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Koh Phangan Life, Culture, Leo

What it’s REALLY like to live on Koh Phangan - Part Five ‘Hometruths and Culture Shocks’

17 May

You’ve made the big move to Koh Phangan! You’ve got your job or business set up and have your visa and your home. You settle into life quickly or slowly depending on what you have come to do yet being here longer term means you may encounter things you haven’t before…

So let’s prepare you well for some things you may not have considered when planning your dream life.

People leaving / coming and going
Koh Phangan is a transient island, people come and go a lot and you may find that you meet a wonderful best friend who is by your side 24/7 for 3 months then suddenly gone the next. This is because most people are travellers, not here for the long run. You will have to get used to this and maybe find different ways of meeting long term expats living on the island.

The people you meet at parties may not be the people who can be your friend or ally all year round.

Plus, it is wise to surround yourself with a few good people who are doing the same as you, for support.

Thai Culture
Everything is different here. Just because your Thai girlfriend ‘knows someone’ is no guarantee that you can bypass a certain business requirement or that your endeavour will succeed. Thai people can also be wary at first of foreigners coming in. Just because you met that Thai Koh Phangan original family member once or a few times does not mean they will get you out of any trouble you cause.

Everything takes time, if you do want the support of the Thai community here then be patient and be authentic in your good actions.

Paying Tax, Bills and Expenses
Running your own company, having a job and generally living on Koh Phangan brings with it some maybe un-thought of expenses. Like your Country back home, Thailand also has taxes. You will also need to pay things such as balance sheets once a year, social security, electricity bills and the rest. When you are here as a Tourist your accommodation probably included such things but longer-term rentals do not.

It’s a small price to pay for living your dream life on a tropical island though so don’t let it put you off, just bear these things in mind.

The Heat
Being here all year round means that you will deal will heat like never before!!! There is a really hot season in Thailand which coincides with ‘Low Season’ which brings with itself its own battles which we will get to soon…

Rainy Season
Like the super hot heat, you will also encounter rainy season. Most people do not visit Thailand during the rainy season as they purposely come for the good sunny warm weather. You need to be aware that Koh Phangan’s rainy season is different to Bangkok’s rainy season.

The Battle in Business
It is HARD WORK to have a business on Koh Phangan, let’s not beat around the bush here!
Firstly, you need to meet requirements, register your company, find a good location and do all the legal stuff and then you have to sustain and grow.

You need to be doing something really special, for such a small island, it doesn’t need 7 Italian restaurants or 10 bikini shops, the competition is hard and good. Businesses that do make a success of themselves here are training their staff well, bringing something unique, offering quality service or goods and never giving up. You need to be prepared for the battle at the beginning, it may take a few years, before you can enjoy a laid-back lifestyle that you planned.

FOMO - Fear of Missing Out
The reason you fell in love with Koh Phangan was because of its hedonistic ways, laid back vibe, parties or yoga events and the beauty of the paradise.
Of course, you can still enjoy all of these things, but when you permanently live somewhere, anywhere, even if it is Koh Phangan, life changes a little from when you used to come as a visitor…

You have responsibilities, priorities, a job to get to in the morning or you’re waiting for a pay check or business is slow. You may have to turn down that invitation from friends to go to Loi Lay on Sunday night because you have work the next morning, Ecstatic Dance might cut right into your day of commitments which will get your rent paid for that month, and so, at first, you may get the fear of missing out.

Don’t worry though, you’ll get used to it and things will become even more enjoyable when you CAN do them!

Immigration Changes
It’s Thailand, things can change a lot or just a little. Next time you go to make your visa there may be a bit more paperwork you need or something else to do, just be aware of this and as long as you are doing things the right way you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Low Season
Oh, lovely low season… as a tourist you may not have liked it so much, less people to meet, less parties on ect ect...but as a person living on the island low season has its good points! But also it’s bad ones too.

You may need to plan financially for low season if you are running a business, the income you make may be smaller and so it may be wise to save your profits from the high season to cover your expenses. Some businesses even close during this time and use it as their excuse to take a holiday. On the plus side however, with less tourists around, it’s a great time for expats to enjoy the island paradise they chose to live on.

Trust Issues
Unfortunately, you never know people’s backgrounds here on Phangan, it’s best to take your time in trusting someone. This is a place where people can be anonymous, re-invent themselves and vanish without a trace, it can be hard to know who to trust and who has good intentions, the same as yours. Just a word of warning.

Standards of School, Health Care etc
Firstly, make sure you have insurance! This will make everything easier if you get sick.
Next, be aware that the standards of institutions will not be the same as your home Country, something might be better and of course could be worse.

Thailand will have different rules and regulations and schools may follow different routines or curriculums. Best thing is to talk in person, do your research and just be prepared to question everything!
You can also try out a few hospitals/schools or other services you will need to use, find which are most comfortable for you and the longer you are here the more you will get used to all of the differences.

Normal life is normal life wherever you are in the world! When you live in a different Country you will still have to deal with issues that arise and you should be prepared for the cultural differences here on Koh Phangan.

What you DO get from living here however, as long as you are willing to be committed, can far outway the difficult things. You can breathe fresh sea air, you drive to work through coconut palm tree groves and drive home witnessing a beautiful sunset. People are much more open-minded and the way of life is chilled to your taste.

You will become a stronger person from living on Koh Phangan that’s for sure! It will make you appreciate the little things you take for granted back in your original Country of birth.

Next time we speak to people themselves who have done the move, some firsthand experience, let’s get the low-down from the people who know the best! Join us for Part Six coming soon!!

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