First came to Far East Japan 1966, then VN, then Thailand, Laos, Mayanmar, and Philippines and have lived here from that time until now appr 40 years, primarily in the Philippines 8 years and Thailand 25 years. If I didn't like the life here I wouldn't have retired here in Thailand 15 years ago.
I speak the language well enough to go anywhere and chat with just about Thai. I love the food here in Thailand, love that there is no snow/ice, no really big storms (Typhoon), no really strong earthquakes, no volcano eruptions, and like hot weather as opposed to cold weather so Thailand suits me very well.
During my life as an adult, I spent almost all my time in foreign countries and kept a log of the goods and bads of each, planning on where I would retire. The Philippines would have been first choice as I was a avid scuba diver previously but they have all of the negatives too except no cold weather/snow. Also their food just didn't suit me that well as it seemed a combination of Spanish w/traditional Filipino. I really like the filipino people and enjoyed golf there very much as it was really cheap.
Thailand when I first came here 45 years ago was also very very cheap and undeveloped. The people were great and went out of their way to welcome me wherever I went. Traffic in Bangkok only was really bad but as there were fewer cars outside the city it was okay. I retired in Bangkok 15 years ago, and then totally fed up with the traffic/pollution moved to Chiang Mai. Now the traffic multiplies almost monthly with very aggressive drivers who lack driving skills and too many motorcycles running amok on the roads.
Everything else good about Thailand still remains here in the north except for the traffic and the air pollution during the winter/spring months. We found a great intl school (CMIS) preparing my child for US college. Some of the previous students are currently enrolled in the best colleges in the US. Therefore, I will remain here until my child finishes HS, then will move back to the US to help her integrate into the society there.
If I was there, I would be getting free HS but think CMIS is worth the 15KUSD a year with classrooms of 15 or less. My child currently is studying 4 languages (all with different alphabets) and wants to begin a 5th language. In the US this would be cost prohibitive even if I could find the teachers where we would be living. Our lives are not into the rat race as it would be in the US although some things would be cheaper food wise except for Thai foods which would be more expensive than here.
I still think this is a great place to raise my child. Autos are approx 30-50 percent cheaper in the US while housing is higher. Gasoline is cheaper than here too. But overall, living there would be just as expensive/cheap as here depending on lifestyle. Hope this wasn't too drawn out!