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13 Nuances That People Miss When They Dream About Leaving Their Job and Moving to “Paradise”

Many people find the idea of dropping everything to go live in another country for the entire summer appealing. Exchanging gray colors for bright ones, switching hard-working days with eternal holidays, and trading out grumpy faces of fellow citizens for smiling strangers is a total fantasy. It seems there are no disadvantages to living in the tropics!

Some people dare to ditch everything they know and leave for paradise. But spending time on an island for a short vacation vs moving there permanently are 2 different things. When one’s initial excitement disappears, the reality of tropical life begins — and not everyone finds it all that interesting. Many Bright Side authors are downshifters and can imagine for themselves what things can go wrong.

All the days start to feel the same.

Groundhog day comes without you noticing it. At first, everything seems new and interesting. Downshifters will continue exploring the new place and enjoying the sun but after 2-3 months will realize that they’re doing the same exact things every single day. If a person doesn’t have a hobby, it’s hard to avoid monotony.

  • Why have we left Thailand after 5 years of living there? We had new horizons, new skills and opportunities, we gained the understanding that we’re too young to solve other people’s issues and are too old to hang out on beaches and at discos every day. In order to develop, we need to stay tense and overcome ourselves, otherwise, there’s a risk of drowning in this swamp and assuring yourself that good climate and ecology are the basis of our happiness which is actually wrong. © elena_nekrasova / LiveJournal
  • There are many religious, yoga-obsessed, enlightened and chakra-opening people in Bali. The craving for veganism and the opening of the chakras will appear after about 6 months of living here. In other aspects of life — it’s a full degradation. © Murulia / Pikabu

There’s a lack of communication with people close to your intellectual and cultural state.

The chance that a downshifter will find true friends among the local population tends to be zero. You will likely find acquaintances but it’s unlikely that they’ll discuss your favorite books or movies with you.

  • Although I love many things about Thailand, there are just some things that I could not live with for more than a few years. I miss having intelligent discussions with people outside of the Internet. A lack of honesty and transparency is shown by Thais and Farangs alike. All my attempts to find true friends whom I would trust have failed here. © nietzche / thaivisa
  • There are many good and kind people around. You can talk to them, drink tea, play a game or go somewhere together. But it’s impossible to talk about something deeper than the latest news. It’s a kind of intellectual hunger! © Svetasingh.ru
  • I returned home because I started to crave being normal again as opposed to being a Farang. I started to crave being able to talk to anyone without wondering if I’d be understood. I basically started to crave normality again. © xandreu / thaivisa

It’s impossible to assimilate.

You can live in any country of South-East Asia for 10-20 years, learn their local language, get citizenship there and even marry a citizen of this country, but you’ll never become a local.

  • No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to assimilate completely. You’ll stay a “white ATM” for them forever and even after 5 years of living there, local people will keep trying to get some money from you, just like on the first day. © Murulia / Pikabu
  • It’s a shame how so many people here see the western face and automatically assume “money.” This makes us prime targets for scammers and just over-solicitation in general, even of the honest kind. © Thomas Griffin / Quora

You’ll have to follow their traditions.

It’s not always clear for tourists what things can offend or annoy local people. At the same time, some rules and traditions might be annoying you but when living in a foreign country, you’ll have to hide your emotions.

  • You’ll have to overcome the desire to teach Indian people rules of etiquette and simple politeness as you know them. They will pretend as if they don’t see you when lining up for something and they may even step on your feet. You’ll have to cook at home if you can’t stand to watch people eating with their hands and putting them into their mouths. © ekspatru / LiveJournal
  • No one’s heard about customer rights in Bali. Refunding money for goods is something impossible here. Exchanging recently bought broken goods for working ones is a problematic thing. If they spoil your construction, your contract, or simply your mood, all you’ll get is: “Sorry, boss.” © donna_yolka / LiveJournal
  • I am sincerely upset when I watch how they clean, how they make furniture, how they look after the gardens, hang pictures, and cook. I used to always disagree with my father on how perfect work should be done. It seemed to me that he demanded too much. But I miss it in India! © Svetasingh.ru

Foreigners always pay more.

“Local tourist (adult) — 40 baht; local tourist (child) — 20 baht; foreign tourist (adult) — 400 baht; foreign tourist (child) — 200 baht”

Double pricing applies in taxis, tuk-tuks, and even restaurants. The menu in the local language shows one price and a different one in English. Foreign tourists almost always pay several times more for tickets to national parks and museums.

Many downshifters find it unfair. One Twitter user wrote, “I employed 60 people in Thailand, I pay all my company and income taxes in Thailand, and I spend much of my income in Thailand. I am married to a Thai person and that’s what I got! $400 instead of $40.” It’s energy-consuming to fight against it and as a rule, it’s senseless. That’s why people either put up with local rules or leave.

The law is always on the side of local residents in controversial situations.

The interests of foreigners are secondary in the eyes of local authorities. In any car accident or disagreements with unscrupulous landlords, taxi-drivers or sellers, a foreigner is guilty by default. You can find many sad stories about lost business on the Internet, while various expatriate communities in social networks regularly collect money for lawyers to rescue unlucky downshifters from behind bars. Unfortunately, even those who lead a peaceful life have to encounter the justice system in Southeast Asia.

South-East Asia is not good for those who like to walk.

It’s uncomfortable to walk in almost any city in the tropical countries in Asia. Moreover, it’s dangerous. At the same time, not every tourist dares to start driving in this chaotic and unpredictable traffic. There are people for whom the comfort of walking and safety while driving is so critical that after spending a couple of months in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam or India, they rush to find countries more comfortable for pedestrians.

