The landscape in Hang Dong, the northern Thai district I call home, is a random mix of rural and urban Thailand. Rural villages with windy, country roads are dotted with Lanna-style temples amidst sprawling fields and tropical shrubbery. The urban roads are lined with low-rise shop-houses and local businesses selling everything from car parts to cosmetics. Residential areas range from pockets of small villages to grander, gated communities.
“The last time I went exploring by motorbike through the jungle, I saw an elephant just walking down the road. An elephant!” says Michael Brown, 53, who lives in the Thai resort city of Hua Hin.
David Smith spent every holiday for 20 years in Thailand, revelling in the country’s culture and way of life. In 2002, at the age of 52, he found himself unemployed and decided the time was right to move there permanently.
From the balcony of my 14th-floor home I can gaze upon a fertile landscape. The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai sits surrounded by views of lush, forested hills. The icing on the cake is the golden Buddhist temple on Doi Suthep mountain. During the day, it sparkles in the sunshine and at night local monks illuminate it, making it shine gold in a pitch black sky. The effect is stunning—the temple looks as if it’s floating in the darkness by magic.
“When I moved to Chiang Mai, I unearthed the rich and colourful life I thought was lost,” says Pam Manning of her new life in Thailand. Chiang Mai is famous for being a town of artisans and Lanna (Northern Thai) culture. It’s a place of flowers, temples, fruit, joyful festivals and colour is everywhere...velvety maroons, popping pinks…
Each morning, I begin my day by opening the French window of my studio apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I am greeted by views of towering mountains on the horizon and the golden peak of the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple glittering against the lush green background.
The last couple of years have been the most adventuresome of my life. Inspired by my wife, Bonnie, we’ve been pursuing our dream of seeing the world for some time now. But a number of months ago, we decided it would be nice to settle down for a while…and found the perfect place in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Retiring overseas could be the best thing you ever do…but it’s a big step. So if you’re not quite ready to make the move abroad on a permanent basis, the next best thing might be to go for a trial run and test the waters in one of your dream destinations.
Famous for dense mangrove forests, sheer limestone cliffs and hundreds of amazing islands that appear as if dropped into the ocean from somewhere else, Krabi, on the southern part of Thailand’s west coast across from the island of Phuket, is where many movies were filmed—think James Bond’s, Man with the Golden Gun and Leonardo DiCaprio’s, The Beach. In 2013 Kim Shield’s brother invited her and her husband, Michael, to Krabi to look at the house he was building there. And it was while exploring the area with their family, they noticed how much the area had to offer.
All we had to last us the next 30-plus years was our meagre life savings, accumulated superannuation and the proceeds of the sale of our assets in Australia. As we did not plan to be in Australia when we came of age to access our Australian Government Pension, it could not be part of our financial calculations. (We are not at retirement age as yet—Vivien’s 53 and I’m 58.)