About Us

We are a married couple who retired and moved to Thailand in 2014. You are welcome to join us and our travel monkeys Sun Wukong and Malcolm Jr. on our adventures! We hope you enjoy the trip as much as we do.

Monday, June 30, 2014


One of the big questions we always get asked about is: How much does it cost to live comfortably in Thailand? When you go to various websites that promote moving to Thailand you can find those that say you can live like a king for $500 USD per month and others that say it takes quite a bit more to live comfortably. So WHAT is it? Those who are thinking about moving here get confused due to all the different claims.

We started by trying to determine if we could live here comfortably on what we want to spend per month, not what someone else told us we could live here on. Our one month scouting trip helped us to understand that we believe we can live comfortably on around 50,000 Baht or around $1550 USD per month. So that is the standard monthly budget we would like to have. This will allow us to save almost as much each month without having to touch our 401k's.

We know that the first month will be more expensive than our regular monthly expenses. We will have to stock the household with the basic food, cleaning, and other supplies that you normally buy occasionally. We knew coming over that we would also spend more than normal in the first month because we would want eat out more often than what we consider “our” normal with friends who enjoy eating at farang (foreigner) restaurants where the prices are higher. These meals are celebrations of getting together with others in Thailand.

We also will have substantially more expenditures on deposits, furnishings that we would want to add to wherever we live, more transportation costs because of more than the normal number of trips to and from the various places to buy the one-time purchases. We felt that to get everything set up and comfortable would probably require about an additional 100,000 Baht or around $3000 USD.

So, the questions now are: You've been there a month, how much did you blow your budget? Were you even close? Do you really think you can live on 50,000 Baht per month? Do you have enough money to return home now that you've found that you can't afford to live in Thailand?

Here is the rundown of what we actually spent. Boy, was it a pain in the patooty to keep track.

Normal Monthly Expenses

Normal monthly household expenses include: Rent, Utilities, Food and non-alcoholic Drinks, Transportation, Medical Expenses, Entertainment, Internet, Cell Phones (2), Laundry, Language Classes, and Clothes.

Total: 47,412 Baht or $1461 USD

One Time House Setup Costs

One Time House Setup Costs include some furniture (5 end tables, two decorative shelves, one utility shelf), an additional fan, outdoor patio set (Lin is vertically challenged and the railings block her view, so we bought an additional tall set of patio furniture. Kinda like a booster seat for adults), dishes, cleaning supplies, sheets, pillows, internet router, printer/copier/scanner, industrial strength blender, and a multitude of other goodies.

Total: 105,230 Baht or $3241 USD

Final Verdict

We won't be returning to the US. I think we did pretty well with estimating our monthly budget, which I expect will generally be lower than what it was this month. We were really close on our household setup estimate also. If Lin were taller we would have been under on that.

We are living very comfortably here. We have a beautiful 79 Square Meter (850 Square Feet) Luxury Condominium on the 19th Floor overlooking the City of Chiang Mai, the Ping River, and with an awesome view of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on the hillside across the valley.

Could someone really live on $500 USD per month here? I doubt it very much. At least not comfortably. Push that to $1000 USD per month and a single person that didn't party too much or spend their time in the bars would probably be able to be fairly comfortable. $1200 USD per month for a couple would be do-able and pretty comfortable. It really depends on what your expectations are and your lifestyle choices.


Here is the breakdown for our utilities for the month.  Let me say that we used the Air Conditioning a lot this month.  We had just arrived from Oregon where the temperatures were averaging 60-65 F during the day and 40 F was the lows.  The temperatures when we arrived here were between 97 and 100 F for the highs during the day and the lows were around 81 F at night.  I expected our electrical bill would be outrageously high because of the constant running of the AC for the first several weeks and by Thai standards it probably is very high.

We are using the AC a lot less now, mainly at night in the bedroom and in the living room for about an hour or two when we return home in the afternoons.  Being on the 19th floor and the 4 sliding glass doors facing almost due west it gets hot in the condo at times.  Even at night when it is cooler outside the temperature inside rises quite a lot, almost like running a heater.

Our electrical bill was a total of 1908 Baht, approximately $58.80 USD.  That is still quite a reduction over our electrical bill in Oregon where we didn't even have air conditioning.

Our water bill was 90 Baht, approximately $2.77 USD.  If I remember right our water service bill in the US was at least $40 - $45 which included the wastewater charges also.

