Because we live in the city center, most places that we frequent are within easy walking distance. For everywhere else, we have a Honda PCX150 scooter. Many expats whine about the terrible driving conditions in Thailand but after driving several scooters and motorcycles in China for six years, we have decided that it is pretty civilized here. The scooter also allows us to head out of town on day trips or short overnight jaunts. Most guesthouses in the smaller villages are less that $20 per night so it makes for inexpensive getaways.
Meeting other expats is not a problem. There are more than 30 000 of us in Chiang Mai from all over the world, along with a very active expat club that meets monthly and many interest groups that meet weekly. Whatever your interest or hobby, it is very likely that there will be others here with similar interests that get together on a regular basis.
We stay in touch with family and friends with Skype and email. I spent most of my working life in Western Canada while my family lives in the east. I have to say that I have visited them more since I have moved to Asia then when I lived in British Columbia. My previous employer paid for our annual flights back home. The Chiang Mai International Airport is a ten-minute drive from almost anywhere in the city so travelling is not a problem. I am not that far from my older son who has lived in China for the last four years and currently runs a small bar/deli. My younger son is a musician who is often on the road so I catch up with him when I can.
With the warm climate and all the fresh fruit and veggies available at the local markets, it is easy to stay healthy. We rarely use air conditioning, so the doors and windows are open year-round. Three or four times a week, I head to a local gym for an hour of intense punching and kicking. I have lost about ten years in outward appearance since we moved here and have never felt better. And for the first time ever, we have both gone for over a year with no colds or flu.
I guess my parting advice to anyone considering retirement in a foreign country would be to go for it. There are many places left in the world where you can retire with a wonderful lifestyle without having millions in the bank. If we listened to all the retirement advice online, we would all still be working full-time at seventy. I find it remarkable to read how much energy is devoted to retirement planning and how much money that is supposedly required. When you feel you have worked long enough, just stop! I did and have no regrets whatsoever. If I had followed all the advice I have seen, I would be in the classroom for the next twenty years, still trying to sock away a few more hundred dollars and boost my pension to its maximum value.
Retirement is not a dirty word. There is more to life than work. These days you will find me writing, blogging, developing websites, traveling, and building and creating stuff in several virtual worlds. I don’t know how I ever found time to work when I did! Although I thoroughly enjoyed teaching, I haven’t looked back or thought about it since I left over a year ago. You won’t find me looking for a job teaching English or going back to work as a substitute teacher. As I said earlier, I live for the moment, and right now the moment is full. I have no idea what the future will bring but I can’t wait to find out!
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