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Retire to Chiang Rai compared to Chiang Mai ?


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When I did real estate in C.Rai, the following scenario played over and over:

I'd meet a farang with a Thai g.f. or wife. I'd show them nice rural properties. More often than not, he would like what was shown, whereas the Thai woman would stay quiet. Next morning, I'd connect with the farang, and here's how the conversation would go:

"Well, I must admit, some of those properties looked mighty good, but I had a talk with the wife, and we've decided to get something in Chiang Mai."

Translation: The wife most likely came from a rural background, quite possibly Issan rice farming. To her, getting a rural place with trees and views is a step backwards, towards. Now whe's got her sugar daddy, who can go to an ATM any time and pull out 20,000 baht easy as pie. She wants to go to a bigger city, WHERE THERE'S MORE SHOPPING!

Husband follows what the wife wants, 100% of the time. (gotta keep the lil' lady happy, don't we?).

So the husband will put up with gridlocked traffic, smog, no parks, less friendly locals, and all the rest that a big city offers, ....in order to please the wife. Oh, and real estate prices are higher in a bigger city. Values have nothing to do with quality of life, and everything to do with location. In Thailand, the bigger the city, the higher the r.e. values. Same: The bigger the highway your house is on, the higher the valuation. Same for flatland (in a rice growing culture) has higher value than hills.

In sum: Though a middle aged farang man might want rural property, with lawns and trees, with some hills around, and away from busy streets, and low cost. He's going to adapt to flat land, with neighbors within meters, few big trees, gridlock, smog, added noise, minimal views, .....because Thai wife wants to be where there are more shopping venues.

So you couldnt sell property in Chiang Rai then, hence, when i did real estate

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Here are a few of the things that I enjoy about Chiang Rai....I suppose you could find some of these in CM but there is something about the small town feel that makes CR more special in my eyes. I oft

I was living in Chiang Mai for 2 years and I am living now in Chiang Rai. I am not into bars and tourist environment, and I think that busy traffic and markets are OK just for a week end... or for a

Clearly those of us who live here, have made our declaration for Chiang Rai over Chiang Mai. Far more people have chosen Chiang Mai, however, and one could argue as to why that is, but I view that as

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Haha my missus can't wait to drag me to CR and the country.

Than again for her rice is something white on a plate......I have never ever seen her touch any sort of plant life apart from when she lois a kratong.

She wouldn't know one end from the other.

Sent from my iPad using ThaiVisa app

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CR is small and remote and not yet developed very much, if people here celebrating a TESCO in town I would wonder how developed the hospital situation is based on western standards: language, equipment, professionality...

Being 65, might be something to consider.

Wow, have you been to Chiang Rai Recently?

It's a big city with a population of 300, 000.

Remote? It's a 1 1/2 hour flight from Bangkok. Less than 2 hours to Myanmar border for visa runs. You can ride a boat from CR all the way to Luang Prabang or even China.

The public hospital is adequate and Overbrook is excellent.

It has 2 shopping centers (Central Plaza and Big C), in addition to the central market downtown and many smaller markets. It has Lotus Tesco Express and 7-11 all over.

You can rent a brand new studio apartment for as little as 2500B/month. A one bedroom house starts at 4000.

Forget about buying a condo. In case you haven't noticed, there's a real estate bubble in Southeast Asia fueled by low interest rates in America.

When rates go up in America, real estate will crash here Big time, just like it did in 1997.

If you want to hang out with tourists in CR, You will pay double or triple for everything.

My favorite Thai restaurant is Khao Tom Neena, but you're going to need to speak Thai.

My favorite vegetarian restaurant is J-Ryu, where meals are 30-40B and hot cappuccinos are 25B.

There's a bunch of Me Love You Long Time massage places off of Jet Yod road, but the locals go to Par discotech and other venues.

Hell, most people just walk around theshopping centers for fun (and free air conditioning).

There's a ton of small roads all around Chiang Rai, and many have new houses that are empty, if you want to live outside the city.

I also like eating at the Saturday and Sunday walking streets. There's Tai Chi in the evenings and also a yoga class at Condotel.

