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I want to share my experiences in Thailand. It might help wannabe expats process information about a future for them in Thailand.

Background. I am 65 years old, retired mechanical engineer and single. I am healthy and have travelled to 38 countries and lived in England (my birthplace), Australia, USA (38 years), Mexico and Thailand.

For the past 5 years of retirement, I have been leaving between Mexico and Thailand. Spending 3 out of 5 years in Thailand altogether.

In Thailand, I have lived in Chiang Mai (15 months), Khanom (3 months), Koh Yao Noi (3 months) and now I have been Ao Nang for 2 months. Quite a bit of diversity in those places for sure.

I have decided to abandon :yield: the whole idea of living in Thailand longer than a vacation. here is why:

1. I have an 0-A visa (affectionately called a "retirement visa"). In Thailand there is no such thing as a retirement visa.. and a path to residency is odd at best. As far as I can make out you can BUY your way into residency in Thailand. With my visa, I still have to report to the immigration office every 90 days to confirm/declare my residence address in Thailand. I never trusted the postal route of informing the immigration people.. my choice I understand. At the end of my first year, my visa was extended another year. I forget the cost.. 1,900 thb rings a bell. The information required is NEVER the same for each visit I make to the immigration office. Also, in theory, every time I stay in a hotel in Thailand I am supposed to inform immigration of a "change of address. Its absurd at best. I never do, but I am breaking the law apparently!! Crazy. It's like Thailand does not WANT foreigners in this country! Right?! They make us expats jump through sooo many hoops.. and for what.. a one-year permission to stay.. and 90-day address reports. It's too much (for me). As a comparison, Mexico: After 4 years on a "residente temporal" my visa/residency status was recently upgraded to "resident permanente" . No 90 day reporting. No more visits to immigration with my permanent residency. Finished. I can stay in Mexico and come and go as long as I want. :cool: Or until the government changes the rules. Again :).

2. Thai language. I tried. I really did. I went to the YMCA in Chiang Mai for 3 months. I have 3 apps on my phone that I use weekly. After 2 years here I can only read/recognise a handful of words and a handful of letters. That's it. My ability to communicate does not go beyond pleasant "tourist" chat. It is VERY frustrating. This fact alone makes dating/relationship tough at best with a thai woman. However dating or marrying a Thai woman is its own topic. This I know. Spanish. When I arrived in Mexico I probably already knew a dozen or so words. Now I can actually have a conversation with a Mexican.. albiet.. I probably speak like a 3 year old.. but.. I can speak to them!! I can also read and understand 80% of words on shop signs, menus and government forms that need filling our (buying a car, paying the electric bill and so on) In Thailand I have zero understanding of what I am reading or signing!! :crazy:

3. Staying alive in Thailand. Driving. In Chiang Mai I had a motorcycle (a scooter) OMG. a dance with death every day for me... yes I admit I was never comfortable or confident on the bike.. hence I only rode for about 5 months. I bought a car instead. I will be safer. I thought. The problem with driving in Thailand is that MY responsibility to watch 360 degrees around me for pedestrians and motorbikes has skyrocketed. On a bike it's easy to see all around you-- and hear. Inside a car...not so much. The near misses have been too many to count. I once pulled out of my curbside parking spot at 10pm.. I waited and waited until it was safe.. using my side mirror and looking over my shoulder...I pulled out (always very slowly)... HONK HONK.. a motorbike with 3 teen girls whizzed by me less than a meter from my right side... How did I not see them?? a few minutes later those same girls pulled over to stop. I quick look on my rear view mirror told me the reason.. they had NO HEADLIGHT!! I nearly killed 3 girls!! It was a heart pounding moment for sure. Plus..why didnt THEY brake for me pulling our?? Thais drive like they want to die!! I knew a 19-year-old girl, whose mum "taught her" to drive with 3 "lessons". She and her mum picked me up at my condo one day... the daughters driving I had assumed would be slow and timid. OMG no! She was a scene right out of Fast 8!! I asked her to stop. I'll drive. She was just HORRIBLE on the road with zero sense of speed/space/defensiveness. Another way to die soon is to marry a bar girl. Again that's a whole different topic :D

4. Clothing, architecture and culture. I love the beach. I like sand in between my toes and can laze for hours at a bar on the sand with a beer and some 70's music. I also enjoy wearing shoes.. and a shirt.. with a collar.. not always but now and then. There is zero opportunity (except Bangkok) to go "fancy" to anyplace in Thailand. if there is.. then prices are higher than USA or UK! No theatre, no nice 3 stars restaurant. Zero chance. I like that about Mexico.. it's a classy place. I can be on the beach in Puerto Vallarta or Cancun for days and yet both places have 4-star places where you need to be "dressed up". In many towns in Mexico, the building have style.. inside has class..the decor has some substance to it. I have NEVER experienced this anywhere in Thailand. The building here are old (old in a bad way) drab, run down and covered in mold. Men and women in Mexico have some class. Thai people.. very polite with for the most part.. zero class.

