Well we have been in Phuket for about 2.5 months now ( due for a visa run soon), and I wanted to give an update on how things have been, and how our life is here, along with suggestions to those looking to visit or move to Asia as a family. We picked Phuket for several reasons: it is in SE Asia and close to a number of destinations we love ( Singapore is an hour away), the food is amazing, there is a lot to do with a toddler…
We rented from Welta at www.houseinphuket.com when we vacationed here last, and really like her and the listings she puts up. You can find super cheap to ultra expensive rentals on her site, and more importantly for us, she lists pet friendly houses. This was the main reason we came to Phuket: we wanted an inexpensive house that would allow our furry babies to be here with us. Bangkok and other places do have some pet friendly places, but they are not easy to find, and can be pet selective ( no big dogs for some, and others only cats). The house we rented is located in Chalong, which is a good location ( away from tourist mobbed Patong) and near beaches and supermarkets. The house we have is a 3 bedroom, fully furnished w/ a yard and is around 600USD a month, which includes water.
If you are coming without pets, then you can find much, much cheaper housing ( such as 200 to 400 USD). The majority of places are sadly not online OR if they are, are either in Thai or hard to find. Once you are here, finding something to suit your needs is much, much easier.
What people will usually tell you about Phuket ( that it’s like a disneyland filled with tourists and restaurants to cater to them) is correct, but it leaves out the benefit of having the tourism industry here, and also ignores that most of the tourists stay in Patong or Kata. The attributes of the tourism industry is that it provides jobs to both the Thai locals and expats living here. If you are interested in teaching English for example, you can find jobs with hotels or schools. If you are looking to open your own business, you can do that here ( and there are law firms to help you understand the legalities).
As I mentioned, along with the expats have come restaurants that cater to their food preferences, ie Russian, British, American, Korean, etc. This part I like. One of the local restaurants here in Chalong is an Italian place whose owner is Thai Italian. The food is excellent. Another few places we enjoy are Flints-one bakery, the German Bakery, and The Sandwich Shoppe. These places are more expensive then local Thai dishes, but if one is craving bagels or the likes, it can be found here.
Flints-one in Chalong ( GREAT croissants, esp the spinach)
fast wifi, great lox
Since we are plotting our next bambino ( and I will be having a VBAC) we had to find a place to sort of settle down: a base near where we want to travel a lot. Phuket was great. 6 hours to Korea ( where many of our friends are), about 4 hours from Bangkok to India, so close to KL and Singapore…I found a hospital in Bangkok that does VBACs and waterbirths, so if I can’t convince a doc here to do one, I am not far.
As homeschoolers ( unschoolers) thailand is great for us, as is Asia in general. For alternative families, such as vegans or raw foodists, you can find PLENTY to eat here, and there are a number of vegan restaurants ( and one great raw one) in Phuket, and all throughout Thailand. We have friends in Bohol, Philippines who are raw unschoolers, and they love it there. They are renting a beach house for about 400 a month, and are living a 4 Hour Workweek lifestyle.
If you have never left your home country, but want to come to Asia and are a little nervous about culture shock, I recc KL, Singapore, and Phuket to begin your journeys, since they are all close and have plenty of foreign services. There are opportunities abound to volunteer ( such as at soi dog), if you are interested.
We in general don’t hang out with as many expats as we do Thais and just by ourselves. We like to stay at home and play with the soi dogs who have become our friends, go to the beach, go for a drive in Phuket town, and eat at our favorite beach restaurant. But there are many activities geared to expats with families, and a simple google search will pull some of them up.
We’re very happy to be here, and it does indeed feel like home. Who knows where we will be next, but until then, I’m glad we’re here.