After spending 3 months on this popular Indonesian island I have a good grasp of costs to live here. All of these numbers are just for a single retired man. No dog. No wife. No kids. Just me. Here we go with Bali cost of living… The cost to rent on this island, in popular areas, can be absolutely amazing low and can go up as high as “are you kidding me”. For example I booked a few hotel rooms, normally referred to as a “home stay”, for as little as 7 USD per night and this included breakfast!! I Read more…
I began travelling when I was about 10 years old. My mum allowed me to travel on the train to see my grandmother. This was such a grand adventure for me and I savoured every moment.
Everything about each trip was exciting: the bus to the train station, buying the “day return” train ticket, the ride itself and even waiting in the station waiting room..because it was full of travel posters of distance lands… like London, 100 miles away!!! ha ha ha. I also enjoyed my tea and chat with my grandmother.
Travelling has always been multi-faceted. A BIG facet is interaction with others. Especially other people of different cultures, because I wanted to learn, with keen interest about thier own lives. This has helped me develop an understanding of the world around me. it
It’s helped me understand the effects of poverty, censorship, religion and cultural customs and I learn more about the city or country I was visiting. Forty countries and counting…
So imagine my horror today when I had my suspicions confirmed that young traveller’s indeed do NOT want to interact!! Yes, you read that correctly, I was told by several people, under the age of 30, that they don’t talk with strangers. That strangers scare them.
I posted a comment on the Facebook “expats in Thailand” group… I asked why European people, especially under the age of 30 years old, did not acknowledge my hello, smile/nod of my head or my good morning. Here are a few replies:
“…if a ramdom person says hi I will think they’re a perv or scammer (the two times I continued a conversation with a random person in Thailand I encountered one of each, and I’ve gotten a couple of hellos from the sexpat looking types which I ignored, in addition to all the tuktuk drivers and business owners trying to lure people into business). And also I may not be expecting it and just minding my own business only registering the hello when it’s too late.
Also in my country talking to a stranger in the street could lead to ending up with my phone or purse snatched, or me stabbed or shot.”
“I don’t respond to creepy old men no matter what country I’m in lol”
“No one owes you a smile, an acknowledgement, or their time. At all. If someone wants to walk around ignoring everyone around them, so be it. Also, you don’t know what they’re thinking. Maybe they didn’t hear you. Maybe their dog died. Maybe they are triggered by random men chatting them up..? I ignore most unsolicited “conversation”. Lots of women do because it is a saftey issue. If you’re a cashier in a store or a barista or hold a door open for me I am polite and make eye contact, but that it not an invitation to continue to chat. You are not entitled to any person’s time it attention.”
Sad comments right? So what does a bad person look like exactly?? I use my intuition. Your age, gender, race is never a barrier for a simple Hola!! However according to these young-uns.. it is!! Apperently manners, politeness and the simple art of a “good morning” will be gone in 50 years.
I posed a subsequent question… “why do you travel if you hate to talk to others”. I got few responses, those that did stated “to see the country and not to talk to creepy old men”. Yep. So are all “old men” creepy? Or do they have some creepy old man radar technology in thier phone?
Us, older travellers and expats have made jokes for years about younger people being obsessed with thier smart phones. Well, this is now not a laughing matter, it’s a Western cultural change that is a scary look into the future. For me personally it is making travel far less interesting. Here in Thailand 80% of traveller’s in tourist areas are from Europe and they really do not want to say “good morning” let alone have a conversation with me! Last week I was leaving my hotel room in Krabi, Southern Thailand and a young European couple in the opposite room was leaving at exactly the same moment. We were less than 2 feet from each other and I said “Hi. Good morning”. No reply. No smile.. no nothing. Very odd indeed and very common here with young Europeans.
According to one European young lady she conjectured that maybe the other people were “triggered” by me saying hello. Ha ha ha . Really? well, in that case, you need some profesional help and some inner healing. I need need to travel where there are less younger Europeans with a very bad attitude about life.
