When I first came to Thailand, I did not think I would become an expat. I came to Thailand ten years ago for a short three month holiday and I just planned on going back to the Gold Coast to just get on with my life. What I have found difficult in living an expat life may be different for a lot of people. Living an expat life in a small village is not a easy thing to do and I will explain why.
As for myself, I live in an old Lana style house that my wife’s family owned before I met her.
The house was about 50 years old and built in the traditional wooden form and needed some work done to it. I spent about 300,000 baht on the property after I married to get the house up to a reasonable living standard. I do know well that I do not own any of this property under Thai Law. Living in a small-time village you can become bored very quickly and if the fact as well is if you cannot speak Thai (my Thai is terrible), you can become very isolated if you only have your wife to talk to. In my family, Fhon is the only person that can speak English.
Still, a good benefit is if you like a garden and a few dogs like I do, you can make your life pretty interesting. I have a Labrador and a Beagle and they keep me busy. Fhon has just started a garden with some trees in it. The inside of the house is Westernized to suit my needs.
Another hard aspect for me has been the food. Everyone says Thai food is yummy. The fact is when you live out in a village and most of the cooking is done in a traditional way that I cannot eat. Most of the time the food is spicy or they like to eat a lot of offal (Pigs Guts) for snacks. I have no gallbladder so it makes my digestion not good. If the foods are too spicy, my Western Stomach gets GERD and I will suffer in bed all night with a bad stomach ache.
Fhon has to cook separately for me most nights but in reality, it is cheaper for me to go out and eat a meal most evenings and that is what we do. I have a select few shops that cater to my taste now and finding a salad is not hard. After a long period of time, you hanker for your foreign foods. Most local meals are around 45 baht.
One good thing is that most of the vegetables and meats like pork and chicken are cheap to buy and if you like to cook yourself, you can eat a healthy diet. Most foreign foods are very expensive to buy. Finding good beef steak is very hard as it is so expensive to buy and the quality unless it is imported, can vary a lot.
My life in the village is very quiet. Most mornings we go to a local swimming pool for a swim as I need to exercise. Bipolar Disorder affects my life in many ways but I find it is very important that I try to do some exercise every day. It is pretty easy to exercise here as we have a gym only a few minutes from our home and in the afternoon, you can go for a walk with many people around the Amphur (City Hall area). Thai people like to exercise and every day they have a lot of people walking and running around this area. They even have dancing lessons sometimes and they seem pretty popular. In Chiang Mai, they have many Facebook pages and if you do a search, you can find many fitness activities.
Living a village life I can tell you is not for most people due to how quiet and isolated it can be. For myself, I do not mind it as it is better for my health. Most of my friends tell me they cannot live the way I do and they live in town in a Condo and like to go out at night. Chiang Mai is not that an exciting city for nightlife anymore. A lot of things has changed in the last ten years but I have to say, I am happy where I am and with what I do.