As our time in Thailand draws to a close we have been focusing on what last tourist sights we want to see and what’s left to check off on our ‘must-see Thailand’ checklist. It’s not all about moving on though, we also have had the future to plan and lot’s of interesting discussions of what is important to us moving forward. Deciding on where to relocate to for February has been like uncovering a mystery, crossing numerous places off our short list eventually being left with the winning destination.
What were the criteria?
How did we decide on the important criteria? We had a list that was rather comprehensive, but only a few deal-breaker criteria.
- Qi Gong – We have been reaping the benefits of Qi Gong, a Chinese practice similar to Tai Chi. This was our main motivator. After feeling a little more stable in our ability to find work & income (our goal for Thailand, and the reason we chose Chiang Mai – a hub for digital nomads and entrepreneurs) we have decided that spending more time on mind and body focus though yoga, meditation and Qigong is how we wish to focus ourselves this February. It is of Chinese origin, so places with a Chinese community topped our potential list.
- Climate – after 2 months of Chiang Mai getting progressively colder (erm, not exactly cold, more like beautifully
mild with warm days) and being a 12 hour train ride from the coastline, we wanted our next destination to be of the hot, sunny beach variety. This ruled out Northern Vietnam, China, Laos and other north of the equator destinations.
- Access to Quality Internet and 3G – Despite really getting our feet the past 3 months with gaining clients & budding businesses, we still have to work. The key to getting work done for both of us lies in decent speed internet at home and the ability to tether to quality 3G on our phones when we are our and about. This ruled out some of the more third-world countries and remote tropical islands
- Cost of Living – Thailand is amazing for cheap living, you can access all the comforts of home for half the price. It is a fantastic place to get up and running in your own business. We still aren’t completely established and are far from being wealthy, so a low cost of living continues to play a big role in where we move to.
So.. Where are we going?
The winning destination: Penang, Malaysia. A small island just off the north-west coast of Malaysia, known mostly for it’s amazing food.
Pro’s of Penang:
- Hot, steamy & tropical – it’s close to the equator, and we will be reaching it in it’s dry season (well, relatively dry – it still rains)
- Island = Beaches. Penang has a number of sandy beaches & lot’s of jet-skiiing, kayaking, boating and such.
- Cultural – Penang is made up of Chinese, Indian and Malay as it’s main cultures, this equates to two things we really love: Lots of Qigong teachers, and cheap & tasty Indian food.
- Food – Penang is known for amazing food, enough said.
- Chinese New Year – We arrive a couple of weeks before Chinese New Year, and Penang is supposed to be an amazing place to witness the celebrations
- Great jump-point to explore more of Malaysia’s amazing beaches down the line
Potential Cons we are Aware of
- A few people (well actually everybody we know who has been so far) have returned with negative things to say. It seems that most of these people ended up staying at the southern end of the Island though – we will be looking for an apartment around the north.
- Conservative culture – Penang is a lot more muslim than Thailand, which often means more conservative. Might have to be a little more careful around clothing choices etc.
- Doesn’t seem to be much of an expat community – other than retirees. It may be a little more complicated to make friends, although there should still be plenty of backpackers around.
Well, there we go. Penang it is. Flights and one week of hotel accommodation booked, we leave Jan 31st. We would love feedback, so if anybody has been before – please do comment or get in touch!