Tieland to Thailand

Quit Your Job – Sell Your Stuff – Travel Abroad

"We spent last year selling everything and paying off thousands in consumer debt, planning our wedding, and ultimately figuring a way out of the daily nine to five. Twelve months later here we are living a truly free and location-independent lifestyle, currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand"

Living As Young Expats in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Young expats in Chiang Mai, Thailand out for dinner and drinks

If someone told us three years ago that we would be unconventionally living as young expats in Chiang Mai, Thailand we would have laughed. Not because it wouldn’t have sounded amazing, but because we would have thought it to be absolutely impossible, unachievable, and unwise. But now that we are here, we wanted to share what life is like for us as young expats in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The Benefits of Being Young Expats in Chiang Mai

Living life abroad affords us many opportunities and a degree of flexibility that living and working in the US never did. Although when we think back to our lives in America and appreciate the things we used to take for granted, living abroad has also given us freedom to live life the way we want.


Although Angela does work full-time as a teacher in Chiang Mai, we both find ourselves with more time and interest in traveling than we ever did back in the US. We are no longer limited to two weeks of vacation a year, and we agree that the traveling options in Southeast Asia are much more affordable than back in the US.

We have taken trips to Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos and have traveled throughout several areas in Thailand without much hesitation. We make an effort to regularly look into new places for future visits when time allows. Traveling is definitely a new lifestyle we’ve embraced since becoming expats in Chiang Mai.


Food is up there with travel on the list of fulfilling aspects of living as expats in Chiang Mai. Famous for its northern Thai style of cooking we can always count on new and exciting dishes to try every time we venture out on our motorbike. Being that Chiang Mai has such a large international community, we also enjoy a variety of foods around the world. Although they aren’t always exactly what you’d get in the dishes’ countries of origin, we have been surprised by how many places we find that do our favorites justice.

We love the variety of fresh produce available at our local markets. On the days that we want to stay in and get some work done it is always nice to be able to walk down the street and pick up a couple of things for a quick dinner.

Meeting Other Expats

We’ve met people from many countries during our time as expats in Chiang Mai, and we’ve enjoyed sharing traveling stories, “life before travel” stories, and life goals. There has never been a time in our lives where we’ve met such a diverse group of people who share a similar passion. Our favorite thing about meeting other expats and world travelers is learning about the places they’ve been to that are off the beaten path, and their favorite travel tips.

Fulfilling Personal Goals

Blogging takes up much more time than we imagined it would, but we are spending time doing something we like. I spend most of the day working on the blog while Angela is teaching during the day, and then we collaborate on the blog’s progress and share ideas with each other during the most evenings.

We both find fulfillment in blogging, which is what often occupies our day. Blogging is challenging because it brings out many different skill sets for any given task and is enjoyable because it’s become a creative outlet. It’s also manifested itself as the reason to travel to places we never thought of visiting before.

Life is a lot different living as young expats in Chiang Mai as compared to office workers back in the US.  While some may think of blogging as “work”, our blog has allowed us to establish new personal goals for ourselves and share our experiences with those who would also like to become expats in Chiang Mai. We’ve found that helping others find a path in life is a rewarding way to spend our time abroad.

The Negatives of Being Young Expats in Chiang Mai

Along with the drastic changes that come with moving to another country, we also faced personal challenges and some let downs.  Living as expats in Chiang Mai is amazing, but at the same time it is an ongoing challenge to understand the language, culture, pace of life, and how we fit into it all.

Challenges and Adaptation

Every new expat or first time long-term traveler is bound to run into a challenges or things that they were not expecting. We have dealt with a range of trivial speed bumps as well as some tougher times. Being expats in Chiang Mai has been a true test of our relationship, patience, financial planning, and ability to cope with substantial change.

There have been many times when we have questioned this move, and being completely honest, there have been times where second guessing our decision has come up.

Why did we move here?

What are we going to be doing a year from now? 10 years from now?

These are questions that we think most people in our situation probably ask themselves when times get tough. When we start to feel disconnected, it’s easy to begin hearing some of the voices of the people who doubted our move in the first place.

