchase, if version 8 maintains that.

iPad Mini Retina 2

My go-to for reading books. Yeah yeah “Kindle uses a different kind of light”. Whatever. I turn the brightness all the way down, put black mode on, it doesn’t seem to affect me or my sleep.


Nokia 130 Dual Sim Phone

I use this to receive authorisation texts from my bank and keep old SIMs alive – it’s a dual SIM phone, lasts around 30 days on a single charge, has USB charging, is super light. For around £20, I don’t think you can get much better.

Anker Ultra Portable Pocket Size Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

I love music and this little speaker has served me well, with a great battery life, instant connection to my phone, and enough bass to make it chuck itself off a table when I’ve put on some banging hip-hop.
What I’m buying next: Anker Cube, Anker SoundCore or Apple HomePod
Why: I want something with on-speaker buttons, with microphone for when I get a call or to use Siri, and I want something compatible with multiple devices at once to save messing about with disconnecting devices.

BESTEK 4-Port USB World Travel Wall Charger

Everything I travel with is USB charged now so no extra bulky adaptors are needed. This has 3 changeable plugs to cover most countries, and 4 USB ports, so can charge phone, shaver, iPad, Fitbit all at the same time from 1 socket. Sorted.

Jackery 3350mAh Portable Battery

A tiny little battery pack that is surprisingly amazing at keeping a charge for weeks on end at the bottom of my backpack, and has saved me a few times when stuck in the middle of nowhere.
What I’m buying next: Something a bit bigger, maybe an EMNT.
Why: I want something with a charge indicator on it, and a torch is useful.


VTIN Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Sport Headphones

My gym headphones. I wanted bluetooth, over-ear, sweat-proof, and nothing dangling around my face. These seemed to fit the bill and they aren’t amazing, but a good intro to what is possible. The VTIN have no bass, don’t hold charge for more than a day or so and has issues turning on. But I love the freedom they give.
What I’m buying next: AirPods or Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats3
Why: Better battery and sound.

Fitbit Flex

I was an early FitBit user, got fit, got rid of it, got fat and now I’ve got another one. Its still one of the best out there, purely for its simplicity and battery life.
What I’m buying next: Apple Watch 2
Why: Better focus on fitness and reminders, better phone integration, looks a bit better ‘pon da wrist.

Thera-Band Resistance Band

I have a weak shoulder and I use this when I can to help strengthen it. But its generally pretty good for exercise and folds up super small.


Yes, I love coffee enough to travel with a full coffee setup, ready to go.

Aerobie AeroPress

Good enough and small enough to make coffee pretty much anywhere. Throw in hand luggage or your case, easy.

AeroPress Reusable Filter

Throw away the paper filters that come with AeroPress, get this metal filter so you never need to run around Bangkok trying to find a shop that sells paper filters, sweating your arse off (been there, done that).

E-PRANCE Hand Grinder

Its an OK little grinder, and amazingly it fits inside the AeroPress, so reduced the space this travelling setup takes. The actual grinding takes a while and is a little uncomfortable.
What I’m buying next: TBC. Suggestions welcome! Write me a comment.
Why: Takes way too long to grind anything, weird movement to grind


Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Electric Toothbrush

I stopped using a traditional toothbrush years ago, much to the delight of my dentist and hygenist. The Philips Sonicare is a top brush and really cleans the teeth well. It also has the funkiest coolest travel case (which is also the charging unit with a USB connection) I’ve ever seen. I don’t use the weird charging glass that also comes with it.

Tristar Beard Trimmer / Shaver

One of a few USB trimmers/shavers that I could find on Amazon. I previously had a Phillips, with the bulkiest charging unit EVER with a fully fitted bulky UK plug (a safety requirements), so I grabbed this, and its OK but not perfect, still hunting for the perfect USB trimmer.
What I’m buying next: TBC. Suggestions welcome! Write me a comment.
Why: Ingrown hairs, takes far too long to trim basic beard.


I don’t recommend any particular clothing as I think a lot of travel clothing is a complete waste of money. Merino wool, compact ultra-thin clothing, specialist travel pants; you really don’t need it. Take what you want, takes less than you need, you can buy stuff anywhere you go. You won’t wear 50% of what you take anyway. Job done.

Travel Booking Tips

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important to have, for me thats mostly about giving peace of mind for your loved ones back home. Make sure your travel insurance includes covering accidents and repatriation. You should book insurance as soon as you have booked your flights. Don’t bother trying to get your phone and laptop covered, the costs are crazy; just look after it.

Alpha Travel Insurance

The 24 month Long Stay insurance package is great for beginner nomads. Get the 24 month package from day one, as you can’t get this package again after one use (without spending 6 months in UK) and it costs more to extend it later.
What I’m buying next: World Nomads
Why: World Nomads is the only real insurance plan out there for long term travelling without going back to your home country for an extended period.


I wouldn’t say I’m the greatest of flight hackers, but I try to get a deal. I always fly with luggage in the hold, and I like flights at sensible times. I tend to book direct with the airlines, I find you get more control. I use the sites below to help me find the best times and prices to book:


I started using SkyPicker ages ago and loved it, but since it changed its name to Kiwi and they changed their UI, it’s just not as good. Can still find some good flights with them but often you get the best prices, especially with LCCs, by booking direct.


Another site with a crappy UI, its made for tourists not for nomads. But you can find some cost ideas with the site, but again, booking direct with the carrier is often better.

Google Flights

A great way to find flights quickly, and sometimes finds routes that other sites don’t.


My most recent flights have been through this company, whatever they are doing they are beating Kiwi and SkyScanner by UI, price and service.


A flight concierge. They’ve found me great deals in the past, and on amazing airlines. For complex trips, long haul or if you’re VA is crap, give them a go.


An easy (and free) way to show an onward flight should it be required.


I’ve already written about how I find great accommodation at a great price, but worth mentioning again the basic sites that I always check:


Starting to get more and more expensive and less effective in some cities due to legal ruling, it’s still worth using to get a feel for prices. Haggling is essential and making sure what you get matches the listing – if not, raise it with AirBNB immediately. Use my link to get a discount on your first AirBNB stay.

Trusted Housesitters

I’ve signed up and been trying to find some interesting house sits, but not much so far. I’m too picky. But I know lots of people who visit great places for zero cost because of it, and only have to look after a pet while there. Live like a local for free; amazing!


My favourite booking site for consistently good prices and good cancellation times. However, I use an old credit card for bookings as your card number is sent through to hotels in plain text and is often printed on paper and just left around. Not cool. Use my link to get £10 discount on any booking.


Another place to book hotels (from the same company as Booking.com). Worth checking prices here as sometimes a slightly better deal.


They have a great rebate tool that gives you free nights after staying 10 nights – so if you manage to get a great price for a long stay, you can easily get 2/3 nights back in return.

Travel Money & Security

Data Security


All of my files are in Dropbox, an instant backup, with a revision history for each file. So easy, doesn’t kill my bandwidth (hello Apple iCloud backup) and means that I can access files from my phone too. Life saver in so many ways.


All of my passwords are in LastPass (nearly). Auto-generated passwords means every site has a different login. iPhone integration is great to get passwords on the go. Browser integration is great too.
What I’m buying next: 1Password
Why: My Premium subscription to LastPass runs out in about a year, will try 1Password then as it has slightly better integrations.

Freedome VPN

A good array of locations available, good integration and iOS app, and one of the only VPNs that doesn’t activate my Gmail / website login security protocols that I am a malicious user.
What I’m buying next: Express VPN
Why: Just going to change it out and see if its any better, Express VPN seems a popular choice.

Synology NAS 4 Drive 16TB RAID5

Kept at a London location, I can access my Synology NAS any time via internet. It holds backups and files and stuff I don’t access too often.
What I’m buying next: External HD drives or cloud backup service.
Why: The NAS is overkill and access to it is pretty slow. I’m going to prune the files, move some to the cloud, and move others to drives that I just access when I need too when I’m in London.

Money, Transfers and Management

Halifax Clarity Card

This card is awesome. My go to card when abroad and I need cash or to make a purchase. No foreign transaction fees and excellent conversion rates, I can’t fault it. Excellent online login system too. If you are from UK, you need to get this credit card.


Revolutionised accessing my money when abroad. Forget using foreigns cards abroad – open a local account and use TransferWise to transfer money to it. Easily saved me £500+ when in Thailand for a few months on transfer and withdrawal fees.

TransferWise Borderless

Gives EUR/USA bank account numbers to receive money, and is now replacing WorldFirst for me as a way to receive money at the very best rates regardless of currency or where I am.


Gives EUR/USA bank account numbers to receive money from companies (like Amazon Associates) and then lets you transfer from there to a bank account anywhere else at interbank rates. An Amazon cheque used to take 2-3 weeks and £100 in fees, now its in my account in 2 days and costs me far less.

Santander Personal Account

Free withdrawals while in Spain is the only reason I would use this card abroad.


A backup card in case my main cards are swallowed. You transfer money to it easily and withdraw it within a minute. A great feature you can turn off cash machine withdrawals in the app, so you can avoid those Bali scammers.


Another foreign transaction card I have had for many years. Wallet filler nowadays, but a useful backup.


A HK digital bank account and credit card, heavily app linked.

1st Choice Business Solutions

My goto choice for forming a UK company, offering near instant setup, mailbox address, postal scan + email service (rare to find this), and of course advice on company formation and legalities.

Business Tools I Use

Business Services

Google Apps / GSuite

Essential for my business. Professional looking but easy to use through Gmail interface.


Hands-down the best ecommerce software. Forget BigCommerce and WooCommerce, they pale in comparison. Get a month for free with my link.


A great and easy to use analytics software, that gives me (slightly) better reports than Google and is easier for clients to understand.


A great shared inbox tool, that can help you share responsibilities with your team or get your VA to answer email


I didn’t realise how useful an SEO/PPC tool was until I got one, and damn this is so useful. Its changed everything I produce and create.


The best lead magnet tool I have found for WordPress and Medium.


How I keep organised with my team and how I prioritise my ideas. Keeps me on track.


Time tracking by the second, mapped to a shortcut key via TogglDekstop.

Quuu Promote

An awesome way to get content shared by the right audience.

Domain Names and Web Hosting


Data caching, SSL and DNS updating for free, CloudFlare is a great way to offer a level of protection on your websites and prepare for surges in traffic. Business account has saved my sites from being taken down a few times.


Just for domains, the hosting and everything else is terrible.
What I’m buying next: NameCheap
Why: 1and1 keep messing up billing and cancellation, so I will be moving all my domains to NameCheap as they near expiry.


Just switched to Guru.co.uk from Surpass, who I was with for 9 years. Guru are UK-based hosting company, have super fast SSD drives, support Let’s Encrypt, have great support, CPanel, WHM, and a great price.

WP Engine

Used for a couple of clients who are heavy on WordPress, WP Engine is (one of) the best WP only hosting companies and worth a look.


Currently used for some abstract domains and SSL certificates, NameCheap does what it says on the tin. Will be moving all my domains to them eventually.

Hiring, Staff and Getting Stuff Done


Starting to get more expensive as people game the system to upsell, with some searching and trying new users, you can still get easy stuff done for just $5. Try Fiverr out for free with my link.


My go to place for finding freelancers and managing staff. There are a lot of idiots on there, but show me a place in the world that isn’t. Be a good manager and communicate well and you can get whatever you want on UpWork.

People Per Hour

A more UK-focused website, you can get some great rates on here, although the website sucks arse for usability.

Hello Ping Pong

Remote usability tests for your apps or services with an easy to use scheduler and management



All my Gmail accounts in one place with custom notifications and low battery usage (compared to Chrome)


The best coding tool available, and its highly customisable and free


Makes localised WordPress installs (and other development) a dream


Auto-refresh code builder and checker, although the new version sucks


Quickly take screenshots or videos and get a web link to share it


My favourite text replacement software that saves me hours per week


Protects your eyes at night and doesnt mess up your body clock

System Lens

Monitor whats using your systems power


Monitor your internet connection and usage

Little Snitch

Monitor whats using your bandwidth


The best tool for writing anything


Auto-lock/unlock your phone on proximity


Block websites that zap your time

Future Purchases

My WishList

These are things I haven’t got around to buying yet, but will soon.

Tatkraft Travel Kitchen Scale

Why: I want to be able to weigh the coffee I drink and food I make. Yes, I’m weird.

D-Link Travel Router

Why: Keep finding a need for this, and its small enough to throw in my bag.

What have I missed in my digital nomad packing list that you travel with? What are the things you were expecting me to use for my business and travel that I don’t? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below!

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The 10 Commandments of Good Coworking Spaces: Mistakes & problems of coworking spaces & how to fix them https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/coworking-spaces-commandments/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/coworking-spaces-commandments/#comments Thu, 27 Apr 2017 06:07:48 +0000 https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=482 I love coworking spaces, but many owners have a lot to learn. This open letter to all coworking spaces outlines some of the mistakes, problems and issues they have, and how I think they could be solved, making a better coworking business and a better place to work for nomads and entrepreneurs.

The post The 10 Commandments of Good Coworking Spaces: Mistakes & problems of coworking spaces & how to fix them appeared first on Location Independent.

The 10 Commandments of Good Coworking Spaces: Mistakes & problems of coworking spaces & how to fix them

I love coworking spaces, but I find many owners have a lot to learn. This open letter to all coworking spaces outlines some of the mistakes, problems and issues they have, and how I think they could be solved, making a better coworking business and a better place to work for nomads and entrepreneurs.

Using a coworking space is part of everyday life for digital nomads and location independent entrepreneurs, and its a business trend that is growing – there are over 10,000 spaces and its estimated this number will triple by 2020.

The problem is that many coworking spaces aren’t run by the very people who use them – and things don’t feel like they are improving.

I buy the best laptop so I can work fast, I buy a laptop stand so its the perfect height, an ergonomic mouse and keyboard, I buy the best backpack and expensive travel clothes, I leave my home country seeking weather and locations I like better, I spend my days the way I want, drink coffee I like, eat what I love and I go to work at a coworking space. And that’s where my near-perfect lifestyle starts to crumble a little…

“Oh, the chairs don’t support my back. Why am I too hot? What the hell is this coffee? Whats up with the internet? Where’s the staff? Oh my god, what is that guy cooking? Jeez, has someone removed their shoes? What do you mean I have to move desks as you’re running an event? If I overhear any more of that girls conversation I’m gonna… Is the internet down, again?”

Sometimes it feels like a lot of coworking space owners and staff simply don’t give a shit – you’re just a commodity. And that makes sense. Not every restaurant is Michelin starred, not every business has amazing customer service. I get that.

A coworking business seems to be a hip thing to start right now, a potential money spinner and an easy business idea if you don’t want to drive an Uber or the licence for your popup food/cocktail truck has been refused. Starting a coworking space is the the internet cafe of our times for someone with a building, an “idea” and a yearn to make a buck. Some people just start a business to make money, they don’t care unless the bills aren’t being paid. I get that.

Running a business is hard, finding good staff is hard, finding a premises is hard, dealing with business problems everyday is hard – and many coworking space owners may have the best intentions when starting up. I get that.

But… I still want them to be better! I love coworking spaces, I’m not going to stop using them, and if this post helps improve coworking experiences in any way then I’m willing to take some crap from it. It may appear to be a bit of a rant, but I hope that if it makes just one coworking space a little better, then it’s worth it.

These are genuine constructive criticisms and insights from someone who has spent a helluva a lot of hours in coworking spaces.

They are called commandments as there was 10 of them, and if you follow them, you’ll get salvation. Lol, just kidding. And I’m definitely not saying I’m Jesus. Although if I am, that would totally be the type of humble thing I would say.

Yes, I probably should lower my expectations (I genuinely try to have zero expectations).

Yes, I understand you think this is moaning (moaning doesn’t offer solutions, but I am).

No, I have never run a coworking space (but I was going to open a coworking space in Koh Samui until the location became unavailable; I was 20 minutes from signing a lease in Chiang Mai to run a space; and I’ve ran at least 3 other successful bricks and mortar businesses, so I’ve put some work in at least). Hopefully coworking spaces can take the good from the article.

The 10 Commandments of Good Coworking Spaces

1) Get feedback from your customers

I’m writing this post publicly as almost no coworking spaces ask for feedback or have a mechanism for feedback.

Let your customers tell you what is good and bad. Let people vent. Let people report issues. Let people send you praise.

You are probably saying “We have a host that talks to our users” – let me do a Kanye and stop you for a minute – a host is not a solution. Every coworker at your space doesn’t want to be a dick and start “moaning” to the host in person, so chances are they won’t say anything.

A coworking space is also filled with people who work on computers full time – IRL feedback is probably not their forte.

Well your answer is probably “We have a Slack channel” – but people don’t complain publicly (except people like me), they don’t want to rock the boat and “be that guy“.

So use other ways to get feedback instead of having a poor in-between solution. One person complaining or suggesting something means that there is probably a problem, and the easier it is to get multiple viewpoints the better your business strategies will be.

I’m the owner and I’m always around” – OK, well, coworking space owners seem to fall in to two categories;

Owners that you never see – they are just never there, or they want to be in the background and not be identified, leaving a host or receptionist to be the face. For this type of owner, clearly feedback is near impossible to give as you never know who the owner is.

The other type of coworking space owner is always there, is part of everything, and becomes your friend. They’ve put their soul in to the business, which is why giving feedback to them is ridiculously hard to do. Anything you say is pretty much deemed as a personal attack. They are too close to the business.

