Relocation with family: Four Agodans on raising kids in Thailand

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Bangkok is home to our largest office, where we bring together Agodans from across the world. In fact, over 1,500 expats have relocated to join us here! Relocation with family is no small decision, so we spoke to four Agodans who made the move to Thailand with their kids. Read on for their adventures, insights, and tips for embracing family life in Thailand.

The strong sense of community

Rachel and Gavin Stevens
Program Manager, Real Estate & Workplace Services and Director of Product
Relocated to Thailand from South Africa
Lived in Thailand for five and a half years

When Gavin received an Agoda offer in 2018, we thought it would be a short-term adventure, maybe a year or two. We’d never been to Asia, so it was a leap into the unknown. We kept our apartment in Cape Town just in case we decided to return, but within a month, we knew Bangkok was where we wanted to stay, and soon, it felt like home. We decided it was the perfect place to start our family, and our twin boys, Colby and Kyro, were born here in 2021. I started working full-time at Agoda in 2023.

The first few months were the hardest as we missed our loved ones at home. It was just us! I made an effort to meet new people by joining meetups, book clubs, and all the Agoda +1 events for spouses of Agodans. We built lasting friendships with other expats who have also gone on to start families here. Moving and raising kids away from your family is hard – but we were lucky that by the time our boys were born, we had a wonderful group of friends who became our community, support, and Bangkok family.

Despite Bangkok’s bustling nature, our lifestyle here is remarkably calm and peaceful. Condo living gives us a strong sense of community and great shared facilities like pools, gyms, tennis courts, and play areas. Our condo has a tuk-tuk that takes you to the BTS train station every 30 minutes – and then we can go anywhere.

Bangkok has so much more to offer than we realized! We feel lucky that our twins were born in Thailand as they needed to be in the NICU for five weeks, and they received the best care here. When they were little, I took them to baby classes, playgroups, and cafes almost daily. Bangkok has so many options to choose from. They now attend a nursery school popular among Agodans and love learning about Thai holidays like Loy Krathong and Songkran.

I love how safe Bangkok is. I can walk comfortably on the street with my kids or alone, day and night. There is a huge expat community here, so we have a very social and active lifestyle. On the weekends, we hang out with our friends and their kids, taking turns hosting playdates or brunches. Bangkok is also generally affordable, so we’ve been lucky to have our family visit and stay with us for 3-4 months a year.

Advice on moving to Thailand: Be proactive in making connections. Join expat groups, attend events, and put yourself out there. The transition may be tough, but once you settle in and build a support network, Bangkok will feel like home.

The support and positivity

Rannes Pärn 
Lead Software Engineer 
Relocated to Thailand from Estonia 
Lived in Thailand for one year 

After being in Estonia for many years, my wife and I started to feel stuck and needed a change. That’s when we relocated with our kids, who were one and four, so I could join Agoda. In Thailand, people are a lot happier, and they smile more. Going from the cold, somewhat depressing weather to such a warm, positive climate made a huge difference.

Back in Estonia, our parents lived a half-day drive away, so they couldn’t watch the kids very often. Not having a network to help our children meant we had little time for ourselves. In Bangkok, we found a nanny and a serviced apartment, which has taken much off our plate. That support has made a huge difference: we’re happier, more connected, and can truly enjoy our time as a family. Before the move, these resources were completely foreign to us. We didn’t even know what a serviced apartment was! But finding help is so easy and affordable here.

Working hybrid has also helped us to balance things. It means I can be more present with my family, and I appreciate that the company trusts us to do our jobs well. Many Agodans live in my area, so there’s still a sense of community outside the office.

Advice on moving to Thailand: Go with the flow. We didn’t know what to expect, but life in Bangkok has been such a positive surprise. We visited Estonia recently, and it was great to see friends and family, yet after a while, we couldn’t wait to return to Thailand. However, make sure you know what you’re getting into. It’s essential to understand the costs of finding schools and healthcare and to plan accordingly. Finally, talk to people! So many Agodans have also gone through this experience, too. You can always find people to connect with.

