BANGKOK, 23 July 2013 (NNT) – Chiang Mai and Hua Hin have been listed by an online survey as two of the best places in the world to retire.
Live and Invest Overseas, an online publication devoted to helping those interested in living abroad, has released a list of the 21 most expat-friendly destinations as part of its First Annual Retire Overseas Index.
Low cost of living, acceptable English proficiency, good quality of life and a thriving expat community are some of the selection criteria for the index.
According to the publication, Chiang Mai is a value-for-money destination, with monthly allowance calculated at only 37,500 baht. The province also offers affordable health insurance plans and healthcare services.
Hua Hin meanwhile is seen as an exotic getaway destination which is considered one of the world’s most affordable, welcoming, friendly and safe retirement choices.
Topping the list is Abruzzo, Italy, followed by Ambergris Caye in Belize. Other retirement spots included in the list are Cuenca, Ecuador; Granada, Nicaragua and Hoi An, Vietnam.
Wait a minute. Low cost of living, value-for-money, yes. But acceptable English proficiency? Gosh, these Farangs must have very low standards for what they consider as acceptable English. If they are typical, they probably end up learning more Thai than teaching English.
Next, the respondents are unlikely to be living in Chiangmai at this moment. They are more likely to be people who have seen the city once and fallen under its spell (pardon the familiar expression). So what is it really like? Well, the truth of the matter is, most people would be quite lost in Chiangmai without a guide. And the majority of people who make up their minds to settle in Chiangmai usually come to that decision after finding a suitable guide/translator.
The Woman Behind The Farang
Well, maybe not quite an Apsara, but this guide normally has more than one function. So the other day, someone asked an interesting question.
how important were they for you in making the decision of trying to establish a base camp in Thailand.
Up until the moment of finding somewhere who could speak fluent English, I was seriously debating whether or not I could handle living here.
A totally legitimate concern. This guy knows that living there means going beyond the usual tourist phrases. All documents will also be in a foreign language.
In amongst all of my frustrations at the time, she taught me two very important lessons.
Wait for the coconuts to come down, was one of her expressions, and the other was that I should have left all of my excess luggage at Heathrow.
By this she was referring to every time I started a sentence, well this is how we do things in England or the West.
She opened my eyes to look at everything with a blank sheet of paper, and just consider if the alternatives might be as good, if not better.
Many of the alternatives to a rigid, inflexible and unforgiving law-by-law system are actually good. However, there are also alternatives to “men” (pungent) insect repellent like rubbing tumeric on mosquito bites to prevent dengue and malaria. Much opposed to the more normal and cautious folks who need companions, translators and guides, there are also macho, no-map, no-directions guys who love to rough it out themselves and boast about their clever independence and total immunity from disorientation. The guy who made the statement below is probably someone who has already been bitten.
First, it stops you thinking for yourself and learning the language.
Second, they are always seeking personal gain from you (commission for them on everything at the very least, large ticket items put in their name at worst).
Third, all other Thais will assume the girl is/was a sex worker of some kind, so you will be socially disadvantaged (true or not doesn’t matter).
Fourth, you are insulated from most of the reality of Thailand, so you are living a complete fantasy life.
Fifth, they will be a drag on your finances, the children that aren’t yours are needy, the family hand is always stretched out.
Sixth, they are serving their own best interests, never yours.
Better for a foreigner to deal with things on their own and stand on their own two feet IMHO.
(When was your last holiday in the west where you had everything done for you be a local girl that left school at age 13?)
Cynical and unforgiving, but also brutally frank. It is easy to perceive Thais as friendly, warmhearted and caring people, but like most people in pragmatic societies (who show no signs of being friendly, warmhearted and caring), Thais are seldom altruistic. Extreme hospitality is often followed by requests for “small” favours. It doesn’t matter if he/she is a lover or just a friend.
It doesn’t matter if she is a kindergarten teacher who wouldn’t hurt a fly. It doesn’t matter if he/she chants and tham boons every morning. It doesn’t matter if this person is old enough to be your aunt or uncle. The story of the dead buffalo, leaking roof and sick mother/child can be told by just about anyone.
And here is a very honest observation. Take note that it refers to non-hookers and he is generally right about this aspect of Thai culture and mentality.
The little contact I’ve had with Thai women, and I don’t believe any of them have been hookers, ex or current, showed me that they were always on the take, secret commissions, most expensive options, etc. I expected a little humility. They always went for the biggest and best, restaurants, etc., things they would have never been in a position to afford themselves.
I wouldn’t want any help from one if I was to settle there, and would probably prefer to hire rather than buy.
If you can rent Paradise for a week or so, or even for a month or two, by all means rent it. Settling down is not easy. Those who claim that they can just pack their bags, move into Chiangmai and live happily ever after without any guidance from the locals must be lying. I’m not against any foreigner settling down, but it’s good that he/she is mentally prepared to find out that things won’t be such good value for money if they make too many friends who have done them too many favours.