Selling up almost everything we owned in Australia, packing up what little was left and taking off to Thailand eight years before my prescribed retirement age was a significant risk.
My wife Vivien and I had a dream of a new life. A life away from the rat race of work, demanding careers, doing more of the same and simply trying to survive as we saved our pennies for a typical Aussie retirement.
While we still had good health and vitality, we wanted to travel, experience new countries, their cultures and history and live life on our terms. We certainly could not afford such a living—and an early retirement—if we remained in Australia. That’s why we researched low cost, safe and welcoming countries to make as our new base and, for us, Thailand was the perfect match.
In all our research and planning before departing Australia, we speculated what it would be like living in a new country. Pondered on how we would fill our time. We even had these vague ideas of how we might generate some extra money to add to our meagre nest egg. In all our thoughts and dreams we never envisaged some of the fun and exciting opportunities that would in time present themselves.
We certainly weren’t expecting to become an advert for the good life here but that’s what happened… literally. You may have seen promotions from travel companies that advertise luxury holidays in 5-star resorts in exotic locations across Asia. Exceptionally enticing offers with beautiful photos and compelling videos…
Well, as you may have noticed, those videos often feature middle-aged Aussie couples in various scenes enjoying themselves and extolling the virtues of the featured resort. I’ll let you in on a secret. The production company usually brings in ‘local talent’ to test-drive the facilities and take part in filming. And when we were asked to take part, we jumped at the chance.
Admittedly, it doesn’t take great acting skills to look like you’re enjoying yourself while spending a few days in a 5-star resort, dining out three times a day and working your way through the cocktail list… but we must have done a good job as we’ve been in four such videos so far.
We also took part in a documentary on retiring in Asia for a European TV company. So, after a day’s filming and on-screen interviews, we’re now famous in Germany… or were for six minutes at least.
Travel was always high on our list and, like many Aussies, we love a good road trip. Combining these passions has allowed us to explore all corners of Thailand over the last few years. And reflecting on that, we’ve done much more travel within Thailand than I ever expected. It’s just so easy to get around and affordable too.
From luxury resorts in Koh Samui to historical parks in Nakhon Ratchasima,
our Thailand adventures are just beginning.
We’ve explored Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Pattaya, the Issan region and beyond. And, further afield, we’ve taken the train to Malaysia and flown to neaby Myanmar too. With all of Southeast Asia on our doorstep, we’re certainly not done exploring yet.
Many family members and friends were concerned for us when we told them we were making the move to Thailand. So, to keep them up-to-date with what we were doing and what life was like here, we started a blog. Soon it opened the door to more writing opportunities, including becoming International Living Australia’s Thailand Correspondent and even writing a book on everything I’ve learned about expat life in my adopted homeland.
So, what have our years as expats in Thailand taught us? Mainly, that a richer, better life overseas isn’t just a pipe dream. You just need to be open to opportunity and, when they present, jump in and give it a fair go. No looking back! We’re certainly not…