We have to remind ourselves that there are reasons for these types of feelings. We chose a life that most people don’t understand and would never consider to be a viable path for themselves. We still don’t fully understand it ourselves, but we know that we are much happier, relaxed, and eager to face these challenges together.

Bureaucracy and Being Foreigners

We have had several new responsibilities placed on our shoulders now living as expats in Chiang Mai. For starters, we deal with the time-consuming, expensive, and somewhat confusing process of obtaining and maintaining a Thai visa to live in Thailand legally. Not only do we need to set aside the funds for the visa, obtaining the visa, and any extensions, it can be time consuming to travel to cities in countries that we may or may not want to visit simply because we need to go to a Thai Embassy.

Trips to the Chiang Mai Immigration Office have also become something that we dread. Arriving at 5:00 am, hours before the doors open, seems to be the only way to ensure that you will  have your issue taken care of the same day. Arrive at 8:00 am and there is a good chance that you will sit in a massive queue only to be told that you will need to come back earlier the next day.

There is a communication barrier and we are aware that we are unfamiliar with nuances of the foreign laws. We would feel at a disadvantage if there were to be a situation that involved law enforcement. We’ve seen our friends extorted by the police at a traffic stop, and feel as though it is only a matter of time before we will might have a similar run-in.

We also grow tired of being targeted as unaware tourists and being quoted inflated prices by tuk-tuk drivers and street vendors. We’ve noticed this pick up during high season. With that said, we have become familiar faces in our favorite areas of the city and are always treated like Chiang Mai residents in these places.

Chiang Mai Is Not Perfect

Angela and I built Chiang Mai up to be perfect in our minds even before visiting. This is an issue that we feel is very common and happens to almost all first-time expats or travelers with a particular place.

We spent almost a year thinking about how amazing and exotic everything was going to be as expats in Chiang Mai, and in doing so, we let ourselves down in some respects. We found out that the weather isn’t as great as we once thought it was (rain showers or hot smoggy air for half of the year), and some things just aren’t as cheap as we assumed they would be. Together, we’ve come to the realization that no place is perfect and anywhere we go will present unique challenges and drawbacks that we may not have considered.

We’ve Been Told, “What You Are Doing Isn’t Normal.”

If we were already in our 60’s and wanted to become expats in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we think most of our friends and family would think it was awesome. But because we are in our late 20’s, becoming expats in Chiang Mai isn’t “normal.”

Even before we moved, Angela and I were subtly but regularly encouraged by our families to buy a house together and start raising a family. We understand that most people do this in their 20’s, but it’s not for us.  We’ve both agreed that it is best to live life the way we want to and not how others want us to.  We think this is a great motto to live by no matter who you are.

Some Expats Aren’t Who We Expected Them to Be

We realize that there are many different expats, and that they do not fall into the category of “well-to-do retirees with steady income.” In the expat community, some people thrive, some people are simply content with life, and others end up destroying themselves. We’ve briefly met a number of people who have come here to escape a problem they had at home only for it to be far worse once here in Thailand.

Are we Happy Living as Expats in Chiang Mai?

We guess the big question is, “Are we happy living as expats in Chaing Mai?” Living in Chiang Mai has created an environment in which we are able to see the bigger, clearer picture of our lives before expatriation.

Looking back now, we can see that life back home was too easy, which is what we think made us feel unfulfilled. Our former lives didn’t require much thought past the upcoming weekend or what we were going to have for dinner.  Although traffic was a pain and sitting through a workday under fluorescent lights for nine hours tested our threshold for torture, beyond that we were coasting through time and missing out on an interesting world outside of our bubbles.

There will be days where we are content and happy, but there are days where we are lost about what we are doing halfway around the world. We appreciate the subtleties of daily life here more than we ever did back in the States, and we wouldn’t change our decision if we could. We know adjusting to our new lives will take time, and we are excited about our journey that lies ahead of us.

For those who may consider becoming expats in Chiang Mai, let our ups and downs serve as a reminder that life will be different. Whether your life will change for the better or for the worse has much to do with how you are able to deal with those differences. For us there are some things that we are still getting used to, but ultimately by trading in small comforts and conveniences we feel we’ve gained more personal freedom since becoming expats in Chiang Mai. If or when you move to a foreign country, what do you think will be most challenging for you?


