Hi everyone! I’d like to share an interview with Dani, who lives in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. When I learned she lives on a farm with her Thai husband and an increasing number of pet dogs and goats, I just knew I had to find out more! In this post, Dani shares about her lifestyle, immersing herself in the Thai culture, what brought her to Thailand and what she misses about her home country. It is a real contrast to the other expat interviews I have done so far and I hope you find it really interesting. If you have any questions for Dani, please leave them in the comments below.
Hi Dani. What originally brought you to Thailand and how long have you been there?
My first visit to Thailand was back in 2015. At the time I was doing an animal management course at a college in England (where I’m from) and needed to undertake work experience. I decided to go big and do my work experience at a safari park in Thailand. After my work experience, I revisited Thailand multiple times and then fully moved here in 2017. I now work as an online tutor and plan to live here indefinitely!
Thailand is such a gorgeous, diverse country. It must be difficult to decide where to live! What made you and your husband choose Kanchanaburi as an area?
My husband is a Thai citizen and he was born and raised in Kanchanaburi. We live in the countryside; his family’s village is in a very rural location. We have contemplated moving to a more touristy area such as Hua Hin or Phuket but I do enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside and my husband is very family-orientated so I know he appreciates staying close to them.
I was originally living at the safari park and then I moved in with my husband and his family’s home while we were dating. We adopted two dogs and our room was no longer big enough so we needed to find a house. It just so happened the house next door was for sale so we bought it. We are currently saving up to build a new house with more land.
What do you enjoy most about living in Thailand? Has it lived up to your expectations?
I like how relaxed Thailand is compared to living in England. Kanchanaburi is a great province, full of breath-taking nature, temples, wildlife and mountains. On my days off, my husband and I like to go hiking, visit waterfalls and go to new cafes. Kanchanaburi has a lot of beautiful cafes with amazing views. I also enjoy going to the temples. I am not religious but I respect the Buddhist religion. I think the architecture of the temples is incredible. My husband isn’t really religious, but he does follow many of the Buddhist traditions. I don’t really get involved but I support him and my in-laws.
Thailand has lived up to my expectations but there are always difficulties and challenges, as living in a foreign country where you are not fluent in the native language. One of the main challenges as a foreign person living in Thailand is not being able to legally own your home and land. I can only own 49% of my house. However, being married or having foreign children does give you a bit more security.
It would be easier if I was fluent in Thai. Unfortunately, I’m very bad at learning languages so that has been a major issue for me. My husband helps me in any way he can. Thai is a very hard language to learn and I am lucky that my husband picked up English very quickly so that meant I didn’t have to learn Thai. However, I really would like to and I think the best way to do it is by speaking as frequently as you can with native speakers. There are really good English language online schools and online teachers who can help you.
How does the cost of living in Thailand compare to home?
Thailand is so much cheaper than England in most ways. The cost of living (such as electricity, gas, food) is much cheaper. We built our own home for what would cost a couple of months’ rent living in London in England. We are lucky enough to be able to go on small vacations within Thailand throughout the year because the cost of living is very low.
Has it been easy to meet people and make friends? Are most of your friends Thai, foreigners or a mix of both?
It has not been easy making friends here but that is down to my location inside Thailand. There are only a few foreigners living in Kanchanaburi and I am the only foreigner in my village! I have my best friend who is from Denmark but the other foreigners in Kanchanaburi tend to be older gentleman and I don’t really want to be friends with them.
The Thai people where I live most do not speak English and many are scared to talk to foreigners because they feel like they will embarrass themselves. More touristy areas have a lot more Thai people that speak and understand English and more foreigners so it would be easier to make friends but living in the countryside it is very difficult and it can be very isolating at times.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to move to Thailand?
It’s not easy visa-wise. Thailand does make it difficult for people to stay here a long time. It is best to have a degree so you can legally work for a Thai company and get a visa that way. If not, marriage is a good option (if you are in love!). If you’re not married to a Thai person or working for a Thai company, staying here for a long time can be difficult.
Is there anything you miss from home that you can’t do/find/buy in Thailand?
Good cheese and certain crisps like Monster Munch and Quavers. There are also some chocolate bars I miss, along with super noodles! It sounds silly because there are lots of noodle dishes you can buy in Thailand but sometimes I do crave the crappy super noodles from England. There are stores online where you can buy British food but it is very expensive, so I tend not to.
I miss being able to go to a national park hiking and not pay an entry fee. There is dual pricing in Thailand which means foreigners (even those of us that live here and pay taxes) have to pay three or four times more than Thai people to enter certain places like national parks. My husband pays 100 baht and I have to pay 300 to enter. It becomes very expensive especially if we have visitors or guests or if we want to go multiple times a month. I love hiking and it’s just not something that I can do here without paying.
Have you picked up any typical Thai habits?
The most annoying one is probably speaking in broken English. I will speak to my friends and family on the phone, and they will be confused as to why I’m talking the way I am. Eating with a spoon and fork instead of a knife, I received some funny looks when I went back to England and I was eating my steak with a spoon and not a knife.
Have you travelled much outside of Kanchanaburi to other places in Thailand? Where’s next on your travel bucket list?
We travel to Hua Hin often for weekends away since it’s only a 2-hours’ drive. We also enjoy Phuket. I tend to avoid Bangkok as much as possible, it’s too busy for my liking.
I would like to visit some more places within the country like Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Kui Buri National Park and other places. We also own a goat farm, so we are planning on expanding this and opening it up to the public. We also have 6 rescue dogs. Once we have a larger amount of land, I would love to take in some more strays.
Thank you so much Dani! For photos of Dani’s life, her adorable dogs and goats and photos of Thailand, visit her website and follow her on Instagram. She has a portfolio of stunning photos on her site, including the waterfall picture featured on this post.
If you enjoyed this interview, check out my other interviews with people living and working abroad.
Ciao for now
The Curious Sparrow