British Expats in Thailand, Interview with Sacha, Jmayel & Eden

Published: 21 Nov at 6 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Thailand
A Man, Woman and Dog traveling Thailand in a classic 41 year old Ford Escort Mk1. Creating cinematic travel videos about their experiences. Sacha Jmayel & Eden left the UK to digitally capture the world in their own unique style... Sacha's expat blog is called 8 Miles From Home (see listing here)

Meet Sacha - British expats living in Thailand
Meet Sacha, Jmayel & Eden - British expats living in Thailand

Here's the interview with Sacha, Jmayel & Eden...


Where are you originally from?
We are originally from the UK, we both grew up in the same town in East London

In which country and city are you living now?
We are now living in the beautiful Chiang Mai in North Thailand

How long have you lived in Thailand and how long are you planning to stay?
We have lived in Chiang Mai for 19 months so far, we are planning on living here for another 5 months before relocating to somewhere in the South of Thailand for another year, maybe two!

Why did you move to Thailand and what do you do?
We moved away from our home in the UK as we were wanting a more relaxed way of life, the cost of living was rising rapidly in England and we were both unhappy with our jobs and basically we were working just to survive and not enjoying life at all. So we decided to move to somewhere that had a lower cost of living, warmer weather and a bit of adventure!
We sell stock photography online, and the money we make from that is enough to support a life in Chiang Mai, but not in England. Since moving to Thailand we started our travel blog and began creating our own versions of travel videos and documenting expat life in our own unique way.

Me & Jmayel at a view point in Chiang Mai, celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary
Me & Jmayel at a view point in Chiang Mai, celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary
Did you bring family with you?
Apart from each other, we left England with our Cocker Spaniel dog called Eden. We didn't even consider leaving her behind. We have a house and a big garden and having her with us makes us feel more at home. Because we stay in one place a lot of the time in Chiang Mai, it is much easier to have our dog with us rather than if we were traveling around all the time. Shes adapted well to Thai life and make us a little family of 3.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
We actually found it very easy. We were really prepared before we moved and what actually helped us before we first arrived was using google street view. We had organised a house to rent for the 1st month of arriving in Chiang Mai and we looked it up on the map and street view and began showing our friends and family where we were going. We found a park to walk Eden and a supermarket etc before we had even got on the plane!
Once we arrived in Thailand, we got in a taxi and new exactly where we were going and recognized certain points of the town having already looked at it on the map.
There are obviously big differences to living abroad in a country where English is not the first language spoken and certain foods we were used to weren't available, but we adapted pretty quickly and we didn't crave for anything we used to have in England. We wanted that big change and we got it!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We have made a few good friends since being in Chiang Mai, there are a lot of ways to meet fellow expats and Chiang Mai is quite a social place. Our friends we have are also expats but we have met a lot of Thai's and locals to the area. We know enough people to not feel lonely but I wouldn't say we have a massive social circle, but that is by choice rather than not being able to easily meet people.

Jmayel Walking our dog Eden through the streets of Pai, one of our favorite places in North Thailand
Jmayel Walking our dog Eden through the streets of Pai, one of our favorite places in North Thailand
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
There are many good things about living in Chiang Mai. Not only is it a very relaxed and chilled out place to live, but its is very accessible. You are in the gateway to the North of Thailand and so I love it that we can jump in the car and explore the beautiful surroundings so easily. Its quiet where we are and traffic is minimal compared to London. The roads are great and we have explored Chiang Rai, Mae Salong, Pai and everything in between extensively since being here. The North has many stunning places to visit and if you want a change its only an hours flight to Bangkok or 2 hours and you can be in Phuket!

What do you enjoy most about living in Thailand?
Generally just the fact that we are living in Thailand. Some days we will take the motorbike to the supermarket to get some dinner, and just doing that simple thing, riding down the road with the mountains on one side and green rice fields on the other makes us feel happy. Also that we can live in T Shirts and shorts! I have worn a jumper and jeans only a handful of times in our whole 19 months - in England, it's the other way around!