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Chris and Angela sold everything, paid off their debt, and left behind the nine-to-five lifestyle in the US. Today they live as full time expats in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Subscribe to their weekly Thailand Vlogs on Youtube! To see a full list of their blog posts all in one place check out the Archives. For more frequent updates follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • sean says:

    I might move to Thailand and could if I want to..I would very much like to talk. Add me on skype sean0482 is the username. Thanks

    February 10, 2015 at 5:37 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Absolutely! We’re an open book. We offering the opportunity for people like you to pick our brains during our Coaching Sessions. Choose the best time on the schedule that works for you, jot down a few topics you want to talk about, and we can help you with your decision to move to Thailand. Looking forward to Skyping with you!

      February 10, 2015 at 10:46 AM
  • Pete says:

    Do you know how many expats live in Thailand??

    February 4, 2015 at 3:45 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      We’re not sure! There are many different types – ages, nationalities, seasonal visitors, etc, that it’s hard to say.

      February 4, 2015 at 1:18 PM
  • Michael + Linzi says:

    Hi guys :) my girlfriend and I have booked up to come to Thailand for 3 months in March next year we don’t think we’re going to have as much money as we thought we would have.how much could u live off on a tight budget each month?and is it easy enough to get an extension on your visa after the 60 day one runs out?
    Thanks in advance

    December 17, 2014 at 5:37 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Glad to hear you are spending a few months in Thailand! What’s a tight budget? Whew, this one’s a toughie because everyone lives differently and has wildly varying definitions of “needs” and “wants”. However, based on our experience as a couple, we’d not recommend less than 30,000 baht (less than $1000 USD) per month for the two of you. You could go as low as 25,000 baht per month, but your quality of life decreases exponentially as even very basic things start getting cut from your budget. We want you to be able to afford at least cheap entertainment and exploration, toiletries, clean and safe housing, healthy food, and basic transportation!

      If you’re visiting Thailand for the first time on a single-entry tourist visa, there should be no problem applying for a 30 day extension at your nearest Thai Immigration Office. Your’re a tourist who isn’t trying to abuse the system with back-to-back-to-back stamps or visas. You guys will be fine. Good luck!

      December 17, 2014 at 11:22 PM
  • Johnny bravoo says:

    Hey I need ur help as I m moving to thai..I am 27 and I want to stay there for 3 months but with a limited budget.guide me in respect to accommodation and life as lonely.regards

    September 27, 2014 at 12:52 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      If you need advice on how to move to Thailand, where to live, how to secure a job and hold a visa, we can definitely help you. We offer Thailand Coaching Sessions and it sounds like this would be perfect for you. We hope to talk to you soon!

      September 27, 2014 at 2:12 PM
  • Kevin Hall says:

    After visiting last year, and having the luxury of working where I want to, I am moving to Chiang Mai in two weeks time! can’t wait! It feels the right thing to do and I know I won’t regret it!

    September 21, 2014 at 3:19 AM
  • Collen says:

    Hi Chris & Angela, yet another awesome post! My girlfriend, Cynthia, and I moved to Chiang Mai 2 weeks ago after completing our TEFL certs. Cynthia is teaching while I work on our blog and start up a freelancing business.

    We’ve been following your blog since we decided to do this back in Nov last year. I am sure we will still experience many of the things you cover in this post.

    We look forward to many more great posts from you guys.

    All the best and enjoy your time in the States.

    June 6, 2014 at 11:01 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Great for you and your girlfriend’s move to Chiang Mai! Hah, yes, we’re sure you’ll share many of the same eye opening, fun, and sometimes frustrating experiences. Who knows, if you re-read any of our older posts you might just laugh and nod yes, yes, yes. Good luck on your business and thank you for commenting :)

      June 8, 2014 at 9:19 AM
  • Jack says:

    Thanks Chris and Angela, your blog is a wealth of information full of honesty and sincerity. I’m a veteran myself Chris, and I cherish the unique lifestyle of different cultures and foods-for me that is the most exciting part living abroad.

