How easy, or difficult is living in Pattaya as an expatriate lady?. And what sort of life can a foreign woman expect in Pattaya?
Being an ex-pat lady, wife, and mother with several years experience of life in Pattaya, my friend (and former boss) Chandra is perhaps the best-qualified person I know to ask a few questions about living in Pattaya as a lady ex-pat. So without prying too deeply into Chandra’s personal life I’m going to ask a few questions and discover just how it is, and what’s going on in Pattaya for ex-pat ladies and families.
QUESTION 1: Can you tell us a little about where you are from, where you lived, and what you did before moving to Pattaya?
I am an Aussie girl born and bred, however, I left Australia when I was 21 to go ‘travelling’ for a year and never really returned.
After spending some time in UK, Europe, and Israel (where I met my British hubby), we travelled together to HK and ended up staying for ten years. Whilst I was there I taught in kindergartens and local schools as a Native English teacher. We then decided to relocate to Thailand in 2004, mainly to allow our children (twin girls, then four years old) to grow up with space to run and clean air to breathe.
QUESTION 2: Why did you choose to live in Pattaya?
We chose Pattaya because of its location, close to the beaches, and also because of its proximity to the international airport in Bangkok. My husband’s job requires a lot of travel and being close to the international airport was important. Bangkok was never an option as we didn’t see the point in moving from one big city to another.
QUESTION 3: How long have you been living Pattaya?
We’ve been here almost 13 years.
QUESTION 4: Did you have any apprehensions about living in Pattaya as an expatriate family?
No not really, we had lived in Asia for so long that we were comfortable living in a foreign country, plus Thailand had been a regular holiday destination for us during our years in HK and we had friends living here already.
QUESTION 5: Your home is some distance from downtown Pattaya, so was choosing an area away from downtown Pattaya a priority?
It was quite by accident we ended up living here, I had been to Pattaya a couple of times prior to our relocation and had chosen a house to rent. Then just days before moving down here the owner decided they no longer wanted to rent the house and we were left with loads of baggage, 2 children and a dog with nowhere to go – hotels with a dog weren’t an option.
The children had already been enrolled into St Andrews International School so a quick email to the school secretary asking if she knew of any accommodation nearby found us renting a place on the Green Valley golf course estate. Once here we never ended up looking to move closer to town.
It was convenient for school and a safe place for the children to run, play and ride their bikes. Pattaya is only 35 mins away, handy enough for us to do most of our grocery shopping and socializing. The distance isn’t really an issue.
QUESTION 6: Is it difficult to obtain visas for an expatriate family in Thailand?
Not really, although for many years I was on a work visa and my company took care of things but once I retired from that I simply changed over to a Non-O visa, which I get on the back of my children’s Education visas as their Guardian. It’s no more difficult than a retirement visa to be honest. Although as we all know anything to do with Immigration here can sometimes be ‘challenging’!!
QUESTION 7: Was there any major difficulties involved with making the move to Thailand?
For us no, not really, certainly nothing I can recall.
QUESTION 8: How would you compare living in Thailand as an expatriate family to other places you have lived?
The Pro’s: The weather, the friendly people, the delicious food, the ability to live very cheaply if you want to, the gorgeous beaches and endless places to visit.
The Con’s: Thai bureaucracy, the weather (when it’s too hot), the cost of wine and anything imported, to be honest, the dual pricing, and sometimes it’s difficult to get things done, especially as the standard of English in our area is quite poor. Bangkok would be much easier I think in many ways to live as an Expat.
QUESTION 9: What is your favorite family venue or day out in the Pattaya area?
Ko Samet is probably our all-time favorite family day out/destination, we head up for just the day or a couple of nights at a time. Other than that the answer would change year by year depending on my daughters’ age, mostly now they enjoy their Saturdays at Central, doing a bit of shopping and watching a movie with friends.
QUESTION 10: What is your favorite ladies venue or day out in Pattaya?
