Retire in Chiang Mai
There are many expats in Chiang Mai being mainly British and American expats. They have over the years increased in number to the extent that the US Embassy now has a Consulate in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is not a very big city and there are a number of other towns in Northern Thailand where many expats settle. Chiang Mai is just the better know location. There is also Khon Kaen another yet smaller city where expats settle down but mid-way between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Chiang Mai is big however it is not as big as Bangkok and does not have the problems you will find in big cities. Crime is not an issue and the people are more personable than in Bangkok. Accommodation wise there are many options in Chiang Mai. Some opt to buy a condo unit while most tend to rent while in Thailand. These range from 3-5,000 Baht per month. Much like expats in Pattaya the city is also very transient as foreigners come and go all the time. Accommodation will vary from a small apartment for about 1million Baht to larger 3 bedroom apartments. There are houses for rent and these tend to be in the 7-9,000 Baht range depending on how fancy it is.
There are a number of private hospitals in Chiang Mai. They tend to be Thai pricing which is dirty cheap compared to what you will get at home for the same service. Some hospitals offer expat packages such as regular health checks and these tend to be very cheap. Insurance in Thailand tend to be coupled with life insurance and once you reach a certain age you can’t get life insurance easily. Medical insurance you can still get and companies such as Bupa offer reasonable rates on their medical insurance. The most popular hospitals tend to be Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital, also known as Suan Dok which is a teaching hospital in Chiang Mai and also the Lana Hospital which is a smaller hospital but is also affiliated with Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine. The level of English is good and the pricing is reasonable.
After you have moved to Thailand the entertainment for a tourist loses its appeal and you need to find a hobby. Many expats go off to the local bar for a drink and meet others there for a chat while many take up hobbies they have had before such as painting. Chiang Mai has main temples and you can also find many expats at the golf courses in the area. You are retired now you have to figure how to spend your time – nightclubs such as Hot Shot in the Porn Ping Hotel or Mandalay both of which are popular spots for expats. Reggae music at Rasta Café on Charoen Prathet Road or the popular North Gate Jazz club. The options are numerous! Note that you cannot teach English even part-time on a retirement visa. You need to have a work permit for this which will invalidate your retirement visa.
Overall if you are looking for lush vegetation, scenic mountains and a reasonable cost of living in Thailand without the pollution and neon signs then Chiang Mai will be for you. On a note of caution, they do burn the plantations during the season and for about a month of the year Chiang Mai does have a bit of a smoke cloud around. All in all not a bad place to retire.
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