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Aging American expat “living the dream” in Phuket on US $2,500 a month



An American says he is living the dream in paradise in Phuket for only US$2,500 a month. 70 year old Pete Bowen arrived in Thailand back in 2009 with only a suitcase and guitar after self-admittedly making an impulsive decision to sell his house and belongings and move across the world to look for a place in which he could retire.

Bowen says he made the decision to sell off everything and it only took 3 months to make his dream of living on a beach come true. He says he was laid off from his job and didn’t think he would be successful in finding another due to his older age.

“My adult children had left, and I wasn’t in a relationship. I decided to throw the dice.”

He’d visited Thailand before and knew he wanted to live away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. After visiting other countries, he decided to return to Phuket, Thailand and make it his new home. And, his choice seemed to be a good one as he says people in Phuket were friendlier, and he appreciated the “live and let live” culture of Thailand. He also, unsuprisingly, mentioned the famous smiles that Thai people are known to display. Bowen says it took him about 6 months to decide to set up his new life on Phuket’s Kamala Beach.

“Once here, living at the beach, I got to know people fairly quickly. That’s what kept me coming back. And it was fun. Just fun.”

Bowen, who wrote a book about retiring in Thailand early in his Phuket life and now posts videos, says he likes Kamala Beach because it features a small, but closely knit expat community. He even met his Thai wife of 8 years, Oorathai, or Puy, while she was having a cup of coffee, and says he knows all the bar and restaurant owners in the area.

“We’ll have dinners with a dozen friends every few weeks. It would be tough to leave this close community at this point.”

He says when they want to travel around Asia, Phuket’s status as a tourism epicentre means most flights cost him less than US$100. But he says moving abroad isn’t for everyone as it can be hard to make it back to America to visit family. He says now he and his wife visit family members through using Zoom or Skype as his family cannot visit much due to America’s limited vacation time for full-time workers.

“One of the hardest things is just how far away from the U.S. Thailand is. It takes 24 hours of flying to get home. People who want to see the grand-kids are going to be out of luck. It’s just not for everyone.”

“I don’t see many retired couples or single women retire here. For couples honestly, there are many beautiful young single women who would love to meet a foreign man. Couples should have a strong relationship to last here.”

Bowen says his monthly budget of $2,500 is doable with his Social Security check of $1,800 plus his own investment income. He says he rents a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house for $580 a month but says a 1 bedroom house or apartment can easily be found for $400 a month.

Bowen says he spends $20 a month for high-speed internet plus $15 a month for an unlimited cellphone plan. He says he relies on football and basketball internet packages for his American sports fix. And, he says going out to eat is a fraction of the price in America.

“Going out to eat is ridiculously inexpensive.”

Bowen says Kamala Beach is one of the most beautiful sights in the world, and it is apparent that he made the right choice in 2009 when deciding to sell everything and relocate to Thailand for a better life.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times


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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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