Shawn and Katie in Phuket: "We love the Thai lifestyle"

Expat interviews
  • Shawn and Katie in Phuket
Published on 2015-10-08 at 00:00 by team
Shawn and Katie come from Canada. They moved to Phuket in December 2014 following their stay in Cayman Islands and Europe. Both particularly enjoy going to the beach, water sports and the local cuisine.

Where are you from, Shawn and Katie, and what are you doing nowadays?

We are originally from Canada, but we moved to Thailand in December 2014. Shawn is originally from Montreal, Quebec, but lived in Thailand for five years as a child. He completed his university studies in South Africa. I grew up in a small town outside of Toronto and moved to Banff, Alberta, after college. Since then, I have lived in the Cayman Islands and traveled Europe. We are currently living in Phuket where we both work in the tourism industry.

Why did you choose to expatriate to Thailand?

We choose Thailand because we thought it would give us the best lifestyle. It's cheap and offers great food, great weather and has great people. Since Shawn lived here as a child, he knew the culture and remembered a bit of the language. So we knew that would help with the transition.

What has attracted you to Phuket?

We came to Phuket because Shawn's job required that we move here. It was our best case scenario and we are so happy! We go to the beach every week-end, and try to see a new island whenever we can.

What were the procedures to follow for Canadian nationals to move there?

We came on 6 month tourist visa's (you have to leave the country every two months). When Shawn got his job, we switched them to Non-Immigrant Working Visas. We had to go to Singapore to apply for this visa, but it was very quick. We spent only 3 days there.

How long have you been in the country?

We've been here since the 1st of December 2014.

What are the local labor market's features? Is it easy for an expat to find a job there?

There are jobs mainly for teachers. All other areas are much harder than we anticipated. We are very lucky that Shawn got a job right when we got here. I spent months looking before finally finding something (even thought I have 10+ years experience in the tourism industry). It is a hard and expensive process for Thai companies to hire foreigners unless it's for teaching. So be prepared for this. It is also a different culture and things move much slower here.

Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available?

Finding accommodation in Phuket was easy. There are many apartments, houses, and town houses to choose from. You can search online or just drive around. We used a real estate agent we found online to get a perfect two-bedroom and two-bathroom house for a great price. Many of the apartments are new and very small (30sqm).

How do you find the Thai lifestyle?

We love the Thai lifestyle. Our street is full of only Thai people, and they are so welcoming to us! Our neighbors sell fruits on the street. There is a man who drives down our road with his cart of desserts every day. We walk to a fresh market every week. These are the things we love most, and the beaches of course.

Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?

Yes, we've found it pretty easy. Thai people are so welcoming, and we've really tried to embrace it. We've learned a bit of the language, which always really impresses people.

What does your every day life look like in Phuket?

On week-ends, we head to the beach, grab a great lunch at a local Thai restaurant and drive around the island to explore. We are always finding great new spots, like the two abandoned hotels. We always try to hit up at least one market, but can sometimes squeeze in more.

What has surprised you the most at your arrival?

The thing that has surprised us most is how good our life is. We never could have pictured that we would be saving more money here than in Toronto, eating out more, and doing more. We are truly the lucky couple.

Your favorite local dishes?

Our favourite dishes are Thai basil and vegetables, Som Tam with mixed fruits, and Thai Iced teas, but we love buying a whole fish cooked with chillies, lime and basil.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Thailand? Is it easy for an expat to live there?

We are very lucky that we both have good salaries in Thailand, but living here is so cheap! We are spending less than half of what we were spending when we lived in Toronto.

How do you spend your leisure time? What are the activities that are accessible to expatriates there?

There are tons of things to do! Beaches, eating (of course!), surfing, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, hikes. There are endless things to do here! There are leagues set up for badminton, tennis, and soccer in which a lot of expats take part too. We participate in Beach Clean Ups which has been a great way to make new friends!

What are the differences between life in Thailand and in other countries where you have been?

The biggest difference is that life here is very relaxed. People move more slowly, they don't get angry.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

Cheese! Seriously, they do not have good cheese here, for cheap anyway. We miss having so much cheese in our fridge.

What has motivated you to start your blog "The Lucky Couple"? How does it help?

Our motivation came from wanting a place to keep all of our families updated, especially my young niece and nephew. It's a great way for them to see pictures and for them to learn about life here. All of the positive feedback from people outside of our family has really kept us motivated too. It's nice to know that the information we're putting out there is actually helping other people.

Would like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates?

Enjoy! Don't stress about the small things and know that things take time here. People might tell you "yes, yes, yes" just because they don't like conflict, so try to be understanding. It will get easier with time.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plan is to stay here for a few years. Like I said, we are saving more money here than in Canada, so we are going to stay and enjoy exploring this beautiful area! It is so accessible to travel to nearby countries. We want to take our time and not miss anything.

Share your expat experience!

Contact us to be featured in the Interviews section.