As followers of this blog know, my focus has always been about living in countries with a low cost of living, while also having a high quality of life. Thailand was chosen for both those attributes, and while the cost of living is higher than in surrounding countries, there is a high number of expats living in the country. That means the necessities you are used to from back home are likely available to you, although maybe not as conveniently as back home.
But access to those amentities comes at a price. Every time a low-cost city or country is “modernized” to accommodate the local expat community, overall prices increase. Rents go up; food prices, too. Everything increases in price simply because of the expat presence, their relative wealth, and their perceived or requested need for the comforts of life. It has happened in Costa Rica, where I began my journey, and where the COL has risen so much in the past 10 years that likely expat immigrants are looking elsewhere.
The same trend is currently occurring in Thailand, and especially Hua Hin, which may mean the time to find another home may be closer than I thought. Here’s an example:
Bluport boost for ‘Riviera of the East’
(Courtesy of The Nation) Hua Hin’S first resort mall, Bluport, opened on Saturday at a cost of more than Bt5 billion, with the aim of making the beach town a complete tourism destination for local and foreign tourists, featuring leisure and relaxation, shopping and lifestyle attractions.
“With the new resort mall, we aim to promote Hua Hin as the Riviera of the East,” said Supaluck Umpujh, vice chairwoman of The Mall Group.
The 200,000-square-meter property projects 20,000 visitors a day on weekdays. Shoppers are expected to double on weekends and triple on festival days.
“We have seen the development of many real estate projects in Hua Hin. Many executives have a second home in Hua Hin, where they enjoy relaxing on weekends,” said Supaluck, also vice-chairwoman of Hua Hin Asset Co. “Hua Hin is a charming city with a long legacy. The city is the seventh best retirement place in the world, and the fifth rising city of Asia,” she said.
“The emergence of Bluport will also alter the lifestyle of local residents in Hua Hin, as well as all related developments. It will be a total completion to the city,” she said.
With more than six million visitors each year and more than 20,000 expats in town, Hua Hin offers hotels and resorts, with over 16,000 rooms, side by side with 45,000 condominium units in projects both operating and under construction.
The area will soon be supported by hi-tech infrastructure systems such as the Bangkok-Hua Hin high-speed train and double-track railways. In addition, a high-speed ferry service is planned between Hua Hin and Pattaya, meaning an influx of tourists from Thailand’s party town in the not-too-distant future.
Hua Hin is maturing, and that means prices will being increasing.
What this means
The Hua Hin expat community is made up primarily of Europeans, mostly Scandinavian and British. They pretty much loved the Bluport addition, as they do most Western improvements to the area. These are people who often have homes in Europe as well as Thailand, and travel back and forth as an American might between cities.
Low-cost living is not necessarily their priority, although they do want low cost with Western comfort. Eventually, that becomes mutually exclusive.
And I don’t mean to belittle, but I didn’t move to another country to gaze in amazement at a new mall.
That mall, I feel, is a final nail. Fast ferries from Pattaya will bring many more tourists. High-speed rail the same. High-end real estate? Am I dreaming and never really left the U.S.?
These colliding pieces of what most would consider good news now have me pondering my next move. If it gets too civilized, I’m not interested. I don’t want native, but I also don’t want Singapore.
My possible choices for a new home – next year – might surprise you.