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Why we moved to Phuket, Thailand

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:

  1. Weather – Having both grown up in Alberta, we’re tired of the near-eight months of winter. We both like hot temperatures and sunshine.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Bangkok (BKK) – for the city life
  2. Phuket (island) – for the island life
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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):

Published in Expat Life

8 Comments

  1. Hillier

    Hillier

    This is so exciting for the two of you. More than that , that you are where the Lord would have you to be. I know that as the two of you daily walk with the Lord and are available to Him, He will use you in a mighty manner. Thankyou for sharing your blog. Know that you are precious and kept in our thoughts and prayers. From the pictures, it looks like a very beautiful place with many perks along the way. Keep in touch 🙂

    • Roma

      Roma

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for the kind words! As my first Christian family, you’ll always have a special place in my heart. I’m so excited to see how God will use us here, and how we will grow with our new community. Praise the Lord for all He’s done! Thank you for following along our journey. (By the way, you are always more than welcome to come and visit one day!) 🙂

  2. Jason Shine

    Jason Shine

    Love you guys and boy do I hope some money falls in my lap so I can take you up on coming to visit.

    • Roma

      Roma

      We love you, too! (And I, Roma, can’t wait to meet you one day!) I’ll send an extra prayer up in hopes for you! It’s only the airfare that’s darn expensive!

  3. Joy

    Joy

    LOVE that you are moving into OUR neighborhood. You are such a fantastic couple and I can’t wait to get to know you better and better. Love how you LOVE Jesus… You are a breath of fresh air for me!

    • Roma

      Roma

      If we’re a breath of fresh air, you’re a wonderful BREEZE to us! We couldn’t have felt more welcomed and more loved as fast as we did here. I can’t wait to pay your kindness and generosity forward one day.

  4. Phil

    Phil

    I’ve been contemplating moving to Phuket for 3 years now, but have never built up the courage to pick up sticks and fulfil my dreams. So far do you have any regrets moving to the island? I appreciate you’ve only been there a short while.

    • Roma

      Roma

      Hi Phil,

      No regrets (everything is a learning opportunity, in my opinion), but the adventure is far from comfortable. We’ve had quite a few frustrations that have made this journey very interesting, the primary one being the language barrier. We’ve heard Phuket is quite different from the rest of Thailand when it comes to accepting expats, but we have nothing to compare it to. I’m going to be working on a blogpost soon that talks about these frustrations we’re experiencing. I think it’s valuable to know what you can and can’t expect when packing up and moving. I’ll ping you an email with the link when it’s done 🙂

Let me know what you think!