Plenty of people come to Phuket for the first time, take one look around at the beautiful beaches, soak up the tropical climate, get a taste of the lifestyle and say ‘this is it, I’m staying’. For many, Phuket is Never-Never Land – a chance to prolong (or reclaim) heady youth in a setting that takes a fair stab at being heaven on earth. Phuket is the wealthiest province in Thailand, a distinction that comes as a mixed blessing.
More than 200,000 expats now live in Thailand, with perhaps 20-30,000 in Phuket alone, and it’s realistic to settle here if you meet visa regulations. Many spend part of the year on the island, others are retirees, while some find jobs or set up businesses. Thailand is a cheap place to stay and Phuket boasts one of the most desirable environments. It’s not all paradise though, and in this section we give you an introduction to important aspects, such as visas, costs, renting or buying, and communicating with Thais.
The Phuket Expat Life
Certainly Phuket expats are among the richest foreigners living in Thailand. The island’s prosperity means that is has an excellent infrastructure, great roads, world-class hospitals and all of the other creature comforts of home. On the other hand, it also has the highest cost of living of any Thai province, but still works out generally cheaper than most places you might come from.
Phuket’s location in the calm Andaman Sea has made it a home away from home for foreigners for 30 years and there are plenty of services designed to make it easy to relocate to Phuket, whether for a season, a few years or to retire. Legal services, business opportunities and housing abound, all catered to the unique needs of the expats in Phuket. With so many foreigners about you’ll easily find company you feel comfortable with, including expat groups.
Generally, expats in Phuket avoid the overly tourist areas of Patong, Karon and Kata. There are three distinctive communities, the ‘Northerners’ who settling into boutique hillside villas around Surin or Kamala, even Bang Tao; those who find it pleasant among the hidden valleys south of Kata, near Rawai and Nai Harn; and the working crowd who have businesses and reside away from the beaches in Chalong or Kathu. Expat publications such as the English-language website Phuket Times.
If you’re planning to move to Phuket, be prepared to encounter all manner of little problems that would normally arise when buying a new home, compounded by different laws and regulations and culture clash. This section is designed to smooth out the wrinkles and ease the headaches of life in Asia by giving you all the tips, resources and contacts you’ll need to begin your life in paradise.
Information on visas, housing, legal issues as well as Thai customs and culture have been thoroughly researched by professionals who have already been through all of the hassles and are provided here to assist you.