Well, I left Chiang Mai after 8 months last week and now I reside in Bangkhae Bangkok. I thought I would give you my perspective on the place after living there.
I feel like it might be the most overrated place on earth. Compared to where I live now it feels like I was banished to the farthest corner of Thailand in a perpetual tourist nightmare, with bad air, horrible traffic, zero pedestrian access to anything, and not a whole lot to do unless I want to go sit around and drink somewhere.
I lived in a place called Stylish Condo which was near the University, and great, but even getting in and out of the place on foot was dangerous as I had to walk a few hundred meters without sidewalk on outer ring road. Life and death everyday it seemed.
The air was so horrible, and when I see all the posts about how the place is bicycle friendly I can only laugh…more life and death. I had a motorbike for a month..gave it up as I saw to many accidents or saw too many others have near misses. On the plus side I had the University near by and could go and play soccer once or twice a week with Thai people. Mostly University Students, and always fun.
I never saw a single Westerner there to play which quite honestly really surprised me considering the amount of Westerners in Chaing Mai. Overall I had almost no interaction at all with Westerners who I found to be for the most part to be very unfriendly. Usually not even returning a nod when walking down the sidewalk.
I enjoyed the markets in Chiang Mai, but nothing compares to here in Bangkhae. What I like about where I am now is that I almost NEVER see westerners here. I live right across the street from The Mall Bangkhae, and will see maybe one in a day. Here almost no English is spoken which forces me to try to use Thai, although I am seldom understood, but I try.
I have a futsal court nearby across the street from the Mall Bangkhae, and another about 4km away and that will be where i try to play. I have a pool, and have joined a gym as I did in chaing Mai. My rent is less here for a nicer place. I think all the digital nomad garbage about Chiang Mai is just that…garbage.
I can live cheaper in Bangkok and still easily work online if I wanted to . I have a train nearby and one opening in a year right in front of where I live. I intend to stay here and have this as my base no matter where I visit in Thailand. I am on a retiree visa. I will comment to you a bit about retiree visa you may find this interesting for your vlogs.
I got scared about getting a retiree visa even before I came to Chiang Mai
The reason I got scared was I made the mistake of contacting one of those Visa services companies in Chiang Mai. What they do is make the whole process sound so complicated that you need their services. It cost me 30,000 Baht to use their service for all the paperwork. In the process my visa was totally screwed up. They said they were going to send my Passport from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, but instead sent it to Chonburi. When I went to Chiang Mai for 90 day reporting they said my Visa was a problem and I had to go to Chomburi, they accepted me one time for check in but that was it.
After moving here last week I had to go to Central Bangkok Immigration and then Chonburi in Pattaya. No one had placed my picture in the system, and it looked like my Visa was a forgery when I went to Bangkok. So in Chonburi it turned out someone had forgot, or they just did not want to deal with the issue, so just took care of it. But it was a bit scary to deal with.
Now everything is A-OK but my suggestion to anyone coming to Thailand is that they do it all by themselves. The Thai’s will point you in the right direction, and provided you are OK everything will be OK. It is not difficult and doing it yourself saves you a bunch.
I would come in on a 60 days visa and then go to immigration. I also had to go to the US embassy for an income verification which is basically a form saying the US Government vouches for what you say as far as what monthly income is. Cost of that was 1800 baht.
So in conclusion stay away from any Visa assistance services. They are also getting a very bad name as far as Thai immigration goes in that a lot of immigration fraud is associated with them. What I mean is that to retire in Thailand for an American, aside from the right age, requires that you have either 800,000 baht in the bank, OR 65,000 baht of monthly income minimum.
What people are doing with these services is using them to basically fake up these requirements for them by depositing to the bank. This is what they did for me, even though , I said I did not need to do it that way. They were so used to doing this that they did it anyway. And sent my Visa to Chonburi because they have a contact who would push it through. Because I have the income requirement I was not worried this time in Chonburi and Bangkok but I had all the documents with me, and should have done it all by myself in Chiang Mai.
Immigration people are quite nice, but I bend over backwards to be friendly, having heard that if you lose your temper with them they are known to throw you out of the country on the spot…at least that is what I read on a blog somewhere.
Now that I have all visa issues straight I can do this online next time. I don’t want to sound like I am down on Westerners, being one myself, but I did not come to Thailand to find some sort of Expat community where I could eat American food all day. I just don’t get it.
Here in Bangkok, there is always a McDonalds, KFC, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Burger king, just around the corner somewhere if I wanted, and my time is spent with a lovely Thai woman, and trying as much as I can to enjoy activities with Thai’s, they seem to let me play football with them (soccer) easily enough. Also, as someone who came to Thailand from NYC, I have to say I love to be riding trains around again, and being in a hustle and bustle of people. I love it.
Cheers, hope your journey is still fun. I am really starting to enjoy Thailand. I still enjoy your videos.