From: Seattle, Washington
Currently living in: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Go-to spots in Chiang Mai:
When friends come to visit: Graph Café in the Old City
For dinner, drinks, music, and massages: Fah Lanna Spa along the Ping River
Temples: Wat Srisuphan because of its silver shrine and Wat Pha Lat, which is halfway up Doi Suthep
Market: Warorot Market.
Alana Morgan knew she wanted to live abroad years before she actually decided to make the move. With that goal in mind, she decided to live with family instead of on her own and endured a long commute in order to save money. She continued to add to her savings, remembering that every rent check she would have written would equate to a plane ticket.
Coming from the Pacific Northwest, the Thai heat and humidity was a big adjustment for Alana — it still is. Of course, as an expat, dealing with visa requirements, paperwork, leases, and work permits is a challenge that never gets easier. Alana has found that managing the logistics and legalities of living in another country is an ongoing battle, but one that’s worth it because she feels at home in Chiang Mai.
She recalls that learning how to ride a motorbike was fun, but that entering the workforce was confusing. When Alana first moved to Chiang Mai, she taught English for a year and was required to wear clothes that were color-coordinated to every day of the week. She had never worn a uniform before, and thought she looked more like a catering server at a wedding than she did a teacher. She’s now a freelance content creator, and finds that lifestyle liberating.
Though she loves the fact that living in Chiang Mai gives her access to delicious food, she does miss food from home ( especially cheese). Over time, Alana has found that she prefers the slower-paced lifestyle of Chiang Mai — there’s an increased focused on spending time with friends and family. She’s also discovered that the northern Thai city is the perfect location from which to explore — she can be at the airport in less than half-an-hour, and the region itself boasts incredible scenery and getaways.
The benefits of living in Chiang Mai are numerous. Alana says that the cost of living and the quality of life are unbeatable, but it’s the little things she loves the most, the things that are more difficult to articulate.
The way the warm air feels late at night, how beautiful and lush the hills are when you drive through them, the way the streets smell like a mix of smoky incense, fresh jasmine blossoms, and hot chilies being stir-fried into a dish.
For Alana, life just seems more colorful and alive in Southeast Asia.