    I will be heading there to Chang mai around Oct of this year. Hope we will run into your guys there for a dinner or lunch outings. If you need some items from here let me know Chris. Us Vets do try to look out for for another…



    May 29, 2014 at 2:19 AM
  • Amanda Bowers says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences on this blog! I discovered it a few weeks ago and can’t remember if I commented so I just wanted to tell you thank you for all the info!

    May 25, 2014 at 2:23 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks, Amanda! We appreciate that you took the time to let us know :)

      May 25, 2014 at 12:51 PM
  • Brad Bernard says:

    Great post. I love to see you exploring and your impressions of Thailand. Can’t wait to see more, Southeast Asia is relentlessly interesting. Watch out for ladyboys and anything involving ping pong balls, haha!

    March 15, 2014 at 4:05 AM
  • SLioy says:

    Hey guys, found a link to you through HoliDaze. I’m impressed by the amount of honest self-reflection that went in to this.. I think for most people it can take a long time to spot the negatives to their life choices! Stick it out, though, it sounds like you know and enjoy what you’re doing despite the hassles of visas and whatnot!

    March 14, 2014 at 2:10 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Glad you found us! Living abroad (or in any new environment, really) certainly provides an opportunity to learn about yourself. Luckily, we are thankful we have been able to adapt pretty well and have each other for support. We hope that sharing our feelings through our blog many fellow expats can share in those feelings and know they aren’t alone. It also helps better understanding ourselves when sharing something like this. Thanks for enjoying the post :)

      March 14, 2014 at 8:36 PM
  • dave murphy says:

    I really enjoyed your honesty and openness to be flexible on your souls quest :) to find out who you are and explore who you want to be! Not many blogs offer the frankness you have offered so thank you. I am a 62 yr old single RN/case manager – very stressful now – was trying to make it to 65 but looks like corporate downsizing may affect me soon …so on about a 2k budget I have looked all over world –for same thing most expats look for – tropical weather, perhaps mountains, nature and oceans nearby, cost of living lower than Texas(hopefully much more ), some expats to socialize with, friendly people there usually, generally safe…etc cost of living is biggest issue ….
    I was going to Malaysia but with slow takeover of govt there – its not best for me i think. So looking at Chiang Mai as well now –your blog has helped me so ‘its possible’ :) …and if possible would like to create some email friends who either going or live there for questions once in while – I am currently at davemurphy.10@aol.com…so welcome any suggestions or input ..Will try to travel there in about 4-8 months if possible :) or if anyone has other cities to consider please say HEY!
    Thanks again for great blog :)

    February 5, 2014 at 4:52 AM
  • Hunter says:

    I loved Chiang Mai when I visited nearly 30 years ago, and Eiko, my wife, considers herself half Thai. We live in Tokyo so it’s not a major effort for us to get there. We want to think about a 3-month stay, rather than long-term. How doable do you think that would be? Plus we’d bring our small dog… will this be a problem in your experience?

    Ideally would be a nice place with help, not über rich but reasonable.

    January 26, 2014 at 7:43 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      A three month stay in Thailand is a good length of time to visit a few places or even just to relax and have a change of scenery.

      The hardest part of our move was arranging for our cat to be imported from the USA into Thailand. Don’t wait until the last minute to take care of this and contact the qsap_bkk@dld.go.th (Department of Animal Livestock in Thailand) for instructions.

      There are pet friendly hotels and apartments/homes, but you may have to look a bit harder and pay higher prices. Traveling via plane or car with a pet is possible, but usually not an option on trains (3rd class only), buses, or motorbikes. Keep that in mind if you plan on traveling a lot while in Thailand. We understand your dog is part of your family, and you will do what you need to do to keep him/her happy :)

      January 29, 2014 at 10:49 PM
  • Melanie Coombes says:

    Your blog is really useful. I am considering a teaching job at an international school there. My husband would quit a lucrative job here in Seattle(that he does not enjoy). He’s definitely eager to go. We also have a 7 year old. Family thinks we are crazy for considering this. I did live and teach 1st grade in Chiang Mai for 2 years back in 2000-2002, so I have some familiarity with the area. Now I am 39, husband is 49 and with a child, we are definitely also doing something “out of the norm.” We don’t want to keep moving my daughter from school to school, so we would hope to stay long term. We get lots of concern from family about my daughter not having a “true home” and how can she then afford a school in US with no residence? Doing lots of research before our decision, so thanks for an informative look at life in Chiang Mai.

