The Asia Expat: Thailand Adventures of Two Baby Boomers

expat in thailand


Editor’s note: Baby boomers John and Jane Estes, of Seattle, decided a couple of months ago to chuck it all, put everything in storage and take up the expat’s life in Thailand for a few years. For what’s a pittance by US standards, they managed to rent a large villa on the beach which they will use as a base of operations to further explore Asia. This is the first in a series exploring an alternative retirement lifestyle of the Asia expat.

 I meant to document the process of becoming an American expat in Thailand in easy sound-bite type installments but it was such a . . . “full” experience that I simply didn’t have the time or opportunity. Now I find myself totally overwhelmed by the task. So, I think I will give you a quick overview and throw in some photographs to embellish. And, more to follow.

We set off on March 3rd with four bags and two backpacks with tentative plans to stay two years.

We stopped in Hawaii for two weeks, the first of which we spent diving. Ten glorious dives with a great dive outfit – Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures (tell Denise that John and Jane sent you).

On March 17th we headed out for Thailand where we spent a week with John’s sister, Jeanette, who lives in Bangkok, she is a lawyer for a large American tech firm (and therefore also an Asia expat herself), doing chores like opening a bank account,trying to get a visa, looking into health insurance, finding prescription medications etc.. We had the advantage of “family” looking out for us. Jeanette’s partner’s family is now our family and they were immeasurable help as advisors, guides, translators, drivers, and all around great helpers.

In order to get the proper interim visa which will lead to a Thai retirement visa we had to leave the country. Jeanette had to go out on business, so we tagged along with her to Singapore for a week. Not such a hardship . . . we stayed at a beautiful hotel, spend a day at Singapore’s fabulous zoo, and got our visas. Before we went to Singapore we did spend a week at the beach house getting it ready to live in and getting to know the “neighborhood”. Unfortunately it rained the entire time so we spent zero time on the beach.

When we returned from Singapore it was just about Song Kran, a.k.a. Thai New Year. The whole family came down with us to the house to spend the week. There were eleven of us living in the 3 bedroom house and that increased to 13 when our daughter Jennifer and her husband Nathan arrived. It was crazy and wonderful all at the same time and I learned so much from my new family and had so much fun. We ate copious amounts of food, celebrated Song Kran by throwing water at strangers (look it up on Google), took a great boat ride/snorkeling trip out to Mu Ko National Marine Park, played cribbage (John taught the men of the family who are now wild about it; I wonder how long it will take to spread throughout Bangkok) and a Thai card game called Eight/Nine, and of course we played and swam at our beach which, by the way, is a 120 second walk from our house.

After a month and a half John and I are alone at last, living on our own, in paradise, beginning the life of the Asia expat.

Click here for a reading list on the expat lifestyle

Follow more of John and Jane Estes’ experience in Thailand:

The Asia Expat: Why Thailand ? Thoughts on Retirement

Expat Living: What? Motocy. What?






Other related travel links (will open in a new window):

  • Lucky Man Marries Thai Twins! | Thai Blogs – Do you have a blog about Thailand? We can help you promote it for free on our Thailand Blogroll. A Thai night at the movies! Emanuele: I must confess I’m not a cinema lover. Monkey Festival in Lopburi Mark Williams: Some great shots here Richard.

  • Using Our Brains to Assess Travel Risk | – As evolved as we humans have become, in general we still let our hard-wired instincts take over when deciding what’s risky or scary. The 24-hour news channels.

  • A380 – >> The Cranky Flier – I kept the title of this post simple because the plane needs no other introduction. We’ve been talking about this thing for years and years now and finally, it has entered commercial service. As with all new planes, I want to go for a ride.


  1. Would Thailand be a good place as a home base to visit nearby countries such as India and China? I ask because I know nothing about transportation such as trains and buses which I think would be more interesting than flying.

    Also, are there houses, condos, apartments available for extended visits? And what kinds of documents are needed to enter or pass through other countries in the area? Passport of course, but what about visas or other official papers?

    Finally, are internet cafes available? I can bring a laptop, but lugging it around could be an issue at times. I want to be able to access websites such as,, and email of course.

    Thanks for your input. I trust you both are having a fabulous time. And keep up the posts!

  2. Tom Moseley says:

    More, more, MORE about being an ex-pat in Thailand. My only experience with Asia was Vietnam in the 1960s, and that was not much fun. Although, I must say it gave me the opportunity to visit Australia which I did. And believe me, Sydney is a wonderful place. The Aussies are as friendly as Texans.

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