The best form of feedback is anonymous feedback. With a Typeform or Google Docs, you could set this up in a few minutes. “Whats’s your feedback? Include your email or name if you want a response.” Easy. Free. Can be done in 10 minutes.

Set it up via a bit.ly custom link for something easy to remember, write the address on the wall, put it in your email footers, done.

A generic feedback form that goes to the owner or manager is something that your coworking space needs. Today. From getting reports on poor internet, power cuts, dirty toilets, complaints about staff, or other users’ stinky feet, to the fridge not having x drink in it, business-changing ideas, event ideas, or for people to say “We love you guys“.

2) Comfortable ergonomic seats

This seems so obvious that I feel like an idiot writing it, but I regularly go in to spaces where they think small stools, wooden benches or stackable chairs make for good coworking.

If you are sitting in a seat on and off for 8 or 9 hours per day for 5 days per week, at the very least the chair needs some padding.

The seats should also have back support unless you want to foster a future crippled society of hunchbacks.

For proper posture and comfort there should be arm rests, and the seat should be height adjustable.

The seats should be able to fit under the desk (so you may need something actually created as an office desk, not a repurposed table).

Thailand seems to love style over comfort – they love a futuristic plastic lump for a chair, or beautiful wooden seats – that offer zero back support, and hurt your butt after an hour or so. Design over function.

A lot of the western world has caught on to the fact that bad posture = unhealthy employees = less work. There is UK HSE guidelines and US OSHA rules for any company were people work on computers, and employers can be sued.

Bad posture is a killer and effects the mind and body. Do your customers the favour of a lifetime and invest in decent chairs.

3) Decent clean desks with a power supply at every one

Such stylish. Much reclaim. Less leg space. Disaster posture. Much hurt. Ow.

A desk is such a simple thing, and yet most coworking spaces seem to mess this up. Often because they go for style, or affordability, over function.

You need a proper desk to put the working in to coworking.

Every desk should:

  • Be free from obstruction for a users legs
  • Be completely level
  • Not wobble when in use
  • Not echo or amplify sounds when in use (1″ thick generally OK)
  • Be separated from other desks, or stable enough so knocks by others don’t interrupt you
  • Be able to fit the chair with it underneath the desk
  • Be clean and polished, not sticky or grungy
  • Have at least 2-3 power sockets per desk/seat

I am amazed when I go in to a coworking space and every desk doesn’t have a power socket, or there is one 6-way adaptor to cover 8 seats. Oh, and if you have international visitors, why not have a few spare power adaptors they can use in case they forget theirs?

If you insist on buying tables instead of desks for your coworking space, or making tables (shudder), don’t spend loads of money on buying or making the “perfect desks” – as you will 100% get it wrong – so expect to keep spending money on them until you learn how to do it properly. Or just buy desks that are designed for working the first place.

Getting the correct desks is hard. I’m not saying its easy, but as this is the essence of your business, I hope desks aren’t just an afterthought.

4) Brilliant internet connections

Customers come to coworking spaces to work, and I would say an overwhelming majority need reliable access to the internet.

If you only have one internet connection, you have all your eggs in one basket. If anything happens to it, everyone cannot work, and you have failed as a business owner. You are the same as a restaurant with no food to sell.

Your coworking space should have two independent internet connections, as a minimum. Make sure they are not from the same company, and are not from a virtual operator who leases the line from the other company you use.

While you’re at it, make sure your Wi-Fi is strong everywhere inside and surrounding the building (people work in nooks and corners, and may step out for Skype calls).

Make sure your Wi-Fi is secure. It 100% should not be an open network. Make it encrypted – WPA2 or WPA2-enterprise. Have a captive portal login system instead of shared password, this will help ensure bandwidth is going to those who need it and not old members who are outside having a coffee. Make sure the portal login has a 2-3 day login cookie/lease time, so regular members don’t get hassled with logging in everyday.

Make sure you are using routers/wi-fi spots with the AC wireless standard – its blisteringly fast and has a lot less interference. N standard is just about acceptable, B or G is unforgivable. Your routers also need to be decent, if you are using routers from the internet company, stop right now. Spend some money on a network engineer to come and install some Ubiquity routers.

With everyone on Macbooks where batteries last for 6-8 hours, and for special coworking bonus points, your internet connection / network should be on a UPS/battery backup or powered by generator so that power interruptions doesn’t mean a wasted day for everyone.

5) Keep everything clean

A lot of people judge a restaurant by the cleanliness of its kitchen – I judge coworking spaces by the cleanliness of the toilets and communal facilities.

With any group situation comes a lot of psychological problems – if something is dirty and a mess, people will add more mess and be disrespectful. If something is clean and tidy, people are respectful and more likely to leave it that way.

So every day your bathroom, kitchen and communal areas should be spotless. Spend money to make them look good. If the toilet seat is hanging off, this says you don’t respect your customers, and people will treat your toilet like crap.

Desks need to be wiped down. Food should not be eaten at communal desks, no-one wants to sit in food detritus a few hours later. Leftover mugs and cups need to be collected.

Items left in the sink need to be washed up. Sure, you can put up yet another sign saying “please wash up your stuff” or send a round robin email – but every day chances are a few people won’t have time or will forget. Don’t just leave that stuff in the sink. Deal with the problem by just cleaning up.

At the same time, if you expect people to wash up after themselves, make sure you supply a clean dish scrubber and washing-up liquid, a decent sized drying rack and a way for them to dry their hands afterwards.

Who wants to wash up their stuff and then go back to their computer with wet hands. No-one.

Provide paper towels, and definitely not a sodden old tea towel that stinks.

If you have a communal dishwasher, empty it every morning, dry the items, and prepare it for the days use of dirty items. Damn, this is like home economics 101.

One of your staff should be checking the toilets every hour or few hours. No-one should have to “wade” in to a cubicle.

Kitchen areas should be wiped down or looked over the same.

Have a cleaner who pays a visit a few times per day and checks for mess and restocks items.

If I can walk in to any pub or restaurant and their toilet is clean and fully stocked with paper and towels, the coworking space I’m paying for can definitely do it.

The bathroom should have as a minimum:

  • toilets that flush
  • taps that work properly
  • hand soap
  • a way to dry hands.

A way to dry hands does not include a grotty stinky old towel that is sodden after 2 people use it.

Get a hand dryer, or buy paper towels.

If you are worried about the environment, worry more about the health and wellbeing of your customers before that. If you’re shaking your head now and saying that your bathrooms towel is clean – OK, go and lick it. I dare you. Thought so, go and sort it out.

You should have enough toilets that people don’t have to wait and any one toilet is not in constant use – maybe 1 toilet per 15 seats in your space.

6) Providing a place to be quiet and a place to talk

“All of this space is for talking! Skype callers rejoice!”

Some people like to work in a noisy room, some people don’t care, some people want silence. Some people need to make calls, some need privacy for their call, some are happy to talk at their desk. Your job running a coworking space is to manage these wants.

Most coworking spaces opt for “everyone be pretty silent”. A lot less construct the space so people can chat if they want. Where you setup your space plays a massive part of this – and some of your “good intentions” quickly disappear with rising rent costs and paying per square foot.

I think a perfect working space would be three areas:

  1. Quiet work – heads down workers who want to get stuff done, headphones on or whatever, library style.
  2. Mixed work – where people can make noise freely, good for groups, for collaborations, for coworkers who want to talk, for those who take/make a lot of calls all day.
  3. Private rooms – for confidentiality, these could be small little booths for one person Skype calls, 2-3 room person huddle rooms, or something slightly bigger (and if you have a group room, have a Skype group calling device available). (I rarely see large boardrooms being utilised properly, so don’t bother having one)

Defining these areas allows people to make a choice of where they want to be. I see people who get a lot of Skype calls per day constantly running out the room so as to not make noise, thats not productive.

Some owners may say “I don’t want to kill collaboration” – when I am sitting at my desk trying to work, I don’t want someone talking to me. I’m trying to focus. Talk to me over lunch, or at a community event, or if I’m sitting in the mixed area.

If I’m going to collaborate with someone, we can move to the mixed area to work together where talking is not going to disturb people.

In 3+ years of using coworking spaces, ideas that have come from the desk area = zero ; ideas that have come from community events or over lunch = hundreds.

If you don’t have a mixed area, or somewhere to take calls, aim for 1x Skype booth per 10 seats in your space.

Yes, more Skype booths than toilets.

A hallway or garden or street is not somewhere I want to take a business call. I want it at my desk, or at worst, at a temporary desk aka Skype room. The rooms need to have noise proofing, so they don’t make it sound like I’m sitting in a toilet, and the noise doesn’t disturb others – outside the booth or in the booth next door.

Each booth needs air flow. No point in doing a video call with someone if you are sweating like you’re doing a marathon after 20 minutes.

7) A consistent environment

The environmental controls of an office needs to be controlled and consistent. Simple as that.

Some places put in some heaters, or AC units, and chuck the controls on the desks. It’s a free-for-all.

I can’t think of something more dividing between a group of coworkers.

Air conditioning or heating should be in the hands of the owner/manager and consistently set. Consistently. Make your coworking space consistently around room temperature. 16-22 degrees C (depending on the outside temperature).

Some will always want it warmer, some will always want it cooler.

In warmer climates, unless you like sweaty people stinking the place up, it’s better for others to make themselves warmer with a jumper or scarf (unless you like a nudist coworking space where some people strip off as it’s too hot). You decide.

At the other end of the spectrum if the office is too cold due to weather conditions outside, everyone’s going to be grumpy.

Set consistently around room temperature (70°F / 21°C) is always going to work pretty well as people can plan and think ahead.

Some coworking spaces in exotic places have an awesome outside space. It is amazing to work outside, but there still needs to be air flow. Make sure there are fans to consistently cover the outside space – think about the angles so they cover the entire space. Don’t use fans that are mobile, as they will be moved and not returned, so workers will get hot.

The sun, windows and working do not mix. It can be hot as hell. Think about where desks are – if they are by a window, consider tinting the windows, putting up blinds, or putting an awning over the window outside.

When a temperature is consistent, people can plan. “It sometimes gets a bit cold there, so I’ll take a jumper“. If the temperature is up and down and all over the place, no-one can plan, everyone is unhappy.

8) Build community around your space

This is so basic, but is overlooked by maybe 50% of the coworking spaces I’ve been too.

What is coworking? Lets look at the definition:

“The use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.”

So the working side is only one part of it – you need to have people talking and collaborating so they share ideas and knowledge.

If you’re a coworking space, start running events for your members to encourage this. Today!

Lunches, drinks, dinner, mingle sessions, hackathons, wine tasting, pitching practice, weekly meet-ups with presenters, weekend trips, running groups, yoga classes; anything to get people interacting away from their computers.

Some of the events might not work, some will take perseverance. But stick with it.

Promotion of the events are as important as running them. Users thinking about visiting your space want to see stuff that is going on before they attend – I know people who only attend coworking spaces who run events – so promote them on your websites blog, Facebook page, etc and make sure to document events you do with photos and post them in those places.

Please remember, events are not supposed to disturb the members who are working, unless very rarely or for something major. If you’re forcing workers to move or change tables every week, for events where members are not even attending in great numbers, you need to re-think your strategy.

9) A good introduction and induction process

I recently went to a coworking space that really set in my mind how important this is.

I couldn’t get in the building, then couldn’t get in to the space, then couldn’t identify who worked there, stumbled upon a person who just pointed at a sign for us to sign up online, pointed at another sign for the wifi password.

That was the introduction to the space, and later I discovered, also the induction!

No emails, no welcome pack, no show around. Wow!

If you’re a coworking space, when was the last time you looked at your induction process? Some things to think about:

  1. Update your website and Facebook with opening times + staffed (signup) times.
  2. Update your website with what a user needs to bring to join – passport, cash or credit card, etc.
  3. If you have building access issues, have some signs up letting users know what to do. Repeat the info online.
  4. If you don’t have an easily visible reception desk, have a sign letting people know what to do. Repeat the info online.
  5. Staff should wear t-shirts or a name badge or lanyard to identify themselves as workers.
  6. Or have a photo introduction board of staff near entrance with what they do “Hi I’m X, speak to me about X anytime”
  7. Give each new member a full show around, so they know exactly where they can go, what they can use, what is private, what is public, what can be used for calls, whats OK, and whats not OK.
  8. Create an induction process document that all staff can follow for new members.
  9. Create a guidebook for customers telling them about the space, reinforcing the show around and letting them know rules and etiquette. This repeats the induction process info, complete with more details.
  10. Use email automation to help organise your members – Day 1, send them the guide book; Day 2, ask if they need any help; Day 7, ask them for feedback; Day 28, remind them to renew. Use something like ConvertKit.
  11. If customers ask about local facilities, create another guide about the local area – where to eat, drink, sleep, hire cars/bikes, get a mac repaired, whatever is important to your customers. If you’re a local, you can rattle this stuff off and theres no need to spend time answering these questions again and again. Put this on your website, and save visitors more time in advance.

The induction and introduction phase of new members is vital. It sets up the entire expectation and experience for the space for the customer, so if its crappy, chances are people will have a bad opinion going forward – do you really want that?

10) Promote good posture and ergonomics

Good posture is critically important to promote, and by ignoring it, you are consciously inflicting pain on your customers.

Read what I’ve already said about good chairs and tables, but also make it easy for people to help themselves. Have standing desks, equipment to use, equipment for hire.

Have monitors for rent. Have monitor risers or books (go to a charity shop, or hire a local wood shop to make them for a few dollars each). Have external keyboards for rent. Sell roost stands or its alternative. Actually not even for rent, just have them available.

If you want to rent them, OK, but don’t get silly. I’ve seen places want £10 per day to rent a monitor thats worth £50. That is just taking the piss.

A fair way to work out the rental price is price of item over working days (260 per year) divided by usage rate (lets say rented on 50% of days); this way the items are paid for after 1 year (and still have resale value), so the equation is:

Price of item / (260 working days per year / 50% usage rate) = Daily Rent
  • A high end Samsung monitor = purchase for £300 – rent for £2.50 per day
  • Basic ASUS monitor = purchase for £100 – rent for 75p per day
  • External Keyboard = buy for £20 – rent for 20p per day

Yep, 20p seems so low, you say to yourself, why don’t we just make them free? So indeed, why don’t you do that and help your customers not be cripples in 30 years time.

Secure your place in Coworking Eternity: Bonus Points

11) Save me from print nightmares

I’m sitting at a coworking space where I want to print 1 thing. 1 fucking sheet of paper.

And yet I’ve spent over an hour sorting this out – three staff are involved, I have a keycard that now has credit for 50 prints on it (for the price equivalent of £1.80) (I just want to print 1 thing), I have a printed, hand-signed receipt for this credit, I have to install 3 drivers, and now some kind of login software, which won’t work on the latest Mac.

Based on my last years earnings, this wasted hour just cost me over $250. 1 piece of printed paper = $250 dollars. I could buy my own laser printer for that.

How is this enabling my business? How is this enabling me to do work?

So here is the message to coworking spaces:


NO, I don’t want to email the file to a receptionist who then prints it out.
NO, I don’t want to put the file on a USB drive and then give it to you.
NO, I don’t want to install proprietary software on my computer just to print one thing.

I want to open a document, and press Print and that’s it. That’s how easy it should be, and can be, with things called FORESIGHT and GIVING A SHIT.

I can hear owners now… “I don’t want people abusing the printer” – what do you think people want to print? A fucking book? They normally want to print a meeting agenda, a boarding pass, a few page document.

Printing is not as popular as in the 80s or 90s, so if a customer wants to print something, they really want to print something.

If you’re bothered, put a fucking tip jar next to the printer. “2 free prints per day, the rest is X for X“. Problem solved.

All of the printers I’ve ever owned were work horses. HP laser printer work horses. Buy for a few hundred quid or less, a toner drum does 50,000 prints and costs next to nothing, it works forever. Each print literally costs fractions of pennies.

If the coworking space you go to has an inkjet or bubble jet or whatever the fuck technology print manufacturers are pushing on idiots nowadays, STOP GOING. It tells you they have no fucking idea what they are doing.

If you are paying a bunch of cash just to walk in the building at a coworking space, why is a space then trying to charge me micro-payments and give me hassle for 1 sheet of printed paper? It’s ridiculous.

12) Save me time, make me money

So I’ve just paid $250 for a sheet of printed paper. Let’s continue this theme.

I remember once I went to a coworking space, no cafes nearby, and the only way to make a coffee was to use a bizarre coffee making device that took 20 minutes to make a single cup of coffee. 20 minutes. That cup of coffee just cost me $80 in time. Was it Kopi Luwak? Was it balls – although it did taste like shit.

My point is – if your coworking space isn’t efficient, you’re costing me far more money than just the monthly membership fee.

I don’t want to travel 2 floors to get water, walk 15 minutes to get a coffee, wait for 10 minutes to boil a kettle, or wait to use the toilet. So organise your space better, buy equipment suitable for the tasks at hand, and utilise your staff properly. Make it easy for me to work. Use stuff that delivers time efficiencies. Don’t buy a kettle that only holds 2 cups of water and takes 10 minutes to boil.

Use your staff to help me use my time efficiently – get them to walk around the space with drinking water and top up peoples glasses, ask if anyone wants a coffee every hour, organise lunches, offer VA services. These are really simple things to do, and far better use of your staffs time than them sitting on Facebook.

