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Living in Phuket – What is not to love?

Approximately 890km from Bangkok, Phuket lies off the west coast of Southern Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Roughly the same size as Singapore, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island at 550 sq km and is surrounded by many smaller islands. A causeway at its northernmost point connects the island to the mainland.

Phuket is quite hilly, with a few peaks above 500m, the highest being Mai Tao Sipsong at 529m. Many of these hills are still covered in lush jungle. On the lowlands, you will find rice paddies, rubber plantations, pineapples and coconuts.  Now protected, Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary is the only significant area of rainforest remaining on the island.

The West coast is where the most beautiful beaches are found, separated by headlands and rocky coves. With only a few sandy beaches, the east coast comprises limestone shoals, while the spectacular limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay adorn the horizon. Phuket is also a gateway to many islands in Phang Nga Bay, plus the Phi Phi and Similan island groups.

Thanks to all these natural attributes, Phuket has long attracted international tourists.  US NEWS ranked it number 8 in their 2021 Top 30 “Worlds Best Places to Visit”, noting its outstanding sights, culture, scenic beauty, food scene, plus accommodation, boat trips and spa treatments for all budgets as reasons for their endorsement.

Phuket as a Place to Live

Phuket attracts working professionals, families and retirees for longer-term stays. Sources indicate the island has a permanent population of just over 500,000, including around 115,000 expats. Living as an expat is easy due to the excellent cost of living, great climate, and good infrastructure, including Phuket International Airport with direct flights to all parts of Thailand and many parts of the world.

When choosing where to live, naturally, it is down to individual needs. Some expats opt to live around popular tourist areas along the western coast like Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala and Surin. Others seek locations further removed from the busy tourist zones.

According to Lazudi Consultant Simon Connor, “Families with young kids normally choose the Chalong/Kathu areas, close to International schools and with some decent, affordable priced property (away from the coast). Retired expats choose many different areas. Rawai is a popular area especially with the Russian, German and French, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurants, bars and beaches and with easy access to the airport and Central Festival shopping precinct.”

Simon added, “We are seeing younger expats buying property in Bang Tao and Laguna, attracted by the vibrant atmosphere, restaurants, golf and amazing beaches. Also, Naiyang, Naithon and Layan have some great modern condo and villa projects completed and under construction.”

The beautiful bay of Patong

Recreation

The choice is outstanding from adventure activities, hiking in national parks or cycling, running and walking tracks, golf, yoga, tennis, high-quality gyms, plus all sorts of water sports. There are nine well-established courses from the Jack Nicklaus designed Mission Hills with incredible ocean views from almost every hole. The most expensive and regarded by many as the best in Phuket is Red Mountain Golf Club.

Distance running and triathlons are popular in Phuket, with events held regularly (pre-pandemic). The Laguna Phuket International Marathon and the Laguna Phuket Triathlon attract international and domestic competitors for these annual events.

Recreational boating is well serviced with the larger marinas located on the island’s east coast. Sailing Clubs and schools are also readily found. An annual highlight is Phuket Raceweek which is one of the competition legs of the Asian Yachting Grand Prix.

Whatever you are looking for, recreationally, you will probably find it on Phuket.

Getting Around

Driving around is relatively easy, especially with the completion of the bypass road and underpasses, up to three lanes, from the north to the south of the island. Extra care is needed on the steep and winding roads that criss-cross the island and along the stunning west coastline. There are some public buses, but most people have their own car or motorbike, which is the most convenient.

Schools

For families concerned about education options, the international schools in Phuket welcome students of all nationalities. British (A-Levels), American (SAT), International (IB), and French National Curriculum are the curricula in the highest demand. Also available is a Montessori education program. Thailand Ministry of Education run schools, teaching in Thai, plus some government schools offer an English Program.

The international schools usually commence the school year in August and run on a trimester system. A number of the schools are in the Kathu district – near Phuket Town, and some outlying further.

Shopping

Supermarkets catering to expats from all corners of the world can easily be found on the island. Many people buy local fresh products to support the community, which are less expensive than imported goods. Several major shopping centres, including the Central Festival in Phuket Town, are great for household goods, clothes, shoes, and electronics. Big box outlets like IKEA and Decathlon add to the offering, plus several smaller centres and markets scattered around the island.

Health Care

Modern medical facilities are readily found on the island, including two internationally (JCI) accredited hospitals, plus several other hospitals and local clinics. Bangkok Hospital Siriroj, Vachira Phuket Hospital, Bangkok Hospital Phuket and Dibuk Hospital are the most well known. Most doctors speak English as they have often received training overseas.

Dental clinics are world-class too and usually much less expensive than in western countries. Phuket is also a leading international destination for medical tourism, so most medical needs are covered without leaving the island.

Living in Phuket – What is not to love?

Phuket is tropical and alluring, surrounded by natural beauty and offers a relaxed lifestyle. The cost of living is much less than in many developed countries, there’s minimal culture shock, and most of what you need is within easy reach. It’s effortless to make new friends, and there are loads of recreational facilities. Expats have been attracted to Phuket, the Pearl of the Andaman, for years, and it is clear to see why.

 

Michael Cullen

Lazudi Guest Contributor