Retire at Chiang Mai on 550 USD per month only

When I envisioned retiring to Chiang Mai, Thailand it was with the expectation that I would be living alone in a comfortable condo or small furnished home with everything that I could need and want nearby. 

I certainly did not expect to be living with a Thai family two years later. 

Many hours went into researching where I would stay when I moved here. I went from one Chiang Mai real estate website to another again and again looking at houses for rent, condo?s for rent. 

The plan was to stay in a hotel, check out the serviced apartments I viewed on the internet back home and then decide which one would be my home for a few months.

Later when I was more familiar with the city I would move into a condo or house on a longer term basis. 

This is a photo of Mommie and here friend, Mamma Opa and me at the end of the school year at which time each class performs for their parents. 

They sing, and dance on stage and as you see it is to a standing room only crowd attended by thousands of proud parents.

When I arrived in Chiang Mai I stayed at the Bossotel Inn. It was selected as I was arriving by train and it was located directly across from the train station and also because the rate was only $16 a night which included breakfast and taxes. 

The hotel had good reviews and would be my home for the next 3 weeks during which time I would compare and then select a serviced apartment that I would reside in for the following two months. 

Well the serviced apartment that I viewed back in Canada was as presented on the internet. A nice place to live with all the comforts one would require and at $220 a month. 

So that was my next home. Restaurant on site with nightly entertainment, beauty salon, massage, roof top pool, motorbike rental, laundry and covered parking. A great place to stay at a fraction of normal hotel rates.

During the first three weeks stay in Chiang Mai I met a lady named Nichaya (nickname Wan). I invited her out to dinner and from that time onwards I knew she was a person who I wanted to be with.

As the weeks passed and we dined at different restaurants and she acted as my guide, my interpreter, my means of transportation. That was the first step of my journey from living alone to residing with her, her daughter Mommy, and her mother in their townhouse.

I was very fond of her and I wanted us to be together so I invited her to Patong, a beach resort which was a 2 hour flight away. One hour to Bangkok and another one hour to Patong. She refused but I relented and she finally gave in. Two days before we were scheduled to leave Patong after an enjoyable week there the tsunami hit.

An entire article could be written about that experience but to make a long story short we were lucky and were unhurt by the experience. Some possession were lost but we learned more about each other.

Photo taken at Patong several days before the now infamous Tsunami. A lovely beach, superb restaurants, and a boat cruise to Phi Phi islands is a must. From Bangkok a 1 hr. flight.

So we returned to Chiang Mai and rather than book the serviced apartment on a monthly basis I decided to move in with Wan, her daughter and mother in a 4 level townhouse that she owns. It is constructed differently than the houses back home in Canada. For starters the dwellings here are constructed of cement and there is no need for a basement or furnace. There is no carpeting but rather tiles on all levels of the townhouse.

We have 3 TV?s. One in our bedroom, one in the second bedroom for here daughter and mother and one downstairs. We recently had cable TV installed at a promotional rate of $8.25 a month and $7.50 for installation for 2 TV?s. There are two washrooms. A small one downstairs and a larger one upstairs with a shower and hot water heater.

Oh and we have not bothered installing an air conditioner yet. At nights it cools down significantly and for most of the year a blanket is required if you open the windows and call it the night.

What changes have I had to make from what I was used to in Canada may be your one of your questions. How is life different here?

Well, first on the list is TV, who can live without it? We have cable TV with 54 channels. Included are a great movie channel, some excellent news channels, channels in Japanese, Korean, Thai, and English, music, karaoke, cartoon and music channels. The movie channel is what I normally watch. Back home I had a better selection but in terms of price this is one fifth the price.

Internet is a necessity for me. If you want it you will need to have a telephone line installed. The internet speed that I have now is slower than back home but I find it acceptable. I selected the lowest cost package and any time I can upgrade to a faster speed. We are paying $20 a month for telephone and internet and back home that would run $80.

What else? If you intend to live in Canada you have to purchase different types of shoes, jackets, overcoats, formal and casual clothing. Here casual dress is customary and due to the tropical climate suits are not worn but rather a silk Thai shirt.

So anyone living here would find it less expensive to dress appropriately and also more comfortable. I was never one to wear sandals. Socks were mandatory even in the summer. Now I rarely wear socks. Sandals are shoes that you can just slip your foot into are what I prefer as it is most comfortable.

This photo was taken about a 25 minute drive from the city. There are some waterfalls, small rapids and an area to my side where the children at times accompanied by their parents play in the water.

Bring your own cooler and some fried chicken, potato salad, fruits and lay in the shade and let the kids have a good time.

George at our outing to the waterfall and swimming area.

Well the food here is much better and not inexpensive but CHEAP. 
The four of us can have a dinner out nearby where you cook your own soup with ingredients you select. 

So you wait for the water to boil in a container with a lid sitting a bed of hot coals. Then you add the fish, liver, chicken, beef and wait a couple of minutes and then add the vegetables. In about 5 minutes you begin to fill everyone?s bowls with piping hot soup. Two small bowls are added to the table. One has a reddish paste and the other bowl a green paste. These are ground hot peppers so beware. The green is actually the hottest of the two. I add a half teaspoonful to my soup which makes it spicy and more tasty. Either that or dip your meat into the bowl. Wan on the other hand prefers the green which is HOT HOT. Bottled water is on hand as is a ice bucket. The entire filling meal for the four of us with tip and taxes and water included comes to $5.25 U.S.

My favorite place to dine is actually a large buffet restaurant by the river. The view and atmosphere are superb.

A parking attendant helped me find a prime parking spot and he proceeded to put a cover on my windshield to keep the vehicle cooler. It is a large covered open air restaurant. 

A large private air conditioned room is available for groups but otherwise I saw three different seating areas. One by the side of the river, one surrounding the buffet and one with more of a garden atmosphere. 

The service was excellent. Plates removed when you returned and a child that accompanied us was watched over carefully by the staff and even given a tour with the approval of the parents when she strayed away from the table towards the large fish tank.

The food was very much to everyone?s liking. I started with a fresh salad with a delicious Italian dressing that was more creamy than watery which is the way I like it, sliced chicken was added to the salad. The sushi being prepared by the staff caught my eye and I thought I would give it a try. Delicious and deserving of a second trip and another plate full. 

What next? Decisions, decisions. Would it be the meat on a stick, potatoes, noodles, spaghetti, a soup, plain rice, rice with vegetables, beef, liver, chicken and many other items. 

Well one plate was filled and consumed and followed by another until crunch time came. Time to decide on the dessert.

Wow, what a selection. I had eaten a lot already but after viewing the desserts I knew I could not resist. Well I made my selection and it tasted great. 

I don?t know what it is but they are colored balls of a soft ingredient with ice added and topped off with a cream. And I am normally not one for coffee but I thought I would give it a try. Best cup of coffee that I have ever had. So the time came to pay the bill.

How much you ask? Well after tip, taxes, everything including a tip to the parking lot attendant the bill came to less than $2.50 U.S. per person.The taxes or tip alone back home would have come to far more than that. 

But that is what it is like here in Chiang Mai. And that is one of the reasons thousands of foreigners have decided to move here and call it home.

related pages..

Foreigner Living in a Thai Household - (part 2- includes photos)

CONDO's for Retire-on-550 clients.. No Joiner Fees, Larger & Better Equiped than Hotel
Short term rentals - Include "FREE" Wifi, breakfasts daily, cable tv, stocked fridge, 3x./week full cleaning


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