    January 10, 2014 at 2:03 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      You are very welcome! We are glad to hear our blog has become a good resource for you and your family :) We may be a bit biased, but we also say “Go for it!” and move back to Chiang Mai. We are sure a lot has changed since 2002, but the fact that you’ve been here before and know your way around is a huge advantage. Why not? We hear there are good international school here, and what an experience to give to your husband and daughter who have not been here yet. We wish you the best of luck! We’d love to hear more about your adventure when you make it over!

      January 14, 2014 at 5:44 PM
    • maarkyboy@yahoo.com says:

      Home…. is in a loving family. Pros of kids aboard are adventure, ease of making new friends ( they will get lots of practice), world savvy kids, fearless re changes in life such as divorce/ moving house/ career change and living in different cultures as opposed to reading about them. Cons are not so much attachment issues but the loss of lifelong friends/ longevity of friendships and confusion re their own culture. Adventurous and confident broad minded kids are going to be tha same as adults. I’m a well traveled dad who decided to stay and have regretted it ever since. Kids are now 13 and 14 and we’re saving up to leave now. Just wasted 6 years because I was afraid really…. needlessly. I placed far too much weight on long term friends, culture and extended family. Whatever decision you make you will have regrets. The main thing I realised in my decision is life is much shorter than you imagine. Go For It. You can always return if its really unworkable but you can’t always re-go!

      June 23, 2014 at 9:55 PM
      • Chris and Angela says:

        Thanks for sharing your story and providing encouragement! We always do the same for people who genuinely desire to travel… we say to go for it! The seed’s been planted, and they just need a little push in the right direction to get it blossoming.

        June 26, 2014 at 12:35 AM
  • Rachel G says:

    My husband and I are currently working on (and have been since August) the process of getting a job and moving to SE Asia. It’s felt a little slow to me with waiting for application periods to open and getting “nos” from several jobs already (those have seemed to want a lot of experience that I, at 22, don’t yet have!) My husband’s biggest concern once we get overseas is working with the visa processes–I know that can be a bugger. I’ve only visited Chiang Mai once, maybe 8 years ago, so my memories of it are pretty vague now.

    December 24, 2013 at 8:43 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      If you end up working for a good company in Thailand, they will know the in’s and out’s of the visa process and provide you with all the paperwork you will need to get a business visa, one year visa extension, and work permit. Since you are married, in case one of you doesn’t get a job right away or chooses not to wok, make sure you bring an extra “real” copy of your marriage certificate (not a photocopy, request a second official document). It will be required if you want a one-year visa extension on a dependent visa (whoever is not working).

      December 28, 2013 at 12:21 AM
  • echochina says:

    Just saw this on twitter. I’ll be in Chiang Mai for at least a month (but possibly longer… one-way ticket and open-ended slow travel you know… 😉 ) so would love to meet up if you’re willing! My first time in Thailand… I think it’d be fun to swap stories and also I’m creating an e-course right now on quitting your dayjob to travel/expat abroad and working online!!

    December 23, 2013 at 1:34 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      We highly recommend slow travel. Let us know when you’re in Chiang Mai.

      December 28, 2013 at 12:23 AM
  • Epaul says:

    Just discovered your blog. An incredible amount of pertinent and well written information. I’m planning on moving to Chaing Mai or Costa Rica next summer to teach English. Chaing Mai has always been my first choice, but there are so many unknowns compared to Latin America. Your blog is really helping to make things more real, good and bad.

    I found your blog while researching the feasibility of bring my Corgi Buster to Thailand. We have years of experience traveling extensively throughout North America, but he has never been on an airplane. The chronical of your experiences with your cat have been instrumental in my decision to keep Chiang Mai as my #1 choice.