The internet speed at my new apartment is 32Mb/s.

Does that sound like a "small town" to you, 555

Edited by SiSePuede419
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Population of 300.000? That means it is bigger than Chiang Mai already.

I have been to CR 2 weeks ago but somehow it still feels much smaller than CM.

199,783 (2000)

Chiang Rai, Population

Sources include: UNdata

CR is smaller than CM. In tech lingo, that's a feature, not a bug...

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Here are a few of the things that I enjoy about Chiang Rai....I suppose you could find some of these in CM but there is something about the small town feel that makes CR more special in my eyes. I often think if not another single tourist/falang set foot in CR it wouldn't make any difference whatsoever to the vast majority of locals as they pretty much all go on about their lives and figuring how how to make a living without having to depend on walking ATM's as in so many other places.

Good Things about Chiang Rai:

walking along chiang rai beach on a cool december morning

watching the rice harvest in mid november from my deck

watching the morning "rush hour" with Thais bundled up on their motorcys like they are going to the artic

watching the afternoon market being set up

buying fruits and veggies at some of the lowest prices on earth from roadside pickup truck markets

watching the gem boat guys sifting through gravel in the mae kok

watching thai kids ride their bikes with their dog following along

watching the young monks doing their morning rounds

riding my motorbike along the mae kok with no traffic in sight

watching the total chaos of saturday shopping at big C

eating fantastic food at give away prices at many CR restaurants

attending the annual chiang rai flower festival

planting a variety of plants/trees in my yard and being amazed at how fast they grow

watching the neighbors get all excited about killing and cooking a snake

walking around downtown chiang rai on a cool clear december morning

having a cold beer in the garden area of peace bar

taking visitors for a tour of the Red Rose Hotel

watching the light show at the clock tower

watching the hustle and bustle of the night market and the mix of thais and tourists

riding the "refugee bus" from chiang rai to mae sai and seeing what kind of characters show up

buying exotic plants at nurseries that would cost a fortune in the west for a few baht

watching the thai high schools students hanging out and goofing around after classes

having a pretty thai girl give me a big smile for no particular reason

having thai kids practice their limited "i am fine" english out on me

practicing my limited thai with thai kids and having them stare wide eyed at the farang before breaking into giggles

watching the beautiful orange blossoms appear throughtout chiang rai

hearing massage parlor girls ask "massage sir?" in a sing song voice

sitting on a bench at wat mengrai enjoying the solitude

climbing the steps to the top of wat doi kong khao

wading in the mae kok river on a hot day

getting a cup of water thrown on me by a giggling 6 year old girl during song kran

having the neighbors' dogs bark and growl until they realize it's just the farang coming home

having my laundry picked up, cleaned and delivered back to my home for 75 baht a week

having the water man deliver big jugs of water for 12 baht and refuse a tip

having security guards click their heels and salute me like I am someone important

watching female office workers drink whiskey with their lunch

knowing five of the dancing shrimp's sexy waitresses by name

having my motorbike oil changed for less than the cost of a cup of coffee

watching workers climb and trim my trees with no ladders and only a machete

having workers show up ready to work but without a tool to their name

never having to worry much about the cost of most any repair to anything

paying my electric and internet phone bill at 7/11 with no hassles

getting caught in the pedestrian traffic jam on Saturday night at the walking street market

parking at wang come hotel for 20 baht

visiting an ear doctor and having my total bill be 100 baht

trying to figure out what all goes on at the sperm club, the par club and the womb

buying eggs that haven't been refrigerated and not worrying about it

cooking up big pots of vegetable stew with many vegetables that i don't even recognize

having TOT guys show up to repair my internet and actually get it fixed and no charge

watching Thais collect red tree flowers and turn them into something tasty

watching the ice cream tuk tuks roaming all over chiang rai selling 10 baht ice creams

watching Thai ladies grubbing around in streams and lakes catching who knows what kind of critters

having a hill tribe girl in the afternoon market try to line me up with her friend

trying to walk for exercise along the river and having Thais try to give me a ride

watching the Thais build buildings with bamboo scaffolding and not a hard hat in sight