  • Bali is one of those places where you need to ride in bikes or cars. Every location is far from you. There’s no public transportation there and walking to the nearest shop can be a problem because there are no sidewalks. © k.ira43 / pikabu
  • The traffic is fairly bad, particularly in Hanoi, and they don’t really obey the rules of the road. Expect driving/parking on footpaths and crossing the street to be a challenge. © John Costello / quora
  • The traffic here is unbelievably chaotic. They drive as they want, they don’t stop at traffic lights or pedestrian crosses and constantly honk their horns. We realized that the bolder you were, the faster you’d get to the destination. When you drive a car, you’re surrounded by bikes...and they don’t use turn signals. © Neklyudovataya / pikabu

You can’t avoid meeting creatures of nature.

When making a decision to move to tropical countries, many people forget about insect and reptile phobias they might have. However, they should take this into account because these phobias have many times become the reason for an early return home.

  • Glittering cockroaches that are as big as a matchbox are everywhere. They even get in the closets. You might get your underwear out and find that there’s a cockroach in it. You can’t leave anything on the table — especially water! © Murulia / Pikabu

Forget about cultural leisure and a familiar social life.

Many people underestimate the lack of cultural entertainment in the tropics. At home, you could go to a theater, gallery, or get-together with your friends and play games like Mafia, but in a tropical paradise, you’ll only be able to go to a mall or cinema.

  • I miss cheering on the local teams back home. College basketball, baseball, even high school sports, football, etc. I just haven’t been able to get into the sports here. I’ve tried attending many Thailand Premier League football matches but I miss my sports. © FreedomDude / thaivisa
  • The first time I visited Varkala (Kerala, India) for 2 weeks, I fell in love with the place so I decided to return here and live for a while. We rented a house together with a couple from the Baltic region. I would go to the beach in the morning, work in the afternoon, and eat mostly in cafes. That’s all I had! There was no entertainment there at all. There is a museum, a zoo and a couple of interesting temples in Trivandrum. But it’s 40 miles away and I visited all those places on my first visit. If not for my neighbors with whom we played board games in the evening, I don’t know how I would be able to live there till March.

Medical services that are not covered by insurance are very expensive.

Travel insurance involves going to the clinic in an emergency and doesn’t cover the actual visit to the doctor if you suddenly threw your back out or got a chronic disease. In such cases, the downshifter can either tolerate the pain or use paid (and very expensive) medical services.

  • A neighboring girl broke her arm while swimming in the sea. The doctor showed us the x-ray and said she’d need surgery. Having found out that she has no insurance, he proposed an alternative: apply a fixing bandage and return to the motherland. The surgery had to be done within 5 days. The issue was that the girl had a small baby who had never parted with his mother. So she had to pay for it in India. The surgery cost $900 and she had to pay additionally for the x-rays, bandages, and medicine. © sovenok101 / LiveJournal
  • My wife stayed in the sun for too long and at night her body temperature raised to 40°С, so we went to the hospital. The physical evaluation, lab investigation, and medicine all added up to about $170. © lockidogi / Pikabu

Your longing for home is stronger than you could imagine.

There comes a time when all the negativity that made us run away from home fades and something pleasant comes up in our memory like a walk in the park during the spring, New Year’s lights in the central square of the city, a favorite café, and more. Missing relatives and friends make the longing for home even stronger. Exchanging photos and video chats can’t replace real communication.

  • One of the reasons that makes me consider moving back is the lack of good friends — most of the expats I met are kind of nuts, crazy party people, or cocky business people who brag all day about their “great” lives. I have good family and friends back home which makes it tempting sometimes. © Marcel1 / thaivisa

You’ll miss the food you’re used to.

You can now buy European products in many tourist countries, but there are some things that are available only at home. These products are different for every country but are mostly unavailable in the tropics.

  • European food in Bali is much more expensive than local food. Good cheese, for example, is a rare thing. You need to change your food preferences drastically to be able to live a comfortable life here. © Murulia / Pikabu

The hot, humid climate doesn’t suit many people.

  • I have never thought that one could burn their skin so much before moving to Sri Lanka. Turned out, I have very sensitive skin and didn’t know it because the climate of my country is much milder. Even after short exposure to the sun, a rash appeared on my body. I had to move to the mountains from the seashore.
  • I returned home and now I am able to go out because there isn’t that big, round, hot, yellow thing in the sky all day every day which, especially in April through June, makes it virtually impossible to be outside. © thejcb / thaivisa

Coffee that dampened and turned into a sticky stone in one night

  • After one week of living in Pha-ngan, Thailand, I found mold inside my camera. I had to go to the neighboring island to clean it. During the rainy season, mold appears everywhere within 2 days. Our documents, winter clothes, leather bags and shoes, and even pillows get this green layer. It’s a very harmful thing and my kid started to cough right away. Salt and sugar turn into a paste if they are not packed hermetically. Coffee that stayed in an open bag overnight dampened and turned into a sticky stone.
  • Never quite got used to the heat. Mosquitos are plentiful here. I had to drench myself in repellent but they still seemed to find me tasty. Got fed up with having to shower every time I went out and then re-apply repellent. © roger long / thaivisa
  • This is what happened to my Armani glasses in Sri Lanka when I was absent. The mold has grown even on the case. I always get astonished at how harshly things spoil upon returning to Sri Lanka. Within 3 months, everything gets covered with mold in a closed room. We have to wash it off every time. © victoria.planetter / Instagram

We’re not trying to talk you out of living in warm countries. For many people, a long trip becomes motivating and helps them to start fresh and see new horizons. However, some people eventually return to the starting point after becoming disappointed in their move. We’d be glad to know if our article helped you to make a more balanced decision about whether to move to the tropics or not. Have you ever considered downshifting or have you already experienced this? Please tell us about it in the comments!

Preview photo credit victoria.planetter / Instagram