13) Make people eat away from the working area

If you insist on allowing eating in your coworking space, please at least restrict cooking and eating to certain areas. And this includes putting the microwave far far away.

I don’t want to smell someones leftover dinner or the pot noodle they are making themselves. And I definitely don’t want to hear them eat it. Or chat to their friends or watch YouTube on full blast while eating.

If there is a place to make food away from working, then hopefully people will also eat it away from their desks. Again the smell, but damn, listening to people eat is ridiculously annoying.

I think I suffer from misophonia – eating sounds make me go loopy. And I am not alone!

If you serve food, insist people eat it away from workers. If I want to eat in a restaurant, I can do that on every street, and it will be damn more cheaper than paying for your coworking space. Restaurants have ambience noise for this very reason, your space probably doesn’t.

14) Decent drinks and good coffee

I would say that in the coworking spaces I go to, most people drink coffee. They drink a couple of coffees per day.

If people don’t drink them often, when they do, they like a good coffee.

NOBODY likes Nescafe instant shit.

So why do most coworking spaces think this is acceptable?

Shit tea bags + shit coffee + some dutty fake milk creamer thing + a £4 kettle from Tesco. Living la vida loco.

Want something different? Tough.
Want something without caffeine? Tough.
Want real milk? Tough.
Want a soft drink? Thats available via donation box.
Want a coffee pod? Thats available via donation box.
Want a soda?  Thats available via donation box.

Sorry, what?

I’m paying hundreds of pounds per month for access to the space, but you didn’t factor in that some people might occasionally want a soft drink or a decent drink? And now I have to pay an extra 20p?

I mean how many people are going to drink 5 x cokes per day? 10 x cokes? No-one. Do you think we’re all crazed kids who can’t wait to gulp 7-Up and Fanta and answer our fucking emails?

The very very few spaces I have been too where soft drinks and quality coffee was free, no-one took advantage, no-one took the piss, the business bottom-line wasn’t destroyed by generosity. It was just a really fucking good coworking space.


Just likes Moses, I’m gonna stand on my hill and recap the 10 Commandments of Good Coworking Spaces:

  1. Get feedback from your customers
  2. Comfortable ergonomic seats
  3. Decent clean desks with a power supply at every one
  4. Brilliant internet connections
  5. Keep everything clean
  6. Providing a place to be quiet and a place to talk
  7. A consistent environment
  8. Build community around your space
  9. A good introduction and induction process
  10. Promote good posture and ergonomics

And if you wanna make a total bad-ass coworking space, deal with these ones too:

  • Save me from print nightmares
  • Save me time, make me money
  • Different places to eat, away from working area
  • Decent drinks and good coffee

If you do that, you’re going to be on your way to coworking success. Mix this with some solid advice from Levels.io about how to make more money by adding value (not by adding shit coffee) and you might just survive the great coworking purge that is sure to come when WeWork devils take the souls of independents.

What do you think makes a good coworking space? Do you agree with my 10 Commandments? Let me know, and post a comment below…

The post The 10 Commandments of Good Coworking Spaces: Mistakes & problems of coworking spaces & how to fix them appeared first on Location Independent.

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Thai Visas, Immigration, & staying in Thailand – The Complete Thai Visa Guide for 2017 https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/thai-visas-digital-nomad-guide/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/thai-visas-digital-nomad-guide/#comments Fri, 17 Mar 2017 12:23:23 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=194 Visas in Thailand and the different ways of staying in Thailand are confusing. The rules are constantly changing, meaning that most things you find online are completely wrong. This is a complete easy to understand guide for digital nomads who want to visit Thailand, get a visa and stay long term in Thailand.

The post Thai Visas, Immigration, & staying in Thailand – The Complete Thai Visa Guide for 2017 appeared first on Location Independent.

Visas in Thailand & how to stay Long Term

Visas in Thailand are confusing. The rules are constantly changing, meaning that most things you read and most opinions you hear are normally completely wrong. I’ve had enough. This is a complete easy to understand guide for digital nomads who want to visit Thailand, and I want to keep it updated – all of this information is valid right now, today, in 2017.

Getting a visa to Thailand sounds complicated. If you are from the UK or the USA, this is maybe the first time you have had to think about a visa. Ever!

Thailand doesn’t help this situation, there are lots of different visas and constantly changing rules, and the governments websites are poor.

Bad thai visa advice
Classic bad advice from #nomads – not the visa he got, visa didn’t even exist, from an office that doesn’t exist!

Expats and other nomads don’t help the situation, as what worked for them a few months ago might be different for you.

Blogs don’t help the situation, as they are rarely updated (and thus incorrect), or written from one persons perspective.

Forums, like ThaiVisa, are full of old men who don’t understand the world, and think what they say is gospel because they did something 7 years ago. Information there is frequently wrong and confusing, where you also have opinions going round as fact. Avoid avoid avoid avoid that place!

So this is why I have put together this guide to explain everything easily – the ultimate guide to getting a thai visa and staying in Thailand.

If you are from the UK, USA, or another of the 52 countries that get a free visa exemption on arrival (list below), everything in this article applies to you. Countries outside of this, I have tried to detail out as much as possible, and the rules are similar, you just may get less/more days when renewing stuff.

If you have a question, post it below in the comments, but make sure you have read this guide first! This guide will be updated whenever rules change.

Contents of the Complete Thai Visa Guide:

Tourist Visas in Thailand
Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver aka “tourist visa” aka “visa on arrival”
VOA – Visa on Arrival aka “the real visa on arrival”
SETV – Single Entry Tourist Visa aka “60 day tourist visa”
METV – Multiple Entry Tourist Visa aka “6 month multi entry visa”
Tourist Visa Hacks
How to extend your stay in Thailand
How to stay in Thailand Long Term
Common Visa Questions

2 Minute Overview of Tourist Visas in Thailand

As of April 2017, your tourist visa options when visiting Thailand by air are as follows:

Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver Entry

This is when you arrive in Thailand without a visa, but you are from one of the 52 countries that Thailand allows to enter without prior documentation (this includes UK, USA and most of Europe). You will get a stamp in your passport when you arrive and can stay for 30 days. There is no payment required.

Some people refer to this method of entry as “Tourist Visa” or “Visa on Arrival” – this is wrong and confusing. You don’t get a visa in your passport with this type of entry, just an entry stamp telling you when you need to leave.

Find out more on Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver

Visa on Arrival

This is for when you arrive in Thailand without a visa, but you are from one of the 19 countries that can purchase a visa on arrival (this list includes China and India). The visa is 2,000 THB (£45/$60) and allows you to stay for 30 days. A visa is put in to your passport and then stamped with an entry stamp telling you when you need to leave.

Find out more on Visa on Arrival

Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV) aka “60 day tourist visa”

You need to apply for the Single Entry Tourist Visa in advance of your visit (outside of Thailand, anywhere).

Its typically a 2 day application – apply one day, pick up the next day, and costs around £40/$60. Once you are given the visa, you need to travel to Thailand within 3 months to activate it. You get a visa put in your passport, so when you arrive in Thailand, you will get a stamp to use the visa as soon as you arrive, and you can then stay for 60 days.

If you want to leave Thailand during the 60 days, your remaining days are forfeit, unless you get a Visa Re-Entry Permit.

Find out more about SETV

Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV) aka “6 month multi entry visa”

The METV is a new visa since October 2015, and something you need to apply for in advance (outside of Thailand, in your home country).

Its typically a 2 day application – apply one day, pick up the next day, and costs around £125/$150. Once you are given the visa, it’s valid for six months. You get a visa put in your passport, so when you arrive in Thailand, you will get a stamp on the visa, and you can then stay for 60 days. You can leave and enter Thailand as many times as you want, as long as your entry is before the visa “Enter Before” date, each time you enter you can stay for 60 days.

You can only stay for 60 days on any entry stamp, so even though the visa is often called a “6 month visa” this means it can be used for 6 months, it doesn’t give you the ability to stay in Thailand completely for 6 months.

Find out more about METV

Thai Visas in More Detail

Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver aka “tourist visa” aka “visa on arrival”

Visa Waiver Entry
Visa Waiver stamp – Arrive 12th October, leave on or before 10th November. Next to it, departure stamp for 17th October.

What is Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver?

A Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver is when you arrive in Thailand without a visa, but you are from one of the 52 countries that Thailand allows to enter without prior documentation. You will get a stamp in your passport when you arrive and can stay for 30 days. There is no fee or payment required.

The full list of countries that can use Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver entry is as follows, and includes the UK and USA:

Czech Republic
Hong Kong
New Zealand
Slovak Republic
South Africa
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States

Some people refer to this method of entry as “Tourist Visa” or “Visa on Arrival” – this is wrong and confusing. You don’t get a visa in your passport with this type of entry, just an entry stamp telling you when you need to leave.

Tourists entering on Visa Waiver / Visa Exemption can get their 30 day stay extended by visiting an immigration office and applying for a 30 day visa extension.

Visa Exemption entry at Thai land border

Thai immigration wants regular visitors to Thailand to have a visa in advance when crossing by land. So if you want to just turn up at a land border without preparing, this is where the trouble starts. A land border is essentially any way of getting in to Thailand that is not an aeroplane.

Since January 2017, if you are resident of one of the 52 countries that get a free visa exemption on arrival (list aboveyou can only get this twice per calendar year. After this, you will be refused entry.

To repeat: You can only enter Thailand TWICE a year at a land border without having a visa in advance.

If you have a SETV or METV visa in advance, then crossing a land border is the same as arriving by plane and poses no problems.

For example, if you go to the Thai Embassy in Laos and get an SETV, then come back in to Thailand through the Laos/Thailand land border, you will get in just fine and get a 60 day stamp entry. Or if you have an METV, you can drive to a border in Thailand, go over, turn around and come back in and activate another METV 60 day stamp entry. The problems happen at land borders when you DON’T have a visa.

How many Visa Exemptions can I use?

There are no published rules, however this is from a Thai visa service that deals with visas every day. They say that when travelling by air “people using OUT/IN method to extend their stay” – so flying out the country, spending 1-2 days away, the coming back to Thailand – “might be questioned after SIX visa exempt entries. There is no specific period given and there is no rule on how many visa exempt will be issued for one person“. But six entries in one year seems to be enough to make immigration say “what is this person doing?“.

If you are entering Thailand by land border, there are now strict rules – see above.

VOA – Visa on Arrival

Visa on Arrival
Which way for Visa on Arrival again? I am sure the Chinese tourists will still go the wrong way…

What is Visa on Arrival?

A Visa on Arrival is for when you arrive in Thailand without a visa, but you are from one of the 19 countries that can purchase a visa on arrival. The visa is 2,000 THB (£45/$60) and allows you to stay for 30 days. A visa is put in to your passport and then stamped with an entry stamp telling you when you need to leave.

This is the full list, and includes China and India:

San Marino
Saudi Arabia

Tourists entering on Visa on Arrival can get their stay extended by visiting an immigration office and applying for a visa extension. Some passport holders may get less than 30 days extension.

SETV – Single Entry Tourist Visa aka “60 day tourist visa”

Single Entry Tourist Visa SETV
The Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV) is an essential part of being a nomad in Thailand

You need to apply for the Single Entry Tourist Visa in advance (outside of Thailand, anywhere).

Its typically a 2 day application – apply one day, pick up the next day, and costs around £25/$40. Once you are given the visa, you need to travel to Thailand within 3 months to activate it. You get a visa put in your passport, so when you arrive in Thailand, you will get a stamp to use the visa as soon as you arrive, and you can then stay for 60 days.

If you want to leave Thailand during the 60 days, your remaining days are forfeit, unless you get a Visa Re-Entry Permit.

You can extend your stay – normally 30 days – by applying for a visa extension at a Thai immigration office.

How to get a Single Entry Tour Visa for Thailand

You can apply for an SETV from any country outside of Thailand that has a Thai Embassy/Consular/Official office (directory here). The requirements for getting an SETV varies slightly from country to country. If you prepare for the following requirements you shouldn’t have an issue:

  • Completed application form with 3 passport/visa photos
  • Current passport with 6 months validity before the visa date application
  • Photocopy of relevant passport information pages
  • Return/onward air flight information in and out of Thailand / Print out of booking
  • Accommodation details of your stay in Thailand / Print out of booking
  • Exact cash to pay SETV fee in local currency

Note: The visa application forms available for download on the Thai Embassy websites are normally out of date. Use them as a guide to prepare your answers, but expect to fill out a new form when you arrive at the Embassy.

A Single Entry Tourist Visa costs £25 ($40 USD or around 1000 THB). Applications are typically done over 2 days – apply one day, pick up the next. Some Embassies offer same day service (like Los Angeles) but this is an exception rather than a common rule, so plan two days to get it.

Some Embassies allow you to post in your application, I would advise only doing this in your home country, being stranded abroad without a passport isn’t great.

How many SETVs can I use?

There are no published rules. There is lots of hearsay. Rumours like; some Thai Embassies will not give you a new SETV if you have a few already in your passport; that immigration will question you when you have more than a few in your passport; that you can be banned after having six SETVs. None of them are official.

Like anything in Thailand, its about interpretation. Just because an immigration officer asks you questions doesn’t mean it’s because of having too many visas, and if it is, perhaps they are just interested, it’s their job. And so what about some questions?

When you have more than 5 or 6 SETVs in your passport, immigration may ask you some questions, like “why are you spending so much time in Thailand?” and “Are you working here?” – they want to know you are not working for a company illegally and taking a job away from a Thai person.

A lot of people come to Thailand and work illegally in schools or bars, and they don’t want this. That is what they are interested in – taking jobs away from local Thai people. If you are self-sufficient, and not taking jobs away from Thai people, there really should not be any issue.

I’ve meet people on visa runs who have had warnings like “you need to get a long term visa next timebut this is after using SETVs consistently for 8 years. And then I watch them get another visa without problems and clear immigration at the border. I have met others who have never had issues in 10+ years of getting visas.

As there are no official rules, it also depends on who you deal with. One immigration officer could tell you something different to the next. But you don’t often hear many horror stories – like with entry to the USA or UK – so if you get refused, chances are you could try again at another office or entry point and have zero issues.

Double and Triple Entry Visas

Double and triple entry visas are no longer available. You may see them written about in forums (thats a great clue to tell you the person knows nothing), even on official forms in Embassies, but they are absolutely not available any more.

The double and triple entry visas were replaced by the Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV) in around October 2015. Since then double and triple entry visas are no longer available.

How do I stay longer on an SETV?

A Single Entry Tourist Visa allows you to stay in Thailand for 60 days. If you want to stay longer, you can get a 30 day visa extension at an immigration office.

METV – Multiple Entry Tourist Visa aka “6 month multi entry visa”

Multiple Entry Tourist Visa
The Multiple Entry Tourist Visa lets you come and go easily in to Thailand for 6 months

The METV is a relatively new visa introduced in October 2015, and something you need to apply for in advance (outside of Thailand, in your home country or a country of permanent residence).

Its typically a 2 day application – apply one day, pick up the next day, and costs around £125/$150. Once you are given the visa, it’s valid for six months. You get a visa put in your passport, so when you arrive in Thailand, you will get a stamp on the visa, and you can then stay for 60 days. You can leave and enter Thailand as many times as you want, as long as your entry is before the visa “Enter Before” date, each time you enter you can stay for 60 days.

You can only stay for 60 days on any stamp, so even though the visa is a “6 month visa” this means it can be used for 6 months, it doesn’t give you the ability to stay in Thailand completely for 6 months. This is really important.

The main difference between an METV and an SETV is that if you want to leave Thailand, you can, and when you come back in, your visa is stamped again and you get another 60 days. You have a full 6 months to come and go in to Thailand from the date of visa issue, and at any point during that 6 months you can get a 60 day stamp.

The beauty of an METV is that to activate a 60 day stay you only need to cross a border – so you can go to a land border, cross over, get a stamp and come back in, and stay for another 60 days. Or you can fly to another country, get back on a return flight, and get another 60 days. Just make sure you do that before the 6 months is up, as long as its a day or hour before, you can activate another 60 days.

The downsides to an METV are numerous, but one of the major downsides is the “Enter Before” date, which is normally set 6 months from the issue date. This means the METV is wasting days as soon as you get it. The SETV can be used at any point within 3 months of issue, but the METV needs to be used straight away to get the maximum time possible.

You can extend any METV entry stamp by 30 days by applying for a visa extension at a Thai immigration office.

How to get a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa for Thailand

Multiple Entry Visa RequirementsThe conditions for getting a METV varies slightly from country to country. You need to apply for an METV in your country of residence. The requirements are normally:

  • Completed application form with 3 passport/visa photos
  • Current passport with 6 months validity before the visa date application
  • Photocopy of relevant passport information pages
  • Return/onward air flight information in and out of Thailand / Print out of booking
  • Accommodation details of your stay in Thailand / Print out of booking
  • Original bank statement showing £5,000 in your account (for at least 6 months) or print-out stamped by the bank
  • Letter from UK employer addressed to Thai Embassy or if self employed, self-assessment and company registration document or student identification
  • Exact cash to pay METV fee

Yes, you read that right. You need to show £5,000 in a bank for the last 6 months, and have a letter from your employer to get an METV.

Is METV worth it?

It might be. If you have your own company, and can write yourself an employment letter, and you have £5,000 sitting in the bank for 6 months, you’ve saved your official bank statements and you’ve not gone paperless, and you’re in your home country, and you want to stay (almost) in Thailand for 6-8 months, it could be worth it!

