Going Up the Country
Originally appeared in Chiang Mai City Life magazine
Most of us retirees are old enough to remember Canned Heat‟s declaration from Woodstock that they were “Going up the country … where the water tastes like wine.” I‟ve run into some Expats who have taken that to heart.
A growing number of Expats are deciding to live in rural, upcountry, Thailand. Since so many new Expats are considering just such a move I thought I would ask some people I know who are already living “up the country” for some advice.
Ricky lives just about 150 kilometers equidistance from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Lampang. That is defined as “the middle of nowhere”. He says, “Rural life is a decision to simplify. I’ve traded a fast paced life for one of growing vegetables and flowers. I can walk or bike nearly everywhere in town in under 5 minutes.” And he adds, “For sanity though, I’ve found access to decent internet for news and communication is a must.”
Donna lives in the mountains near Phrae. She advises, “Country life can be great but before you move it is very important to check out your village and neighbors. It is very easy to move to Thailand, but not so easy to live long term afterwards. So do your research before making any decisions.”
James, who lives on a farm in Mae Rim, north of Chiang Mai says, “When you live upcountry, you have to remind yourself: This is Thailand. It’s not Iowa or suburban Sydney. There are reasons why we left those places, so we shouldn’t complain too much that it’s different here. ”
There are down sides to living upcountry too of course. There‟s the noise of dogs and roosters in the morning, and the aroma of burning garbage, and the fact that you may forget your native language with no other Expats to talk to. You might be half a day‟s ride from the nearest good hospital, something that becomes more important as we retirees get older. And worst of all, whether the water does or doesn‟t taste like wine, where you gonna get a good slice of Pizza?