27 Jan 2024

How we're building a life in Phuket as a remote working family

Six months ago we moved to Phuket.

I'm a remote freelancer, and launch random products from time to time.

My spouse works on building her education business.

Our 18 month old goes to a local international kindergarten, and stays with the nanny the other half of the day.

Our second one was born in a Phuket hospital 2 days ago.

It’s been eight months since we moved to Phuket and both started work fully remote.

We're building a life as a fully remote family. One step at a time.

The Good

Sunshine And Beach

A beach is a fantastic playground for a toddler. Our current favorite is Surin as it's close to our home, and easily accessible.

The weather is nice all year round. Between 25 and 35 degrees, with a minimum humidity of 70%.

There are nice houses (but they're difficult to find)

We rent a house in a gated community for 43,000 thb per month (1,219 usd). Prices seem to be rising due to a high influx of foreigners. The style of the house is nice though maintenance and quality of materials are poor. The gated community offers a relatively safe area for our 18-month old to stroll around, as cars don't drive too fast.

Most houses are adding a pool as this drives up the rental price with 20,000 thb or more. We prefer a house without a pool as it's safer with toddlers, but these become harder to find.

We're surrounded by a mix of western and Thai people, mostly families.

There are Multiple Co-workings

Most coworkings are on the south of the island. There was only one small one in the north (where we live), it closed recently and is now a hole in the ground. Homa, a real estate developer, open a combined housing and co-working project in the north recently, but their co-working is not open to outsiders as it's crowded with residents.

Full-time Nannies are Affordable

Having a nanny is a luxury, so much so that I'm anxious to leave Asia before the kids are old enough to be home alone. It was more challenging to find a nanny here compared to Bangkok, where supply outstrips demand. After a couple of Facebook posts we found a good one.

The Air is Clean

This was the main reason to move away from Bangkok. Bangkok and mainland Thailand suffers from burning season roughly between January and April. Phuket gets some of that, but significantly less.

The air here is so clean I get sunburned consistently!

The Healthcare is Good

Our first baby was born in Bumrungrad Hospital Bangkok, probably the nicest hospital I've ever been. It could be a 5 star hotel.

Phuket hospitals aren't up to that standard, but Bumrungrad is building a hospital here now as well. It will take a couple of years as it's just an empty plot of land with a billboard now.

Our second one was born in Bangkok Hospital Phuket. The service is great but the hospital itself looks a little worn out (don't let the shiny picture from the Phuket Tourist Association below fool you!). But the delivery went great and that's what matters!

Phuket is an Outdoor Sports Dream (it's not only resorts and bars!)

Phuket is a outdoor dream environment. The jungle is amazing for (trail) running, the sea for swimming and watersports (kayaking, kitesurfing, ...), the roads through the mountains are great for cycling. Events like Laguna Phuket Triathlon or the Spartan Run are hugely popular.

The Challenges

Airbnbs are money-making vehicles

The first month we stayed in an Airbnb. Sometimes, in other destinations, we run into well thought-out AirBnbs with extremely friendly hosts. I don't feel Phuket offers this kind of hosts. It's a feeling obviously, I cannot test them all, though Phuket seems to be full of opportunistic golddiggers trying to squeeze out as much as they can.

Visas are expensive

Visas are challenging. Thailand raised the prices on the Elite Visas in September 2023, due to high demand. In theory you need to buy one for your children as well, in practice they won't be fined. But they will have a history of overstaying stamps in their passports.

Immigration processes can be time-consuming. We recently spent half a day at the immigration office in Blue Tree.

Roads are high speed race tracks

Phuket roads are a lot safer and less busy than Bangkok, but rules are still quasi non-existent, and traffic is busy!

The roads are not accommodating for pedestrians. Once we're out of the safety and comfort of our gated community, it's dangerous to walk with the toddler. This also means that all transport with the toddler happens with the car.

We don't dare transporting her on the motorcycle, like some of the locals do. We didn't try taking her on the bicycle (yet).

Public transport is very limited, probably non-existent. My hypothesis is that the powerful taxi lobby blocks it.

🚀 🚀 🚀 The Future

An ideal scenario would be to remain 3 to 5 years in the same place, then move to a next place.

Additionally, being able to afford a nanny would be a great convencience until the kids go to school.

The challenges of this lifestyle are financial, but also educational.

I believe a broad range of experiences will help children grow up. At the same time uprooting them every couple of years might have consequences I'm not aware off.

I do believe that a broad range of experiences and adventures will help my children become more adaptable.

Consider the opposite: Tucking the children away in a safe space for the next 18 years. A safe country, like Japan, Scandinavia, the Netherlands or even Switzerland.

I think the high standards of living, education and overall development cannot compete with a global, real-world experience.