I will miss the exotic scents of Thailand, the politeness of people (Mexicans can be very hard and macho.. even the women ). I want to go back to dancing in the street, listening to mariachi bands in the town square and watching live theatre productions inside a beautiful building.

Many of you might consider Mexico dangerous. It's a bad rap for mexico.. the crimes are 95% drug cartel related. In fact according to Numbeo dot com the crime in Phuket much higher than Puerto Vallarta for example.

OK. These are my thoughts. My experiences. Yours may be different. I hope this has been some benefit for some.
 

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Many of you might consider Mexico dangerous. It's a bad rap for mexico.. the crimes are 95% drug cartel related. In fact according to Numbeo dot com the crime in Phuket much higher than Puerto Vallarta for example.
Thank you for that. Mexico was high on my list, as it is for most Yanks, but the piles of dead bodies sort of turned me off.
 

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Very interesting report.
I was planning to retire in Thailand (I have a Thai wife), but I have time to decide (about 15 years ...).
I'll think about that
Thank you
 

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Interesting how peoples' Thailand living experiences differ. Have lived the past eleven years here very happily with a rather different view on the pros and cons. A 30 year living and work career in Africa beforehand may have something to do with it.

The annual so called retirement visa has never presented a problem to extend taking two short visits on consecutive days to my local immigration office to complete once a year. The 90 day reporting exercise is also not a problem. I travel a fair bit out of Thailand and the 90 days starts when you enter the country so if you exit within 90 days the slate is wiped clean and the 90 days starts again on your next entry. In the last one year visa cycle have only made one 90 day reporting at immigration , and which took just 5 minutes.

Acceptance and liking of Thai culture is important. If you don't you're unlikely to settle here unless you spend most of your time in western "farang" environments (gated communities , clubs and bars , etc) which suits some , but not for me.

I drive both car and motorbike and the driving conditions take some getting used to. You need to recognise these standards and styles and adapt your own accordingly. Have driven 170,000 kms in a car and had just one accident (T-boned at a junction - my fault) , and none on motorcycles in 10,000 kms.

Learning Thai has been an ongoing interest. Never attended a language course , picking it up "on the street" by trial and error and engaging Thais in converstion when opportunity arose. No problem being understood and can follow most converstaions even though I miss many words and phrases. My biggest problem is getting my Thai family and friends to talk Thai with me as they all want to practise and improve their English which increasingly they speak well !

The beach scene here is excellent in very many resort locations. I don't need or seek this , although scuba dive all over Thailand and SE Asia. If it's the beach scene you want however , you've got it here in spades !

Thailand living ? Horses for courses.
 

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Very interesting report.
I was planning to retire in Thailand (I have a Thai wife), but I have time to decide (about 15 years ...).
I'll think about that
Thank you
Gnazi, you are far ahead of some of us regarding the language, as you already have a Thai language practice partner. :p
 

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I currently live in Veracruz, Mexico and I too was considering a permanent move to Thailand, as I have been there several times and just love almost everything about it, especially the food and the people. I could care less if I never see a collared shirt again for the rest of my life, although my experience in the larger towns and cities, is that the men all wear a decent shirt w/ collar and either black jeans or slacks. It's more the "black" that I don't get. I think Thais don't have sweat glands, as the temperature is pushing 90 at night and the humidity is the same!

The two things that give me pause, in terms of a move, are the distance from the US and the language. Older people have a harder time picking up new languages. For Mexico, I started Spanish at 55 and still am lousy at conversation, although I have no problems in stores or restaurants, etc. It's legal and medical things, where I do not know the vocabulary, that make me wish for someone who speaks English. For Thailand, I barely know a few phrases and I don't see that improving much, although time would tell if I made the move.

In terms of crime, the OP would have been correct.....in 2006. Today is a different story. YES, most of the violence is between the cartels. But there is still extortion and kidnapping that goes on at a far greater rate than what is reported....mostly because the cartels have put the fear of God into the media community. Anyone who reports on cartel activity, is asking to be killed and many were, back in 2009-2012, when Calderon was president.

This man really put the screws to the cartels and they had to resort to extortion and kidnapping, simply as a means to make ends meet. They found out how lucrative it was and now even though the new president is much more complacent, they still carry on these practices. I do not live in fear on a daily basis, but I will not join a gym or anything where I have a routine or am at the same place at the same time on a given day of the week. In addition, as the leaders of the major cartels have been killed or captured, these cartels have often split up into splinter groups....none of them having the clout or know-how to make money as effectively in the drug trade. So they too resort to this kidnapping/extortion thing. Before Calderon, there was sort of an unwritten rule that American/Europeans were to be left alone, because they were a great source of income for the communities in which they visited. But now I do not know if that is true.

I always felt very safe in Thailand.
 
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