Any savvy business man does not leave money in a poor performing bank account and invests it, so the £5K for 6 months is a bit of a joke. I have heard of some exceptions to the 6 months of £5K rule – someone with £20K in the bank, someone with an ISA investment of more than £5K – but I have equally heard of unbending immigration officials not accepting anything other than verified bank statements showing the amount.

Not many people I know bother to get an METV. Most people rely on SETV + 30 day extension, and then have a holiday to a nearby country to get another SETV, then repeat. It gives more freedom. Most can’t understand why one entry is £25 but a multiple entry is 5x time that but only lets you stay 3x as long.

Personally, I prefer the freedom and quickness of SETVs. Each gives a maximum stay of 3 months (60 days + 30 days extension) and thats a good amount of time to be in one place, they are easy to get with just the bare minimum of information, and as long as you follow the embassy rules, you just don’t hear of people getting refused for them. It also gives you the freedom to go to other places and change your travel plans, which means you can normally stay in Thailand “longer” as a result. With METV you are constantly watching the calendar to see if you can fit in another trip out the country to activate your last visa before it expires so its not a waste of money.

Getting an METV not in your home country

You have to apply for the METV in your home country or a country where you have permanent residence status. So if you have UK passport, get it in the UK. If you are German, you have to go to Germany. If you hold dual nationality, either place works.

Is it possible to leave Thailand, and go to Malaysia or Cambodia to get an METV? No, it’s not! The METV may be an option you can select on their forms, but it will not be given to you. The forms are for nationals/PRs of that country.

People on forums say it is possible to get an METV outside of your home country, but I’m calling bullsh*t on it. I’m open to being proved wrong with certifiable evidence, but right now, if you want an METV, go to your home country to get it.

How do I stay longer on an METV

Just before your 6 month multiple entry visa runs out, do a border run, or fly out and in to Thailand again to activate a new stamp. As long as you do this before midnight on the day your visa expires, you will be granted another 60 day entry. After the 60 days, you can extend for another 30 days at immigration.

How to use METV to stay in Thailand for 9 months

To get the real benefits of a multiple entry if you want to stay longer in Thailand, this is a simple way to utilise your METV to stay as long as possible in Thailand.

February 26th – Apply for a METV.
February 27th – Pick up METV (Date of Issue: 27th Feb, Enter Before: 27th August).
March 1st – First enter Thailand and activate METV, get 60 day stamp.
April 30th – Extend 60 day stamp at immigration for 30 days.
May 30th – Border Run – go to land border, cross over, come back. Get 60 day stamp.
July 29th – Extend 60 day stamp at immigration for 30 days.
August 26th – Border Run – go to land border, cross over, come back. Get 60 day stamp.
August 27th – METV expires.
October 26th – Extend 60 day stamp at immigration for 30 days.
November 25th – Leave Thailand.

So stay from start of March until end of November, 267 days == 9 months. Of course instead of doing a border run you could go to a nearby country and stay there a few days. The important part is making sure to get a new stamp just before your METV expires.

Use websites like Time and Date to calculate your days and when you need to book flights.

Tourist Visa Hacks

Immigration is serious business. Never lie to an immigration official. However, there are some services out there that let you apply the rules of immigration in ways that may be more flexible…

Showing an onward flight

It just needs to be a ticket out of Thailand – it can be a cheap ticket from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur that you never use. This site is amazing for finding the cheapest air tickets. Plan your flight so you can do a visa run at 59 (SETV) or 89 days (with a visa extension) after you arrive.

You can also use fake/temporary onward flight services – like FlyOnward or OnwardFlights – however customer service is spotty, tickets have time limits, and for the cost, you may be better off just booking a real flight. I’ve recently discovered a free onward flight generator via Expedia – https://onward.flights/

Showing Accommodation

Book a hotel room that you can cancel. I find this site to be the best for this. Book a room that can be cancelled, print out the confirmation email, and then cancel it later at zero charge.

Showing £5,000 in the bank

Are you really going to Thailand with zero savings? If you are going as a digital nomad looking to start a business, expect to be spending £500-£1000 per month – so having £5,000 won’t last too long. Don’t go without funding – so I encourage you to save the £5K and genuinely have this.

But if you want a hack – its at the discretion of the immigration officer that you have “proved you have funds” so if you can show a large amount of money in your account and have a good reason of why you have it, meeting this requirement shouldn’t be an issue.

Letter from your employer

If you have your own company, you can write yourself a letter stating you are employed and receive a salary. Get your assistant to sign it. If the company is newly incorporated, you won’t have filed account for 1-2 years, so there is actually no way for immigration to check the details of how the business is operating.

Here is a sample letter with the sort of wording you want to include:

Employer Letter for Thai Visa
Type out your own employer letter on company paper, or make it look half official

Want me to upload the Word Document I used to construct this letter? Leave a comment and join the mailing list, if there is enough demand I will upload it.

How to extend your stay in Thailand

So you’re already in Thailand, but you want to stay longer. Here’s what to do:

Extending a Visa Stamp aka “30 day extension”

30 day visa extension
Most of these people are here for long term visas, don’t worry! You’ll be in and out in 90 mins

All Thai entry stamps can be extended inside Thailand by going to an immigration office. This costs 1,900 baht (£40/$60) and normally takes a few hours to get after filling in some forms and providing photos.

Residents of the 52 countries listed (in Visa Exemption/Waiver section) can get their stamp extended by 30 days. This means on a Visa Exemption entry you can stay for 60 days (30 + 30), and SETV and METV for 90 days (60 + 30), before you need to leave the country.

If you not from a country that is listed in the Visa Exemption/Waiver section, you may only get a 7 or 14 day extension of your visa stamp. Check before applying and paying with the immigration information desk.

Getting an extension refused is rare, but it can happen. In this case, you will only be given 7 days extension. There is no appeal.

Application for extension of stay NOT approved! Get 7 days extra only…

You can extend a Visa Waiver/Exemption stamp, SETV stamp or METV stamp by 30 days just once each time. If you leave Thailand, come back and get a new stamp, you can then also extend that stamp by 30 days.

If you have used the 30 day extension but still need more time in Thailand, you can apply for an additional “emergency” 7 day extension. This also costs 1,900 baht (£40/$60) so is an expensive way to get more days.

Top tip: For a simple 30 day extension, there is NO NEED to go to the visa office at 6am and wait for 3 hours for them to open so you are first. Rock up at 10.30am, you’ll have it before lunch, or turn up at 3pm and you’ll get it before they close. Most government offices are on lunch 12-1 and close at 5, give yourself 90 minutes to get the extension.

Visa Re-Entry Permit

If you’ve spent time getting an SETV, but suddenly need to leave Thailand for something, instead of wasting your 60 days or so + 30 day extension opportunity, you can apply for a visa re-entry permit.

The re-entry permit allows you to carry on your existing stamp when you come back in to the country. You can apply for a visa re-entry permit at the airport or immigration office, – it costs 1,000 baht (£25/$30), and is sometimes a hassle to get if the queue is long

Because of the cost and potential inconvenience, its sometimes easier to just go and get a new SETV from the country you are visiting.

Doing a Visa Run – Go to another country

Visa Run from Thailand
Queueing is just part of life when it comes to getting visas sorted in Thailand.

This is when you go to another country to get a new visa, and spend a few days in that country. A visa run means you are going to get a new visa – so from Thailand this typically means going to Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Vientiane, Bali, Hong Kong or any country outside of Thailand that has a Thai Embassy/Consular/Official office (directory here).

Once you are in the country, you just follow the procedure for getting an SETV, then head back to Thailand. Easy.

Want to save time? Check out Plan My Visa Run to get a full itinerary and up-to-date visa information for any visa run for just $20.

Doing a Border Run – METV or a quick 30 days

Border Run
Being cramped in a bus for 9 hours lets you make new buddies for life LOL. This was the last ever time I took a bus.

A border run is when you just go to a border and come back. It’s typically done by bus to a land border. Get somewhere, turn around, come back.

Border runs used to be wildly popular, as a land border could be close to where you live, and by going across and coming back, you could get a new entry stamp and stay for 30 days. But no more. Since 2014, the Thai government is really cracking down on this, so border runs have become less and less popular – even to the extent of generating headlines like “Visa Runs Are Now Illegal“.

Border runs can still be useful – but really only useful in 2 instances:

1) If you have a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa. If you have an METV, you can go to any border, cross over, turn around and come back in with a fresh 60 day stamp. No issues.

2) If you are desperate to stay in Thailand, and you’ve already done a 30 day extension, you can go to a land border, cross over and come back in to get a 30 day visa exemption / visa waiver. Bare in mind you can only do this twice in any one year, and the chances of you not being let in because of how you dress, or how much money you have, or something equally as petty, greatly increase. 30 days is of course from the perspective of being a resident of one of the 52 countries that get a free visa exemption on arrival (list above), other nationalities may get shorter/longer.

How to stay in Thailand Long Term

Thailand Digital Nomad Visa

There is no digital nomad visa for Thailand! And sites that claim that there are and that want to help you are trying to make money out of you! Never use companies like that.

Getting most visas as a digital nomad is ridiculously easy, millions of people do it every year. You don’t need an agent to do the paperwork, stand in line or anything else. You will save pretty much zero time, agents typically cost a lot extra, and sometimes, things even take longer using a visa agent. I know numerous people who have said “I need paperwork by this date” to their agent, who then messes it up, causing people to rebook multiple new flights and lose a lot of money. So any of the visas we mention here, go to immigration or go direct, don’t use agents.

Learn Thai Visa

Learning Thai can be a good way for you to stay for 6 months, 1 year, or even multiple years. You have to pay to attend any school – typically 20,000 – 35,000 baht (£450-£800) per year.

You normally have to attend at least 2 sessions per week, normally 4 hours per session, plus home work. Normally the learning year is not a full year, and you will get a a few months break inline with the school holidays, but your visa is still good during this time.

Learning Thai will make your life easier in Thailand, but as you have to attend school you don’t have any freedom to move areas or take holidays. It’s hard to find a good school and good teachers, and worst of all, Thai immigration know people use “learning Thai” as a way to stay longer, so now try to test you when you go to immigration offices to renew your visa (every 90 days).

With the 90 day reporting, the need to go to the school regularly, and being stuck in one place, I would choose an area like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or maybe Phuket, as they have immigration offices, international airports, and coworking scenes. Try to attend the school for a taster session or meet your teacher first, one year is a long time to be stuck with someone who sucks.

Self Defence Visa (Chiang Mai only)

Self Defence Visa Chiang Mai
Hi Mum, err.. Yeah, everything is fine in Thailand… Very friendly!

The Self Defence Visa (or hand-to-hand combat visa) is only available in Chiang Mai, but as many digital nomads want to be there, I am including it in this general guide.

The self defence visa in Chiang Mai is almost too good to be true – you stay for a year, you get fast track 90 day reporting at immigration, you can have holidays when you want with a re-entry permit attached, you don’t have to go to classes, and there are no tests for you to do, and if you do go to classes, you learn how to protect yourself! Including firing guns!

The Self Defence Visa is run by the Military Police, which is a good thing in Thailand right now. It’s also pretty affordable – 33,000 baht per year (£750) and I believe can be done for 3 years.

More Info: Hand to Hand Combat

IGLU Business Services

IGLU Thailand Visa
If these girls are EVER at IGLU I would be very very surprised

IGLU is a great solution for nomads who are seeking a stable, fully legal solution to work in Thailand, with extra perks for their business – albeit at a cost.

IGLU essentially employs you. You pay IGLU (from your remote job, or from your clients, or from your company elsewhere), they take a cut, and then they pay you the rest as a wage. Out of their cut includes your tax to the Thai government, free use of the IGLU coworking spaces, your visa and free healthcare.

You need to put through a minimum of $2,500 USD per month (£2,000) through IGLU, they take 30% ($750/£600) and you get the rest, and this is with a minimum 1 year contract.

The people I know who do this issue $2,500 USD every month to IGLU from their own company, and thats the money they bring in to Thailand to live on, leaving the rest off-shore, re-invested or bought in to Thailand after 1 year as savings (tax free). They become official tax residents of Thailand, removing tax burdens from their home country.

IGLU have coworking spaces in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, and seems to predominantly attract developers. They also offer outsourcing, so if you want to bootstrap a project and get a cheap team working with you, they might be worth speaking to.

More Info: IGLU

Elite Visa

Thai Elite Visa
The Thai Elite Visa, proving once again that money can bring happiness

Offering visas from a minimum of 5 years, all the way up to 20 years, the Thai Elite Visa lets you stay for one whole year every time you go through immigration. But as you’re Elite, you won’t ever need to go through immigration – you get met at the airport every time you arrive and walked through in a couple of minutes, straight to a free limousine to take you home.

You also get access to airport lounges while you wait for planes, a government concierge to help you wish any other things you need (driving licence, hospital help etc), and 24/7 support. And that’s just the basic package! Longer packages include free golf club memberships and spa days.

Costing 500,000 THB (£11,000) for 5 years (£2,200 per year) or 2,000,000 THB (£45,000) for 20 years (£2,200 per year), when compared with paying for IGLU its a steal, and the amount of time you save when compared to a learning thai visa, getting an Elite Visa for long stays in Thailand starts to make sense!

More Info: Elite Visa

Other ways

Retirement Non-Immigrant Visa O – If you are over 50, it’s well worth looking at Thailands retirements visa options. Not gonna dwell on retirement stuff here though.

Business Non-Immigrant Visa B – A business visa is possible to get – from 3 months to 3 years – it just involves jumping through hoops, and you may need to be doing business or have a working relationship with an existing Thai business, or start a subsidiary company in Thailand to qualify. All quite long winded, will only apply to the people who love bureaucracy, as there is tons involved.

Volunteer – There are some NPOs that allow foreigners to volunteer for them. For one day a week helping out, they will give you a  Non-Immigrant Visa O.

Get married – Um…. Yeah, get married to a local, get a visa, then…

Get a job – Um…. Yeah, get a local job, like an English teacher, you’ll get a work permit and Non-Immigrant Visa B which will let you stay.

Common Visa Questions

Can I get a visa for Thailand in Thailand?

You cannot get a tourist visa for Thailand in Thailand. Once you are in Thailand, you can extend your current visa or you have to leave the country. Even if getting a long term visa (such as Education Visa, or Self Defence, or Non Immigrant B working visa) you still have to LEAVE the country to activate it in virtually all cases.

How do I deal with Thailand Immigration at borders?

Chances are that Thai immigration will ask you zero questions, ever. If they do, the answer you need to give is probably “Tourism“.

If you want to ensure easy passage through immigration I would recommend you:

  • Have funds to support yourself. From immigrations perspective a suitable amount is 20,000 baht per person. So carry 20,000 baht or the equivalent in your currency (£500 / $700), or have bank cards available (although this may back fire if you can’t withdraw the money before immigration!). A print out of bank records is also a good idea to have as an alternative.
  • Have a flight booked out of the country. As long as you have a flight out at some time it’s fine,  immigration dont mind as long as they know they will definitely get rid of you at some point.
  • Never overstay on a visa. Overstaying in Thailand is serious, but like anything in Thailand, it is as serious as the money you have to spend. If you overstay your visa, you need to pay a fine of 500 baht (£10) per day. Sometimes they let you off. If you overstay more than a few days, that’s pretty bad, and this could effect you entering Thailand forever. Official rules.
  • Don’t abuse Visa Exemptions/ Visa Waivers. As discussed, you can have 2 of these at a land border per year, and (maybe) 6 by air per year. But even then, you could be “blacklisted” for less (have encountered one person who is banned from getting Visa Exemptions to enter Thailand now) – so get a visa in advance! If immigration thinks you are abusing the system, they could ban you from entering without visa for life, so if you think you have too many, you probably have too many.

Where can I find Thai visa application form?

Every embassy or consulate has their own forms – See a directory of Thai Embassy/Consular/Official offices.

To get an SETV or METV from the UK, here is the visa application form.

What is the 90 day Thai tourist visa?

There is no such thing as a 90 day tourist visa. This is most likely to be referring to an SETV (60 days), combined with a visa extension (30 days).

Can I get a Thai visa online in the UK?

No, you can get an SETV or METV in person or by post from London, or in person from Hull. There are no eVisa services for Thailand.

How can I leave Thailand without messing up my Visa?

Get a re-entry permit. The re-entry permit allows you to carry on your existing stamp when you come back in to the country.

Do I need a Thai visa?

Here are some common scenarios I see with visas and questions:

I am going for a yearly visit of under 60 days, or a few short visits every year. You don’t need a visa in advance, just get the Visa Exemption/Waiver every time.

I want to visit Thailand for a few weeks, then go to Cambodia, then back to Thailand for a few more weeks before I head home. You don’t need a visa in advance, just use the Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver.

I want to stay in Thailand for 3 months. Get a SETV (60 days) and a 30 day extension.

I want to stay in Thailand for 6 months. Get a SETV (60 days) and a 30 day extension. Leave the country, get another SETV, go back to Thailand and then get another 30 day extension.

More Resources

The Thai Visa Advice Facebook group is one of the better online resources for your questions with a few solid responders.

What have I missed? Does something not make sense? What are YOUR experiences of getting a visa for Thailand? Let me know in the comments… But if you have a question, make sure you have read the guide first!

The post Thai Visas, Immigration, & staying in Thailand – The Complete Thai Visa Guide for 2017 appeared first on Location Independent.