As a retired expat living and travelling to several countries the question of “how safe is that area” is at the top of my list of needs and probably yours too.
For me, there is no point in living in a town with low-cost of living, clear sunny days and lots to do if you also have a much higher chance of being the victim of a violent crime. I am not the kind of person that worries a lot, if at all. I live my life by managing the risks. Life has plenty of risks without moving to a crime-ridden barrio in Mexico where known gang members operate. No need to worry, just don’t travel or live there! See, that was easy. Manage the risk, no need to worry.
Of course, areas of crime around the world and indeed inside each small town or big city are forever changing. So what was once considered a safe area of town in Mexico maybe now considered to be hell on earth. This is another reason why I am a huge advocate of renting instead of buying in your newfound paradise. Noisy neighbours next door..move! Drug cartel setting up a presence in your town and you need to sell your home and move fast? Good luck!!
Thailand, for many years, has been, or nearly always at the top of the list of “worst traffic fatalities in the world”. While Mexico has had the unfortunate accolade of one of the most dangerous countries to visit in terms of violence. So pick your poison if you choose to live in either country. Death by bus or bullet?
However, if you take a closer look at the situation there are a number of variables that we can all manage to mitigate most of this risk. In Thailand you never want to travel by bus at night, oftentimes the drivers are overworked and often take stimulants to keep them awake. Unfortunately, the stimulants stop working and the driver drives off the road or into an oncoming cement truck. Travelling at night, travelling in poor weather multiplies the chance of a traffic accident anywhere in the world, but especially in Thailand. Mini van drivers have horrible reputation for accidents and deservedly so. I was a passenger in one once. That was enough, never again. They often drive at very fast speeds and weave in and out of traffic. These things are totally illegal in Thailand but most traffic laws are NEVER enforced. Many foreigners in Thailand are killed while renting a motorbike ( called a scooter in many places), whether on holiday or an expat in Thailand. Riding drunk, not paying attention to other drivers, who are also not paying attention could get you killed or at the very least in a hospital for a few days. You need to be a confident and experienced rider in Thailand.
The drug cartel news stories are far more prevalent and well known than the atrocious traffic habits of Thailand. Perhaps they are much more sensationalized headlines, such as “Mexican cartel members vs military police shootout in Centro ” versus ” “15 dead in a bus crash in Thailand”. Mexico is certainly dangerous in many areas and situations. To manage the risk stay informed. By reading local news via social media or expat online news you will be armed with information that can mitigate the risks somewhat. Again driving on the roads ar night or taking a bus at night should be avoided. Visiting area where recent violence has occurred should be postponed or at the very least reviewed carefully. I suspect although I have no actual facts at hand, that 70% of the murders in Mexico are related to organised drug crime in one way or the other. If my guess is correct then most of Mexico is about as safe as most of the USA. I have no first hand knowledge of violent crimes in Mexico. Police shakedown for a few hundred peso bribe, yes and burglaries occasionally.
An interesting note about my own personal experiences with safety. Chiang Mai is known for being safe and not at all violent and yet the only murder I ever witnessed was in that city, just 6 meters from my dining table at the time. A very jealous and angry Thai wife hacked to death her foreign husband while he was chatting to a much younger girl in the bar across the street. In the same city I was also hit from behind by a car that sideswiped me as I was walking at 3 pm on the side of a small road in heavy traffic. The driver never stopped. The noise that is produced when a car hits a person is VERY load and yet she continued on her way at about 15 kph.
Your choice of a country or city to travel or retire to may not be discussed here, but the logic is still the same: do your reasearch, manage the risks and stay informed.
So, death either on a bus in Thailand or a drug cartels bullet is certainly a risk to be carefully considered. In my opinion, they are about the same risk in each country and managed sensibly will give you peace of mind, which finding paradise for less is all about.
I hope you enjoyed this article and encourage you to share it via social media and click the button on the left. All the best, John
Finding a place to call “home” for a few months or a few decades requires patience and certain skills. It is difficult enough to find a house to call home in your home country of Australia, Great Britain or the USA. Throw in the language and cultural barrier and the task becomes tricky at best.
