Phuket, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there - 01/17/11

Personal Experiences from Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand 01/17/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

first expat experience

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Los Angeles to Phuket takes about 22 hours. Usually, there's a stop in either Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong or Bangkok

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

educator

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We live in a small, bungalow-type house. Housing on the island includes everything from small houses and apartments to mansions. Most expats we know live in small houses.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get most things in Phuket. Our grocery bill is about 50% of what is was in the states, but we don't shop at the expat market, and we buy lots of our fruit and vegetables from the street market.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Mexican seasonings

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Au Ban Pain, Pizza Company, Starbucks, Sizzler and many, many individually owned Thai restaurants and street carts. You can eat lunch from a street cart for 30 Baht or spend 5,000Baht for a gourmet meal.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Lots of vegetarian options here.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes. Some people we know have contracted dengue fever from them. Lots of ants.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Thai post...fairly reliable

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is readily available and reasonably priced. We pay about 400 Baht/once per week to have our house cleaned and clothes ironed.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes, but some are expensive and the public Thai gyms are not air conditioned

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are available all over the island. Not all places accept credit cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Bangkok Post, Phuket Gazette, Phuket Wan, Phuket Post. You can get cable from 300 Baht per month all the way to 3000B, depending on what you want.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Many people speak some English on Phuket. If you speak some Thai, the prices you pay at the market can be cut in half.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Phuket is not an easy place to get around for a person with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not much in the way of public transport here.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We drive a sedan. It's not the road conditions that make it difficult to drive in Phuket, it's the motorbikes and lack on rules on the road.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is widely available. It's not the fastest, but not terrible either. Internet companies have a tiered pricing system depending on the speed and whether you share your lines with other people. We pay 2700Baht/ month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Many cell phone companies are available.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

You might be able to teach English, but getting a work visa can be tricky.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual...it's quite hot. Too hot for suits and ties.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not really

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dengue fever, Thai tummy. Good medical care is available in Phuket. There are a number of western hospitals, and medical tourism is a growing industry here.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good, except when trash and green waste is burned.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The temperature is about 28-32 Celsius most of the year. There is about 2500mm of rain per year. The year is divided into dry and rainy season. Dry season is November through April. Rainy season May through October, with September and October being the wettest time of the year. Weather is generally hot and humid.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are quite a few international schools on the island, as well as Thai schools that have English programs. The main international schools are British International School of Phuket (about 800 students), Quality Schools International of Phuket (120 students), Head Start, Phuket International Academy, and a few small others that offer preschool/kindergarten.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

none really

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

The international schools offer preschool, and there are many small preschools around the island.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

yes, mostly through the schools

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big. Lots of retired folks here, as well as people working in the tourism industry.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

We usually go out to restaurants (it's cheap to eat out here, especially if you go for Thai food), catch a boat to an offshore island, or go to the beach.

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3. Morale among expats:

Good

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

good for everyone, though some families with teenagers may find the Thai society a little bit permissive. Many teenagers drive motorbikes, drink and go out to clubs regularly.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, Thai people are quite tolerant.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Burmese are considered less than second class citizens.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Delicious food, friendly people, beautiful beaches and easy travel hub.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Beaches, snorkeling, diving, zip lines, visiting offshore islands, cable ski, ATV, shopping

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

batik, teakwood, silk, pearls

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great place to tour around SE Asia. Thailand has an interesting culture, it's one of the only countries in the region that was never colonized.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

yes

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

winter clothes

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3. But don't forget your:

bathing suit, sunscreen and sense of adventure

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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