Chiang Mai, Thailand has been my home for the past 16 years. Living and working as a photographer in the “Rose of Thailand” is an extraordinary lifestyle. Last year my wife, Pansa, and I built our dream home on a rural mountainside just south of the city.
I originally came to Thailand to work for a video studio. Before long I was back to freelance photography again, managing a small multimedia business. This came with the benefits of a business visa and work permit.
Much of my work has been charity based, charging clients just enough to cover costs. Sometimes working for free. My income for many years was from sales of stock photos and videos via large online agencies.
Keeping variety in my work makes it more enjoyable, so my online portfolios are a real mixture. From studio still-lifes and portraiture, to tea-picking Akha hill tribe people and Karen farmers. Mixing it with the locals on mountainsides in the cool season and keeping chilled indoors with the air conditioning in the hot season.
Chiang Mai is a wonderful city in the north of Thailand. Northerners tend to be more relaxed than their countrymen in the south. One of the main Thai phrases you hear is “sabai sabai,” which means comfortable and relaxed. It pretty much sums up a lot of life here.
In Thailand, life is meant to be enjoyed. People smile at each other as they pass in the street. It’s easy to live outside the rat race here.
There’s no real central business district in the city. Most big businesses are based in Bangkok. The center of town is tourist oriented with boutique hotels, B&Bs, bars, and restaurants. Nothing is particularly expensive. Good food is readily available at top-rated restaurants or from street vendors, where you can get a delicious meal for as little as $1.
Living expenses are relatively low. I rented a three-story town house, because it had a great photography studio space. It cost me $350 per month, it had five bedrooms, four bathrooms, office space, and a large kitchen
I’ve long desired to live rurally, and this year the dream is a reality. Pansa and I bought land and had a home built for us. Despite being over an hour’s drive from the city, we have faster fiber-optic internet than ever before. Modern life in the rice fields is wonderful.
My work focus has changed over the years. My wife and I now run photography workshops. Some in the city and some based at our home, which is a B&B. Guests come and stay, enjoy the peaceful environs, hike the nearby national park, and take a photography workshop.
Thanks to high-speed internet, I am also able to work online more. I produce photography courses and am writing for a number of photography blogs. With good roads, we continue to work in the city doing our freelance photography and video work.
Life is a lot different than it was when I moved here over 16 years ago. It’s easier and more fun. Now, being connected is seamless and relatively constant. Inexpensive living, lovely locals, fabulous cuisine, and a rich culture have few challenges if approached with a healthy attitude to life.
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