From the balcony of my 14th-floor home I can gaze upon a fertile landscape. The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai sits surrounded by views of lush, forested hills. The icing on the cake is the golden Buddhist temple on Doi Suthep mountain. During the day, it sparkles in the sunshine and at night local monks illuminate it, making it shine gold in a pitch black sky. The effect is stunning—the temple looks as if it’s floating in the darkness by magic.
“When I moved to Chiang Mai, I unearthed the rich and colourful life I thought was lost,” says Pam Manning of her new life in Thailand. Chiang Mai is famous for being a town of artisans and Lanna (Northern Thai) culture. It’s a place of flowers, temples, fruit, joyful festivals and colour is everywhere...velvety maroons, popping pinks…
People come from all over to live in Thailand’s mountain city of Chiang Mai. Besides its own sizeable local population—numbering more than 350,000—expats are increasingly coming here. They come from all over—Australia, Europe and the U.S. Recent estimates put the number of Western expats living in Chiang Mai at around 40,000. But it’s not just Westerners who are coming. Asian retirees, particularly from Japan, South Korea, and China are retiring to Chiang Mai’s relaxing surroundings. And more are coming each year.
People come from all over to live in Thailand's mountain city of Chiang Mai. Besides its own sizeable local population—numbering more than 350,000—expats are increasingly coming here. They come from all over—Australia, the U.S. and Europe. Recent estimates put the number of Western expats living in Chiang Mai at around 40,000. But it's not just Westerners who are coming. Asian retirees, particularly from Japan, South Korea and China are retiring to Chiang Mai's relaxing surroundings. And more are coming each year.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that since I arrived in Chiang Mai in January last year I’ve barely left the city. It’s simply because I find it so engaging. I’m not a barfly (I drink very little alcohol so that barely registers in my budget) and having spent a number of years as a restaurant reviewer I’m no longer attracted to fancy restaurants at fancy prices. I prefer to cycle or walk for the simple pleasure of discovering the more idiosyncratic side of Thai life. I live a comfortable and enjoyable life and don’t feel as if I miss anything that other expats on larger incomes might be experiencing.
An inexpensive cost of living, tropical sunshine, white sandy beaches and friendly people…everyone has their reasons for moving to Thailand. For my wife Nancy and I, retiring here a couple of years ago was a no-brainer. I had just finished off my teaching career with a six-year stint at a large international school in China. Southeast Asia was a lot closer, hotter and less expensive than Canada, my home country. But the largest draw for us was the high-quality urban lifestyle available at low prices.