In case you're wondering I had included 4000 Baht in our monthly expenses for electricity and water since we had not received the bill yet.  I have edited the post above to reflect the lower amount we actually had to pay.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Letting Go Of Automatic Responses

There is a store here called Robinson's. In Thai speak it would be called Hi-So for high society! We wanted to see what they had to offer and found some small sofa pillows on sale for $3.00 instead of $15.00. The first time we went I only bought one and decided to go back for several more......Yes, the "On Sale" gene is in my DNA and I can't pass up a good deal.

On our way out toward the inside of the mall a man dressed in a suit with a walkie talkie radio literally ran over smiling and grabbed our bags. He started walking so we followed. I whispered to Vince, “What is he doing?” Vince shrugged his shoulders. The man said something into the radio and we kept walking....really fast. I looked at Vince and whispered again, “Where are we going?” Of course he didn't know, but I wanted to be reassured that we were not going to end up in jail for something we didn't even know we did.

I stopped and asked the man, “Where we go?” He didn't understand. We had completed our first language lesson just an hour prior and I saw a light bulb come on above Vince's head and heard him say to the man. “Hiu” (Hungry). The man smiled and pointed to the escalator going down. The man was a gentleman and motioned me to go first. When we arrive at the bottom he smiled, handed us our bags, put his hands together for a wai and went back the way he came.

I asked Vince, “What the hell was that all about?” He smiled and said, “Customer service!”

I would like to say we are not troublemakers and have never been involved with the police. It is just the culture of the US that you are guilty first and foremost. And customer service at that level is nearly extinct.

Our ingrained reactions from living in the US:
Someone in authority took our bags and said, “Come with me!”
We immediately felt guilty and thought we were in trouble.
Confusion and more confusion at not being able to decipher what was happening.
Rapid heartbeat and worry.

He was carrying our bags to wherever we were going.
He offered a woman to be first on the escalator.
He smiled and said good bye in the most respectful way possible.

Ah.......Differences are awesome sometimes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Friend Indeed!

It is extremely helpful if you have an expat help you once you arrive in country. We met our friend Ursula online from an expat group one year before we moved. When we visited for a month before our move we met her and she immediately took us under her wing and showed us around. Little did we know how much help she would be once we arrived.

She showed us how to cross the street, which is a very big deal here. At times I was terrified and held on to her arm like a little child, squealing inside all the way across the road. I desperately wanted to close my eyes and be magically transported across the 8 lane freeway. After we made it safely to the other side I was adamant.....“NOPE!” never again. I will gladly wave down a Songthaew going the opposite direction.

When we rented our condo she told us there are free shuttles that go to the 4 large malls and stop at many hotels in between to pick up and drop off passengers. These are run by the malls and you can get off and on as often as you like. It might be a short walk to your destination from one of the stops but it is free!

Having been here a year she knows her way around by Red Songthaew, Blue Bus, Yellow Bus, White Bus, and of course her feet! She has graciously taken me to the large grocery store/department store called Big C Extra. The prices are good and I can find anything I need for daily household items and food stuffs. The malls are: Central Airport Plaza, Central Festival Mall, Kad Suan Keaw Mall, Promenada Mall and Maya Mall. We have been to all of them and now have our favorites which are Central Festival and Central Airport Plaza.

It is strange wanting to go to a mall and willing hang out for nearly half a day! We avoided them for the past 20 years because in the US all they are for is shopping and nothing more which equals boring. The shopping centers in Chiang Mai on the other hand are an event! Four to seven floors organized by floor with banks, electronics, home furnishings, beauty products, clothing, arcades and movie theaters and entire floors of restaurants and if that were not enough, there are large food courts on the bottom floors along with large grocery stores.

We went shopping at the Home Pro store attached to Big C Extra where we bought two shelf ladders, 7 large plastic containers, a metal shelf unit, small floor rugs, a heavy duty outdoor clothes drying rack and other miscellaneous items for the kitchen. When we were done, one of the men working there helped us take our carts to the construction elevator and down to the parking garage. We then wheeled them to the front of the store where we need to hoping to cram all of it into a Songthaew. We met Ursula there and she told us that they would deliver it for free. So we went back to the store to sign up for delivery. This is another example of how helpful she has been.

