The Thai Wife Guide To Settling In Australia
Did you know that the Thai population in Australia approximately doubled in size between 2001 and 2011 Australian censuses?
Two thirds of Thai-born people living in Australia are women – this is due to marriage trends. It’s plain to see that there are quite a lot of Thai wives settling in Australia.
We at Key Visa Company like to see our clients happy in their new lives, and we know how big of an adjustment it can be to pick up stakes and move to an alien country. In the interest of helping our clients into marital bliss, here is an inexhaustive guide to help a Thai wife to settle in Australia.
Before we begin, here is some reason for optimism: The number of Thai-born Australians and the number of second generation Thais living in Australia are roughly equal – in other words, they come, they stay and they make families. Sounds like settling is successful quite frequently!
Where To Live as a Thai in Australia
The first three rules of buying real estate, success in business and happiness in a new home? Location, location, location. Obviously you should discuss your living arrangements with your bride while she’s still your bride to be, but this shouldn’t only be as simple as a game of “Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House.” Just as important as whether or not you will be living with family or alone, in a house or condo, and if you need a garden is what neighborhood you’ll be in. If you’ve been outside of the expat and tourist hubs of Thailand then you know what it’s like to be the only person of your race and language in a given area. Now imagine you’d be staying there forever. You can understand why this is a daunting undertaking, and you should applaud your wife for her bravery. But you can do more than that. You can settle in Sydney!
Sydney has the greatest concentration of Thai people in Australia by far, and they’re spread throughout the city. Sydney even has its own Thai Town, much like Bangkok has Chinatown, chock full of Thai restaurants, Thai-owned and Thai-themed businesses and – here’s the real attraction – Thai holiday celebrations. If you cannot live in Sydney, at least remember that there is a place in Australia where your love can go when she wants to celebrate Songkran that’s a little bit closer to her new home than Khon Kaen or Pattaya. And she can get good, genuine Thai food without having to cook it herself by talking to the staff of the restaurant. Of course, not everyone will live in Sydney.
Thai people have a great affinity for the national religion and nothing will bring out a longing for the temple like being far from home or having a family. Luckily, there are quite a few Thai buddhist temples, known as wats, in the land down under. Finding them isn’t so hard, either, there are a number of websites that you can use. Google Maps is one fast way to find a buddhist temple near you, but here is a list of wats in Australia. If you truly want to wow her, visit the temple closest to you before she arrives and learn how to perform the various rituals.
Easily the biggest hurdle facing any immigrant from a non-English speaking country is the language barrier. There are no two languages that are more different from each other than Thai and English. Learning English isn’t a prerequisite to living abroad as a Thai but it most certainly helps and most Thai people want to learn a bit of English anyway. Why not make the effort to meet your wife halfway and learn Thai as she is learning English? Or you may want your children to go to school to learn Thai as they can forget much more quickly than adults when not exposed to the language on a regular basis. Finding a Thai language school in Australia is a bit more difficult. One excellent school is the Thai Central School in Melbourne. The basic course is five weeks long, so if you’re near Melbourne that’s an excellent option. If not, consider studying online. Www.learnthaistyle.com and Learn Thai From A White Guy both offer online courses, and YouTube has its share of classes from basic to advanced as well.
One common complaint heard by anyone who’ll ask a Thai woman about living in the west is that she is afraid that western food will make it too easy for her to get fat. To be fair, it’s a legitimate concern. The introduction of western food, genetically modified crops and artificial hormones to livestock has coincided with many Asian countries’ rising obesity rates. Wheat and fat rich diets can quickly become calorically greater than rice and vegetable based diets, and western portions are bigger than Asian ones. But it isn’t only the healthiness of the food that is important to a Thai lady living outside of Australia – it’s the flavors of home that she is sure to miss if she’s deprived of them for too long. She’s already moving away from everyone and everything she’s ever known – having some sticky rice and moo yang can mean the difference between feeling at home and feeling completely alienated in her own home. Thankfully, eating Thai in Australia won’t be a problem!
Again, if you’re living in or near Sydney just head to Thai Town – Campbell Street, specifically – and welcome to Thai grocery heaven. It’s the closest thing you’ll find to a Bangkok wet market in Australia and it will have everything your beautiful bride needs to tantalize your tastebuds and make you wish that chili peppers had never been discovered as a foodstuff. If you don’t live near enough to Thai Town to make a weekly shopping excursion a realistic proposal then you can always shop online. Although the prices are quite high as compared to shopping in person ($2.90 for a five pack of Maggi noodles?) the convenience of having specialty foods delivered to your door, and the happiness that accompanies the delivery’s arrival, more than makes the expense worthwhile.