The vibrant local culture

Lucy Taylor
Associate Director, Global Mobility
Originally from England, relocated to Thailand from Singapore
Lived in Thailand for one year

I’m no stranger to expat life: I’ve lived in England, Spain, France, and Singapore, but Thailand is still my favorite. When Agoda reached out to me, I kept meeting the nicest people at each interview stage and thought, “Maybe I have one more adventure in me.” I wanted my daughter to grow up somewhere with a strong cultural identity, and staying in Asia made the most sense financially. I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming Thailand is to children. People are so kind to my daughter everywhere we go, chatting with her and helping with her Thai. It’s a smiley country, and Agoda embodies that, too. We all work hard, and sometimes the job can be stressful, but my colleagues are the loveliest.

Our best resource was the list of schools that Agoda provides, including schools with partnerships and discounts for Agoda employees. That’s how we found our daughter’s international school, which offers loads of cool extracurriculars. She’s done Bollywood dancing, ballet, football, Chinese lessons, and robotics. Agodans are very friendly, open, and always ready to give advice and recommendations, which helped me feel less overwhelmed. During our first month, Agoda provided temporary accommodation, giving us time to get used to the city and public transport without stress.

We decided to live a bit further out to have a bigger house with a garden, which is still more affordable than our smallish apartment in Singapore. Of course, I often face traffic, but it’s not as bad as people make it out to be. I love driving, so I listen to a podcast and enjoy my alone time. Thanks to hybrid work, I only commute two days a week. As a mum, I don’t have much free time, but I take yoga classes with an instructor who comes to my house, a luxury I couldn’t afford to do in Europe.

Advice on moving to Thailand: Slow down at the beginning. Take your time with each decision. Also, celebrate each little triumph. Moving to a new country is a big change, and you must be proud of your wins. Recently, I directed a taxi driver to my house in Thai for the first time! At that moment, I realized, “I’m not just surviving; I’m thriving!”

The quality of life 

Jan Hansen
Senior Director – Commercial Excellence 
Originally from Germany, relocated to Thailand from the Philippines
Lived in Thailand for six years

With Agoda’s hybrid model, I commute to Bangkok, but my home base is now in Phuket. As a working parent, I appreciate the flexibility. It’s had a very positive impact on our family life. We live in a house with a garden, a pool, a dog, and two cats, and the kids couldn’t be any happier. On the weekends, we’re usually outside: at the beach, playing sports, surfing, or barbecuing with friends and family. Thailand is in a great central location in Southeast Asia, so we travel multiple times a year, often to Bali for surfing. Last year, I did a fantastic 5-day motorbike trip in Laos with a friend from Germany.

Working outside my home country appealed to me because I wanted to see and experience more of the world. My wife and I have always loved Asia and dreamed of living here. Agoda first recruited me as Country Director in the Philippines, and in 2018, we relocated to Thailand. My son was six then, and my daughter was less than a year old. Agoda’s visa team is amazingly efficient and ensured we had a smooth start.

Culturally, Bangkok is very international, so it’s easy to adapt, especially with Agoda’s help. Do your research, and you’ll easily find housing and education that suit your needs. My kids are growing up with three languages, which is terrific. They learn English at school, we speak German at home, and they take Thai lessons twice a week.

Even before the move, we loved Thailand for the people, the food, and how easy it is to get around. It’s also super safe. We’ve never had any problems in almost six years. However, the people stand out most, with their mindset, smiles, and happiness. That’s why we’re here to stay.

Advice on moving to Thailand: Do it! Our mindset was, “If it doesn’t work out, we can always go back.” We haven’t regretted it since. If you have any doubts, you can ask your recruiter to put you in touch with one of Agoda’s expats for a quick chat during the recruitment process. We’re always happy to share our stories and give advice. Also, learn the language! Thai people appreciate it when you speak Thai. You’ll be met with a smile even if you try just a few words.

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