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Finding digital nomad accommodation : How do location independent entrepreneurs & digital nomads find apartments to live in? https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/finding-digital-nomad-accommodation/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/finding-digital-nomad-accommodation/#comments Sun, 15 Jan 2017 10:13:01 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=298 Finding digital nomad accommodation can be daunting for a first timer, time consuming for even experienced nomads, and can lead to your living costs spiralling if the wrong decisions are made. Read my top tips of how to find cheap digital nomad accommodation in whatever place you go.

The post Finding digital nomad accommodation : How do location independent entrepreneurs & digital nomads find apartments to live in? appeared first on Location Independent.

Finding digital nomad accommodation

Finding digital nomad accommodation can be daunting for a first timer, time consuming for even experienced nomads, and can lead to your living costs spiralling if the wrong decisions are made. Read my top tips of how to find cheap digital nomad accommodation in whatever place you go.

How do location independent entrepreneurs and digital nomads find apartments to live in? You may think this is an easy task, and nomads are living it up in AirBNBs or swanky hotels around the world. The reality I think is quite different – many nomads like not only a good deal, they want to get a place that suits them, so finding digital nomad accommodation can be a tricky and time consuming thing.

Good internet is so important, it makes most hotels out of the question. AirBNB is the natural fallback choice, but even then, it is starting to get harder to find decent deals – landlords are starting to realise the values of their properties (London, for example), there is plenty of demand (New York, Berlin, etc), or there aren’t enough properties to go around of decent enough quality (Belgrade, Barcelona, etc).

I love a good deal, and I will hustle until I get a real bargain in a great place, as it just makes the whole experience sweeter. I’ve managed to get a 3 bedroom modern villa on a beach with a massive private pool for under £400 per month, a brand new penthouse apartment high up an island mountain with stunning views for under £300 per month (pictured below), a luxury city apartment for £320, a 3 bedroom apartment with a massive amazing sun terrace for £400… You get the idea. These things are possible if you hold out and believe you’ll get a deal.

Morning Koh Samui! (And an 'ickle Phagnan in the background)

A post shared by James Hunt (@thetwopct) on

Finding the best digital nomad accommodation

These are a few tips I’ve learnt by being location independent for the last few years, and here is my typical process before I move somewhere:

1) Set a budget. Set the budget you would like to pay per month, and then set a stretch budget. When searching for places, use your stretch budget plus about 50% – assume you will get a discount. My budget is typically £400 per month (converted to the local currency), with a stretch budget of £500 and I search for places up to about £750 per month. This gives you solid figures to work with when communicating with hosts. Aim to get all prices within your original budget. Bills can be on top, they are never that much extra. Of course, spend less if you can, the place I’m currently staying at in Chiang Mai is costing just £260 per month, but it ticked all the boxes.

2) Start with things you want to live near. Which for me is normally a coworking spot, or friends, or the beach, yoga studio, coffee shops etc. Pull up a Google Map, favourite a few spots. Use Foursquare, do the same. Then work out the rough areas you want to live from there. Google the name of that area, see what comes up to make sure you are not trying to move in to a ghetto. This niches down your target area and allows you to focus on getting the best in the area you really want to be in.

3) Speak to a coworking space. They probably have this question asked all the time “can you recommend anywhere to stay?“, so if you email them they can probably send you lists of “friendly” places to stay, or even hook you up with a deal directly (shout out to KoHub in Koh Lanta who does this!).

4) Look for coliving places. Coliving is slowly becoming a thing, where entrepreneurs all get together in a house or building and do great things together. I normally do a quick search for one in the area I want to be, just to see what comes up, search “coliving in location” or search a coliving directory like CoWoLi or Coliving.org.

5) Look on AirBNB. Pull up the AirBNB map and match the areas you want, filter by what you need (WiFi, AC, or whatever) and then see what results you get. Save all the results you like to a list. Pull up the list, enter your dates, see whats available and then message all the Hosts, saying you want to stay for X days, but your budget is this XX, are they interested in cutting a deal. Sometimes this works, but more often than not recently, prices are geared towards short stays <7 days, but you never know.

6) Look on other holiday lettings websites. This doesn’t work for all areas, but in places where there is a lot of tourism, there is also people who stay in there homes seasonally. I’ve had great deals in Spain of whole villas for half the cost of a small hotel room. Websites like HolidayLettings, HomeAway, VRBO, 9Flats may have something. Occasionally there may be a country specific website – search “holiday lettings location” on Google to be sure. Again, make a list of the ones you like, then message them all asking for a deal within your budget.

7) Search for “serviced apartments”. Serviced apartments are typically fully furnished, with cleaning and internet all ready to go. You can sometimes find them on Agoda, or Booking.com, if not, google “serviced apartments in location”. They are sometimes pretty expensive, and sometimes they try and put multiple people in one place, so make sure you look carefully at the listing.

8) Look on localised “classifieds” websites. Sites like CraigsList or Gumtree, the “free ad” style websites, normally have a holiday lettings or short term lets section. Its worth looking through these to get a feel for pricing as they tend to be accurate/cheaper when compared to AirBNB (as there are no charges to get bookings for the owner and less regulations). They may not be in English, so use Google Translate to work out the words for apartment rent and then Google that to find other sites in the area (example: Spanish apartments in Tarifa, search “alquiler tarifa espana”. If you are staying somewhere for a few months, its worth looking at the standard rental pages, and asking fully furnished places if they are able to accommodate short lets. You may also come across an agent or two…

9) Contact a real estate agent in the location. Depending on where you want to go, these can be really useful. In London and I guess in many other expensive cities, estate agents are pretty useless and won’t return your calls, especially for short lets.

But in places like Thailand, they are happy to get your business and run around with you all day showing you places. I’ve found some great agents with real local knowledge in South East Asia who have found me great deals and expect little for it. In Chiang Mai, Perfect Homes Properties provide a great service when looking for an apartment. They can quickly arrange lots of viewings for you, and have lots of exclusive places as they also have a thai property site.

10) Facebook groups. Search on Facebook for “location rent” and see what groups are suggested. Join a few, see what adverts are being posted and go from there. Most people posting don’t seem to put locations, so ask for the Google map link to the area. If you don’t see something suitable that you want to live in, post up a “wanted” advert in the group and say what you are looking for, and wait for people to get in touch.

11) Find deals on the ground. Book a cheap hotel or AirBNB for a few days in the area you want to be in, then walk/drive around looking for places to rent. This is the standard procedure for Chiang Mai, where booking in advance is near impossible, and where short term lets are easily available.

12) Become a Housesitter. Always worth checking this out if you are on a tight budget – people want you to house sit their home while they travel. Which means you get to live in their home for free! Its a great way to find accommodation and have a trip that isn’t the norm – live like a local!

13) Ask other location independent entrepreneurs. A few times I’ve not had much luck finding good places to live, so I have asked for advice from friends or in communities I am member of (such as NomadList).

3 ways to get the best deal on accommodation

Make sure the property is suitable for you before you try to get a deal. Ask all your questions about the property before trying to get a deal. It gives you more information about the property and you might be able to use the information to get a deal.

Never pay asking price. People like money. And properties need to make money. So if an owner doesn’t have anyone in a property,  and you offer them something, they may well take it.

Wait until the last minute. If you can find a hotel thats available within your budget, and it offers free cancellation, book it. This gives you a safety net. Then wait until a few days before you are due to arrive, then email all apartment owners asking for a “last minute deal” – if it happens, great, cancel the hotel. If not, you have the hotel to fallback on.

Just ask for a deal. I think the phrase is “if you don’t ask you don’t get” so ask the owner if they can drop the price, or if they can cover the internet bill for the property, or what is there lowest price, or whats the best deal if I pay upfront for 3 months, etc. Sometimes these deals are better when you are face to face with someone – if they like you its more likely to happen. What’s the worst that can happen??

How to speed up the accommodation finding process

Get your story right. Put together some email copy that you will send to each owner; you are in the area for X months, you arrive on X date, leave on X date, you like the look of their property, you are looking for somewhere with great internet as you work online, you are staying on your own, you keep places clean, you have great references, do you have availability? etc, etc. Whatever you are happy with. When you write this once, save it to a text file so you can easily copy and paste in to future enquiries.

Get your follow up right. The owner has availability, the internet speed is good, the place looks nice. Its a goer. So now you need to put together a followup email; I’m really interested in taking your place, as this is a last minute arrangement are you able to offer me a deal, my top budget is X, can leave you a great review on the property, etc etc.

Get a VA to do it all. Different stages of this can be done by a virtual assistant, from initial research, to sending emails, to follow ups. If you write your required list, dates, email responses, you could easily re-use it from place to place with your assistant.

Hire a local assistant. If the language barrier is a problem, or if your only solution is to get to a place and then find accommodation, why not hire a local assistant. Use Upwork or Fiverr to post a job, and specify the candidate must be in your future location. Get them to go and look for apartments, find availability, organise appointments, take photos, and find places that you might not ever find about unless you were a local.

Are any of these tips useful? What are your top tips for finding accommodation wherever you go? Let me know in the comments.

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Reflections on a location independent year: my 2016 roundup & 2017 thoughts https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/reflections-location-independent-year-2016-roundup-2017-thoughts/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/reflections-location-independent-year-2016-roundup-2017-thoughts/#comments Tue, 03 Jan 2017 07:06:48 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=268 I wanted to put together a roundup of lessons I've learnt "on the road" in 2016, and some of my goals I will achieve in 2017. Hopefully they will help you on your own journey or inspire you to take up some challenges for the new year! What did you learn in 2016?

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I wanted to put together a roundup of things I’ve learnt “on the road” in 2016, and some of my goals I will achieve in 2017. Hopefully they will help you on your own journey or inspire you to take up some challenges for the new year.

I haven’t been overly nomadic in 2016, but location independence is one of those wonderful things where you can say “I like that place and I’m going to stay there for a while” which is what I have done, being mostly based in Chiang Mai.

6 things I have learnt while travelling in 2016

1) Good posture is essential

I spent most of 2014 and 2015 in pain with a dodgy shoulder (thanks osteoarthritis!) but I finally had an operation on it in April to ease the pain, followed by 4 months of physiotherapy. Until I saw my physio I never fully understood how bad my posture was, but he told me all about it, and told me all about his other clients – back pain and shoulder injuries through bad posture is his most common treatment nowadays and this guy is a 30 year veteran.

I invested in a Roost stand, along with external Mac keyboard and mouse, and instantly saw an improvement in my body. I also stopped working from coffee shops, and I now look for proper height adjustable chairs with good back support. Don’t think bad posture isn’t a big deal, its a major problem and effects all aspects of your life, so invest now or pay later.

My Roost Stand
My Roost took a while to get delivered, so I used a childs seat from 7-11!

2) Meeting new people is hard but you gotta do it

I’m pretty shy and suffer from Resting Bitch Face, which basically means, I find meeting people pretty hard. But I’m not alone in that. I read lots of blogs about nomads experiencing loneliness.

Deep down, I want to meet people and have a laugh, so I try my best to put myself out of my comfort zone and just get on with it. Say hello to random people, remember to smile, ask people if they want to grab lunch, I’ve even organised a few meetups in places that didn’t have events, so I and others could all benefit.

On the #Nomads chat group, I kept seeing people post up things like “Anyone want to grab dinner tonight?” so off the back of that I started Don’t Eat Alone – a way for nomads to meet up over a meal.

Don't Eat Alone
An MVP I threw together to get people eating and meeting

3) Community and learning from others is really important to me

One of the reasons I came back to Chiang Mai from Europe in May (while most others where going in the opposite direction) was the community in town. Being able to vibe off of people in the coworking space working on similar things, grabbing lunches with people and getting new ideas, going to meetups, fixing problems over a beer or three; its priceless to me, and I’ve never really experienced that anywhere else.

Don’t believe some of the naysayers that claim Chiang Mai is just full of “digital no-moneys“, there are some seriously talented people in Chiang Mai, doing lots of ridiculously interesting stuff, and making lots of cash in the process.

When I stayed in places without a community it really affected my output. Realising how important community is helped me make a decision about a new side project – LiveWorkFit – which will take a high level community of entrepreneurs to different spots around the world. If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…

LiveWorkFit is a coworkation for entrepreneurs in different spots around the world

4) I still feel like a fraud

A weird one this. I’ve done and achieved a lot, a ridiculous amount, but I still feel like I know nothing. Everyday in Chiang Mai I meet people making courses or building products where their history doesn’t match what they are putting out – “I made X that didn’t make me a millionaire, so I’m here to tell you how to become a millionaire, for only $999 – buy now” LOL wut.

I had to take a break from going to some of the meetups here as they just started… annoying me. Social media gurus teaching you how to do social media when they have fuck all clout. Marketing gurus “crushing it” who’ve never read a marketing book in their lives. YouTube gurus who just talk shit at a camera until it sticks. I’m all up for sharing knowledge, but for fucks sake, YouTube is free, if you are desperate for presenters just load up a Seth Godin talk or something. I digress. But this feeling is something I want to work on in 2017 and get to the bottom of why I feel like this.

Most “experts” I meet are at that first high point – beware

5) I like to listen to stuff I know

This is something that I realised I was doing in April – I was only listening to music that I knew. Back in London, I was a ferocious consumer of new music, every week piling hundreds of songs in to my playlists on Spotify to listen too and file away. But since travelling, not only have I been listening to less music (I think I need to travel with a stereo!) and I am commuting less (the classic time to listen to music) but I am only listening to stuff I know.

Maybe its a familiarity thing – while in the UK, all I want to do is escape; but while travelling, all I want is a slice of comfort. I moved my favourite songs in to iTunes, and then cancelled my Spotify subscription (after moving some of my favourite playlists to YouTube).

Yeah, maybe I should just use iTunes if I’m gonna listen to Snoop Dogg everyday

6) I’m thinking about my home a lot

My “home” will always be London I think, I’ve had some amazing times there, and recently I have been missing it. Travelling is great and is such an amazing experience, but I think the phrase “you need to travel to realise what you have at home” maybe sums it up.

I love my flat in Southbank, I walk or cycle everywhere, healthy food is abundant and actually affordable, I have an amazing gym on my doorstep, a great park to visit, I can drink great coffee, and its got that… vibe. But yes, expensive to live in, but I’m pretty frugal, and I love to cook at home… Maybe this is rose-tinted glasses, but we’ll see. You certainly realise how lucky you are in London when travelling – people moan about Tesco Local being full of bad foods, they want to try finding anything healthy in a Thai 7-11!

The Shard London
I love the view from my apartment

My goals for 2017 as a location independent entrepreneur

These goals have been generalised for publication on the blog – anything you set should follow the SMART criteria! So in 2017, I will do the following things:

1) Read one book a month

This was a good suggestion from one of my best friends, and it made me think about this great blog post I read a few months back about the time in your life and how to spend it.

even though it feels like I’ll read an endless number of books in the future, I actually have to choose only 300 of all the books out there to read and accept that I’ll sign off for eternity without knowing what goes on in all the rest.

I tend to read a lot of trash adventure books which relax me before bed, but I won’t be including these in my total. That will force me to make more time to read at times when I would otherwise be doing something else – like watching crap on YouTube!


All the books you will read before you die. Choose wisely.

2) Go to the gym 3 times a week

I don’t want to commit to every day, just 3 times per week as a minimum. I’ve had an unhealthy few years (see posture/shoulder note above) and I want to change that. I need to move more, and I find in Thailand I don’t walk enough which I love to do in the UK. I’m going to walk more, I’m going to cycle more, and I’m going to get back in to running, so I will start Couch to 5K before end of January.

3) Focus on helping people

I love helping people out and seeing them succeed, as well as giving me an opportunity to test my own knowledge. I know a lot of crap and done a lot, so if my failures or success can help someone else – I think I should pass it on. I want to make some info products on topics I know a lot about and what I am passionate about. I’ve never made an info product before, but theres plenty of people out there who make them without knowing jack shit, so I can definitely add lots of value. Through LiveWorkFit, I want to help other entrepreneurs, and through this blog, want to help anyone looking to start this lifestyle.

4) See more of the world

I’ve spent 7 months in Chiang Mai this year – which has been amazing and productive – but I don’t want to get stuck here forever. In 2017 I want to move a bit more frequently, 1-2 months per place. Move around South East Asia some more, then hopefully heading towards South America for the end of the year if I decide to jump on the Nomad Cruise.

My nomadic year which hasn’t been that nomadic

5) Work on being proud of what I and others have done

An extension of something I’ve noticed about myself in 2016 – feeling like a fraud and wanting to change my mindset. I want to be comfortable with my knowledge, and get a little bit of that “U-S-A” style confidence, which I should have, and share it with people.

I read a great article from my friend Biron about changing mindsets and it really resonated with me. You should read it. I need to change my mindset. In his article the first two steps to greatness and success are:

Step 1: Change how you view the success of others
Next time you read about someone selling their startup, or somebody making five or six figures to endorse a brand or anything else like that, stop yourself from saying something negative or playing it off as luck.

Think about the work that went into building their company or their audience. If it’s so easy why haven’t you done it? Stop yourself and really think about what went into that “overnight success.”

Step 2: Kill Jealousy!
I used to be discouraged when other people succeeded. Sounds crazy, I know. It’s a horrible mindset but it’s tough to shake. Now if someone else succeeds, they’ve literally shown me a proven path to get what I want (money and freedom). I should thank them (and often do). They showed me it was possible, and how. Jealous people don’t succeed.