watching young Thais flirting and drinking whiskey at chiang rai beach

having a nice buffet at rim kok hotel for 140 baht

eating a tasty platter of chicken steak, french fries, salad and bread for 69 baht

eating a bowl of 10 baht noodle soup served by a ten year old kid

watching a bicycle tuktuk driver older than Methuselah peddle an even older lady around town

seeing how many Thais can fit on one motorbike

seeing how many Thais can fit into the back of a pickup truck

seeing how many different businesses can be built onto a Honda wave motorbike

pulling into a gas station and having 3 uniformed attendants gas my motorbike and clean my rear view mirrors and not expect a tip

seeing how many different kinds of motorized vehicles Thais can come up with

wandering around in various food markets and being offered free samples of many things i don't recognize

holding my nose to cover the smell of the seafood section at big C

trying to figure out when and where the baht buses at the afternoon market actually go

laughing at some of the prices for imported goods at big C

having a big C employee push my cart to an available cashier for me

getting treated like a VIP just for being a farang and showing up

having a waitress wai and thank me for a 5 baht tip

taking my big C register receipt to the premium counter and winning a can of coke

trying to figure out how they decide who wins what at the big C premium counter

not really caring how they decide who wins what at the big C premium counter

the boat trip down the mae kok from tha ton to chiang rai

standing in line at 7 11 and having a little lady jump the line on me and i don't even care

spending a night at the garden home bungalow in tha ton

sitting at the chiang rai bus station and trying to fathom who is going where and why

watching a new monk induction ceremony with all his family present and oh so proud

watching the sunset from my balcony with an ice cold beer chang

going to the public hospital and having poor Thai people insist that i go to the front of the line

seeing a doctor for less than the parking would cost in the west

chasing chickens out of my yard in Thai assuming they will understand me

having Thais constantly tell me how good my Thai is when i know it's not

stopping for directions and having a group of Thais gather around to see what the farang wants

breakfast at nice kitchen near wat jed yod watching the goings on

getting lost on my motorbike in the middle of nowhere and enjoying it

walking across the mae sai bridge and being back in Thailand with a new visa stamp in less than ten minutes

going to the CR post office and feeling like a local

buying an entire watermelon for 10 baht

having an entire wall at 7/ 11 featuring snacks for 20 baht or less

the first big rainstorm at the end of the cool dry season

watching a yellow Buddha flag flap in the breeze

visiting the 10 baht stores and being amazed at all the items available for 10 baht

watching the aerobics and exercisers at the old airport and wondering who is who

having the mail man show up at my house on a motorbike and wondering how he found me

eating a burger at Barrys at the golf course

watching the beer garden girls at big C strut their stuff

trying to figure out which girls are high school and which ones are college students

enjoying how tight a high school girl can have a white blouse without popping buttons

watching farang backpackers walk around with massive backpacks that defy all logic

being able to sometimes go for days and not hear another person speak English or hassle me

watching the frog giggers appear in the rice paddies at night after the first big rain

seeing a bright blue bird with long yellow feathers in the wild

seeing a nasty looking snake race across the road in front of my motorbike

watching hilltribe people float down the mae kok on hand made bamboo rafts

having to put an extra blanket on my bed because its freezing

being able to see my breath on a few extra cool mornings

flying in and out of CR airport without most of the usual airport hassles and BS

You are a glass half full kinda guy - and even when half full your cup runneth over.

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Here are a few of the things that I enjoy about Chiang Rai....I suppose you could find some of these in CM but there is something about the small town feel that makes CR more special in my eyes. I often think if not another single tourist/falang set foot in CR it wouldn't make any difference whatsoever to the vast majority of locals as they pretty much all go on about their lives and figuring how how to make a living without having to depend on walking ATM's as in so many other places.

