Cost Of Living In Chiang Mai

Just How Cheap Is Life In Southeast Asia?


Oct. 19, 2014, Chiang Mai, Thailand: A breakdown of the monthly costs of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Thailand is one place in the world where you can still enjoy aspects of first-class living at economy-class prices, as Asia Correspondent Paul Terhorst explains:

"A friend from Bangkok visited Vicki and me recently in Chiang Mai. The three of us had lunch at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel. The place oozes elegance. The weekday businessman's special lunch buffet is pasta, pizza, and dessert with espresso coffee, all for about US$8. When it's just Vicki and me, we eat where Thais eat. A plate of fried noodles—Pad Thai, a spicy curry with rice, or a stir-fry veggie dish—for just a dollar or two."

Paul continues:

"If you're in the market for an affordable and exotic place to retire, consider settling down in Chiang Mai, where a retired couple could live for as little as US$1,055 per month if they rent...or for as little as US$765 per month if you own your own apartment or condo.

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Restrictions On Foreign Ownership Of Property In Thailand,...

Top Property Markets In Asia For The Investor And The Retiree

Oct. 17, 2014, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Restrictions are placed on foreign ownership of property in Asian markets, but some still make sense for investment.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

A parking spot sold in Hong Kong this year for US$547,000.

Land in Hong Kong is expensive and the limited inventory of parking spaces has driven up the cost to more than that of a decent home in most of the world. Hong Kong, though, isn't typical of the region, and prices on this island shouldn't scare you off the idea of real estate in Asia altogether.

More daunting and potentially intimidating when shopping for real estate in this part of the world are the foreign ownership restrictions. Before entering any Asian market, you want to be sure you're clear on what you can and cannot own as a foreigner.

The Philippines restrict foreign ownership to condos...and in any given building foreigners can own only up to 40% of the units. Still, this country makes sense for both retirement and investment. Real estate prices in some parts of it are unbelievably cheap. Focus on the more active areas where you would have an easier time reselling on the local market. You don't want to be limited by having to find another expat buyer when you decide to resell.

You can find small apartments in Quezon City for less than US$60,000. That would buy you a one-bedroom apartment in a new building.

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Off-The-Beaten-Path Travel Adventures In Hanoi, Vietnam

"Tomorrow, Nice Hotel!"—Off-The-Map Adventures In Southeast Asia

Oct. 16, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam: Discover Vietnam beyond the packaged tours for Western travelers.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

For my husband David and me, one of the most gratifying aspects of living in Southeast Asia has been the chances we've had to do local things. To get to know our local neighbors and to be treated as though we're one of them, a real part of the community.

Our friend Tuan owns a minivan and makes his living as a private tour guide. He is Vietnamese, and most of his customers are also Vietnamese. This year, a group of ladies from Saigon hired him to show them Vietnam's remote Northwest Loop. There were two extra seats available in the van, and he asked David and me if we'd like to ride along on the five-day trip.

We were excited by the opportunity. It would have been difficult to undertake this journey on our own. Many places along this 700-mile trip are so remote that planning the logistics ourselves would have been almost impossible. Navigating tiny, winding, barely maintained roads through high mountains and soaring passes presents plenty of challenges.

We asked Tuan if we would be staying in hotels, and he assured us that we would be very comfortable. Great.

We enthusiastically accepted Tuan's offer, and certainly we're glad we made the trip, but we realized quickly after setting out that this would not be like any adventure we'd had in Vietnam before.

We were not traveling as Western tourists but as part of a Vietnamese group. Fortunately most of our traveling companions spoke English, making it easy enough for us to communicate. By the end of the trip, we had all become good friends.

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Comparing Street Crime In The Americas, Europe, And Asia

The World's Safest Places To Retire?

Oct. 15, 2014, Chiang Mai, Thailand: Asia is the most crime-free region in the world.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Want to reduce your exposure to street crime?

Consider moving to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Vicki and I both grew up in the United States. Since then we've lived in Argentina and Mexico; England, France, and Spain; and Thailand, Malaysia, and China. We've also lived in New York, Las Vegas, and Austin.

In my observation, Asia's view on crime differs from that of the Western world in two key respects.

First, we in the West take crime for granted. We believe we have to live with crime, that it comes with the territory. Second, we in the West assume there's very little we can do about crime. As a society we've tried putting more people in jail, we've tried letting more people out of jail. Nothing works.

Asians reject both these views, in my experience. Thais and Chinese view crime as an aberration, rather than a daily occurrence. Thais may get ripped off now and again, or know someone who's been hit. Scams happen. Then again, Thais never take crime for granted.

Vicki and I have been pickpocketed in Paris, had a purse snatched in Panama, had items stolen from our luggage in a London hotel's luggage area, had bags stolen from a car in Mexico. For every theft we've been hit with, two or three attempts have failed.

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Retire To Bangkok, Thailand

More Than Go-Go Bars And Ladyboy Shows—Bangkok As A Retirement Choice

Oct. 14, 2014, Bangkok, Thailand: Bangkok, Thailand, is best known as a sex-tourism destination, but it is also an appealing choice for retirement and also for English-language education.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Bangkok is the largest city in Thailand and the third-largest city in Southeast Asia. It also has the biggest expatriate population of any city in the region, more than 155,000 foreigners. They come from throughout Southeast Asia and the Far East, Europe, Australia, and North America, giving the city a decidedly international flavor. Although the dominant culture is definitely Thai, it is easy to live a Western lifestyle here.

Many foreigners come to Bangkok to work. The demand for English teachers is insatiable, as is the market for skilled employees in many other industries. If you have at least a bachelor's degree and a willingness to work, you will have no difficulty finding a job in this city.

Many younger people who want to be in the region choose to live in Bangkok so they can take advantage of the many schools here offering good English-language education programs and long-stay study visas. You could earn a college degree from Stamford International University, Bangkok University International College, or Webster University.

Bangkok is also a popular choice among retirees who appreciate its cosmopolitan flair, vast variety of entertainment venues, shopping, and warm, tropical climate. The city's proximity to beach resorts is another plus. Pattaya and Cha-am are just two hours from the city, and the retirement haven of Hua Hin is less than three hours away.

When we first came to Bangkok, in 2003, we found the city difficult to navigate. The little Don Mueang airport was hopelessly crowded, with long immigration lines and a haphazard baggage claim. Buses with Thai-only writing were incomprehensible, and taxi drivers were notorious for overcharging.

Bangkok has had quite a facelift in the past decade. The Don Mueang airport now handles only a small percentage of the flights it once did, while the sleek new Suvarnabhumi Airport, opened in 2006, serves more than 45 million passengers per year. Bangkok is the gateway to the rest of Thailand and points beyond. If you come to Southeast Asia, there is a good chance that you'll at least transit through the city. Indeed, Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi services more flights than any other airport on the Southeast Asian mainland, and Bangkok is also a major rail hub.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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