Graham and I met abroad and have adventurous spirits, so when we decided to move to Calgary, Alberta, to begin our life together, we knew it was only for a short while. (Graham has the ability to work anywhere in the world that has good internet, so obviously I’m tagging along.) As soon as the snow fell, we started talking about where we should move to next.
Decision 1: the country
There were three things we were looking for in our next country:
- Weather – Having both grown up in Alberta, we’re tired of the near-eight months of winter. We both like hot temperatures and sunshine.
- Culture – Canada’s still a young country and it’s developing its own culture sloooowly. At the moment, it seems to be more of a melting pot. We want to live in a country where we’ll experience culture shock. It grows us as people.
- Affordability – We understand that salaries correlate with standards of living, but Alberta is crazy expensive. Everything, including food and housing, is high. We were looking for a country where our dollar can go farther than it does in Canada (unfortunately, even though I left part of my heart in London, it was excluded).
Graham had a year-long stint around the world a few years ago, where he was able to spend considerable amounts of time in a country (I’m talking weeks, not months). He was able to get a good feel of where we’d feel comfortable, yet challenged.
We had a few countries in mind where we could see ourselves living at the moment, including, in no order: Malaysia, Brazil, Spain, and Thailand. The latter country kept creeping up in our discussions and it was one of Graham’s favourites on his backpacking trip. It’s near the equator – so year-long awesome temperatures, it’s affordable for expats, and it has a different culture. We prayed about our decision, heard no direct answer, so, after reading a book on how to approach decision-making with God in mind, we decided to just do it – we’d apply for visas and if we got rejected, we’d apply for different ones.
We were blessed with an amazing friend who was able to help us in our visa application process, and another who was able to help us with our flights. From the day we applied for visas to the day we flew overseas was about two weeks… we were either very lucky, or God really wants us to be in Thailand!
Decision 2: the city
Our decision was narrowed to two or three choices immediately because of Graham’s need for speedy internet. The choices:
- Bangkok (BKK) – for the city life
- Phuket (island) – for the island life
- If neither of the above worked out, Chiang Mai – for the small-town northern mountain life, but we heard there are LOTS of mosquitoes here, the weather is a bit colder, and it’s far from beaches.
We decided to spend a week in Bangkok, then a week in Phuket and make our decision on where to live after that. We really loved hanging out in Bangkok, but here’s why we decided to stay in Phuket:
- Church – Newsong is amazing and we’re excited to go back, but there was something special about the home church in Phuket. I believe we’re the youngest couple in our new community! We’re excited to learn from, and alongside, our new church family and see our spiritual lives grow, allowing us to mature as Christians.
- Weather – Although, on average, the temperatures in both BKK and Phuket are high, there is no smog in Phuket. At least, none as visible as in BKK. The sun shines far stronger and the sky is far blue-er outside of the capital city. I believe Phuket gets a bit more rain, but when it’s still +30 and the rain is on and off, I think we can deal.
- Island Mentality – People in BKK always seemed rushed and busy. This is true with any city, I’ve realized, but we really felt peaceful and relaxed when we arrived in Phuket. The prices may be higher and the people may be slightly more rude, but it’s part of the culture we’ll have to get used to. Perhaps learning Thai will help.
- It’s new – We don’t have much opportunity in Canada to live on an island near the equator, with 36 beaches a motorbike away (!) and easy access to hundreds more. We’re not sure when we’ll have another opportunity like this again, so we went for it. We hear Phuket is not the greatest place to go (a lot of friends haven’t liked it nor recommended we move here), but visiting and moving to a place are two difference circumstances. I’ll write a blogpost on that another day. Meanwhile, we need to go house-hunting.
We’ve really enjoyed our… 10 days… in southern Phuket island, enough to spend the next 12 months here. I’m excited to have friends and family come visit so we can explore fun spots and enjoy hot weather any day of the year! These are the kinds of views you can look forward to when visiting us (sources linked):