Any restaurant with cold bottles of bubbles, good food, and a nice view is also good, we do like to try different places. Some of the places we’ve been and enjoyed this year are Surf and Turf and Silver Linings (both in Naklua), the Chocolate Factory up on Pratamnak, Glasshouse down in Na Jomtien, Ticino’s over on the Darkside and Baan Na in Huay Yai. I do love entertaining at home though, Thailand is great for having friends over for BBQ’s.
There are also a couple of ‘Ladies clubs’, Pattaya International Ladies Club and Rayong Ladies Club, I have never really had much to do with them myself but I know they have monthly get-togethers, lunches, coffee mornings etc and lots of ex-pat ladies are members.
QUESTION 11: What is your children’s general feeling and thoughts about Pattaya?
My daughters have mixed feelings about Pattaya, they are almost 17 now and obviously realize what Pattaya is all about. They hate a lot of the tourists that come here and treat the people and the country like crap (their words not mine). They especially don’t like the sex tourism side of Pattaya and are quite judgmental of it all.
They also know that there are no opportunities for them here and are looking forward to moving to Australia finally once their schooling is finished here. They are also looking forward to not being considered a tourist in the country they live in. They do love their friends, school, the beaches, and the food – especially all the fresh tropical fruit.
QUESTION 12: Are you happy with the standard of schooling in Thailand?
I am 100% happy with the schooling my children have had here in Thailand – it was one of the main reasons we came here and it was definitely a good decision. They have been at St Andrew’s International School – Green Valley since they were four years old. It’s a small school, with a great ethos, great teachers, great kids, great campus. They both sat their IGCSE’s last year and did extremely well.
They are now studying for their IB (International Baccularat) and sit these exams in around 12 months time – and then that’s them done for schooling and heading off hopefully to University in Australia. The schooling hasn’t come cheap but I definitely think it has been money well spent. We have been lucky to be able to afford to send them there. Local schools just wouldn’t have been an option for us.
QUESTION 13: Would you say living in Thailand has been beneficial to your children, with regard to their social life and outlook on life?.
Definitely yes, they have grown up a little sheltered compared to their Aussie/UK family and friends. Although they could spot a lady-boy in a crowd by the time they were seven years old! Growing up in Thailand has also given them access to a wide variety of friends, of every race, religion, and colour. I love this. I love they have classmates from all corners of the globe.
This outlook alone stands them apart from many kids in other countries. They have seen poverty, they have travelled extensively with school and us, they have seen some sights some adults have never seen. They are empathetic and know what it means to help others in need.
Their social life here is very different to their friends in Australia, who can jump on a train to the city to meet friends, or go to a concert, its certainly not as simple and easy as that for them living here but they still have an active and busy social life.
QUESTION 14: Has Thai culture, and the Thai way of life adjusted or affected the way you live and function as a family?
After almost thirteen years it has to I guess. A few things that come to mind are not wearing shoes in the house – can’t stand it actually, we routinely put out a spoon and fork when we set the table, we throw Thai words into English sentences when chatting with Thai friends, and also some non-Thai friends, we don’t point, we often ‘wai’ when being introduced to new Thai friends. I guess the list could go on and on.
QUESTION 15: When, if you leave Thailand what will be the single happiest or most memorable moment you take with you?
That’s too hard, I’ve spent thirteen years here watching my daughters grow up, so many happy and memorable moments. Their results in their IGCSE’s last year was definitely happy and memorable, moving into the house we built is another happy and memorable moment. The travel, the things we’ve seen…. Sorry definitely too hard to narrow it down to a single moment.
QUESTION 16: Have you had an embarrassing moment in Thailand, that you care to talk about?
The only one that really springs to mind is when I tried to walk out of an Esprit clothing shop at Laem Thong Mall in Rayong and well let’s just say the window cleaner that day should have been given top marks – I bounced off that glass wall pretty hard. My daughters were on the other side of that glass wall and at only 7 years old were so embarrassed they walked away!
I guess that’s kind of boring, there must have been others but nothing springs to mind, I am pretty good at being able to laugh at myself when silly things happen. I’m also quite clumsy and so trips, falls, and breaking things are kind of the norm for me.
QUESTION 17: What advice would you give to another ex-pat family considering a move to Pattaya?