After the language obstacle comes the double pricing standard on many things. Foreigners to these exotic paradise beaches and towns come with local people that have a very interesting view of all us Westerners and the biggest myth is that we are all wealthy! Certainly the average Brit as far more income and material possessions than the average Thai person. However, a retired Westerner has an income far less than his working younger friends “back home” and his or her savings may well be far less than the Mexican, Thai or Ecuadorian that wants to charge the foreigner more because “they look rich’. There is a preconception that Westerners are all living a lavish lifestyle and so can easily afford more rent than a locally born person could afford.
I am strongly against such double pricing especially on the topic of rent. My landlord in Khanom Thailand owns 6 homes, and about 5 more acres of land close to the ocean. He drives a nice car and has a good life in general. He has been very fair to me but thinks it is funny that the local barber charges Thai people 60 Thai Baht and charges me and other foreigners 100 Thai Baht for the same haircut. I see no humour in this and I find it offensive.
Getting back to my house in Khanom: it is a one bedroom, with a slightly Westernised kitchen, a living room, a bathroom and both front and rear covered porch areas with seating. The rent also includes the furniture, electricity, water, internet and cable TV.
The construction is 4 years old and includes an air conditioner in the bedroom which can cool both the bedroom and the living area with the doors closed. The beach is a 200-yard stroll and the closest convenience store is about 3 km away. It is a very modern style home and even includes a washing machine. easy enough to dry a load of laundry outside in the sun in about 2 hours!
There are plenty of electrical outlets and the aircon works great! The kitchen is stocked with everything that I need. When I needed something my landlord actually supplied it!
An important thing to consider renting a home in a hot climate is shade and a breeze. A long roof overhang should keep most of the direct hot sun out off the house, trees next to the house are good, as is a shady spot for a car or motorbike. A breeze is fantastic if you feel like sitting outside and oftentimes found at a slight elevation or close to the beach. I do not like a home right on the beach. Far too much salt and wind. On a stormy day, the wind can carry salt spray to your house and can prevent you from looking out of your windows. The salt is also very bad for your electronics and will ruin them in a few years.
My landlord has 4 other rentals in this town and treats everyone with respect and is very fair. I imagine the electric costs that he absorbs for my usage is probably around $1.400 Thai Baht or about 43 USD per month March 2018. He also rented me a 125 cc motor scooter for 2.000 Thai Baht per month
Its a beautiful house in a very beautiful quiet beach town. Outside of my home, there is not a lot going on! hanging out at my local coffee shop with other Farang (a Thai slang word for foreigners) can take up a few hours each day, but once a week for me is just fine.
Hello and welcome, again perhaps, to my blog about retiring in paradise. It has been a very long time since I wrote anything here. I am not exactly sure why this is, but probably a combination of reasons. Without further ado, here is a quick update about me for the last 18 months and my retire in paradise for less events:
Since January 2015 I have actually travelled to Thailand 5 times. For the first 3 trips that I left Thailand, it was to “move back to Mexico”. I was very hard on myself (aren’t we all?) and was disappointed with myself for not being able to choose a home country. Looking back I now know how ridiculous that thinking was.
First of all the fact that I COULD travel between Mexico and Thailand was in itself a wonderful thing to have. Second, I had the GUTS to do such travel. I am now 66 years old and I still enjoy the adventure with all its challenges. Fortunately, my health is still excellent, because I know that having poor health is a real game changer in our lives. How lucky I am to have this “problem” of choosing which country to live in!!
So about 18 months ago I decided never to say to myself or others that I have decided to “MOVE” anywhere. I simply say that I am travelling to such and such country or city and I am not sure for how long. having said this, I have decided to return to Mexico next week, for good. Ha ha ha. Uups, did I just break my own rule?
