Early Retirement in Thailand - Brilliant move or a Blunder?
Retire at 54 years of age and be happier? Well aged 54 and separated from my wife and seeing my friends gain weight and have health problems made me think. I was gaining weight also, I was not happy with the direction my life was headed, so what can I do? I starting thinking of the alternatives. Retirement? No one wants to talk about it or even think about. Perhaps it makes us feel older if we do that. So years go by and things do not change. We do the same things, eat the same foods until the doctor tells us to make some changes, and we carry on like we will live forever.
Unfortunately we won’t live forever and we should be thinking of retirement before we kick the bucket. After all what did you work all those years for anyways? Well to cut to the chase I was thinking of going to the Dominican Republic to live. But after going there twice I found that the power was unreliable, there were safety concerns, doctors and dentists were not easily accessible and it was pricey. With time on my hands I sat in front of my computer and did some research. and discovered that Thailand was a popular retirement destination.
In fact I read that Chiang Mai was the most popular retirement destination in all of South East Asia. Hundreds of hours of research later by methodical, planner George and he has come up with the best retirement country and also the best retirement city in all of South East Asia and perhaps the world. Chiang Mai, a city of several hundred thousand inhabitants. Located about 420 miles north of Bangkok and less polluted, less expensive, and with less traffic than Bangkok and also cooler than Bangkok. Chiang Mai, unknown to most of North Americans yet visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists yearly, and home to thousands of foreigners who have visited there, found it to their liking and decided to make this their new home. I arrived in Bangkok on Nov. 23, 2004 and that is where we will start our real life experiences, adventures and misadventures. After the tiring trip I decided to stay over a few nights in Bangkok. Then well rested I was ready to continue onwards to Chiang Mai. A quick one hour plane flight or a relaxing 13 hours train ride which one was it to be? With the extra luggage I was bringing including computer and golf clubs I decided on the train.
The bumpy ride in a very comfortable reclining seat (2nd class A/C) set me back all of $15 dollar U. and this included two meals, a refreshment and a pastry. It was a bumpy ride with little to see but the forest. But I had all my luggage aboard, no extra charge, and the bumpy ride was just what my legs needed for their circulation. My research enabled me to be well prepared for my journey and I am not one to leave things to chance. Things went as planned and I arrived at Chiang Mai train station and had reserved a room for 21 days at the Bossotel Inn which was directly across the road from the train station. Like a normal tourist eh? Yes, I am Canadian how did you know? I think in total I spent something in the neighborhood of 600 hours of research on the internet and I learned what I could but there was more, much more to learn. I lived like a tourist at first living in a hotel, eating my meals there. I played pool before breakfast at a snooker establishment behind the hotel.
After breakfast TV was the norm and then later in the day I would walk to the Night Bazaar shopping and tourist district about 30 minutes away. The walk there was good exercise, it gave me a chance to see the people and businesses along the way and get familiar with the city. Walk, look around, pop into O’Malley’s pub for a cool drink and to meet Scot, a fellow Canadian, and the owner. The hotel rate was $16U. a night with taxes and breakfast included. I wanted to stay in a serviced apartment later but did not want to book it until I had seen it first. I was favorably impressed when I visited the apartment and proceeded to book it. So three weeks at the hotel and then on to the serviced apartment which would run about $250 a month with utilities and water included, and breakfast extra. The apartment had internet available in the rooms at an extra fee, or internet on site, massage spa on site, rooftop pool, motorcycle rental, beauty salon and restaurant which had entertainment in the evenings.
The TV has a large selection of channels by way of satellite, there was free parking on site, and a great location near the Central Mall. So it had it all Other retirees recommend staying in a condo or serviced apartment for 6 months or more to get familiar with the city before proceeding with any sort of long term rental arrangements. I met a lovely lady name Nichaya. She was a hairdresser during the day and my tour guide, companion, means of transportation during the evenings. Although I weigh more than twice her weight we rode around town on her motorbike. Her driving the motorbike and me on back. This may seem odd but it is not uncommon. Unless you know the city and really know how to drive a motorcycle you shouldn’t. These motorcycles are 100 and 110 cc engines which means they are not powerful but they are very economical in terms of fuel.
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