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Sunset on Phuket's Patong beach: the best place in the world for expats

Phuket, World's Best of the Best for Expat Living

Thursday, November 11, 2010
News Analysis

PHUKET expats can pat themselves squarely on the back. So for that matter can all of Phuket's residents.

A report on the esteemed Wall Street Journal's site, quoting the highly-regarded HSBC bank Expat Explorer annual survey, rates Thailand as the best place in the world for expats to live.

And as the expats on Phuket know, despite a few grumbles about expensive tuk-tuk transport, the moods of the beaches and the monsoon weather, Phuket is the best place to live in the best country in the world for expats to live.

Beneath a typical tropical island photograph above the blog on the Wall Street Journal site runs the caption: ''Patong Beach Phuket, Thailand: It may be beaches like this that make the country rank No. 1 in a report on expat life.''

We have yet to see the HSBC Expat Explorer report online and we can only assume that the Wall Street Journal, being the esteemed publication that it is, has had access to an advance copy.

The wsj blog by Cathy Yan makes the rather forlorn point that Hong Kong ranks a mere 13th, halfway down the 25 countries covered in HSBC's third annual Expat Explorer report, released this week.

The blog goes on to say: ''The best place to live as an expat? Apparently Thailand, which ranked high in all the categories considered, including ease of setting up finances, work-life balance, entertainment and ease of integration with the local culture. Canada and Bahrain ranked second and third.''

Who needs Canada with all that cold, or Bahrain with an overdose of sand? Thailand and Phuket clearly have the balance about right, especially if money is no object . . . or money is not the object.

Thailand's political upheavals clearly count for little because the wsj blog says the HSBC report is based on a survey of 4127 expats from more than 100 countries, conducted between April and June, by a third-party research firm.

Bangkok was hit by red rallies and a dramatic deadly army put-down in April and May.

Despite the over-the-top travel warnings by various ill-informed countries, tourists continued to come to Thailand, and especially to Phuket and the Andaman coast.

Expat residents of Phuket have never needed a survey to tell them why Thailand is the best place in the world to live, especially if you happen to be living on a tropical paradise island in the best country in the world.

Now it appears as though Phuket's secret is out. The best place in the best place in the world for an expat to live.

Visitors are welcome to come to see how good we have it, tuk-tuks, monsoon rainy days, moody beaches and all.

No wonder British Prime Minister David Cameron and his family have chosen Thailand for their New Year break in the sun, following 840,000 British tourists who made it to Thailand (and for many, Phuket) last year.

Thailand also came top in the so-called silver rankings, which rate countries according to their popularity among retired expatriates.

And if this is just a dream, please don't wake us up in the morning.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


No comments? Where are the many whiners, whingers & complainers that seem to love to bemoan this place while still living here?

I'm pretty glad to be an expat in Phuket!

Posted by Tanya Millibank on November 11, 2010 17:34


Ah, Mr Murdoch of the WSJ himself, along with latest family, can be expected to move in soon. Maybe Rush and Bill and Glen of his FoxNews will set up a studio on Bangla Rd!

Posted by don miller on November 11, 2010 17:45


I love Phuket, but avoid Patong whenever possible. There is so much more to Phuket, and it's not just Phuket - you are a short drive from Phang Nga, Krabi, Khao Sok, and from Phuket airport you can zip off to Bangkok, KL, Singapore, and soon to Bali!

I do have a whinge now and them about the traffic or the horrible overhead cables, but I have traveled in many countries and have been very happy to settle down here.

If Phuket is getting touted as the best place to live, might be time to invest in some land...

Posted by Jamie on November 12, 2010 07:58


@Jamie: Don't. Otherwise you may end up being the many whiners, whingers & complainers that seem to love to bemoan this place while still have to live here. Buy land where YOU can control it, if you need a dirt bank.

@Tanya: Maybe they still hope nobody will wake them up. And you are right. I am also like to come here for some month every year for some time now.

Posted by Lena on November 12, 2010 16:16


See the HSBC Expat Explorer survey results for yourself:

ps. from these findings, I found that Australia is actually ranked up there with the best - but personally, if it were not for earning potential - I would probably live in Phuket forever!

Posted by Kerrie on November 12, 2010 16:52


I wonder which other places in Thailand the HSBC Expat Explorer surveyed. If it included Chiang Mai I think that should have topped Phuket. It has everything to offer the expat that Phuket does, ok minus the beaches but also minus the crime (its a lot safer there) and locals attitudes that have been spoilt by tourism (I know several locals who can't even trust their own family members) and minus the tuktuk mafia.

Posted by Anon on November 25, 2010 17:54

Editor Comment:

Phuketwan put Phuket forward as the ''best of the best.'' The survey didn't go into that city-by-city detail, simply rating Thailand tops. So you may well be right. But Phuket has no annual smoke haze problem, the crime level is exaggerated, and the weather is probably better.


About crime level I get an email feed from Phuket Post/Gazette about this murder, or that robbery, or suicide or drowning or something dark. Even if its not exaggerated I think its much more than anywhere else in Thailand.

Posted by P on November 26, 2010 09:39

Editor Comment:

The news media here and everywhere else in the world report crimes, but the statistics of crimes involving expats on Phuket are nothing out of the ordinary. Those who go out in seamy parts inevitably find more trouble. For the other 99.9 percent, it's a real tropical island. I haven't seen reliable comparisons with other parts of Thailand but safety is not a serious concern on Phuket. People don't come here to sit on couches and watch tv, so there are always more mishaps when people are active and outdoors.


I think the crime level is not exaggerated, if anything it might be worse as authorities try to cover up which is also in the interest of stakeholders in tourism here (most of the island)

Posted by caz on November 26, 2010 12:03

Editor Comment:

If you have some evidence of a cover-up, please provide it. If you don't have evidence, then don't you think it's unfair to make unproven claims? Guesswork, Caz?


PW has reported on drowning deaths not making the list of expat fatalities. It is not hard to imagine some crimes may not be reported, also.

I'd like to know the male / female ratio of the poll's respondents because I am betting prostitution availability skews results dramatically

Jamie, caveat on " owning " land. 30 year lease is the best you can hope for as a foreigner. ( and no, renewals are not legally binding! )

Posted by Media Watcher on December 12, 2010 10:25


Interesting reading.Is it not better to leave this economical paradise for ex. to go to Vietnam. There you can buy and own your own land and still have a nice time.What company is in the real estate company how is behind this artical? Sounds like "b******t" to me. Look at all the farrangs projekts that are still standing as memorial of profit gaining. Take a look at Pattaya, how is now coming back, while Phuket is going down the drain.

Posted by Mr Jens on December 12, 2010 23:02

Editor Comment:

I don't get to Pattaya, Mr Jens. Why would anyone?


I am trying to get in contact with a long term resident of Phukett, Steve Brickley. If anyone knows anything about him, I would greatly appreaciate it.

Posted by M. Alger on May 7, 2012 01:25


How is the weather in Phuket? When is the wet season and when is the dry season? I am planning a move to Thailand next year, but am afraid of Tsunanis in Phuket.

Posted by Anonymous on April 26, 2016 02:00

Editor Comment:

There is only a slim chance of another tsunami on Phuket but a lot more care is needed to make sure the warning system is foolproof. Eternal vigilance is required. People need to know who will wake them up if a big wave comes at 3am, when television sets and radios are turned off. The weather remains extremely hot and dry on Phuket and residents are wondering when the annual rains will arrive. They're well overdue. The ''wet season usually begins in April and runs through until October, but the days are often just as fine as in the dry season and Phuket weather is always warm.

Saturday January 23, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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