I enjoyed living in Thailand this past year because I am/was living at the beach in Southern Thailand. The beach here is idyllic, coconut palms, smiling Thai faces and a very relaxed small town on the eastern coast of Thailand called Khanom
. No Starbucks, few shops, a nice marketplace and a population of about 20.000 in the town itself. I rented a house here, 1 bedroom with a kitchen, bathroom and living room for 280 USD per month. This includes electricity, cable TV and an internet connection. Very inexpensive. I will write a separate post about this house and Khanom later.
So was there anything wrong with my newfound paradise? Well yes actually, there was not enough opportunity for social interaction. As I age I have found that I need companionship more and more. It’s not because of my age, its simply knowing what I need now. In the 3 years that I was living in Thailand, on and off, I had met 2 ladies who were very nice and I pursued relationships with. However, thier lack of English skills and my almost zero Thai language skills meant that conversation beyond daily pleasantries was impossible. For many, this sort of dialogue is sufficient, but not for me. I have also missed laughing and chatting about things that are American or British, an opportunity that would be impossible with Thai people. Thai men interact with me very very little, as opposed to Mexico where Mexican men with their families often would see me sitting alone enjoying a coffee or a beer and they would invite me to join them. This never happened in Thailand.
Laughter is a very healing fun thing to have in one’s life. Finding like-minded people to share similar situations and events from our younger decades is a powerful connection for me. Wit and sarcasm cannot be found in the Thailand language and trying to converse with Mexicans and introduce wit and sarcasm is very difficult for me at my Spanish level. I really miss this sort of banter with Brits and Yanks.
So next week I am flying to Mexico City to be at least closer to the opportunity of having these types of friendships. My friends and acquaintances in Mexico are many, many times more than I ever met in Thailand. It is my opinion that these cultural differences can make or break a lasting, healthy life in a chosen place to live.
I think we all can talk ourselves into just about anything. Right? Even though we KNOW that there are few red flags, we can still talk ourselves into believing that our choice is an excellent one. So if you move to another country, would you force yourself to stay even though you it’s not what you thought the place would be like? Would you stay just to be stubborn or not lose face?
Hold on! In this case, I am speaking about my choice to live in this city, here in LOS (Land Of Smiles) – Thailand! Since I had made my choice from 80% reading material on forums and online articles and the other 20% was from people who had actually lived here then who am I to defy all these “experts”?! Just say YES to Chiang Mai!
So I moved to Chiang Mai February 2015. However…
The truth is that after about 5 days here, I really just didn’t “get’ this place at all! But I dare not voice what was in my heart, this would be showing the world that I messed up! Especially if a Facebook post read along the lines of: “It took me about $1,000 to buy a one-way ticket from Mexico City to Bangkok, 36 hours of travel and a huge amount of energy and logistics to arrive here in Chiang Mai. However, after 5 days, I hate this place, so I think I will move on”. Not to mention the fact that I had sold everything I owned in Mexico in order to arrive here with 2 suitcases in tow.
That was honestly the truth of how I felt about my arrival here. I had read dozens and dozens of blogs and hundreds of forum topics about this city and 87.6% (approximately) stated that this city was a fantastic place to live in. So imagine me writing this blog, as the other 12% to say, nope, this place is not for me. I have since learned that most of those blogs were written by 25-year-olds. Digital Nomads who have a totally different energy and interest level about Chiang Mai than I do at age 64! In fact, things got MUCH worse about a month later after my arrival. The infamous “burning season” had arrived. Farmers for hundreds of kilometres around Chiang Mai burn rice fields. I have never found out why exactly, I can only guess like you the reader can.
This burning results in epic smoke filling the skies 24/7. In March, the sun is actually supposed to set at about 6 pm but because of the smoke, it was sorta dark at 4 pm. EVERYTHING in the city turned to an eerie orange-yellow hue. A sort of post-apocalyptic scenery in all directions. The mountains, notably Doi Suthep faded from my view for about 6 weeks. That landmark was about 10 km away and rose another 1,500 meters and it simply vanished. Closer to my room at the Smith Residence the buildings about 200 meters away were now just a foggy outline. Six weeks of this.
