Where is the Best Place to Live in Thailand?
This is a question that many foreigners ask when they decide to extend their stay in Thailand and the answer very much depends on the lifestyle you want to lead. Some choose a tropical island and build a poolside villa within walking distance of the beach, while others prefer to live in rural Thailand, the North East being particularly popular among western expats.
Bangkok & suburbs
If you are a city person, there are luxurious condo units in all parts of the city, although they are quite pricey; another option is to live in one of the outer Bangkok suburbs, where you can enjoy a clean and natural environment and you are close to the city. You could buy an old house and renovate; there are machines for rent (called เครื่องจักรให้เช่า in Thai) and local labour is cheap enough; if you have a Thai partner, buy a house and put it in her name, or better still, acquire the land and build your dream home. There are many western digital nomads in Bangkok, so there is a vibrant expat community that likes to socialise and it is easy to get around using Skytrain.
Some love the cooler climate to be found in the north, with Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai being popular places for expats to retire; if your partner comes from a rural village, this would be an ideal place to build and you can probably site your house on family land, which is even better. If you have no ties to any part of the country, spend a few months in the north and you might be enchanted with the colourful culture.
Without doubt the firm favourite part of Thailand, the south includes Koh Samui and Phuket, which are premier tourist destinations in their own right. Land prices are high, as you would expect and if you are happy to live a few km from the beach, prices are lower. Hua Hin is a picturesque costal town about 200km south of Bangkok and there is a large Scandinavian contingent of expats who reside in and around Hua Hin and Cha-Am. Krabi is another great place to live, set on the Andaman Sea, the beaches are awesome.
Pattaya & Rayong
The eastern seaboard is another hotspot for expats; all over Chonburi province, you will find expats who have either retired or spend half the year in Thailand. Pattaya is not as busy as it once was, but there is a healthy expat community and everything is on tap. If you are a golf player, you are in heaven, with many world-class courses to enjoy.