I’ve made a few key decisions in my life that have led to much of the success I now enjoy.
And relocating to Chiang, Mai Thailand as a dividend expat in late 2017 is clearly one of them.
It’s done wonders for my happiness, peace of mind, and quality of life.
And it’s turned me into an instant millionaire.
But a lot of the success I’ve experienced with this new lifestyle can be attributed to one simple and underrated thing.
I love the local cuisine.
If you have any designs on ever relocating overseas, I’m not sure it’s possible to emphasize how important this is. No matter where you decide to live, thoroughly enjoying the local cuisine is of paramount importance for a number of reasons.
This is obvious.
If you’re buying local cuisine on the regular, your costs are almost always going to be lower (sometimes much lower) than if you’re otherwise buying food that is not native to where you’re living.
For example, I can buy Thai food from a kitchen/market here in Chiang Mai for $1 a plate.
We’re talking delicious, fresh, highly-accessible food here. And the portion sizes are generous.
But if I didn’t enjoy Thai food, I’d be in a bit of trouble over here.
That’s because Western food (like pizza, cheeseburgers, sandwiches, etc.) is substantially more expensive than what Thai food costs at the local stalls. While I’ve found Western food to often actually be cheaper than what I was paying back in Southwest Florida, it’s still no contest between what Western food costs here and what local food costs here.
As such, I find it silly to eat Western food regularly.
This attitude has helped me become healthier and happier than ever (I’ve now lost over 10 pounds since relocating here four months ago), but it’s only been possible because I genuinely enjoy Thai food.
If I disliked Thai food to a great degree, I’m not sure I’d enjoy living here very much.
Imported food is hard to compete on quality, as the foods are naturally sometimes not as fresh. Plus, local cooks/chefs may not have a lot of experience with the necessary ingredients.
And so it’s a case where one might be paying more for less, which is, again, silly.
The quality seemed to be pretty good. The taste wasn’t bad at all. And as I just noted, the cost was often competitive with or lower than what I’ve experienced in the States.
But a lot of it just can’t compete with the quality of local foods. When I eat Thai food here, the flavors almost dance across my taste buds. Conversely, eating, say, cheese over here can be a mixed bag.
Moreover, the variability of quality should be considered, too.
While almost all the Thai food I’ve eaten here could be described as fairly exceptional in terms of quality and taste, the quality and taste of Western food can vary quite a bit. Some places can be great. Some can be downright terrible.
I haven’t been bothered by this too much, as the quality and taste of food can vary even in the States. And at least I’m no longer paying exorbitant prices for the privilege of inconsistency. It’s one thing to be bummed out over a meal that costs $12. It’s quite another thing to be disappointed after paying $50.
But if one can have more consistency, increase quality/taste, and save money in the process, you’re crazy not to.
There’s plenty of restaurants spread out across Chiang Mai that cater to international foods, but the availability of these establishments depends on a lot of factors.
The trendier the area you’re in, the more likely it is that the area caters to Westerners. And so the availability of Western restaurants will likely also be greater.
But I can easily pass up ten Thai kitchens or restaurants before I see one Western restaurant – and I live in the trendiest part of town.
My favorite Thai kitchen for lunch is right across the street. They serve unbelievable plates for about a buck apiece. It’s literally a quick walk away.
And so why in the world would I go out of my way to find a Western restaurant that may suffer from the aforementioned quality and cost concerns?
I’ll repeat myself: it’s silly.
I can’t/don’t eat Thai food every single day, for every single meal. It’s just the same as not eating one type of food in the States for every single meal.
But I’d say I’m eating Thai food 90% of the time, including for every lunchtime meal.
It’s a situation where eating Thai food infrequently is silly and impractical.
Plus, this isn’t even to get into the health aspects, which I quickly cruised through earlier. It’s just far healthier for me to eat the local food, as my body’s response has shown. Spending more for less, all while probably worsening my health (something my health insurer wouldn’t appreciate), and going out of my way to do it, is not prudent.
And so I think enjoying the local cuisine is absolutely critical if you ever want/need to relocate to a foreign country.
In fact, this was one of the primary concerns I had in mind before I came here. Already knowing that I enjoyed Thai food gave me great comfort, as I knew I’d be eating it regularly. And this is just one reason I’m not living in, say, the Philippines (but to each their own on individual tastes/preferences).
I would go so far as to say that one would probably be unhappy if they relocated to a place that had undesirable local cuisine, because food is one of the great, simple, and highly repeatable pleasures in life.
Thus, my ability to eat and enjoy high-quality, healthy, accessible, and delicious local cuisine for very little money is easily one of the biggest benefits (and one of the major factors behind my high quality of life) of living here in Thailand.
What do you think? Do you believe enjoying local cuisine is vital if you were ever to relocate to a foreign country?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’re interested in becoming financially independent, which could open up location independence, check out the resources I’ve compiled. These resources helped me become financially independent in my early 30s!