Indefinitely relocating to Chiang Mai, Thailand in late 2017 has been, without a doubt, one of the best choices I’ve ever made.
More than seven months into this journey, that’s exactly how I feel about it.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my lifestyle here as a job-free dividend expat. My new home has provided my everyday experiences and routines with an extra layer of oomph that I’m totally engrossed in. There’s an enthusiasm here that has permeated my entire existence. And it’s really wonderful.
There are many reasons that make this so. I could practically fill a book with all of the nuances of the place.
But I wanted to take some time today to discuss three particular aspects that make life here especially enjoyable.
What makes a place, a place?
Is it the buildings?
The amenities (or lack thereof)?
You could go and make a lengthy list, but I’d argue it’s the people that is a massive part of what gives a place its identity.
There are two groups of people that make Chiang Mai so special to me.
First, there are the like-minded people from all over the world that descend on the city en masse.
There are digital nomads, online entrepreneurs, bloggers, vloggers, global citizens, investors, retirees (early and otherwise), and all kinds of open-minded people who more or less “took the red pill”.
I’ve never experienced anything like this in my entire life. There’s nothing like it in the States. That’s for sure.
And at the very least, someone living over here part time or full time has an interest in giving life outside the US a go, which says a lot about their mindset.
What’s been funny about it is, I’ve had more casual meetups with like-minded readers, peers, and friends in seven months in Chiang Mai than I had in seven years in Florida. Go figure.
Second, there are the Thai people.
Thai people are some of the sweetest, kindest, easiest, and happiest people I’ve ever met. The hospitality here is, across the board, amazing. I feel like people are given the benefit of the doubt right away, right or wrong. There’s an innocent benevolence here that’s refreshing.
I don’t want to stereotype and generalize too much. So I don’t want to say all Americans are this and all Thai people are that. Millions of people aren’t all one way or another way.
But within just weeks of living here, I noticed a significant difference in how Thai people tend to interact with me and each other, relative to how Americans tend to interact with me and each other.
Furthermore, I find that the people here – Thai and otherwise – don’t judge.
You can be you. Do pretty much whatever you like. Live true to your identity and who you really want to be.
It’s an incredibly eclectic place as a result of that, which I find to be quite different from what most of America is.
And then there’s the lack of intense politicizing of everything, which is such a relief after dealing with a nonstop barrage of politics in America. That is so, so, so old.
Now, none of this is right or wrong at its core. It’s simply personal preference. And my personal preference, after experiencing both, is the environment over here. To each their own on that. As the Thai people would say: mai pen rai.
I don’t think there’s anything about the food that I can say that I haven’t already said.
But I’ll give it a shot.
The food scene here is incredible.
This is a place where people are cooking food, eating food, looking at food, thinking about food, Instagraming pictures of food, dreaming about food, digesting food, shooting video on food, and talking about food.
Thai food is a world-class cuisine for good reason. It should be no surprise that almost every American city has numerous Thai restaurants.
The food is delicious. There’s a delicate balance of spicy, sweet, sour, and bitter in most dishes. The portions are right-sized for a normal human being. It’s healthy. And it’s incredibly cheap over here.
In fact, I’d argue that loving the local food – wherever you live – is vital to enjoying your environment.
Fortunately, that’s absolutely not a problem here in Chiang Mai.
You can’t throw a rock without hitting a place that’s serving up something absolutely amazing for a dollar or two.
It’s like my stomach and wallet got together and created this place in a dream for me.
I simply haven’t woken up yet.
I only eat twice per day. Lunch and dinner. I’ve been intermittently fasting for many months now, eating only during an eight-hour period (from 12-8). It’s fantastic. I’ve never felt or looked better, honestly. Reducing the amount of food I attempt to procure and consume is just one more way in which I I practice and enjoy minimalism.
Combining intermittent fasting with six days per week at the gym has put me in some of the best shape of my life.
However, intermittently fasting on Thai food and intermittently fasting on American food are two very different concepts – speaking in both financial and non-financial terms.
I figured that out pretty quickly, after losing a rather large chunk of weight within my first month of living here.
The funny thing about the intermittent fasting, though, is that i didn’t even know I was doing it. I just naturally settled into a groove where I ate lunch at noon, ate dinner around 7 or so, and then didn’t eat again for the rest of the night. Seemed like a rational way to manage resources and consume food. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine here in Chiang Mai informed me that I’m intermittently fasting, that I even knew what it was.
If I were to ever leave Thailand in general and Chiang Mai specifically, I would miss the food like crazy. The food, and my affection for it, would definitely factor into me ever even considering something like that.
Ahh, four seasons.
Nine months of cold, cloudy weather filled with far too much precipitation. All so that one can enjoy three months of warm, sunny weather.
Yeah. Umm, no.
To each their own, but warm, sunny weather (all year) fills me with happiness.
I appreciate people who live in dark, cold climates. They make it so that the places I enjoy aren’t overpopulated (not yet, at least).
But I can’t do it. Not any more.
I did my time. Paid my dues growing up Southeast Michigan. Spent many a fall, winter, and spring cold and depressed. No, thanks.
Fortunately, Chiang Mai has a pretty fantastic climate.
The daily mean is 78.4 degrees over a year. That’s combined with over 2,500 hours of sunshine per year.
Sure, it can be a bit too hot at times, especially during the peak of the day in April and May. And rainy season is a touch intense.
But it sure beats six inches of snow any day of the week. And twice on Sunday.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t leave my apartment, walk outside, and smile as I feel that warmth and sunshine hit me. A warm, gentle breeze that slides across my face just right is something that’s priceless.
Some people adapt to things pretty quickly. Maybe it’s the child in me, but I don’t find myself getting tired of great things in life, even the simple, ordinary aspects of everyday life that many take for granted.
Warm, sunny weather is one of those aspects.
Perhaps I’m still thawing out after almost 30 years in the Midwest.
But I truly enjoy the climate that Chiang Mai offers. It’s definitely one of my favorite things about living here.
I’ve been asked many times – via comments and emails – about my decision to relocate to Chiang Mai specifically.
After all, there are many places throughout the world that offer a relatively high quality of life in combination with a relatively low cost of living.
Well, Chiang Mai offers what I believe to be the most advantageous spread between those two – it has the highest quality of life at the lowest cost of living. If I thought I could live a better life for less money somewhere else, I’d be there. If I thought I’d be happier somewhere else, I’d go there. It’s that simple.
There are many factors behind that viewpoint, but I think the three aforementioned aspects of everyday life here in Chiang Mai are some of the highlights for me.
I love a lot of things about living here. And there are some things I don’t like all that much (which I’ll go over another time).
But the people, the food, and the climate are right at the top of the list of the things I love most here. Chiang Mai does all three in a way that I don’t think anywhere else in the world can/will offer.
What do you think? Ever been here? Agree or not? What are your favorite things about where you live?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: Mnonchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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