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Re(2):The Expatriate thread
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[QUOTE] Stay away from Europe. At the very least, don't get close to England, France and Germany before end of 2017. Spain and Portugal may be OK for a bit more time... But who knows. I'm actually half-seriously considering retirement in Barcelona. I genetically need the Mediterranean next to me, and Barcelona is the best Mediterranean city I've seen. [/QUOTE] I know this will come as a terrible surprise but ... of course I'm gonna have to recommend you move to Chiang Mai! Here are the Pros and Cons. I will get the bad stuff out of the way first. 1) Pollution. The air quality here just isn't as good as the US, especially during burning season, which lasts up to 4 months! 2) More pollution: Emissions standards just aren't enforced. There are a ton of diesel vehicles on the road. 3) Asbestos: Thailand is one of 4 countries that still uses this garbage. There are too many big companies invested in this stuff to get it banned here. Thankfully it's easy to avoid if you live in an apartment. So that's the worst of it. As long as you are careful about checking daily pollution levels (there are websites for this) it's not hard to plan around it. Also it's not a total nightmare like Beijing (with air quality literally equivalent to a coal mine on bad days), but it's also not up to the standards of most of North America and Western Europe. OK here are the good things for anyone who wants to move here! 1) The people Thai people are generally very nice and polite and noticeably happier than the global average (I have no concrete proof of this, but you can feel it). Chiang Mai is particularly laid back. People like to take it easy. For me this is a big plus. 2) The Traditional Culture Thailand was never colonised. Because of this they have a pride in their own culture that feels very natural and unforced. There are beautiful temples everywhere. Kids will respectfully wai (slight bow with palms clasped) at shrines when they walk by. On Fridays kids dress up in the clothing of their ancestors so its common to see kids in adorable traditional garb (even foreign kids are encouraged to do this!) 3) The Food It's awesome. Street Food. Junk Food. Nice sit down restaurants. Even the 7-11 frozen microwave meals. They are all tasty. Also SUPER CHEAP. Of all the places I've ever been, Thailand has the best tastiness to cost ratio by far. 4) The Food Again Not just Thai food, there are now quality restaurants of all kinds in Chiang Mai. I'm so pleased to be able to get decent cheese and craft beers easily! 5) Produce/Vegetarian Food Haha sorry I just really like food. Karasu this particularly pertains to you. If you know where to go, there are lots of excellent Vegan restaurants. The big supermarkets even carry things like dehydrated vegetable proteins and lots of different kinds of tofu. Also, just in general the produce in Thailand is excellent. There's actually a big "frutatarian" expat community in Chiangmai! Some famous youtubers live out here (look up "Durian Rider") 6) Comfortable cheap accommodations You can live in a cheap, clean hotel room for less than $300 a month. They'll change your bedsheets and everything too. If you want to live in a house it could be even cheaper if you look around. 7) Super socially progressive Thailand is very accepting of LGBTQ people. While America is blowing a gasket just coming to terms with the mere concept of trans people, in Thailand i see trans men and women every day just as a course of life. When I put out a job listing looking for artists, about 20% of the applicants were trans women. How did I know? Because they included photos of themselves and listed being part of trans clubs/dance troupes as part of their resume. They were proud of it! It's nothing to hide. When I watch TV I'll randomly see trans hosts of TV shows, or singers. It's just a normal thing here. Being gay/lesbian is also generally very accepted. I think most members of this board are wordly enough to know of Thailand's reputation as one of the great gay partying destinations. But it's also a great place for lesbians. I've seen more women couples out here than anywhere else I've ever lived. Like, you'll even see high school girls holdin hands and smoochin on the bridge at night. People can generally live and love as they like here. Unfortunately the government hasn't really caught up, so gay people can't technically get married. Thailand also doesn't really even have a real working constitution like the US (I'd say this is also a con, but it doesn't affect foreigners so much). The laws can be quite archaic. But the actual people are very open minded. 8) Theravada Buddhism I really like the particular brand of Buddhism practiced in Thailand. It is exceedingly practical. I'll give you an example. My younger brother became a monk for a week (it's a common custom). The first sermon the head abbot gave his new incoming group was about how "all the stories you read, they are metaphorical. You don't have to believe in them literally, just the values that they impart. But if someone chooses to believe in them literally you should not look down on them for it." I wish the rest of the world could be so kind. 9) Everyone is kind of nerdy If I meet someone under 40 there's a good chance I can talk to them about Dragon Ball or Slam Dunk or Final Fantasy. Hell, I did a talk at a college last year and kids there still knew what Pepsiman was! I did a user test on my game recently. I specifically found people who did not identify as gamers. I had one woman tell me "Oh I'm not a gamer at all." And then when I asked her if she used to play games she was like "oh yeah I played a ton of Street Fighter when I was in college." But she did not consider herself a gamer, even then! I asked some local friends if there was even a Thai word for nerd. They said that the word "nerd" itself has been imported in recent years. But when he was a kid there was no concept of a nerd in general. It was more like you were "crazy" for cars or "crazy" for comics. It was more about being into a particular thing than a general lifestyle. 10) Easy to get around with just English I should confess here, that to my great shame, I don't really speak Thai. I spent too much time in the USA and my family speaks Chinese at home so I forgot almost all of it. However it's been SUPER EASY to get around in Chiang Mai because everyone here speaks a little English. They all learn it in school and get to practice it regularly since there are so many tourists. Also there's just a huge English speaking immigrant population in general. If you move here it will be very very easy to meet other foreigners. There are book clubs, trivia nights, facebook groups, schools etc etc. I could very realistically make a new English speaking friend every time I go out for coffee. Not exaggerating. 11) TLDR Sorry this is turning into such a huge word dump! I just ... really like talking bout Thailand! In summary: Chiang Mai is a great place to live. It's super affordable without any kind of sacrifice. It is safe and comfortable to live here. There is great food everywhere. It's very vegan friendly. The people are super nice. You can leave your bike out and it won't get stolen. Locals generally won't rip you off, even if you are obviously a foreigner (unlike Bangkok or the beach towns). There is a great cafe culture with free wifi everywhere. And to top it all off it's easy to get around only speaking English. I highly recommend you spend some time here if you want to get away from the States for a while. It's not hard to stay for 9 months on tourist visas. You just have to make a border run every 3 months (not hard). If you really really like it here you can apply for a student visa, work visa (teach English!), even a [URL=http://www.cmlocals.com/1-year-ed-visa-hand-to-hand-combat/]HAND TO HAND COMBAT VISA[/URL]. Dammit I'm rambling again, anyway. I really like it here. I think you will too!
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