Good Things about Chiang Rai:

walking along chiang rai beach on a cool december morning

watching the rice harvest in mid november from my deck

watching the morning "rush hour" with Thais bundled up on their motorcys like they are going to the artic

watching the afternoon market being set up

buying fruits and veggies at some of the lowest prices on earth from roadside pickup truck markets

watching the gem boat guys sifting through gravel in the mae kok

watching thai kids ride their bikes with their dog following along

watching the young monks doing their morning rounds

riding my motorbike along the mae kok with no traffic in sight

watching the total chaos of saturday shopping at big C

eating fantastic food at give away prices at many CR restaurants

attending the annual chiang rai flower festival

planting a variety of plants/trees in my yard and being amazed at how fast they grow

watching the neighbors get all excited about killing and cooking a snake

walking around downtown chiang rai on a cool clear december morning

having a cold beer in the garden area of peace bar

taking visitors for a tour of the Red Rose Hotel

watching the light show at the clock tower

watching the hustle and bustle of the night market and the mix of thais and tourists

riding the "refugee bus" from chiang rai to mae sai and seeing what kind of characters show up

buying exotic plants at nurseries that would cost a fortune in the west for a few baht

watching the thai high schools students hanging out and goofing around after classes

having a pretty thai girl give me a big smile for no particular reason

having thai kids practice their limited "i am fine" english out on me

practicing my limited thai with thai kids and having them stare wide eyed at the farang before breaking into giggles

watching the beautiful orange blossoms appear throughtout chiang rai

hearing massage parlor girls ask "massage sir?" in a sing song voice

sitting on a bench at wat mengrai enjoying the solitude

climbing the steps to the top of wat doi kong khao

wading in the mae kok river on a hot day

getting a cup of water thrown on me by a giggling 6 year old girl during song kran

having the neighbors' dogs bark and growl until they realize it's just the farang coming home

having my laundry picked up, cleaned and delivered back to my home for 75 baht a week

having the water man deliver big jugs of water for 12 baht and refuse a tip

having security guards click their heels and salute me like I am someone important

watching female office workers drink whiskey with their lunch

knowing five of the dancing shrimp's sexy waitresses by name

having my motorbike oil changed for less than the cost of a cup of coffee

watching workers climb and trim my trees with no ladders and only a machete

having workers show up ready to work but without a tool to their name

never having to worry much about the cost of most any repair to anything

paying my electric and internet phone bill at 7/11 with no hassles

getting caught in the pedestrian traffic jam on Saturday night at the walking street market

parking at wang come hotel for 20 baht

visiting an ear doctor and having my total bill be 100 baht

trying to figure out what all goes on at the sperm club, the par club and the womb

buying eggs that haven't been refrigerated and not worrying about it

cooking up big pots of vegetable stew with many vegetables that i don't even recognize

having TOT guys show up to repair my internet and actually get it fixed and no charge

watching Thais collect red tree flowers and turn them into something tasty

watching the ice cream tuk tuks roaming all over chiang rai selling 10 baht ice creams

watching Thai ladies grubbing around in streams and lakes catching who knows what kind of critters

having a hill tribe girl in the afternoon market try to line me up with her friend

trying to walk for exercise along the river and having Thais try to give me a ride

watching the Thais build buildings with bamboo scaffolding and not a hard hat in sight

watching young Thais flirting and drinking whiskey at chiang rai beach

having a nice buffet at rim kok hotel for 140 baht

eating a tasty platter of chicken steak, french fries, salad and bread for 69 baht

eating a bowl of 10 baht noodle soup served by a ten year old kid

watching a bicycle tuktuk driver older than Methuselah peddle an even older lady around town

seeing how many Thais can fit on one motorbike

seeing how many Thais can fit into the back of a pickup truck

seeing how many different businesses can be built onto a Honda wave motorbike

pulling into a gas station and having 3 uniformed attendants gas my motorbike and clean my rear view mirrors and not expect a tip

seeing how many different kinds of motorized vehicles Thais can come up with

wandering around in various food markets and being offered free samples of many things i don't recognize

holding my nose to cover the smell of the seafood section at big C

trying to figure out when and where the baht buses at the afternoon market actually go

laughing at some of the prices for imported goods at big C

having a big C employee push my cart to an available cashier for me

getting treated like a VIP just for being a farang and showing up

having a waitress wai and thank me for a 5 baht tip

taking my big C register receipt to the premium counter and winning a can of coke