No matter where you live, however, there is very likely an Asian grocery near you that can satisfy your needs. Here is an inexhaustive list:
- 266 Liverpool Road, Ashfield (02 9798 9555) https://www.oksupermarket.com.au/
- Ashfield Asian Supermarket 272 Liverpool Rd 2131, Ashfield (02 9716 7809)
- Fu Tong Asian Supermarket 243/245 George Street Liverpool (2 9605 1992) futongonline.com.au
- Hometown Asian Supermarket 2/422-440 Elizabeth Street (3 9663 2603)
- Lee Merchants 29 Wallace Square Melton (3 9746 9888) leemerchants.com.au
- Long Da Asian Grocery 395 Sydney Road Brunswick (3 9388 0603)
- Good Morning Asian Grocery 725 Gympie Road (7 3256 3284)
- Malindo Asian Groceries 113 Ditton Road Sunnybank Hills (423 085 139)
- Genki Mart shop3 / 24 South Pine Road Alderley (7 3161 0511) genkimart.com.au
Finding work as an immigrant is hard enough, but as an immigrant from a non-English speaking country where most jobs are researched via word of mouth and awarded via networking and nepotism means that finding employment in a modern western meritocracy is a completely alien adventure for many Thais. Luckily, thanks to Australia’s large Thai community, there are people who can help your wife do the networking she is suited for and perhaps teach her the research skills she’ll need to find work outside of her social sphere.
One such community is auswathai.com, a Western Australia Network for Thai people. auswathai.com is the commercial networking community for business, community and travel. Their sister site, http://www.auswathai.austhai.biz/, is focused more on friendship and activities and will be mentioned again under the ‘making friends’ heading.
www.TIWAVIC.org.au is the website for the Thai Information and Welfare Association of Western Australia, and it is a fantastic information resource for Thai people living anywhere in Australia. Check out their Employment Services page for all the informational links your wife will need to understand her rights as an Australian employee.
The Thai Australian Association of Western Australia, Inc., is another organization in Western Australia that aims to facilitate the integration of Thais into Australian society and their facebook is a treasure-trove of networking opportunities.
Thai Massage is a very in-demand field all over the world and Australia is no exception. Regularly added to every quality spa’s menu of services, Thai massage is known by Thais who want to travel as a field that will award them the opportunity to work outside of Thailand. A genuine Thai massage specialist – which your wife might fall into the classification of – is a very valuable employee for any legitimate spa. But please, vet these spas carefully. As you are no doubt aware, many offer less savory menu items alongside their legitimate remedial health services and the last thing any immigrant needs is to be associated with an establishment of ill repute, irrelevant of whether or not she was taking part in any illegal activities. Working for a large, well-established spa – or setting up with a solo license – is one area where it’s actually a great advantage to be native Thai, and especially to have studied in Thailand. Opportunities to learn traditional Thai massage abound in Thailand. Taking advantage of them is a no brainer.
Making Thai Friends In Australia
Nothing makes someone feel at home like having a group of compatriots to share time with. Being uprooted can make anyone lonely. Combat that with these resources.
Auswathai, TIWAVIC.org.au, The Thai Australian Association of Western Australia, Inc., are all great potential friend-makers as well as employment resources.
http://www.auswathai.austhai.biz/, as mentioned briefly above in the finding work section, is not the most beautiful website on the internet but they do have an active forum and friendly, dedicated members.
www.meetup.com is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to make friends with similar interests to their own. Input a location, a search term and be rewarded with a list of groups that get together based on mutual interest. Searching for “Thai” might only result in food and kickboxing, but how much English is needed for bicycling, flower arranging, bowling or football? Meetup is a great resource and I cannot recommend it highly enough. And it is much, much safer than craigslist.
Refer back to the list of ‘wats’ mentioned earlier. You’re certain to find Thai people at them, and like-minded westerners as well. Meeting good, temple-going folk to do things with is a nice way to spend a morning, and your lady having someone else to speak Thai with can really make her day.
Besides regular services, Thai temples offer many activities that will not only bring Thai people and their families together but also give them a feeling of home. Meditation classes, holy day celebrations, wedding celebrations and funerary rites happen all year long. In addition, temples require volunteers – maybe your Thai wife would like to teach Thai language or art classes or babysit children? Being a part of her native community in her new home country will make her much more comfortable.