Bring a bag load of smiles and a truckload of patience! Expect the unexpected, things won’t be the same as at home so the sooner you stop comparing it to home the easier things will be. Also, make sure they jump on social media, there are a lot of Facebook groups that provide great support to local ex-pats and their families.
QUESTION 18: Is there anything Pattaya could do to make itself more family-friendly?
I know the Thai government is trying to do this, they are trying to stamp out the Pattaya of old and reinvent it to be a family-friendly destination. I doubt very much they will ever make Pattaya into something like this, it will always be what it is. I do think that Pattaya is already going in the right direction though in giving more options to families, there are some great family-friendly places, waterparks, Harbor Mall, restaurants, malls, nice hotels.
I would like them to shut down some of these awful animal places, almost all of them have animals in states of despair or have even more sinister issues. The only one I would visit as they are constantly trying to really make it better for the animals would be Khao Kheow Open Zoo, which I think is a Government-run organization.
QUESTION 19: In my Q & A session with Matt Carrell I asked him to describe Pattaya. How would you describe Pattaya?
Hmmm that’s a hard one. Pattaya is good and bad.
The Bad…. well it has been likened in many articles to a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah and I do have to agree, I think the city attracts some of the worst that mankind has to offer, both in tourists and Thai’s alike.
This is what I hate about Pattaya, I don’t like now that when I take my visitors shopping in town or to a restaurant we often get spoken to/treated rudely. That’s not nice, it wasn’t like that before, but these service people are behaving the way that they have been treated themselves by tourists, time and time again. It doesn’t excuse it though.
You don’t see this in Bangkok or other parts of Thailand, this isn’t Thai style….its Pattaya style, again I believe this all stems from the quality of tourist they have been subjected to for the last few years.
I love that Pattaya is getting the better shopping malls, it’s constantly getting new restaurants and nice bars to go to, it’s getting these great water parks, nice new hotels, and hopefully soon with all the work that’s being done…better roads!
QUESTION 20: What other things do you do with your time as an Expat lady in Pattaya?
Mostly I spend my days at home around the house, I like to work out in the mornings, walk my dogs, go for a cycle, do some cooking. I head into town a couple of times a week for shopping/groceries and to meet with a friend for coffee or lunch. On weekends I take my daughters to town to Central to catch a movie or meet with friends.
There is always something happening in Pattaya too, recently we all took part in the Annual Pattaya Family Bike Day, every year in November we head to Bangkok for a Melbourne Cup function, there’s Jesters Fair in September, Xmas Fairs near the end of the year, other fundraising events are also always happening, weekends on Ko Samet, shopping trips to Bangkok with friends. Can’t say that I am ever bored, very blessed actually.
QUESTION 21: How will it feel to leave Thailand permanently?
I am so ready to leave Thailand when my daughters graduate next year. By then it will be 14 years we’ve been here and I have seen Pattaya grow and change, I’ve met some great people, made some very good friends and of course, it will be hard to leave them, but Thailand is always only a plane ride away.
I am so looking forward to new things, new people, new experiences. I am looking forward to being quoted one price despite my colour/race, I am looking forward to being able to open up a telephone directory and call someone to come fix something … and it being fixed! What if I miss it and wish I never left? Easy we can always come back on retirement visas.
QUESTION 22: I know you have been an active campaigner on behalf of Thailand charity organizations. Is there any you would like to promote or recommend?
This is true, I have taken interest in a variety of charity organizations over the years and enjoyed helping to raise money for them, lately though it is the animal groups I have been focused on. I am a big animal lover – especially dogs. I have three dogs – two rescues from the street and one I bought from a breeder in Bangkok. I adore them all. Plus a cat – who in all honesty is the King of the house!
Currently I have been following and supporting a few dog rescue groups so my shout out would be to:
Banchang Angels for Soi Dogs: https://www.facebook.com/soi.dog.angels
The Man that Rescues Dogs: https://tmtrd.org/
Dog Rescue Thailand: www.dogrescuethailand.com/
My daughters are currently supporting/raising money for Women with a Mission and have asked me to also give them a shout-out on here too. https://www.mywwm.org
Maybe the readers can take a look and donate a few baht to one or all of them.