trying to figure out how they decide who wins what at the big C premium counter

not really caring how they decide who wins what at the big C premium counter

the boat trip down the mae kok from tha ton to chiang rai

standing in line at 7 11 and having a little lady jump the line on me and i don't even care

spending a night at the garden home bungalow in tha ton

sitting at the chiang rai bus station and trying to fathom who is going where and why

watching a new monk induction ceremony with all his family present and oh so proud

watching the sunset from my balcony with an ice cold beer chang

going to the public hospital and having poor Thai people insist that i go to the front of the line

seeing a doctor for less than the parking would cost in the west

chasing chickens out of my yard in Thai assuming they will understand me

having Thais constantly tell me how good my Thai is when i know it's not

stopping for directions and having a group of Thais gather around to see what the farang wants

breakfast at nice kitchen near wat jed yod watching the goings on

getting lost on my motorbike in the middle of nowhere and enjoying it

walking across the mae sai bridge and being back in Thailand with a new visa stamp in less than ten minutes

going to the CR post office and feeling like a local

buying an entire watermelon for 10 baht

having an entire wall at 7/ 11 featuring snacks for 20 baht or less

the first big rainstorm at the end of the cool dry season

watching a yellow Buddha flag flap in the breeze

visiting the 10 baht stores and being amazed at all the items available for 10 baht

watching the aerobics and exercisers at the old airport and wondering who is who

having the mail man show up at my house on a motorbike and wondering how he found me

eating a burger at Barrys at the golf course

watching the beer garden girls at big C strut their stuff

trying to figure out which girls are high school and which ones are college students

enjoying how tight a high school girl can have a white blouse without popping buttons

watching farang backpackers walk around with massive backpacks that defy all logic

being able to sometimes go for days and not hear another person speak English or hassle me

watching the frog giggers appear in the rice paddies at night after the first big rain

seeing a bright blue bird with long yellow feathers in the wild

seeing a nasty looking snake race across the road in front of my motorbike

watching hilltribe people float down the mae kok on hand made bamboo rafts

having to put an extra blanket on my bed because its freezing

being able to see my breath on a few extra cool mornings

flying in and out of CR airport without most of the usual airport hassles and BS

You are a glass half full kinda guy - and even when half full your cup runneth over.

He forgot to add "Having the peace and quiet in Chiangrai to enable him to pen this long list."

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He forgot to add "Having the peace and quiet in Chiangrai to enable him to pen this long list."




Actually wrote most all of it while bored in usa and sitting around thinking of what I missed in CR.......going back to usa next week so maybe will get bored again and add a few more......

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  • 4 weeks later...

If you're single I would definitely go for Chiang Mai, it has a much greater range of farang-friendly services and entertainment for farangs of all ages, and I'm not just talking about the boom-boom bars (which are not exactly in-your-face or numerous in CM or CR). I'd say the same thing for farang-farang couples.

Most retirees are attracted to northern Thailand because of its affordability, and you will not be alone in needing to live within a tight budget, in fact you will be in a very large majority, and it's possible to live on a tight budget in both cities. In fact I'd say it's probably easier in CM because the higher level and greater variety of services make everything much more accessible and convenient for a single non-Thai speaking farang.

But as others have said, it's easy enough to try both, and for that matter you could try other cities too.

Oh by the way, people often say CM is getting more like Bkk, but anyone who has spent time in both is unlikely to agree!! So don't let that put you off CM.

Just noticing the date of your OP; I guess you're here already, what are your impressions so far?

Edited by smiles793
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  • 3 years later...
On 1/28/2014 at 3:27 PM, fifthcolumn said:

I think Thsilsnd has had its day. I'm married and <55 but if I had a pension, I would not be here.

I have never liked Chiang Mai. Hot, smoky, landlocked. At least Bangkok is buzzing.

Then you have the politics. These issues as of late are ongoing snd unsettled from.decade/s past and won't be resolved soon.

Immigration procedures are tedious in all but the largest cities.

But hey, if you are lonely and coming for the women, I guess you too can live the dream

Agreed, love Siam but in the early 90's. The young have migrated and destroyed a wonderful area. Thai wife and I are between the States and Baja Mexico. Actually all around cheaper to live than Thai but housing is steep.

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