    December 22, 2013 at 12:48 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      There are so many things we have yet to write about Thailand, but it’s great to hear that you’ve found several posts to be useful. We love knowing that we’ve helped you to make the decision to move to Chiang Mai :) We’ll continue to fill in the gaps of “Thailand’s unknowns” for people who are curious such as yourself. Thanks for following!

      December 28, 2013 at 12:18 AM
  • Dividend Mantra says:

    Great post guys! I really admire your courage and enthusiasm. While there is no perfect place on this Earth, it seems that Chiang Mai offers more benefits than drawbacks. I’m interested in possibly living abroad once I’m financially independent, and Chiang Mai is at the top of the list. I’m currently living vicariously through you guys. The fact that you guys have freedom at such a young age is really inspiring. Keep up the great work!

    Best wishes!

    December 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thank you so much. We are very happy to be able to paint a picture of life in Thailand for you. Like you said, there are challenges everywhere, but Thailand is a pretty easy place to live. Life is conveneient, the food is wonderful, and the majority of people radiate happiness. We think you will love it. Good luck on your journey to financial freedom. You will be living abroad before you know it! Thanks for the link in your recommended reading post too :)

      December 21, 2013 at 9:47 AM
  • lifechangesii says:

    Recently found your blog. Great post. I had a long conversation about this post with a friend. I would love to visit Thailand but feel the cultural change would be too much for me. It is great you have each other there.

    December 21, 2013 at 6:35 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Yes, having someone to lean on definitely helps to get through some of the challenges. We have met plenty of single folks out here as well that are doing fine too. Saying that, we have also known a couple single women working as teachers who don’t quite feel like the can make friends easily or adjust to living in Thailand. Everyone is different though. We hope you are able to visit one day soon. Thank you so much for you comment and for reading our blog :) Take care!

      December 21, 2013 at 9:38 AM
  • Michael Jones says:

    Great article. We will be moving there Jan 26th, 2014. Your site has really helped my partner and I prepare for the move. Thanks and hope to meet you two :)

    December 20, 2013 at 1:51 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Always glad to help! We hope your transition is a smooth one. Definitely let us know if you have any last minute questions and we will do our best to help you guys out. Just over a month! Take care!

      December 20, 2013 at 12:32 PM
  • eemusings says:

    Gosh, I miss Thai food so badly! I got the feeling Chiang Mai isn’t quite as packed with expats as it was a couple of years ago, interesting to hear from people there right now (ie, you guys).

    December 19, 2013 at 3:33 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thai food is the best :)

      Not sure if the expat numbers or demographics changed or not to be honest.

      December 19, 2013 at 7:24 PM
  • Kevin Grunert says:

    Awesome post guys and thank you for sharing your experiences. I’ve shared this with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

    I’ve just received my visa and can completely understand what you’ve been through regarding the bureaucracy and hassles of this important piece of the expat puzzle. My partner received his within 4 weeks – mine took 8.

    If you’re still in Chiang Mai in January, I’d love to meet up with you guys.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:22 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks for sharing our post Kevin. It is greatly appreciated! The bureaucracy is a pain, but we will gladly deal with it to live here in Thailand. Hope you two enjoy it as much as we do!

      December 19, 2013 at 7:26 PM
  • Sean says:

    Great read! My girlfriend and I will be moving to Koh Phangan sometime in 2014 and it’s good to read about other couples experiences, even if it’s in northern Thailand.

    I think the biggest challenge for us will be budgeting, and being able to do everything we would like to do. I fight muay thai for a living and run a muay thai website that will be bringing in most of our income (which isn’t anything substantial), while she will be starting a blog about her experiences doing yoga/becoming a yoga teacher in Thailand. The good thing about this is that we’ll be forced to live a simple lifestyle, which is the main reason we are looking forward to the move.

    We would like to do some volunteering in Chiang Mai eventually and try to do some traveling aroun Thailand and surrounding countries… but that will depend on our budget. Thanks for all the insight! I stumbled across your website recently and it’s been a great resource!