That is not to say you should just befriend any expat or foreigner you meet. In our research we have read that there are expats who prey on other foreigners under the guise of being helpful when all they want is to empty your pockets with scams. Like anywhere on this great big planet....use your brain and follow your instinct.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


It Will Be Alright

Stress from the last weeks of working, saying good bye to friends, packing, moving, 24 hour travel day, Vince getting sick a day later, the country imposing Martial Law and the two days later a Coup D'etat, fielding notes and emails from concerned family and friends to let them know we are alright, finding a place to live, moving from the hotel to the condo, going to the hospital twice, changing the side of the bed we have slept on for 40 years because the air conditioning was blowing full blast on me, going to the grocery store for essentials and not being able to read the labels or understand what anything is, after the first 12 hours in the condo we have a bad sewer gas problem, the new halogen lights under the kitchen cupboards could cause a fire, realizing that being on the 19 floor we have very low water pressure and the walls have no insulation so our Caucasian neighbor decided on Saturday night to play his music so loud he had neighbors ringing his door bell, Oh, and we have ants..............The Adventures Begin!

This is life and all of it could happen anywhere we move. You have heard the saying: If life gives you lemons, Make Lemonade ! I decided to feed lemonade to the alligators we are currently up to our asses in and after having a long heart to heart talk via Skype with our son and daughter in law I am feeling better and taking control of my reactions to my circumstances. Some things I cannot control........but I can control how I feel and react to them. They also gave us good advice....”Your support system and friends are more important than you know, let them help you and ask for help when you need it.”

How I have managed........

The Stress of Saying Good Bye

I had my friends draw on my luggage and we laughed till our sides hurt.

Packing My Two Pieces of Luggage

When I felt overwhelmed I walked away to try again later. I did bring special things that hold
meaning and make me feel loved.

The Country Imposing Martial Law and the Coup D'etat

We have a network of friends that live here and are following the news sites and more importantly watching and sensing how the locals are feeling and behaving. I'm sure it is stressful for them, but outwardly they show no signs of hostility, anger or militant behavior. Things go on as normal, people going to work and school, shopping, selling, laughing, laundry, lunch and life. Everything is as normal as it was before.

Finding a Place to Call Home

It was easy and the place is lovely with a view of the mountain and the Mae Ping River. More
on the condo later.

Going to the Hospital....Twice

Vince rarely gets sick, but when he does he goes all out. The hospital is a 5 minute walk from
from the condo and we now know how the system works. Both times were easy, under one
hour, the staff and doctors spoke English, and the cost was extremely affordable. We went away feeling comforted and at ease.

We Changed Sides of the Bed

The air conditioning was blowing on me full blast because we had not figured out how to use
use the controls so we decided to change sides of the bed we have slept on..........for the past 40 YEARS! Five days later we switched back and now know how to use the remote. Given all
the stress we are currently under this was a real stupid thing to do! We are better now. :-)

Grocery Store

We have a dear friend that lives in the same building, her name is Ursula and she is a lifesaver! While Vince was still in bed sick she took me to the grocery store and helped me navigate my way around and find some essential things we needed. She did such a good job I was able to go back by myself the next day for more things. Imaging going to a store you have never been to before. Of course, you don't know where anything is. Now imagine ALL the labels on every single item are in a different language. The only thing I had to go on was the general theme of the items surrounding the thing I was looking at. I wanted dish soap.......the package had flowers on it, upon closer inspection of it's next door neighbors it was clothes soap. I finally found a package that had a picture of dishes! I was so proud and excited! I managed to giggle my way through the store and was thoroughly exhausted when I got home.

Invisible Ants

They are the tiniest nearly see through ants I have ever seen. I had to use the flashlight app on
my phone to be able to see where they are coming from. Of course it is from the drains in the
bathroom AND inside the wall. I bought cheap vodka to spray all the surfaces as a disinfectant
and I need to clean up immediately after making or cutting or having any food out. My kitchen is free of ant food and they are going away. But in wiping down everything initially I probably
killed several hundred of them. It felt horrible! Those of you that know me have seen me gently take spiders and bugs outside and move snails off the sidewalks.