I’m not sure right now if either of those things apply to me, but its food for thought, and I want to spend more time on this in 2017.

6) Keep making things that are fun

I have so many ideas of things to make and businesses to create that I genuinely have a hard time knowing what to do each week. But the latter half of 2016 has allowed me to explore some of these ideas and get a bit creative and out of the grind. Its been really exciting, and I want to continue doing that in 2017. I’ve enjoyed making things that fix problems and fix things that I want fixed. Control freak MUCH! I was seriously thinking about creating 12 startups in 12 months as a fun challenge, but maybe I’ll settle for 6… what’s the rush.

Can you relate to any of these learnings? What are your goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments…

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Thailand’s Christmas Present: Free Thai Tourist Visas (Worldwide) until end of February 2017 https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/free-thai-tourist-visas-thailand-2017/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/free-thai-tourist-visas-thailand-2017/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 08:46:38 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=251 In a bid to encourage tourism through high season, Thailand have announced that Single Entry visas will be free until the end of February 2017 and gives you 60 days in Thailand. If you are coming to Thailand before end of May 2017, apply early so you get your visa for free!

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Free Tourist Visa to Thailand

In a bid to encourage tourism through high season, Thailand have announced that Single Entry visas will be free from now until the end of February 2017.

Just a quick update from me on this one – as Thailand is such a hub for digital nomads and location independent entrepreneurs, I felt it was worth sharing this info.

Thailand has waived the tourist visa fees for all nationalities when applying for a Single Entry visa in advance of your arrival in the country. Valid from 1st December until 28th February 2017, this is a worldwide offer – so is available from London, New York, Penang or wherever you go to get a visa. This means its a great deal for those just starting out at home, or those in Thailand looking to book some trips out the country to get a new visa.

The Single Entry visa is normally £25 in the UK, and gives you 60 days in Thailand, which can then be extended by 30 days extra by visiting an immigration office. The Single Entry visa is easier to get than the Multi Entry visa, and much more cost effective (in my opinion) for concentrated stays in Thailand. And now its FREE, its even better!

The Single Entry visa that is issued is valid for 3 months, so if you are planning on coming before end of May, its worth applying for a tourist visa during the free offer period to save some money.

If you are coming to Thailand before end of May 2017 apply early so you get your visa for free.

Its been confirmed that all Thai Embassy and Consulates are offering the discount, here are some of the the official announcements from around the world:

Free Thai tourist visa in London, UK:

Thai Visa in London UK

Free Thai tourist visa in New York:

Thai Visa in New York

Free Thai tourist visa in Penang Malaysia:

Thai Visa in Penang Malaysia

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Short-term accommodation options in Chiang Mai https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/short-term-accommodation-options-in-chiang-mai/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/short-term-accommodation-options-in-chiang-mai/#respond Mon, 07 Nov 2016 17:30:31 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=61 In this post I outline some of the best, easiest and cheapest options for short term accommodation and apartment renting in Chiang Mai. I'll tell you places you can just turn up and move in, accommodation you can book online, and places you can stay in to give you a taste of longer term accommodation

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In this post I outline some of the best, easiest and cheapest options for short term accommodation and apartment renting in Chiang Mai.

When visiting Chiang Mai as a digital nomad, the advice when it comes to finding a place to live from most people is simple: “stay somewhere for a few days, then scout around for an apartment and move in“.

It sounds super simple, but even then, making the decision of where to stay those first few days isn’t easy. Which areas are good? Where do people hang out? What if the place I pick is terrible?!

In this blog post, I outline some of the best and easiest options for short term accommodation in Chiang Mai. I will tell you places you can just turn up and move in, accommodation that you can book online, and even places that you can stay in to give you a taste of longer term accommodation. All accommodation and prices listed are for rooms, I never recommend hostels or shared rooms.

Short Term Accommodation in Nimman Area Chiang Mai

In order of recommendation:

Baan Say La Guesthouse

Baan Sa Lay is my top choice for a short term stay at a great price
Baan Sa Lay is my top choice for a short term stay at a great price

Right in the thick of Nimman, Baan Say La is moments away from the main Nimman road, but far enough way to not be too crazy. Combined with its traditional Thai styling (and of course WiFi), Baan is a great place to stay. Moments away is Mana Coworking space, Starbucks, Wawee Coffee, a 7-11 and lots of other things – and its on the same road as Healthy B Cafe and Library Coffee Salad – both popular event and meetup places for digital nomad events in Chiang Mai. With limited rooms, booking in advance is essential, but I think this is one of the best spots to pitch up for a few days.

Baan Say La Guesthouse
Book Online: Link
Price per night: 700 baht (£16/$21)
Contact: Website / Facebook

PT Residence

Big pimping leather couch in PT Residence
Big pimping leather couch in PT Residence

Located set back from Sirimangkalajarn Road (parallel to Nimman), PT Residence is seconds from the roads of Nimman. The rooms were refurbished in the summer of 2016. Most rooms have balconies, WiFi is good, there is a Roastniyom coffee shop and 7-11 downstairs, and Punspace Nimman is 5 minutes walk away. I’ve never known PT to be fully booked and walk-ins are fine. They don’t use hotel websites for bookings, but have just launched a new website. PT is owned by the same people as the upmarket The Mirror (next door, but the Mirror doesn’t rent day to day) so contact The Mirror for enquiries and they should be able to help. Not to be confused with PT Place on Nimman. PT is one of the best value-for-money long term places to stay, so its recommended for short term too.

PT Residence
Book Online: N/A
Price per night: 679 baht (£15/$20)
Contact: Website / Facebook

Chiang Mai Lodge

I hope whoever built that wall partition is proud of themselves
I hope whoever built that wall partition is proud of themselves

Located slightly further away from Nimman area and towards Santitham (a cheaper locals area), Chiang Mai Lodge is an older building situated in a busy back road that is known for several expat/backpacker bars and shops (tip: don’t get a road-facing room). One of my favourite coffee/coworking spots – Ombra Coffee – is right next door. Chiang Mai Lodge always has rooms available, and if you are looking for a budget place with everything you need on your doorstep you won’t go far wrong. Longer term rooms are only 5,000 to 6,800 (£110-£160) per month, so check this place out for cheap lengthy stays.

Chiang Mai Lodge
Book Online: Link
Price per night: 650 baht (£15/$20)
Contact: Website

The Dome

The Dome. 80 year old man in corner not shown.
The Dome. 80 year old man in corner not shown.

One of the most well known condos in Chiang Mai, staying at The Dome will make sure every taxi driver and tuk-tuk mafia knows where you are staying. Well known for its older expat scene, The Dome has a small gym and a cafe (Noi’s) on the ground floor where you can meet and hang out with other expats. I’ve never known The Dome to be fully booked and walk-ins are fine. If you want to check out a quiet place with a more “refined” crowd, The Dome is a good start.

The Dome
Book Online: Link
Price per night: 679 baht (£15/$20)
Contact: Website

Varada Place

This is the best photo I could find of Varada Place. Doesn't bode well.
This is the best photo I could find of Varada Place. Doesn’t bode well.

In the same back road as Chiang Mai Lodge, Varada Place is a similar budget place. Opposite the Corner Bistro (known for its Friday night Hip Hop and Fries night), Varada is pretty basic but clean accommodation that due to good reviews and not many rooms, does fill up, so book in advance. Prices drop for longer term stays – 5,000 baht (£110/$140) per month – so stay for a few days and maybe stay if you like it (personally, I dislike places with corridor-facing windows).

Varada Place
Book Online: Link
Price per night: 585 baht (£14/$19)
Contact: Website

Pansook The Urban

This is a toilet. In Pansook. How about that for culture?
This is a toilet. In Pansook. How about that for culture?

In the same road as The Dome, Pansook The Urban is a much more modern building. With a younger and more local crowd, Pansook The Urban also now rents some rooms by the night, which can give you a chance to check this place out to see if you want to stay there longer term. Monthly rates are around 15,000 (£350/$425). Rooms are pretty big, with small kitchen units, washing facilities, and small balconies. Its pricey for just a few nights, and you may find better deals on AirBNB.

Pansook The Urban
Book Online: Link
Price per night: 1,300 baht (£31)
Contact: Website

AirBNB places around Nimman

Maybe someone has recommended a place for you to stay at and you know the building name. If thats the case, why not live like a local and stay at an AirBNB in one of these popular apartment blocks that you may also be able to stay long term in. Better to commit for a few days and find out if you like it rather than a few months! These aren’t recommendations for these particular AirBNB listings, but maybe you’ll find this useful if you want to stay in a particular apartment block.

PT Residence

A great long term stay place, near to Nimman, but not on it. Monthly rates around 9,000 baht.


The Nimman

Pretty new place, nice pool and gym. Close to Mana and Maya. Monthly rates 20,000-30,000.



Another high end place, nice pool. Close to Mana and Maya.



Right next to Maya Mall (includes CAMP coworking space).


Palm Spring Soi 5

Rather new place, trying to be high end.


Hillside 3

Tired old place but some rooms have been renovated. Monthly rates from 10,000-30,000.


Hillside 2

Right on Nimman, so can be noisy.


Hillside 4

Big swimming pool and good gym on site, but neither free when you stay there.


Accommodation near Punspace Thae Pae Gate

Punspace at Thae Pae Gate is, in my humble opinion, the best coworking space in Chiang Mai. Spacious, good internet, decent tables and chairs, great coffee shop, Skype rooms, nice toilets. It ticks all the boxes. And its nowhere near Nimman! The East side of Chiang Mai is also pretty cool, yes its got more backpackers, things are a little more expensive, less spicy and less “Thai”, but it also has the best healthy food options and feels pretty chill in the little back roads of the Old City.

Smiths Suites

Smith Suites rooftop pool will make digital nomad problems disappear
Smith Suites rooftop pool will make digital nomad problems disappear

My favourite accommodation in the old city (well, just outside it), the Smiths Suites are beautifully modern and available for daily and monthly rental. Just like most stuff on the East Side of Old City, Smiths is expensive. But with a roof top pool and spacious rooms, and with Punspace only 5 minutes away, its a great place to be based. Unfortunately, its damn popular, so book early and thank Buddha you got a reservation.

Smiths Suites
Book Online: Link
Price per night: 1,700 baht (£40/$50)
Contact: Website

Where else to stay?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of places to stay in Chiang Mai, but it should set you on the right track to getting up and running during your stay, meeting some people in the digital nomad / location independent scene, and making sure you aren’t staying in a hell hole!

Where did you stay? Would you recommend it? Let me know in the comments!

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Getting a SIM card and Wi-Fi access in Thailand: 4G Data Hacks, plus AIS Super WiFi guide https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/sim-card-thailand-ais-super-wifi-guide/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/sim-card-thailand-ais-super-wifi-guide/#comments Sat, 15 Oct 2016 08:35:41 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=130 If you're a digital nomad visiting Thailand, this ultimate guide should help you get data on your phone as soon as you arrive in Thailand, extra data with low cost hacks, free wifi on your computer and even the mythical Super Wi-Fi fibre speeds - and all at a super low cost price.

The post Getting a SIM card and Wi-Fi access in Thailand: 4G Data Hacks, plus AIS Super WiFi guide appeared first on Location Independent.

Mobile Data SIM packages in Thailand

If you’re a digital nomad visiting Thailand, this ultimate guide should help you get data on your phone as soon as you arrive in Thailand, wifi on your computer and even the mythical Super Wi-Fi fibre speeds, and all at a super low cost price.

With data support for your phone, finding your way around is much easier as well as finding cool hangout spots, meeting up with friends, as well as documenting your trip. UK phone networks charge something like £2-4 per MB of data in Thailand – so for the same price you can get a few GB of data in Thailand. Its a no-brainer to buy a SIM!


  1. What network to go with
  2. When and where to get a SIM card
  3. Which plan to get
  4. Adding add-ons to your plan
  5. Extra data hacks
  6. AIS Wi-Fi Guide
  7. Post-paid Plans
  8. Miscellaneous problems
  9. Summary

What network to go with

There are three key mobile phone networks:

  • AIS
  • DTAC
  • True

I am a big fan of AIS. They give consistent 3G/4G signals, even on the islands, even out in the middle of the sea. They have basic data plans, but with some hacks and codes, you can get a lot of data and fast speeds. In Chiang Mai, AIS sponsor the biggest free coworking space (CAMP), plus have Super WiFi hotspots in various places, so I think its a strong network to be with.

When I was on Koh Samui, I found True/3BB had a lot more WiFi hotspots you could connect to, but you can login to most of them with your AIS details for a small fee (25 baht per week). So AIS seems to be the best in my opinion. If you find yourself in a place that you need to change SIMs, its a few hundred baht to swap, so not a big mistake or change to make.

When and where to get a SIM card in Thailand

Coming in to Thailand, you will most likely find yourself in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport. I would strongly advise you to buy your SIM as soon as you exit Arrivals.

Why buy at the airport?

  • You will have your passport in your hand – which is needed to get any SIM
  • There are lots of phone networks stands (possibly all?) in the Arrivals hall
  • Its going to be right in front of you as you leave – locating the store elsewhere will be a hassle
  • The staff are super quick at understanding what you want and quick at doing it – 5-10 mins and you will be sorted
  • Most importantly – it will save you hours of time and hassle and let you find your hotel or hostel easily (I guarantee you your taxi driver won’t understand where you want to go)

To buy an AIS SIM card at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, visit the AIS stand in the International Arivals Hall between gate 6 and 7.

The AIS Store at Bangkok International Airport – this is where to buy a SIM card!

Depending on the sales agent dealing with you, they may make you buy a SIM card package first, then apply credit and then a package, or they just apply a package to an empty SIM. Wait and see, but “This is Thailand” so don’t expect consistency, hopefully some of the below will guide you. As an estimate, you will spend 200-300 baht on your mobile plan per month, so perhaps add this amount as credit at the stand.

To buy a SIM Card at Chiang Mai International Airport, head to the International Arrivals section of the airport. Its a 2-3 minute walk from domestic arrivals (Chiang Mai airport is a very small airport). Directly opposite the international arrival doors, there is a small shop called AIS Buddy. This is the only mobile phone shop at Chiang Mai airport, and will try to sell you a tourist SIM.

Which plan to get

Thailand has a plan for everyone – as in, there are about 50 million different packages you can use. OK, maybe not that many, but its certainly not easy to understand, so don’t worry if you get confused straight away.

As a tourist just arriving you can only get prepaid (“pay as you go”) SIM cards. The plans come in two formats – daily usage and monthly usage. I would avoid daily usage plans unless you are very very tight on cash and rarely use your phone, and as a “farang” the shop attendant will assume you want monthly.

Avoid the traveller SIM card they will try to sell you

The AIS Traveller SIM (tourist SIM) includes lots of stuff, but at a slightly inflated price and features only last for 7-14 days. They are great if you are in a group and passing through Thailand for just 7 days, but practically this isn’t great for many digital nomads who may be staying longer.

I have seen DTAC and True networks give away SIMs in Arrivals at the airport, and that seems like a great deal, right? But the top up and tariff you are on is over inflated so you will burn through credit much quicker. Maybe grab them if they are free (as a backup) but I wouldn’t use them unless desperate.

New SIM card packages for 2017

AIS have introduced a new set of SIMs. A lot of these SIM plans are aimed at Thai customers, offering free internet use of certain apps, like Facebook, LINE, YouTube and Thai-only music and video streaming services. SIM cards are typically 50 baht plus any options you may activate. The Traveller/Tourist SIMs are 299 baht upwards.

My recommended SIM to buy is the AIS 4G Net Sim
Includes: 2GB of data, AIS Super WiFI for 7 days – renews at 99 baht per week

The 4G Net Sim is 88 baht to buy
The 4G Net Sim is 88 baht to buy

Other plans you can look at:

Includes: 500Mb of data (6GB/12 Months), AIS WiFi free for 4 months, YouTube viewing free up to 2GB

Super Play 4G
Includes: 1GB internet, 52GB YouTube streaming

Super Social 4G
Includes: Unlimited usage of Facebook, LINE, WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Twitter. 1GB internet p/m use only between 11pm-6am.

Easy Free Net
Includes: Free unlimited internet – BUT only up to 64Kbps speed (very slow)

Read the small print of any plan – for example, ZEEd SIM offers “6GB internet” but in the small print, this is per year and divided per month! Any plan you get will auto-renew one week/month from the date of activation.

Adding add-ons to your package

AIS have a range of data net packages that auto-renew each month. Add-on data packages start at 299 baht per month. You can see all the options on the AIS website. These packages are good if you want a solid guarenteed amount for a fixed cost with minimal work required.

thailand sim-data-packages


  • As above, your package allowance will be doubled (roughly) for the first 6 months on each plan
  • Any package that includes AIS WiFi and that costs more than 500 baht gets upgraded for free to AIS Super WiFi (Unlimited)
  • The speeds mentioned in the grey text underneath each allowance is what your speeds default too after your allowances runs out

Extra data hacks to get maximum data for minimum cost

If you want maximum data for minimum costs, check out some of the deals below. They take a bit more work with top-ups, renews etc but not much more if you top-up your phone with a decent amount of baht.

Get 4GB of data for 2 weeks for 99 baht

Dial the below code to get 4GB of data that lasts for 2 weeks. It will subtract 99 baht from your balance.