    December 19, 2013 at 7:32 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      It’s awesome you stumbled onto our blog and found it helpful in your endeavor to come to Thailand with your girlfriend. We think it makes it easier to adjust to a life in a new country if you have your partner there to share the ups and downs with you. Life is simpler, but you will definitely face new challenges together including managing your Thai budget, both the daily expenses and traveling expenses. Let us know if you have any questions on how to avoid spending too much! Don’t get sucked into going to a big convenience store catering to farangs when you can spend a fraction of the price at a local flea market.

      December 19, 2013 at 6:40 PM
  • Thomas says:

    Hi guys, great account of how it is to live in Chang Mai, i’ve been there whilst travelling around and loved it. Just wondering how many expats there are in Chang Mai approx? and how many do you hang out with if any? Is it like a big community over there who stick together?

    December 19, 2013 at 12:30 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Wow, we haven’t a clue how many expats are in Chiang Mai! We know there are many permanent expats as well as people just passing through for a few weeks to a few months at a time. We hang out with a few expats on a regular basis because they live in Chiang Mai like us.

      The majority of people we end up meeting are world travel bloggers through Facebook or Twitter meetups, but between everyone’s travel schedule, sometimes it’s hard to meet up on a regular basis or for more than two or three times before they move to a new city. There are definitely expat communities made of more permanent members (single retirees, retirees married to Thai women, expats with children enrolled in international schools, workout groups like HHH, etc.) so it’s best to find a hobby, activity, or bar you like, and you’ll start meeting people of similiar interests there.

      December 19, 2013 at 11:37 AM
  • rogerlucr says:

    Always enjoy reading your thoughts. It’s nice that you do not glamorize your experience and point out the negs as well. Of course there is much positive to celebrate. I would advise anyone going abroad to learn as much of the language as possible. There are so many free tutorials available.
    Just remember that the most recognizable gesture in any culture is the smile. Keep on truckin’ guys.

    December 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      We agree – we both wish we’d learned more Thai before coming to Thailand. It’s come in very handy when we use the little we know. While it’s possible to get around in the Old City of Chiang Mai on English, a few kms out and you have to resort to a lot of hang gestures and miming!

      We have no reason to sugar coating our experiences. Sharing both the good and bad ultimately helps others make a more informed decision as to whether Thailand is a place they would like to visit or live. We know we would rather see both sides of the story so that we can weigh our options and be better prepared.

      December 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM
  • Mallory (@_sweetsmores) says:

    I’m currently an expat in Japan, teaching English, and the language barrier is definitely a challenge. I want to be able to communicate with my coworkers and with any other person I come into contact with, but my minimal Japanese and gestures are what I have to work with at the moment. On the plus side, I’m living out my dream right now and I couldn’t be happier. I love that everyday is pretty much an adventure. I’m learning so much about Japan and its culture, while learning about myself and growing as a person.

    December 18, 2013 at 3:39 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks for the comment Mallory! We know your pain all too well. The language is definitely a challenge. We hope to learn a lot more after Angela is done working full time.

      December 18, 2013 at 4:46 PM
  • agnesstramp says:

    It must be amazing to meet so many expats in Chang Mai. A great majority of budget travel bloggers live in Thailand and you guys are so lucky to meet up with some of them. Gosh, I wish I could swap. There are no foreigners here in Dongguan!!!!!

    December 18, 2013 at 1:23 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Yes, it is nice for the most part. At the same time our experience does feel a little filtered. We find it so nice to be able to take a trip to smaller less touristy parts of the country when we can. We can switch anytime…let us know if you want to swap houses for a week sometime haha :)

      December 18, 2013 at 4:49 PM
  • Sheralyn says:

    I think the language barrier will be the biggest challenge for us. Here, we can read everything around us, everyone speaks English – it’s easy. If I travel to any unfamiliar city in North America, I can read the street signs, read the menu, and 99.9% of the people I meet will speak English so communication is easy.

    But when we get to Chiang Mai, not only will we have absolutely zero familiarity with the area, we’ll have pretty much zero knowledge of the language. I think that will be our number 1 challenge.

