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Routine medical stuff can be done at walk in labs for a song. Like complete blood count and urine exam for 7 US. Bangkok Hospital is high, but still way, way cheaper than the US. I cover with Tokio Marine....Covers sudden illness and accidents...not cancer....India is the place for cancer drugs...or heart surgery. Hospitals would be like hotels...no need for the cheapest, but no need for the most expensive either. I also agree with you about living in town.....and going without a car...unless you have lots of extra cash...the cops are on to drink driving...big earner for them, just like the US..so even with a car..you shouldn't drive...and of course the Thais Drive worse than my 8X year old parents. The Thai meals are more like 35-40 nowadays..did a nice chicken with rice and soup earlier for 40 THB...carved right off the bird...almost comfort food. But, besides the thousands of good lookers at the Universities, there are almost always a gold mine of great cheap thai places...and the students love spicy, like me. They really turn down the spices in the tourist areas...a lot of Europeans and even North Americans can't go near it.
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Motorcycles are the worst, especially those with a side-car and without light during night.
I know some stories about foreigners who decided to live somewhere outside of a Thai city, away from any other foreigners, in a rural area, but what is fine for the Thai is not always fine for the farang.
Of course this life-style can only be done by using a car - and the only way to live there is either paying rent, or in case of a sale to accept a very problematic legal situation often with Thai relatives.
There are frequent stories about money of the foreigner which was gone for always with nothing in return... and to be honest, it was NOT always the fault of the Thai woman living with him.
In one case I know well a few years ago there was a severe thunderstorm north of the place where I am in Pattaya/Jomtien, many small little houses about 25 km outside were almost destroyed, especially roofs and also otherwise damages because of flood - and who pays for that for HER house? The farang... and not the Thai girlfriend.
In another case the brandnew large pickup truck of a foreigner, a friend I know personally was severely damaged in front by a motorcycle coming out of a small road, rider full of drugs, some prison history, no driving license, motorcycle stolen... this useless Thai boy had nothing... Surprisingly, the local police did not ask anything from the foreigner - 'go home, it's OK' - but the repairing of the car was about baht 130.000,- and who pays for that....and so on and so on.
I have a Thai driving license for motorcycle and also for car, and I have a small motorcycle in Pattaya/Jomtien, it's convenient sometimes, but within Pattaya/Jomtien public transport for 10 or 20 baht is not bad at all. To drive a car in Thailand means for me only rent-a-car, maybe 2 times a year for 2 days or so when some friends are coming from Europe to visit me.
Generally said, living in Thailand as a foreigner to choose a condominium unit and not a house/land, and to live within a city is better by my opinion.
There is a better supply of goods, better medical care, some public transport is existing, and in a condominium building you need not to worry so much about security, maintenance and repairings.
In my case the building also has a large swimming pool, ATM, some shops and restaurants inside, laundry service, parking space with CCTV, etc.
Of course not everybody will agree with me. I have seen Western foreign men living far away from the larger cities...it's a personal choice I guess.
And not only can it be quieter on the city than the country, without the roosters and dogs...it can even be better to live on or very close to a busy street. That extra 1 km can mean a 40 THB moto ride, or having to look over your shoulder every five steps, because the Thais get way too close to you on their bikes, or in their cars. And the roads are narrow, with parked cars on the sides to begin with. My last place was 80 meters off the main road, and if I had to chose, it would be closer; not further from the main road. There is a little more zoning enforcement in the high land value, high rent areas, too. Much easier for a very late night karaoke place to open on the outskirts. Simply staying off motorcycles is a good starting point. Notice, even very experienced riders will walk with a limp or admit they have been in a crash. It doesn't have to be your fault. And unfortunately, the Thais are mostly terrible about taking responsibility for their mistakes. They aren't very good about child support, either, but fortunately they don't have a herd, but still....
basically, working and saving, however, I rarely was a renter, but would buy affordable places for cash or a small mortgage...make repairs in my spare time, and sold tax free after two years of them being primary residence. In the last ten years, I have spent less than 500 Dollars on interest. I get the bonuses from the banks, but never run up debt. 11 of 14 round trip airfares have been almost free.
I think we agree a lot of what might be the best options for living in Thailand.
To be 50+ and able to qualify for a retirement visa is a good solution to get away from visa/overstay/visa run hassles.
Not to depend on a car (which is remarkably expensive in Thailand) is a good way to save money.
To consider to buy and not to rent your accomodation if you stay longer than 10 to 15 years in Thailand is financially better by my experience so far.
Living as a foreigner in a condominium unit in the city is better than in a house/land outside in a rural area. Do not move to a nobody area without any public traffic and shopping facilities.
About food, check slowly out local places, no need to visit everyday restaurants which are servicing mostly foreigners.
Further, I strongly recommend to keep a large part of your saving outside of Thailand and consider always an escape route in case you face unexpected problems.
If you are able to control your life-style in that way, you can live with very little money in Thailand.
And about climate, I do not miss the cold winter in Europe, I do not need any snow or ice (except ice-cream sometimes).
I have two big fans in my rooms and I rarely use air-con (this can result in a really high electricity bill if it is running all time), as I like warm weather.
This will change in future, after the railway link via Laos to China (Kunming) is fully operating for cargo and passengers. Expect the worst!
There has been a large Vietnamese community around Udon for many years. I think they hate the Chinese, too. We'll see. I think they are more prevalent in KKN, but nothing like the armies of them in Chiang Mai.
Update: I bought a studio on the outskirts of BKK, transferring i. a few weeks. Older building, nice steel i beam frame. Great views. I had been lurking for a year and contacted the owner of a for rent unit. Not paying a commission = savings, even if seller pays. Usually, not a lot of wiggle room. I will hold it for five years+.
Got a bit lucky on doing the turnaround with the money.
I was thinking you prefer to stay in Udon Thani. Why did you change your mind and are moving now near to Bangkok?
But maybe better, much more to do there...
Bangkok - where outside of Bangkok? In which direction and how far outside?
I am only familiar with the Eastern part of Bangkok - direction to airport, like Lad Krabang, Sri Nakarin, Bangna etc.
Udon was just my staging area, whle I waited for the Dollar to strengthen a little (so I didn't get burned on sending money home and back). I also was interested in some condos in Nong Khai, which turned out to suck, and only newer condos in Udon, which are priced about double what they should be. I will be near Rama V Bridge in BKK, the Nonthaburi Pier, and the newish Purple Line. It is 12 miles to Nana Plaza.
I almost got a job in Chiang Mai, but the salary was low. And unlike China there's no free apartment. So...
gets calculator out...
I am much better off staying in China. I can fly business class to and from Thailand and still have a lot of cash left over.
I quit my boring cubicle slave job and now I'm Happier Abroad...
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That's much better than anywhere in Isaan. Good to hear that you finally moved away and settle down near BKK.
Just more activity and possibilities in Bangkok for a foreigner. No question about that.
Nonthaburi is a good location, basically this is Greater Bangkok, just northwest of Don Mueang.
thanks for the encouragement. Less than two weeks till the transfer. Udon is grating on me more than I thought, and I am really not hard to please. The term "village idiot" may not have been coined here, but I don't think it was far from here. Too bad, because Immigration is waaay better than Chiang Mai, if you are legit., and just want to be legal. Not bad, just not good. Ironically, it is a lot easier to meet an Udon girl in bkk or heaven forbid the Beach Rd., but God help you if you bring them back here so her relatives are closer to your wallet.
I completed transfer, got MEA switched to my name, and reported to Immigration....all in one morning. Bought a bed and now just finishing up in Udon....it went well. No surprises except now little English is spoken there...not a real problem, but would be for a newbie.