The Smell

We noticed sewer smell the first night in the condo. I thought it was just dry traps so I poured gallons of water to flush while taking two days to use the vinegar and bleach. It didn't work. We told the property management woman we have been working with and she immediately called the owner who came the same day from 3 hours away to check it out. He is from Ireland and has a Thai wife and children. He couldn't have been nicer and after checking things out he brought a plumber the next morning to see what can be done and he told us if it cannot be fixed, he will give us our deposit back. More on this later.

Low Water Pressure

Being on the 19 floor the water pressure is very low. It takes a while to rinse shampoo....on the on the bright side, I have always like to take long showers!

Halogen Lights

The owner did a wonderful job with remodeling the unit and it has granite counter tops and very nice cupboards. The task lighting shining down on the counter is recessed under the cupboard.
I had the lights on for about 15 minutes and reached to get a cup. The cup was hot! I then felt
the the inside of the cupboard and the wood was so hot I couldn't touch it. Way scary! I let the owner know I am not able to use the lights for fear of fire. He was very concerned and will be
fixing the problem by changing them to LED's.


Saturday night.....well technically Sunday morning at 2 am he decided to blast his music. I now
know the walls have very little if any insulation between units. Vince slept through the first 4
songs and one of the neighbors was ringing his doorbell. He turned it down one notch and kept
playing for the next hour. I was wide awake and realized my foot was tapping to the music. It was like I had no control! The music was heavy on the bass, remixed 80's with a rap overtone. One song was “Time of my life” from the movie Dirty Dancing.......very odd, but there was my
foot tapping again. So I decided to get up and dance in the dark, in my large open living room/dining room while looking at the city lights in the distance. Yep.......Lemonade!

We met him in the elevator the next day and he apologized profusely for disturbing us. He said he came home in a very good (wasted) mood and was sorry for the noise. I told him that I
decided to dance to the music and did enjoy myself. You should have seen the look on his
adorable 34 year old face!

As our friends were adjusting to the thought of us moving to Thailand I remember them asking, “What are you going to do to keep busy?”   

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Universe Had Other Plans

I was hoping to stretch out our adventures for a few months but the Universe had other ideas. Vince came down with the creeping crud a day after our long flight and he thinks it was probably from the germy airplane air. Ten days later we went to the doctor.

Doctors work out of hospitals and pharmacies are every few blocks and in the malls where you can walk in and talk to a trained, certified Pharmacist and they will diagnosis your symptoms and give you medication. I needed to do this last January and told them my symptoms of cough and green gunk and they gave me antibiotics. It is very easy, convenient and inexpensive.

The day after we moved into the condo I went to the pharmacy and picked up some cold tablets, throat lozenges and later eye drops for Vince. After a couple days with no change we decided to walk to the hospital which is all of 5 minutes away.

I found the website of the hospital and it shows 30% of their patients are foreigners and English is spoken. We arrived at 5:50 am and walked onto the Emergency area. One man asked what we needed and asked us to sit. We waited no more than a minute when a triage nurse man took Vince's blood pressure and temperature. He asked questions and we showed him the medication he had been taking for the last few days. He asked us to sit.

Less than 5 minutes he was shown to a desk nearby where the Doctor was. He asked questions, we showed him the medication, he wrote on the chart, asked more questions, looked at his throat and shined light in his eyes and told Vince he would prescribe 5 different medicines. He asked us to go to the pharmacy and sit. It was a 30 second walk. We waited there for approximately 15 minutes. I think because we were so early and no one was there.

The pharmacist handed the woman in the next window a piece of paper and motioned us to go see her. This was the window to pay for everything. She verified his name and took payment and motioned us to go to next window to pick up the medicine. The Pharmacist gave him 5 things with labels in English.
Eye Drops, Pills for pain, Pills for cough, Pills for Sinus and Antibiotics (Amoxicillin)

We were there for a total of 40 minutes, the total bill (translated in dollars) $34.94
The Doctor charges was $7.66
The medication was $27.28

I am shocked, amazed, comforted, and at ease. Yet, thoroughly disgusted and appalled at how the health care in the US operates....it really is criminal.

After two doses of the antibiotics Vince had a reaction and had to quit taking them and we were back to the hospital. This time it was 8 in the morning. We were the only foreigners there and had no problems seeing a doctor and getting different medication. We were in and out in less than an hour. This time the charges were:
Doctor 50 Baht ($1.52 USD)
Pharmacy 720 Baht ($21.92 USD)
Total 770 Baht ($23.42 USD)

Well, we did say we wanted adventure!