The spectacular province of Krabi is located in Southern Thailand, alongside the pristine waters of the Andaman Ocean and in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Benefiting from a glorious tropical climate, it is a genuine paradise for those lucky enough to live there.
Krabi’s inhabitants are as diverse as the dramatic landscape and include Buddhists, Thai-Chinese and Moken, also known as Sea Gypsies. Muslims also form a large proportion of the population, particularly in rural areas where they are in the majority. It is striking how these colourful communities are able to practice their individual beliefs and yet, still live side by side in apparent harmony – a refreshing example of tolerance and mutual respect, that the rest of the world could learn from!
Traditionally the people of Krabi were either farmers of the rubber, palm, oil and oranges in the region, or fishermen who made a living from the abundant seafood of the Andaman. Today, many are leaving the farms and fishing villages to take advantage of the huge growth in tourism in Krabi and conventional life is gradually changing.
Krabi locals are famous for being down-to-earth, open, friendly and helpful. They are renowned for their incredible hospitality and they extend a warm welcome to both tourists and foreigners who settle permanently.
Krabi Expat Community
There is also a thriving expat community of more than 2000 foreign nationals drawn to the relaxed lifestyle, breathtakingly beautiful environment, low crime rate and comparatively low cost of living. This mixed bunch includes foreigners from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, US, Australia and New Zealand.
Expats tend to group together by nationality or occupation and their community is notably laid back, rather like Krabi itself! Formal clubs, groups or societies are few and far between, although there are some useful expat forums that provide up to date information on expat life in Krabi.
Because there is not a huge amount of work for foreigners, many expats set up their own business in Krabi and a large number choose to retire or live on private means. Popular business ventures include restaurants, hotel and villa accommodation, language schools and property agencies. Most jobs are provided by some of the many international hotels, restaurants and bars and some find employment as teachers or diving instructors.
There are a number of people who take a risk and work illegally. This is not recommended, as the punishment for being caught working or running a business without a valid work permit in Thailand, is usually a massive fine or sometimes deportation.
Expat Facilities in Krabi
Facilities in Krabi are excellent, which is another reason why so many foreigners choose this particular part of Thailand. Krabi even boasts an airport with an international terminal, enabling regular flights home and frequent visits from friends and family.
Although there are no international hospitals in Krabi, there is a local hospital which is perfectly adequate for minor treatments and the majority of prescription drugs are available from the many pharmacies. There is also a private hospital with an excellent reputation, along with several private clinics in Krabi Town. For more extensive treatment, the nearest international hospital in Phuket, is just a couple of hours away by car. There are several dental practices in Krabi, however, most expats tend to travel to Phuket or Bangkok for major dental work.
The majority of expats choose to send their children to the local Thai school in Krabi Town, as it offers bi-lingual curriculums. There is also an international school which caters for kindergarten and primary school pupils and teaches a British curriculum.
There are a good selection of banks in Krabi, however, setting up a bank account can sometimes prove difficult for foreigners. Expats must be in possession of a non-immigrant visa, such as a work permit or retirement visa. This will must often be supported by other papers, such as a copy of their property rental agreement, or a copy of the lease if they have chosen to buy a property in Krabi. Alternatively, expats can withdraw money from their home account at one of the many ATMs or use the international money transfer facilities available in most of the banks.
Expats inevitably miss home comforts from time to time, such as a favourite beer or meal. In Krabi they are able to satisfy their craving for something familiar in one of the many authentic foreign bars and restaurants, run by expats themselves. And if they are looking for retail therapy or entertainment, then there are some excellent shopping and leisure facilities, including a multiplex cinema and Tesco Lotus Mall, just outside of Krabi Town itself.
Learning the Thai Language
Unsurprisingly, one of the greatest hurdles an expat faces when moving to Krabi, is the language barrier. Although English is widely spoken in the tourists areas, most expats try to master basic vocabulary so they can at least order food and drinks. There are many Thai language courses in Krabi, which are recommended for those that plan to stay long-term. Being able to speak some basic Thai helps an expat integrate and enables them to do business with, and make friends with the locals. It is also a fantastic way to learn about and become immersed in the extraordinarily rich Thai culture.
Moving abroad can be a challenge but the rewards usually far outweigh any minor inconveniences. If you dream of swapping a busy, stressful life in a dreary climate, for a relaxed, outdoor lifestyle in beautiful and vibrant corner of the world, then both the Krabi expat community and the locals are waiting to welcome you with open arms!