So what’s it like living in a foreign country?

January 27, 2017


I am a 54 year young Australian female who now lives in Phuket, Thailand.  I am not married to a Thai, I don't work in Thailand and I didn't know anyone else who lives here.  So what made me decide to move to a foreign country?


My Australian husband and I made a conscious decision to retire early in another country because we couldn't afford to live in Australia anymore.  To qualify that statement - we calculated that we would need to work a further 8 - 10 years in our government jobs (Department of Justice) before we could afford to retire in Australia.  We envisaged our retirement would include an owned home/apartment, at least one car, appropriate medical coverage and the ability to afford at least a cheap Asian holiday per year or Europe/USA/further abroad once every few years.  We also understood that we would need to live a frugal lifestyle and that interests/hobbies such as golf, living near the beach, yoga classes, massages and dining out would be limited on our fixed income.

To be honest, I didn't want to work another 8 years in an office job that I was not aligned with and was detrimental to my health.  My husband worked 12 hour shifts as a prison officer and the long hours and negative work was slowly killing him.  We had hit an impasse - we couldn't afford to change careers and do what brought us joy AND we couldn't afford to leave our secure government jobs.


Let me say here, we did not live a flamboyant lifestyle at all - I was, and still am, the budget queen! We had an Entertainment Book for dinning out (discount vouchers); we bought good wine for low prices at Dan Murphy’s and dined at BYO restaurants; I took lunches to work most days; we predominately took low cost Asian holidays each year and generally looked for bargains wherever possible.  We weren't 'cheap', we were thrifty!  We lived in our own home in a nice suburb of Melbourne, both drove late-model cars, wore nice clothing, had gym memberships and a social life with a close group of friends.  We tried to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible but most of the time we were like walking zombies in need of quality sleep and less stress.


We had holidayed in Thailand for over 11 years and fell in love with the people and the laid back lifestyle.  The cost of living is significantly less than Australia and allows us to have more options in our hobbies and interests. 


On the downside - driving in Phuket is like being in a video game with no reset button (crazy drivers), the mozzies love us and we have never sweated as much in our lives!  But we have learned to cruise on the roads, use citronella to ward off the mosquitos and a swim at the beach for a healthy salt water cleanse.


So, we made our decision and made the move and now living the dream! We start our day with a run to the beach or a yoga class, a healthy breakfast and then our day is open to playing golf or tennis, going to the gym and a swim in the resort pool, meditation or spiritual studies (me), Xbox (my husband), a coffee or lunch with new friends (ex pats from countries around the globe), riding our scooter to places of interest on the Island, catching a movie at the cinema, a walk on the beach at sunset or just relaxing at home.  We still do our own domestics - shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry (most days) and if we get the chance, a midday power nap.


We are taking Thai language lessons, sponsor an orphan child in Chiang Mai, are part of a local club that provides over 200 education scholarships to children who otherwise couldn't afford to go to school and attend other charity events that raise money for those less fortunate than us.


We feel blessed and very grateful for the life we live and want others to know that anyone can embrace change and try something completely different.  As my dearly departed dad said to me, "there are always choices…. do what makes you happy".  We have chosen to live an authentic, healthier, happier life.

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