Homeless Westerners on the Rise in Thailand

September 19, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

PATTAYA, Thailand—The number of Westerners living on the streets in Thailand is growing, according to a Thai non-profit that helps the homeless. The Issarachon Foundation puts the current number at approximately 200, among the 30,000 homeless Thai nationals.

The homeless foreigners tend to be men, many of whom have separated from their Thai wives. As Thai nationals, the women own title to the property, so the men find themselves without a roof over their heads.

In other cases, homeless Westerns suffer from mental illnesses or from drug or alcohol abuse, says the foundation.

Natee Saravari, secretary-general of the charity told the Bangkok Post it was not uncommon to see Westerners asking for handouts or rummaging through the garbages outside fast food restaurants in the popular beachfront areas in Pattaya.

Despite their undesirable situation, many remain in Thailand either because they cannot afford the fines for overstaying their visa—about $16/day. Or because it’s more comfortable living on the streets of relatively safe, easy-going Thailand, than being destitute in their home country, as one North Carolina native explained.

“It’s a lot less stress here, you know, and I’m more comfortable here than I am at home. I don’t have to worry about gunshots and all those crazy stuff like this and I’m just comfortable here,” said Sylvester Ancram, who says his wife threw him out.


Video by NTD Television.