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.
Famous for dense mangrove forests, sheer limestone cliffs and hundreds of amazing islands that appear as if dropped into the ocean from somewhere else, Krabi, on the southern part of Thailand’s west coast across from the island of Phuket, is where many movies were filmed—think James Bond’s, Man with the Golden Gun and Leonardo DiCaprio’s, The Beach. In 2013 Kim Shield’s brother invited her and her husband, Michael, to Krabi to look at the house he was building there. And it was while exploring the area with their family, they noticed how much the area had to offer.
All we had to last us the next 30-plus years was our meagre life savings, accumulated superannuation and the proceeds of the sale of our assets in Australia. As we did not plan to be in Australia when we came of age to access our Australian Government Pension, it could not be part of our financial calculations. (We are not at retirement age as yet—Vivien’s 53 and I’m 58.)