    But, I guess that’s the price we have to pay for satisfying our wanderlust, so it’s all good – we’re willing to pay the price hehe

    I bought the Jibbigo app for my phone (the paid version doesn’t need internet to work, which is awesome), and I’m hoping that will get us through any tricky language situations where we’re desperate to be understood :) We’ve been playing around with it and although there are lots of times where it doesn’t “hear” what I’m saying properly, it’s still a heck of a lot better than nothing, so I’m not going to complain!

    December 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Mobile apps are definitely handy. We used a couple before we left the US as well. You will pick up common phrases in no time, but definitely be sure to brush up on your gestures, etc haha. Things can get pretty interesting when you or the person you are trying to communicate with know very little of each other’s language. You will be just fine though. Enjoy the journey and embrace the adjustments!

      December 18, 2013 at 4:52 PM
  • Annika says:

    I think that both of you have made a very wise decision and implemented it. We did the same September 25, 2011, gave up work, sold everything and moved to our house permanently we had since 2006. It is the best we have done and never regretted us a second. We are, however, some parent than the two of you but, however, had several years left to work if we wanted to. Now, vvi just enjoy life and that’s good enough. You can share my blog annikathailand.blogg.se if you want to follow us in our daily lives. Good luck in life, both of you!

    December 18, 2013 at 11:52 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks, Annika! We are very happy with our decision so far. We have embraced the changes and can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. Thanks for sharing your story.

      December 18, 2013 at 4:54 PM
  • Scott says:

    Having been here almost a month to the day, I couldn’t agree more with your pro’s and con’s. There had been many nights, especially in the first two weeks when I questioned myself as to why I am really here. To this day, I’m still not sure. But on the positive side, like you, I have experienced so much more than I ever would have or could have while living at home and going through the motions. I may be 58, but I still question where I will be in 6 months, a year, or 10 years from now. Traveling is important, if not to just see and to experience life outside of the bubble in the U.S., and to realize just how easy it all was at home. Kudos to the two of you for making the jump when you could, these are experiences that will live with you a lifetime, and the good thing is, at your age, you have so much more to see, and so many more places to live and visit. At my age, people still thought I was crazy, and maybe I am… but darn it, I am enjoying life in a way I could never have done back home. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam is next… then off to Central America. Enjoy, and keep up the good work. Love your honesty, and your blog.

    December 17, 2013 at 10:02 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      It certainly takes some time getting used to moving to another country, but it’s good you are recognizing some of the pro’s and con’s even just a month into moving to Thailand. There is definitely a honeymoon period and then a difficult period that most people go through before it all levels out. It’s good to hear you are making your way through SE Asia… we also want to eventually go to Central America! Hope you have a blast!

      December 18, 2013 at 10:12 AM
  • Linda Babkirk says:

    Thank you for the post………it is VERY GOOD! We are at the cusp of our retirement and will keep your words in mind as we explore our new home in a few days! Then we will have a slightly better idea when the time comes for our move on August 9, 2014.

    December 17, 2013 at 10:01 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      It’s too bad we just missed you. We had a great time in Hua Hin and we hope you do too on your visit. Check out Haad Sai Noi, a small beach south of the Chopsticks Hill (Khao Takiab). They serve food and drinks there, but it’s not as crowded as the main strip.

      December 18, 2013 at 10:01 AM
  • Kim says:

    Great post! I just wrote something similar Titled the 5 Assumptions of living in Paradise. We are in Costa Rica and you for sure touched on some of items in my post! Thailand is top on our next destination bucket list!

    December 17, 2013 at 9:57 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      We think these experiences can happen in any country for any first time (or even second time) expats. We’re gad to hear you want to travel to Thailand!

      December 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM
      • ralph nunneley says:

        i dont think your abnormal for living in thailand in your twentys , i live there for one year when i was nineteen and loved it there, i have returned many times and will retire there

        January 7, 2015 at 1:49 AM
        • Chris and Angela says:

          19 is young! Thailand certainly made a lasting impression on you. It’s probably been pretty interesting watching it change over the years from your first visit :)

          January 9, 2015 at 12:49 PM

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