Today we have a different kind of blog post for you.
We interviewed Louise. She is an expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Together with her husband Richard they built up their own business. Focused on health, healthy food and work-life-balance she the owner of a fitness and wellness retreat.
What does it mean to live abroad?
Being British, we miss the supermarkets back home. However, we’ve managed to find one called Rimping which stocks many British products like good tea. That said, we encourage expats to immerse themselves in Thailand’s rich culture. There’s so much to see like the 300 temples in the city, each one unique and special and plenty of festivities throughout the year. We feel it is very enriching for our daughters and the experience has definitely broadened their horizons and they have made many friends from across the world.
Why is Thailand so special for you?
We love our home in Thailand, it is traditional Lanna Style with slopping roofs and wooden construction.
Outside the city, there’s gorgeous, lush mountains with walking trails, meandering rivers and super green rice paddy fields. We’re fortunate enough to run our Fitness and weight loss retreat here in the picturesque village of Mae Ann in the Mae Rim district. Our guests come from all over the world in search of a healthy holiday abroad. They learn about nutrition, having fun while exercising and we introduce them to this spectacular landscape and vibrant culture. Our retreat, which is open year-round, is about decompressing, disconnecting from the responsibilities back home and detoxing you mind body and spirit. It really is a Fresh Start.
Do you meet/met lots of Expats in Thailand?
Thailand has a great expat community with people hailing from all over the world. Most of our friends are expats – many of them teachers in the girls’ international school. It’s a sociable place, so it’s not hard to meet new people and make friends in Chiang Mai. While many Thais can speak reasonable English, it’s good to try to learn the lingo. It’s not as hard as you might think and just knowing a few sentences can make all the difference. Thai people really appreciate you trying to learn their language.
Do you have “special” experiences/ stories with expats?
Unsurprisingly, the vast metropolis that is Bangkok has the highest number of expats. While many love the fast paced chaotic city, they often escape to Chiang Mai on a regular basis. Chiang Mai might sprawl out, but it’s moat-encircled core feels more like a trendy village teeming with little coffee houses and eateries, so it’s the perfect place for some rest and relaxation. Many even prefer the calmness of Chiang Mai and move themselves from the capital to start their life here.
Why is it important to take care of yourself, just when you are an expat?
As an expat, it’s easier than back home to feel like you’re on holiday. With a packed schedule of expat parties, some excellent bars across the city and plenty of street food, it’s easy to balloon in weight. Though our life is completely different here, we still need to make a living and look after out family, so it’s important not to treat life here like a perpetual holiday. We work hard, but we also have a great work-life-balance and do plenty of exercise every day which energises us.
When I plan to move to Thailand. Whats about healthy nutrition? Is at as easy as in other countries?
While it’s super easy to eat out in Chiang Mai (you can hardly turn a corner without seeing a street food hawker or restaurant), it’s not always easy to know the quality of the food you’re going until you’ve lived in the city a while. My pro tip is to avoid fried foods as the street vendors often don’t change the oil regularly, plus you don’t know what oils they are using and the quality.
Fortunately, there is a growing trend towards healthier food in Chiang Mai. There are a ton of new vegan, vegetarian and purely salad restaurants which serve locally sourced organic and low sugar dishes. It’s also relatively easy to find gluten free dishes now too. Thai’s love sugar, but we try to stick to high grade maple syrup which is packed with nutrients or use local raw honey.
What is your advice for Expats if they want to start a business?
Firstly, don’t try to bypass the system. Making your business legal from the outset will make your life a lot easier in the long run. In Thailand, to create a limited company, you’ll need a Thai business partner who owns at least 50% of the company and a good lawyer to sort out the paperwork for you. There are some heavy fines for those who don’t get their outfit legal – so that should be the number one priority.
Getting a work permit is relatively straight forward, but it does mean employing at least 4 Thai workers full time. Like any employer, treating your employees with the respect their deserve is key to holding on to them. In Thailand, gifting your employees for hard work is appreciated. These presents don’t need to be big – think bowls of fruit or food.
Thanks, Louise, for sharing your experiences with us!
If you are interested to meet Louise personally, contact her.