I was told, no problem; next year I can just leave town and get away from the smoke. Wait! I don’t want to be FORCED to leave my chosen home because of uncontrolled burning of stuff that may harm my health and certainly looks ugly. That’s just wrong and it accounts for 10% of a year! Then comes along Songkran in April. A “water” festival” don’t make me laugh. It is 5 days of stupid silly behaviour by locals and tourists. Thousands walk around town, Clint Eastwood style with water guns drawn, and these water cannons deliver a huge stream of water to your body! Sometimes this water is ice cold and sometimes it might come from the moat water around the old city. The bacteria in that moat water could be life threatening. So, 6 weeks of burning, 5 days of drunken water gun fights and this is only two months of living here!!
But, I never spoke a word of my true feelings to anyone.
The streets here are ALL full of motorbikes and cars. At breakfast time and sunset is the worst, rush our traffic and riding my motorcycle here is hell. In fact, what the hell was I thinking even buying my new motorcycle? I had rented one for a month as a tryout but I only rode around the old city area. The few times I rode out of the city on my newly bought bike I had visions of meandering quiet roads leading to roads in the jungle with quaint villages. Nope, didn’t happen. From my condo I rode about 45 minutes in several directions and I was STILL in heavy traffic with buses and trucks driving at speeds of well over 80 kph, not fast in a car, but when you are on a motorbike the vulnerability and fear factor should and does kick in big time! Plus the scenery was still awful, no jungle, few green patches so why even bother?! After 6 weeks I have driven a whopping 127 km, I could have walked or taken a 20 baht songthaew for 90% of the same trips that I did. So my motorbike is for sale.
To wrap up this post I could say it very simply: I have lived in Chiang Mai for 7 months and I miss Mexico! I miss the music, plazas, people, language, the culture and I really miss the bus system. It’s funny when I left the USA to live in Mexico January 2013, I NEVER looked back to missing the USA where I had lived since 1974. But here in Thailand, Mexico is very much on my mind.
There are few people that can ignore how much
the cost of living will be in Thailand
, Mexico, Spain or wherever their idea of paradise is. When I left Tucson Arizona, in January 2013, for greener and cheaper pasture I was also a little apprehensive. I was hoping that my choice of Mexico was indeed a good choice.
In an earlier article, I cited that one of my reasons for leaving San Miguel de Allende, Mexico was the huge increase in the cost of living there. Ecuador was going to be my next country to enjoy, however the cost of living there was only about 25% less than my current costs in Mexico.
Thailands cost of living looked considerably cheaper on paper. Like so much research we all do, other people’s research often never matches our own experience and “your mileage may vary” creeps into the overall equation.
Now that I have
lived in Chaing Mai,
Thailand for 4 months I can give you an accurate report on my experiences and a little about general finding here in Thailand. But first here are the numbers from a site that I like that has some good information that I actually based my move on before I arrived here: Cost of living comparison between Tucson, USA and Chaing Mai, Thailand. That report basically states that I would need TWICE as much income to live the same lifestyle here in Thailand than in Arizona. Oh dear, how on earth would I accomplish that? I think my costs would be triple for me in Tucson than compared to here in Chaing Mai! Hence the flood of retirees to places like Thailand and Ecuador!
First my housing. I live in a 46 sq. meter studio condo that is in a very modern building just 1-year-old. In Thailand, this size condo is considered big. To most, especially American, farang (a farang is anyone from outside of Asia) 46 sq. meters, or about 500 sq. feet is tiny. Right? I have a combo mountain and city skyline view, great location to shopping malls, main street, walk to restaurants and walk to my Thai language school. I have a kitchen that by Western standards is paltry, with just a hot plate, induction heater to be exact, to cook with and a microwave oven to warm things.
