Appreciating Life in This Enchanting, Low-Cost City

“I found myself out of work a few years back and, at my age (62), it wasn’t looking like I would find anything suitable, so it was a bit of a dilemma,” explains Paul Jones.

“Fortunately, I made a few small property investments, which I was able to get a decent return on, so there was enough cash in the kitty to explore my options. I could have stayed at home but I’d had enough of big-city living and was looking for something different.”

Paul took some time to travel around southern and central Thailand before deciding on Chiang Rai in the north of the country.

“You have to select your new home very carefully. It has to match a lifestyle that will keep you happy and content. Personally, I love living in a city where you can embrace the provincial Thai culture and laidback way of life.”

Paul describes how one of the biggest advantages of his new home is the cost of living. “I pay $220 for a two-bedroom townhouse just a few minutes away from the heart of the city. I have always been a homebody so it was essential for me to find a cozy place where I could live comfortably while having enough space for family and friends to come and visit.”

“Thailand offers pretty good mobile network coverage, as well as home internet access that, combined, sets me back around $29 a month. When it comes to food, I eat about half of my meals at some of the most popular local restaurants where it costs under $2 for lunch or dinner. The rest of the time, I tend to go to the local markets to buy the freshest fruit and vegetables at rock-bottom prices.

“Overall, I spend less than $800 a month for all my expenses, and get to live life exactly how I want without having to worry about the price of basic necessities.”

Paul never gets tired of visiting the bustling Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, where he explores the different vendors selling locally made goods. There are so many amazing food stalls and restaurants that, every time he goes there, he always finds somewhere new to try out authentic northern Thai cuisine, such as Larb Moo (spicy minced pork), with sticky rice or various types of grilled and barbecued meats.

Apart from appreciating the local life, he also keeps up-to-date with the expat happenings nearby. “We do have a small expat community in Chiang Rai and there is an English-language newspaper, as well as several web forums that I follow, so it is not completely isolated like in the really rural areas.”

In general, Thailand has a very good public and private healthcare system, and, since Chiang Rai is the provincial capital, it has good facilities for essential medical care. Expat insurance is easily available from either Thai or international providers. Paul purchases an annual policy for $800 to ensure he is covered for emergency care and medical repatriation.

He is a firm believer in taking preventative health measures. “Eating well, taking it slow and enjoying a leisurely but active lifestyle is really the best healthcare. Everything is different now I don’t have to work an office job, and my health has never been better. My first priority is my wellbeing, and here I have gained a new appreciation of life.”

©iStock.com/alanphillips

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