INTERVIEW :::: Malcolm and Ciejay

Interview with Malcolm Burgess - an American expat living in a Thai village

Photo of Malcolm Bugess and family, an American living in ThailandMalcolm Burgess left life in the States to live out his Golden Years in a stress-free, peaceful Thai village with his wife Ciejay. He couldn't be happier in his modest environment, and gives us a glimpse into expat life in the Thai countryside.

Read more about expat life in Thailand in our Expat Arrivals country guide to the Thailand or read more expat experiences in Thailand.

About you

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Well that’s a hard one. When I was growing up we moved all over the country, but the last placed I lived with my Thai wife Ciejay before moving full time to Thailand was Salem, Oregon.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: We live in the providence of Kanchanaburi, the Ampour of Sai Yok and the small village of Whang Pho in a beautiful valley at the foot of a small mountain range and on the banks of the famous River Kwai.

Q: How long you have you lived in Thailand?
A: We moved here in 2004, this October it was 12 years

Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A: I moved to Thailand with my Thai wife of 14 years

Q: Why did you move to Thailand; what do you do?
A: After a visit and a holiday in Thailand Ciejay and I decided that this is the place we wanted to live out our Golden years, and I wanted to Bring Ciejay back to her home country and to her Thai family.

About your city
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Thailand, how’s the quality of life?
A: The quality of life is great; it's a peaceful, quite and safe place and I feel no stress.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Whenever anyone asks me this question, I answer:  family, friends and Taco Bell.

Q: Is the city safe? 
A:  Our little village is so safe, there’s almost no reason to lock your doors and take keys out of the truck, but nonetheless, we keep reminding ourselves, better safe than sorry.

About living in Thailand

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?
A: Well I am not an expat, I'm retired and I say whatever floats your boat. Lots of folks chose the city for all the excitement and things to do , but lots of folks like me, like the quite village life, free from the busy “run here and run there and do this and that life”, I left all that behind me when I retired.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A: Our home was an old Thai house that had not been lived in for eight years, we bought it and when we moved here in 2004, we took three months and remodelled it to fit our needs. Be it ever sooo humble, it suits us just fine, we love it.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: As we live in a small village, most everything is cheaper than it was in the USA; our small social security check goes a long way to meet all our needs and a lot of our wants. For the most part, it's all according to how you want to live. We're happy with our little home, little village and our low-profile way of life.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: All the locals are shop owners or farmers, all related to each other and it's like one big extended family. As far as other expats, there is only one other in our area and we get along great, amazing enough, we are both from the same area in the USA.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: I'm a people person, so it's easy for me and I always say, ”If you want to make friends, then show yourself to be friendly.”

About working in Thailand

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: I'm retired and married to a Thai woman, so I have a visa that allows me to stay to support my Thai wife.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A: The climate here in Whang Pho is one of the reasons we moved here; it's great all year round, hot, but not too hot with rain, but not monsoons - and no major disasters. Most of the folks are farmers, and thus there is always lots of work, and always a need for workers.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: Home (USA) was a hurry up; it was a stressful, work a day world. Here in the LOS, there’s less stress and a slower pace of living, work is on ones list here in Thailand, but is not a top priority.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move? 
A: No!!! We moved ourselves, after lots of planning and saving.

Family and children

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: It took me a while to get used to the Thai culture and customs and the Mai Pen Rai way of life, but I listened, watched and learned. It did take me awhile to learn how to adjust my thinking to the Thai way of thinking though. Of course Ciejay was home, with friends and family and as happy as could be with a house, a little piece of land to call her own, a small bhat gold chain around her neck and a wonderful husband doing everything he can to make her happy.

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: No kids here in Thailand, they are all grown and married.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A: The healthcare I have received since I have been here is the best, I've ever had.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A:  Do your homework before you make the move, and then when you get here, go with the flow, don't try to swim against the Thai current and BE HAPPY.