I have a large modern bathroom with a walk-in shower, a balcony also with views and a place to dry my washing and defined areas for sleeping, sitting, eating and working. I agreed to a 1-year lease period and my rent will be 12,000 baht each month. At the time of writing this article, that is about US$360, which is what my rent was in Santa Monica in 1974. My electricity is expensive at this time of year due to the air conditioning on most of the day and night: 1,600 baht a month, my fast internet is 500 baht, water 200 baht and I have a maid clean my room twice a week (see those shiny floors in the photos?) for 1,200 baht each month. Total housing cost: 15,500 baht, or about $460.
The style of my home would have been never my choice earlier in my life; too modern and too small. As I have stated many times in my articles: the key to living happy and comfortable, in your own paradise, is throwing out your old way of living your life and accepting the changes that will be inevitable. Trying to recreate, in your future paradise, what you left behind in England, USA or wherever will be difficult and expensive to accomplish.
The next biggest expense is food and drink. So far, I have not cooked any real meals in my own kitchen. First of all I do not know how to cook Thai food and what ingredients to buy. I make porridge with fresh fruit, toast and popcorn and that’s about it. My groceries and household items cost me about 2,000 baht each month plus about 800 for beer :). Meals at restaurants and street food cost another 8,000 baht a month and beer outside my home another 2,500 baht. That is a total of 13,300 for all my food and drink. About $400.
At the moment, my only means of transportation is a songthaew, a covered 2-bench truck that I may be sharing with others and for 20 baht each journey I can get around to most major landmarks in this city up to about 4km away. This is now getting old though and because I do not speak Thai then asking the same driver to take me to a certain address (still must be on a songthaew route) is not possible for me. I also walk a lot, which I enjoy if it is not too hot. I probably spend 200 baht each month on songtaew rides. One more option here for me and the rest of Thai cities is a tuk-tuk. These smaller vehicles will take me and 1 or 2 of my friends, to an exact location and often the driver will speak a little English but the cost is much higher at 60 to 100 baht inside Old Chaing Mai.
I have decided to buy a scooter. This form of transportation is the most common here in Chaing Mai and I would guess all of Thailand from the little I have seen. A new scooter will cost me about 70,000 baht, but since I do not need a new bike then a 30,000 baht, to purchase a late model Honda Click will be just fine. Besides the initial investment of US$880 there will be the cost of petrol, maintenance, insurance and legal stuff that will cost about 2,000 baht a YEAR if just riding around town and nearby.
My Thai language lessons, I just began at the local YMCA. The cost for 30 hours of instruction is 2,700 baht, about US$80. I buy electronic items from time to time, such as a streaming media player, a computer monitor, mouse, keyboard, electric kettle and a fan. All these items new, are priced the same or less than in the USA and much less than England.
Up until this point my housing, food and a few other items amount to a grand total of US$860 plus the cost of one-time costs which must be figured into a person’s budget over time. Of course you can live here MUCH cheaper than my way of living; smaller and older condos can cost only 7,000 baht and some rooms just 3,000 baht “Thai style”, you can save money on no beer drinking, no internet and using the free internet at many coffee shops. I have also put on weight, about 2 kg, so I could save money on food too! Other expats that live here spend 30,000 baht each month on rent and buy a car. You can also live outside of the city and rent a nice 3 bedroom house starting at 8,000 baht each month. Many choices for all sorts of budgets.
Some of my meals here cost only 40 baht for a simple port curry with rice and a cup of iced water. fancier places can be 200 baht per dish. Street food is perfectly safe, or just as safe as a restaurant option will be. I have never been sick here with any major stomach upset. In Mexico I was sick many times for the first 8 months; maybe I have not been sick here because Mexico helped build up my bug immunity, not really sure.
My life here is comfortable and easy. It is also easier, for me, to make friends here. The
here, both working and retired is much easier to connect to and to meet smart people. My experience in San Miguel was not nearly as good as here. So far so good. My pension is more than enough and so I get to save each month, although the first few months in any move always costs more because of initial expenses settling in.
Do you have a question about an item that is missing from my article. Hit the CONTACT button above or leave a reply to this article below. Wherever you are as you read this: enjoy the Planning and set it in motion!