Dial *777*776#

Per month: 198 baht for 8gb data per month

Get 5GB of data for 7 days for 159 baht

If you are a heavy user, get 5GB to power through in 7 days by dialling the following. It will cost you 159 baht.

Dial *777*7050#

Per month: 636 baht for 20gb data per month

Get 5GB of data for 3 days for 105 baht

Ideal for last minute intensive needs:

Dial *777*7040# 

There are lots of these codes, all available on the AIS website.

AIS WiFi Guide

AIS have Wi-Fi hotspots all over the place – malls, coffee shops, high streets, bars. They offer the ability to connect to the spots as part of many of their SIM card plans, or you can pay extra for access.

There are 2 types of AIS WiFi connection:

  • AIS Wi-Fi: N speed Wi-Fi, data speeds around 20Mb/5Mb maximum
  • AIS Super Wi-Fi: AC speed Wi-Fi , fibre data speeds 100Mb/100Mb minimums

If you are working in Thailand, the AIS Super Wi-Fi is really worth investing in and seeking out – it adds a whole new dimension to your working speed!

How to access AIS Wi-Fi

If you are an existing AIS customer with an AIS SIM you should have free access to AIS Wi-Fi

Dial *388*1# 

Your username and password will be sent through via SMS

How to get AIS Super Wi-Fi

To access Super Wi-Fi you need to signup to it and you will probably get a new password sent through via SMS that you should use instead of your standard AIS Wi-Fi password.

To get 20GB of data of Super WiFi that lasts for 30 days for 99 baht:

Dial *777*384*316358#

Once done, you will get a password sent to you via SMS so you can login straight away.

You get faster speeds whatever AIS WiFi you use when you subscribe to Super WiFi
You get faster speeds whatever AIS WiFi you use when you subscribe to Super WiFi

Where to find Super AIS WiFi

This handy directory lists many Super AIS wifi hotspots, but more are being added daily and this directory is not always up to date, which is a shame. However as AIS is promoting Super WiFi a lot, any cafes or shops that have it should have big signs up saying they have it (its still a big deal when most homes in Thailand don’t even have internet). I find the following chains of coffee shops are good places to start if you are looking for it:

  • Starbucks
  • Cafe Amazon
  • Tom N Toms
  • Black Canyon Coffee

Postpaid Plans

If you are staying a longer time in Thailand and have already got a bank account, the very best deals comes on postpaid plans. Similar to a “contract” model, it means they bill you after use. To pay, go to an AIS shop and pay it there or transfer through any ATM machine. Its super straight forward.

Postpaid plans offer by far the best options for the best value – AIS have just launched 4G MAX SPEED packages which are great.

  1. All the plans come with Super AIS Wi-Fi
  2. You get double the data for first 6 months
  3. The package is half price for the first 3 months!
  4. Even includes some free calls
  5. Free extras like AIS streaming and cloud services (but can’t access from UK Apple Store)
Even the largest plan is only £20 per month! 75GB of data!

I opted for the 488 baht package – 10Gb of data + Super WiFi + 300 mins of calls. So with the offers applied – I am getting 20GB of data + Super WiFi + 300 mins of calls for just 245 baht per month!  

Miscellaneous questions

Some of the often asked questions I’ve heard. Got a question? Drop it in the comments.

Why are the text messages I get from AIS in Thai?

You can change these to English by dialing *700 on your phone. More information on this is on the AIS website but its hard to follow so you are better off just phoning the number.

Do the SIM cards allow tethering?

Yes. As far as I know, all the networks allow tethering so you can connect to your phone and use the data from your laptop.

How do I top up my phone or check my usage?

boonterm top up machineYou can login on the AIS website – you use something called eService (located at the top corner of the page). Put your phone number in the box, it will text you a password, use this password and your number to login.

For quick and simple ways to top-up, you can go to any AIS store. Every mall in Thailand should have one.

Supermarkets like Tesco Lotus or Family Mart allow you to top-up (update: November 2016, you can no longer top up AIS at 7-11).

A large majority of small convenience stores have an orange machine outside – Boonterm top up machine – which allows you to add money to your account, and pay various other bills.

What if I have a problem?

AIS have customer support in English on the phone – dial 1175. You can also walk in to any AIS store or booth, tell them your problem, smile and nod and wait until they fix it – don’t get impatient or lose your temper. You can probably also go to any other mobile shop and they will help you – Thais understand how bloody complex their phones system are for non-Thais.


Getting a SIM card with data is easy and cheap in Thailand, the 4G Net SIM card is a steal at just 99 baht per week (396 per month – about £10). With the ability to quickly add more data any time, you will never not be able to work somewhere!

Got any questions about getting extra data or mobile phones in Thailand? Let me know in the comments

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A Nomad Guide to Incorporating in Hong Kong & getting a Bank Account https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/nomad-guide-to-incorporating-in-hong-kong/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/nomad-guide-to-incorporating-in-hong-kong/#comments Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:53:32 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=119 A digital nomad guide to incorporating a company & opening a bank account in Hong Kong. This will allow you to enjoy simpler frameworks and regulation around company taxes, an ease dealing with multi-currencies, and 0% corporation tax on offshore profits. Its a great place for some companies to setup.

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A digital nomad guide to incorporating a company & opening a bank account in Hong Kong


  1. Advantages of a Hong Kong company
  2. Disadvantages of a Hong Kong company
  3. What you need to incorporate in Hong Kong
  4. Proving off-shore status
  5. Problems getting a bank account
  6. Is incorporating in HK right for me?
  7. “Business” bank account hack
  8. Agencies to help you incorporate in HK
  9. How I set up my business
  10. The costs of being a Hong Kong company
  11. Paying yourself a wage
  12. Final Thoughts

Hong Kong is a good base to incorporate your business and open a bank account  – it offers  simpler frameworks and regulation around company taxes, a general ease when dealing with multi-currencies, 0% corporation tax on offshore profits, reasonable accounting rates, plus its position in Asia means that for digital nomads or location independent professionals who spend time in the area its an accessible and good place to run a business from.

To have the benefits of an offshore company and 0% tax you will need to focus on opening a Limited Company:

Advantages of being incorporated in Hong Kong

Trusted banks: The banks in Hong Kong include some of the biggest and best brands in the world – HSBC, Citibank, Bank of China, DNC Bank and many more.

Latest technology: E-banking is everywhere – perfect for those who don’t plan to be based in Hong Kong and need all the facilities of their account.

Multiple-currency friendly: Dealing with multiple currencies and getting them in to other currencies at great rates is straightforward and easy.

0% profits on foreign income: This is why you are reading this article. 0% corporation tax on foreign earned income. So anything outside of Hong Kong could be 0% tax. And that includes China. For income originating inside Hong Kong, the tax rate is 16.5%.

Lenient regulations: Regulations around business accounting and auditing are more lenient. Where countries like the UK or Germany may be very strict about what can be classed/taxable as a business expense, you will find that Hong Kong allows for much more to be included, reducing any tax the company may owe, and reducing the amount of personal income you need to take from the business.

Companies will like you: Western companies trust HK companies. Chinese companies trust HK companies. Its one of the best suited locations for dealing with the fastest growing markets around the world.

Payment processing available: Unlike offshore territories with poor banking regulations, Hong Kong’s gravitas in the banking world means that Stripe, PayPal, Braintree and numerous merchant processors are available for you to process online payments if needed.

Disadvantages of being incorporated in Hong Kong

Business bank accounts are hard to open: Basically, its all the Americans fault. Since FATCA was introduced in mid 2014, opening a bank account has gradually got harder and harder. And now in 2016, the crackdown from the US and subsequent problems they cause for HK multinationals has meant that opening a bank account now involves a lot of luck, a lot of paperwork and possibly, no bank account to go with the business you just registered. More on this below, plus a hack that might help some businesses.

Off-shore tax exemption takes time to get: What used to be a fairly simple process has now become something that can take 4-8 months of back and forth with the IRD to achieve, all of which costs you money for your accountant to deal with.

Setup fees are high: The costs of setup for a HK company are 10x higher than setting up in the UK.

No easy or cheap ways to set everything up: If you cut corners, try to do things yourself (like in the UK) and not use an agent, chances are you’ll mess everything up, and not get tax exemption status, and not get a business bank account. If you are gung-ho with your application or details, you won’t be successful in Hong Kong.

What you need to incorporate in Hong Kong

1) Ability to apply for the company and bank account in person

I haven’t heard of anyone able to open a company and bank account with a 3rd party (so without personally visiting HK) since 2015. So if you are looking at opening a business in Hong Kong, book some time in the country to start going through the motions and bear in mind that you may have to return within a few more months to finalise things.

2) Hong Kong business address + Hong Kong-based company secretary

Many countries have similar requirements, and for HK company, you need a HK-based address and company secretary. Chances are you won’t need an office yourself or have workers to play these parts. Luckily, these are easy to get by using an agent, and for a small fee, you can have a business address in Hong Kong, with a company secretary appointed.

  • Registered office address for 1 year (1,000 HKD/£105/£130)
  • Company secretary parking for 1 year  (1,000 HKD/£105/£130)

3) Company formation documents + off shore status applied for

Filling in the company formation documents is time consuming, and the off-shore status tax exemption paper work is long winded. You need an agent or accountant to deal with this to make its all done properly. Its extra expense, but its needed. 100%. You need to make sure you apply for “off-shore status” to ensure your company is subject to 0% tax rate.

  • Incorporation setup  (1,000 HKD/£105/£130) – to make sure all forms are filled in properly
  • Company kit fee (450-1,500 HKD/£80/$100) – this varies from agent to agent, its stuff like printed Memorandum of Association, share certificates, which is worth getting. Often called Green Box.
  • Off-shore tax exemption fee (6,000 HKD/£635/$775) – this varies wildly as it depends on how easy or hard the IRD makes your claim for tax exemption. This is based on approx. 10 hours of work from your accountant.
  • Bank account opening fee (1,000 HKD/£105/£130) – a reputable agency will be able to advise you the best bank to go with that suits your needs.

4) Company and Bank Fees

Unlike the UK (where there is a simple £13 a year fee to be paid), Hong Kong has plenty of fees that you need to deal with:

  • Company registration fee (1,750 HKD/£185/$225)
  • Business registration certificate fee (250 HKD/£26/£33) (This fee is set by the government and can be 250 or 2,250 HKD depending on the time of year)
  • Bank opening fee (1,600 HKD/£170/$210)
  • Opening bank deposit (sometimes 10,000-50,000 HKD/£1,000-5,000)

Total Fees

Taking all the above in to consideration, you are looking at an average cost of around 13,000 HKD (£1,400/$1,600) in charges plus a bank deposit to get a HK company setup and running.

Proving off-shore status

Many questions come up about what is offshore of Hong Kong. In this digital age, there aren’t many straight forward answers. But with most tax and legal matters, common sense and facts reign supreme, and the HK IRD have reams of information about it.  To be off-shore in HK, it means that you have:

  • No operations office or staff hired or working in Hong Kong
  • No customers/clients from Hong Kong
  • No suppliers from Hong Kong
  • No goods entering Hong Kong
  • Agreements or invoices do not involve any Hong Kong parties
  • All operations take place outside Hong Kong

This is not exhaustive – but as you can see, if you start working with HK companies, or start importing stuff from Alibaba and its going via Hong Kong, then you may run in to problems. There are lots of resources online about this.

Problems with getting a bank account in Hong Kong

More and more people are being refused a business bank account in Hong Kong, largely due to FATCA plus increased stress of regulation on money laundering within Hong Kong. There are a few reasons why you may be refused a bank account:

  • You’re an American (Bad luck)
  • You do no business in Asia. You’re living and doing business consistently in a country far away from Hong Kong
  • You’re seen as a high risk business (lots of large bills, sporadic income)
  • You have zero trading history

Some of these things could be rectified with small changes to your business (target adverts at Asian customers and start selling), or changes to your financial structure (open a business account with HSBC in UK – or in other country – and build 6-12 months trading with them).

It may be that the bank you are approaching is not interested in your business. In this case, try other banks – Bank of China or DBS bank have recently been found to make opening a business account easier than HSBC.

Other problems may not be as easily solvable, so you have to ask yourself:

Is incorporating in Hong Kong right for me?

These aren’t exhaustive, but maybe they will guide you:

  • If you want to get investment for your company – its not great, look at Stripe Atlas, Nevada, Delaware etc
  • If you are an American – it may be easier to just incorporate in a 0% tax state in the USA
  • If you want to sell online with ecommerce – HK is probably not good for you, they will see it as too risky
  • If you are a sole trader and charging for your time – chances are your personal tax authority will see your whole business as an extension of you and all of your earnings will be liable for tax


A simple hack to get around needing a business bank account

If you have been refused a business bank account, or you think the scrutiny of your business won’t pass, there is a simple hack for your business depending on how you run it. This is perhaps best for app developers or affiliates, who just get bank deposits / cheques of their earnings, but may have a team of workers and a distributed work force.

The hack is simple: Just open a Hong Kong personal bank account in your own name. Places like Amazon Affiliates, iTunes Store and Google Play allow you to change where payments are made too easily, and it means you can still take advantage of the HK incorporation and taxes. This isn’t perfect, and not for everyone, but it may help some people out.

Agencies to help you incorporate in HK

The companies below can help you get setup in HK. Their inclusion here is not an endorsement:


How I set up my business and bank account in Hong Kong

When I setup my account, I was lucky – I used an agency to do everything for me; it was a painless process, and got my bank account and business up and running in 3 weeks. I didn’t even need to visit Hong Kong.

I used CompanySec, which was based on a recommendation from someone who has been using them for 4 years. They are upfront about fees, as well as upfront about subsequent year fees. They are not the cheapest, but offer a good service.

The costs of being a Hong Kong company

Year 1: Formation and business setup, secretary and address
Cost: 13,000 HKD (£1,400/$1,600)
You may also need an opening deposit for your bank account, 10,000-50,000 HKD (£1,000-5,000)

Year 2: Registration renewal plus secretary and address + accounting and auditing fees (depending on transactions and how much work you do on your accounts)
Cost: 7,000 HKD (£750/$900) + 5,000 HKD upwards (£530/$650)

Year 3: As Year 2 + off-shore exemption proof (likely to be checked every 1-2 years)
Cost: 7,000 HKD (£750/$900) + 5,000 HKD upwards (£530 $650) + 6,000 HKD (£635/$775)

These costs look high, but when you take in to account UK corporation tax of 20%, you only need to be making a profit of £6,000 for these costs to make more sense, and for the benefits of incorporating in Hong Kong to be clear.

Paying yourself a wage

If you want to spend the money your company is earning and take a salary you need to pay personal income tax depending on the country you are living in. This will depend on where you are resident of (i.e. where you passport is from), and where you are tax resident (often the country where you have the most ties too, or spend more than 6 months of a year).

Your personal tax liability is not something I want to go in to with this blog, however, I will say that the company tax regulations in Hong Kong are a lot more adaptable than a lot of other countries, so once incorporated you may find that more of your day-to-day living expenses can now be classed as a business expense. And that means you need to withdraw less salary, which means you will pay less tax regardless of where you live… Also bear in mind that many countries offer lower tax rates on dividend payment from your company profits. Food for thought.

Final Thoughts

  1. There are plenty of other countries that offer 0% tax — Isle of Man / Guernsey / Jersey / Bahamas / Bermuda / Cayman Islands, hell, Delaware or Texas in the US. I haven’t really looked in to them. Wanting to be based in SEA and wanting to do more business in mainland China meant that Hong Kong was a perfect choice for me and my projects, it hasn’t been done to avoid tax. See more offshore bank options. Get advice from a tax advisor in your home country, and the country you are thinking of moving too. In fact, get as much tax advice as you can, as every interpretation is different.
  2. Having a Hong Kong company does not give you rights to stay and work in mainland China. You will need to get a visa to work in the mainland, or if you want to be there often, you may want to look at incorporating in China too.
  3. Deloitte have published a great guide on Hong Kong tax (personal and business) and its worth a read.
  4. There is a new Facebook group to discuss Hong Kong incorporation, join it to get the latest information.

Note: Nothing in this article should be construed as financial advice. It is for information only. Things change, so always be careful, and seek professional advice or second opinion if something does not feel or sound right.

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Tarifa Digital Nomad Guide: Great Kite Surfing But Poor Internet & Places To Work https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/tarifa-digital-nomad-guide/ https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/tarifa-digital-nomad-guide/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 07:51:40 +0000 http://www.locationindependent.co.uk/?p=20 With one of the best beaches in the world, a growing nomad community, a top kitesurfing spot and only a couple of hours from London, Tarifa could be one of Europes best spots. My guide to Tarifa will share with you my experiences of southern Spain in January to March.

The post Tarifa Digital Nomad Guide: Great Kite Surfing But Poor Internet & Places To Work appeared first on Location Independent.

Tarifa Digital Nomad Guide

Visited: January to March
Weather: Cold and Windy
Accommodation: 300-500 Euros
Internet: Not stable, 10Mbps max
Activities: Kitesurfing, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Whale Watching, Tangiers


  1. When to visit
  2. Where to stay
  3. Where to work
  4. What to do
  5. Getting to Tarifa
  6. Cost of living
  7. Summary

Tarifa is a small town on the southern most tip of Spain

I spent January to March of 2016 in Tarifa, Spain. Wanting to escape the cold of London, but with a requirement to be just a few hours away from the UK, Tarifa, a small town in the very south of Spain, seemed to suit. It kept coming up in searches as a great nomad spot, the hottest place to be in Europe at that time, and a place with wonderful scenery and beaches. What could possibly go wrong?