How does the cost of living in Thailand compare to the UK?
One of the main big differences in the cost of living is property rental. We rent a 3 bedroom detached house with garden and large driveway for 200 GBP a month, including bills. In England we were paying 500 GBP a month for a small 1 bedroom flat plus all the household bills on top. So for us that is the main difference in the cost of living and where our biggest savings comes from.
We have a car and a motorbike, but the petrol prices for our old vehicle are almost on par with the UK now. There are ways around that though, like investing in a newer car or converting the fuel system to LPG which is very cheap and widely available across Thailand.
You can chose what kind of lifestyle you want in Thailand. You can live very cheaply or extravagantly - food can be very cheap at local restaurants and little cafes or you can go to western style restaurants and eat steaks and fries and that would obviously eat into your wallet a lot more.
When we first arrived we were living on 500 GBP a month for our entire expenses. It was quite tough though and we had to budget carefully, we now live on around 800 GBP a month, for two people and a dog. To live the same life we have in Chiang Mai in England would cost us around 2,000+ GBP a month.

Jmayel & I in Mae Salong, North Thailand, walking through an Oolong tea plantation
Jmayel & I in Mae Salong, North Thailand, walking through an Oolong tea plantation
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I wouldn't say there are too many negatives to living in Chiang Mai, you have everything here you could possibly want. There are big shopping malls, a cinema, supermarkets, many bars, restaurants and cafes, more than you could ever need actually! There is a good mix of culture and it is an easy place to live without being over run with Western influences.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Remember that you are living in Thailand. Don't compare everything to the West or your home town. We have found that many expats moan about a lot of stuff here. Yes, there are products that you can't get and the way of dealing with situations is different from what you know.
You have to embrace that you are in Thailand and not in the UK or USA and that is what makes it great, don't pine and complain about things you left behind, more often than not, you left them behind for a reason! But if you're not willing to accept that. Then maybe being an expat isn't for you.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Probably one thing that hit us hard when we first arrived was the cost of buying a vehicle. We had no idea how expensive cars were in Thailand and it was something we needed as we had a dog with us. So the savings we had bought with us were spent almost instantly within the first month and so we had a couple of months after of being really poor and it wasn't great!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I don't think we will ever go back to living permanently in England. We have started a life that allows us to live location independent and we wouldn't trade that in for anything! It would be nice to be nearer to friends and family, and we will go home for visits maybe a month or so at a time, but there are too many other wonderful places to live that we want to experience those before even considering returning to England for good.

Jmayel & I looking out at the view from a Bangkok rooftop!
Jmayel & I looking out at the view from a Bangkok rooftop!
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn a few words of the Local Language before you arrive. Even if it's just the pleasantries.
  2. Search for bloggers in the area that you are planning to move to. Most of them are an honest bunch that will tell you how it really is.
  3. Don't be afraid to live in a local community rather than an Expat community, most of the time the people are much friendlier than you think and somebody somewhere will usually speak some English. It really is the best way to feel immersed in the culture of the country you are in.
  4. Get your own vehicle and drive. Our best adventures come from road trips.
  5. If you have a dog, bringing them with you isn't that hard. We were worried about bringing our dog but now we are so glad that we did. She really makes us feel like we are meant to be here when things get tough.


Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Our blog '8 miles from home' is the end result of all our creative input. We decided to start a Cinematic Web Series about our adventures on youtube and the blog acts as a behind the scenes to that project. We used to do professional wedding photos and video so we couldn't let those talents sit idle. '8 miles from home' has turned from a personal diary into a full blown business for us and we are hoping to keep on making our cinematic travel videos indefinitely as a way of life. You can also find in depth tips, restaurant reviews, local hot spots and expat information all bundled up with great pictures and creative writing. It's quite a unique blog and we really enjoy writing it.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Visit our Blog at 8milesfromhome.com and check out the Expat tab on the side bar. If you can't find what you need send us an email at 8milesfromhome@gmail.com

About the author

Expat Blog ListingSacha is a British expat living in Thailand. Blog description: A Man, Woman and Dog traveling Thailand in a classic Ford Escort Mk 1. Creating Cinematic Travel Videos about their experiences. Sacha, Jmayel & Eden left the UK to digitally capture the world in their own unique style.
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