When to visit Tarifa

December to March: I was there from start of January to the start of March. I was coming from the UK, and was expecting sun. I was glad I had packed jumpers and jeans with me as I wore them everyday. The shorts and t-shirts I brought with me were completely unused, and I wished I had a scarf and gloves several times. The temperature is reported as between 10-18C but with wind chill, shade, and cold old buildings with no heating or insulation, it feels much much colder. A lot of shops, bars and accommodation are closed from late November until Easter time, and others that are still open closed for renovations. If you want long term accommodation, it is good to go now as many places are for rent, and they quickly disappear.

June to September: People say the summer is mental busy, and I can believe it. Rents go up (expect to be paying 6x more for a weeks rent). Even with no-one around in January, driving around town can take forever due to non-stop pedestrian crossings, slow drivers and cars randomly stopping in the middle of the road to talk to their mates. Don’t forget speed bumps just to add to the slowness, so the summer must take this to the next level! Heard stories of buses not coming in to town, the old town not letting in cars, car parks over flowing, etc etc.

April to May, September to November: This seems to be the best time to be there, and the only times you should consider going if you want good weather without thousands of tourists and without paying excess rent prices.

Pathway to a sunset in Tarifa

A post shared by James Hunt (@thetwopct) on

Where to stay in Tarifa

The main areas of where to live in Tarifa

I’ve quickly broken down Tarifa in to five areas of where you could stay.

Old Town (1) is lovely to look at and explore but the buildings are, funnily enough, old! The place I stayed in was freezing cold, so I imagine boiling hot in summer (and there was no AC). I saw very few places with AC installed. Broadband internet is pretty bad in Old Town – for speed and reliability – as they are restricted on what they can install in the old buildings. There is very little parking, restricted access and entry points, and some of it on a steep incline. There are a lot of bars, restaurants and clubs which can be pretty noisy, so I can see that you could be unlucky with the wrong apartment/hotel and be up all night. The Old Town is where most of the action is happening though, so expect to spend your evenings here.

Beachfront apartments (2) stretch along the beach, are generally newer build places, and are some of the best places to live – purely as a lot of it is new, and there are lots of them. Facilities can be more modern, broadband is faster, and most places have car parking. A lot of places are literally on the beach, so perfect if you kite surf. The area around Café Del Mar Beach/Surla is popular and is a bit of a hub as they are also the decent hangout/working/coffee/food spots. But in summer, I imagine being too close to that area could be a bad thing at night!

The main road out of town towards Malaga (and Lidl) skirts a large estate (3) that offers a few more options, but its near nothing, a bit too far away from the centre and the beach for me, and doesn’t have many great looking places. For this reason, you can get bargains there, especially in high season.

There is a small area north west of the Church (4) that doesn’t have many clubs or bars (near La Cocotera coworking space) which could be a good spot to focus on for a place to live – its kind of near everything. I think the next best area to stay is around the southern section of Calle Batalla del Salado (5) as you are in a new build area, close to old town, and close to the beach. Depends what you are after.

Where to find an apartment to rent

My best advice if you are staying longer than a month is to book somewhere for a few days, and then look for an apartment when you are in town. Bargains are to be found if you are in town, people will help you out, connect you with others and you can commit instantly.

My favourite website for finding decent apartments at good rates in Tarifa is milanuncios.com – its like a CraigsList or Gumtree-style listings site, but is predominantly in Spanish. With some Google Translate help and some WhatsApp messaging, you can normally get across you want to rent a place and set a time to meet them.

Other places to look:

  • Facebook Group – Tarifa Rooms & Apartments Facebook Group
  • Pisos – mostly designed for holiday makers, but Spanish orientated
  • AirBNB – has some options for longer term rent, but you need to message the owners to get best rate
  • HomeAway – mostly designed for short-term holiday makers, so again, haggle
  • Wimdu – the Spanish version of HomeAway, but normally a few more options
  • IPG Tarifa – Occasional deals, but mostly daily expensive rates

Others not worth bothering with: NiumbaAlquileres Tarifa, Friendly Rentals, 9Flats, HouseTrip

What to expect to pay for an apartment

Euros per month= What you get
€200-300 – Room in shared apartment
€400-600 – 1 bedroom apartment
€600-800 – 2 bedroom apartment or house
€800+ – Larger house / luxury apartmen

In the summer season, these rates will be 5x or 6x higher (yes, €2500 euros per month for a 1 bed apartment!)

Apartment Tips

  1. All the places I stayed at had issues with damp and mould due to not getting enough air, being too cold and not being insulated properly. This was more prevalent in Old Town than in some of the beach front places, but then one place I stayed at was really smelly and mouldy. If you have asthma, allergies or that stuff bothers you, I would definitely check a place out before committing to it, or ask about it. After being aired in summer, I doubt its an issue, but it was an issue for me and a lot of people I knew.
  2. Watch out for noisy bars and clubs near your place – this will be a problem if staying in Old Town, and maybe around some of the beach bars if the noise travels.
  3. If you want to kite surf, get a place on the beach. It will save you oodles of time and effort plus being able to look out and judge the conditions will make spontaneous surfs the best. There are webcams, but these only tell you so much.

Short term options and recommendations

For short term (a few nights), I didn’t find there was a great deal of decent places to stay. A lot of hostels, and run down hotels. Here is my pick of the best:

  • Hostel Sulok – Very central place with a boutique feel, great people who work there, but they only have dorms
  • Hostel Aristoy – Private rooms in this fantastic looking boutique hotel
  • La Cocotera Hostel – Private rooms with shared showers, note: use of the coworking space isn’t included
  • AirBNB – lots of options
  • HostelWorld – lots of hostels, decide how much sleep you want before booking!

Cars and parking

Parking in the Old Town is a nightmare, as you can’t easily drive in to it, and even if you do, you need to be a pretty good driver to get around some of the alleys and corners safely. There is a “car park” (aka old field) at the bottom of a hill – Calle Calzadilla de Téllez – which is free to use off-season, it may have a charge in peak season. It was busy off-season, so I would say that peak season in Old Town Tarifa is not a good a time to have a car.

Parking around the beach front is slightly better as there are lots of car parking spaces next to villas and car parks on the sea front – but this also where people park their vans and cars during surfing, so in the summer I imagine these spaces will be non-existent.

Where to work in Tarifa

While I was there, I worked from home, from cafes and from the only coworking space in the town, La Cocotera. La Cocotera is a low price hostel (compared with others in Tarifa) and they have re-purposed some of the shared spaces for coworking. The team of girls who run it are really lovely, the building is beautiful, and the roof terrace is a really nice place that gets sun all day. They are just getting started with the coworking concept, learning as they go and getting some help from Johannes, kite surfer, digital nomad and Nomad Cruise founder.

La Cocotera coworking space review

La Cocotera is a coworking space in the Old Town of Tarifa. The coworking space is made up of a ground floor section with desks and a small kitchen with eating space, a 1st floor small den room, and the 2nd/top floor with small kitchen and terrace space. The ground and 1st floor has hostel rooms on them.

Space – The ground floor can fit around 15 people. The desks are fairly cheap, the chairs are mostly OK but starting to show their age already. There are no standing desks or boxes available, but they do have some ergonomic style laptop risers. A few people fashioned standing desks out of spare chairs and furniture.

When I was there, the downstairs was cold. Like, can’t feel my fingers or toes cold. They had one oil heater to try and heat the place, which wasn’t very effective. There was a breeze, and I imagine it would be nice in summer, just not when I was there!

The den on 1st floor has room for 2 people, I never really used it but I guess good for a Skype call. The top floor kitchen has 2 mini desks and then a large kitchen counter which I guess could be used to work from if hostel guests are not using it.

Terrace – The outside terrace area is nice and spacious, with two small desks, a lounger and sofa. With 5 people up there, it seemed pretty busy, not sure how more would work unless you like being on top of another person. There is no shade or coverage there (the canopy in their promo pictures is gone and not coming back as far as I know) so be prepared to squint, turn up your brightness and basically roast – not great for getting stuff done. Apart from the sofa, nothing has cushions, which is pretty uncomfortable to sit on after an hour or so…

Internet – there are two routers, one for lower floors, one for upper, so Wi-Fi is generally OK.  An internet speed test generally gave around 10Mb down/1Mb up. They have 2 internet lines (I think), one line with GibTelecom and the other with Vodafone, but neither is fibre, so this is about as good as its going to get. There was occasional downtime with no internet access for <1 hour.

Upstairs Speed Test
Downstairs Speed Test

Facilities – There are 2 Nespresso coffee machines. But pods are not included and nowhere nearby sells them, so I wasn’t given the opportunity to test these out. Then main coffee making device is a bizarre teapot used as a coffee pot type setup for filter coffee. They also have the worlds cheapest slowest kettle, so combining these two things, making a cup of coffee takes 20 minutes.

I asked if they could just buy a normal coffee machine, or cafetiere, or Aeropress. They reminded me La Cocotera wasn’t a coffee shop(!), but said that if people wanted coffee, they would make it for you, which was nice to find out after working from there for 3 weeks. Only one small hitch, there is rarely anyone there to ask for coffee.

Out of a normal(?) working day from 10am until 7pm, I would say there were staff available for about a third of that. Not being there is a common theme myself and others experienced, from not being on time to open, to just disappearing for hours, to not being able to get back in after lunch, to the doorbell not working. One visitor had to have a Skype call with his boss sitting on the step outside. This isn’t the kind of thing you want when you are trying to get shit done.

Who uses it – While I was there, only one local person was actively using the space. Only one expat long termer was using the space. No-one else who had previously stayed there continued to use it while they stayed in town – “too cold, too expensive, internet too unreliable”. I think this speaks volumes, but hopefully they can improve with time. The space no longer hosts events for the digital nomad community, so there are no networking opportunities at the space. While I was there, we organised our own events.

Cafes and places to work in Tarifa

While I was in Tarifa, it was off season, so this basically means a lot of things are shut, or randomly shut, or being refurbished. There were a few cafes to work from in Tarifa, but not an abundance. A lot of them are small, unsuited to working (the traditional 1 power plug per room is super common in Spain) and the owners very often don’t want you sitting there for hours. There is not a single cafe in Tarifa with the Wi-Fi password visibly written anywhere, you have to ask every single time, so that tells you something.

There are a few places that are a cut above the rest – Surya, Cafe Del Mar and Stoked all spring to mind (they are also all next to each other – 10 minutes out of old town, right on the beach) but again, they are all fairly small, have open kitchens (2 hours in Stoked and you stink of stir fry), and have very few proper chairs and tables. I’ll have a large side portion of bad posture with my coffee please.

If you need consistently quality internet – for uploading large files, doing regular Skype calls or streaming in anyway, you will struggle to get the speeds and reliability you need in Tarifa.

I put together a Google Doc of places to work from – Tarifa Wi-Fi and Coffee – check it out and feel free to update it with more information as you discover places. I also added the places to a Foursquare list.

My list of places to work in Tarifa

What to do in Tarifa

  • Kite Surfing – The number one reason to go to Tarifa is for kite surfing. While I was there, I mentioned I wasn’t kite surfing and their reply was “Why the hell would you come here then?!” There are tons of places to buy or hire equipment,  and boards and wet suits litter the gardens of villas all along the beach.
  • Surfing – You can definitely surf in Tarifa, although the waves are best in winter where they can be 2-3m high
  • Hiking – Tarifa is surrounded by beautiful coastline and hills to explore
  • Mountain biking – Those same hills make it perfect for mountain biking. You can hire a bike from a few places around the town for around 20 EUR a day – yikes!
  • Beaches – Regardless of the time of year, the beach is a main focal point for Tarifa – either sunbathing, walking, or exercising
  • Fiestas – Seems to be a fiesta for everything, a great way to get out and immerse yourself in culture
  • Day trip to Tangiers – Costs around €36 and takes 2 hours, meaning a day trip to Africa is more than possible
  • Whale Watching – I really wanted to do this while I was there, but it doesn’t run in off-season.
  • Yoga – Check out the Tarifa ECO Center for yoga classes
  • GymNew Concept offers cross fit style workouts
  • Bossa Bar – Weekly Language Exchange Meetups every Friday at Bossa Bar
  • Explore Andalucia – Day trips to Seville, Malaga, Gibraltar, Algeciras etc

For more ideas, check out Lets Do Something Facebook Group

Getting a Sim Card

Make sure you grab a SIM card as many places don’t have Wi-Fi. There are several mobile phone shops on the main Avenue Andalucia near the Puerta de Jerez (“gate”). Due to some of the phone packages needing Spanish ID, you are restricted a little on which package you can get.

I went with Vodafone MegaYuser – 2GB of data and some text and calls for 20 Euros. They were doing a promo when if you then top up another 20 EUR, you get double data the next month, so a nice tip if staying longer than a month. To top up, just go back to the Vodafone shop.

Getting to Tarifa

Getting to Tarifa is relatively simple, but a bit of a trek from any airport. A hire car is recommended, but may give you some hassle in peak season.

Flights to the region

The nearest airports are Malaga, Seville, Gibraltar, or Jerez de la Frontera – which means there is always a cheap ticket to be had. Flights from the UK to Malaga are frequent, and you can pick up a rental car easily from there. Gibraltar is a little more difficult to get a hire car from as far as I know, and crossing borders may invalidate your insurance.

I booked my flights with Kiwi.com as I find their website is super flexible at finding best deals in a large radius – they have one-way flights on there (as of October 2016) for just £22!

Getting to Tarifa from Malaga Airport

Driving from Malaga airport to Tarifa is super easy – I did it several times. The first time I did it I used the AP7 toll road – which costs around €10 each way. I soon found out that the A7 old road runs parallel to it, and takes just as long, without any cost. The drive takes around 75 minutes, but maybe the first time you do it will be slower as driving over the mountains near Tarifa is a little hair raising the first time you drive over them!

Alternative travel options:

  • Bus – there is a direct bus from Malaga to Tarifa
  • Bla Bla Car – Ride sharing – there are always people doing this route, so you can find someone to pick up you for around €10
  • Taxi – Around €80 each way
  • Or hire a car!

Hiring a car for 28 euros in Malaga

Malaga apparently has some crazy stat that there is a hire car available for every 2 tourist visitors to the region. Which means that outside the peak summer season, there is a massive excess of hire cars, and you can rent a car for a very cheap price.

I hired two cars while in Spain, one cost €70 for a month, the other cost just €28 for a month. Yes, €28 for an entire month of car rental. Crazy! So shop around and see if you can get a bargain.

I recommend the following websites which is where I found my deals:

Atlas Choice
Do You Spain

Its also worth using an aggregator to double check these are the cheapest places – I like Travel Supermarket for that. It seems 28 or 30 days are the best amount of days to select to get the best price deals.

Very often the car company will be RecordGo or Gold Car budget hire rental companies. Yes the queue might be long to collect the car, but for 30-60 minutes waiting, you are saving maybe €100. Not bad. Plus, you’re in Spain where everything takes time.

These cheap hire car companies want to get more money out of you – for anything and everything. So as long as you drive safe, don’t crash and return it within their conditions, it should be fine. You might need a credit card to pay for a deposit (€1,000) and you often need to buy fuel upfront (which is fine, as you are driving all the way to Tarifa).

To cover me for any crazy insurance excess demands they may make, I have a yearly excess insurance package with Insurance4CarHire. They then cover any excess insurance charges they may try to charge you (and means you don’t need their Super Excess insurance which is often €4-6 per day). This costs £39.99 per year.

Cost of living; what are the prices like?

My expenses when in Tarifa:

Apartment – €500 p/m
Coworking – €180 p/m
Sim Card – €20 p/m
Gym Membership – €30-50 p/m
Coffee – €1-€2 per cup (small)
Tapas – €1.50-3 per dish
Set Menu – €10 (3 courses)
Burgers – €8
Car Hire – €1-5 per day
Beer – €1-4 per glass
Wine – €2-4 per glass
1Kg fresh prawns – €6
3 french sticks – €1

If you budget around €15 per day for food and drink, then you are probably looking at spending around €1,400 per month (£1,200 GBP) to live comfortably in Tarifa (without too many big nights out). You can do this considerably cheaper if you want to share an apartment, cook at home with basic food and not go out much.


I had a couple of interesting in months in Tarifa, and this was the first time I had properly worked in a Spanish tourist town. I found it fairly challenging to get in to a work vibe and get stuff done (biggest challenge: unstable slow internet + non-consistent work spaces) and the weather wasn’t what I was hoping for (its definitely hotter up the coast near Malaga in January to March).

I didn’t find it was the friendliest of places – the English/Spanish relationship is always interesting, and you’re close enough to Gibraltar to have some older locals get quite angry about that still. I felt that friends who spoke Spanish got lots more out of the place than I did.

I can definitely see the appeal of Tarifa, and I think in those just-off-peak months the place would be great. The beach is amazing, the sunsets are amazing, if you are in to kitesurfing its one of the best spots, the surrounding countryside is gorgeous, and because of some of the locals trying to make this in to a nomads spot, there is a growing community, which means it offers a hell of a lot more than a lot of other spots.

Other Links

Tarifa Digital Nomads Facebook Group
The Oceanpreneur Adventure & Kite Surf Guide
WebWorkTravel Tarifa Guide
Used Items for Sale FB Group

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