What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Ao Nang (Krabi)
How long have you lived there?
What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?
Most people start by getting introduced through the expats in Krabi Facebook page. The is really only one expat group called Skal, that has any formal meetups. And I use the word 'formal" loosely as nothing in this area of Thailand is formal. A lot of expats meet through Yoga and Muayi Thai. Of course families tend to meet through the private schools and after school Kumon classes.
In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.
In terms of religion, the area is diverse but there is a large Muslim population. The Muslims have fantastic food on offer and everyone seems to get along quite well. As this area is full of tourists you will find a melting pot from Russia, Australia, England, other European countries, there are few Americans. The Thai people are very accepting of all different people. They also have 'she boys' which are well esteemed in Thailand. These are men who dress up as women. Expats are welcomed. You will learn quickly that there are few restaurants and bars where certain groups of expats tend to socialize. Economically, there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor. The majority being poor or working class. I think the beauty of the area helps bring people together and bridge this gap though.
What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?
Tourism drives this area with a very heavy Chinese and Australian presence of visitors. English is the language that ties everyone together. Although it may be very minimal English, most people know some. Career opportunities could involve hotel work, but there is only one major American chain in town. English teachers are always in need. Most other opportunities revolve around guides for tourists. I would not recommend going without a job in place. Of course, speaking Thai is a huge advantage to your job search. Most expats will be surprised at how low the pay is. Being creative and opening your own business - geared to the tourist - is usually how the expat is successful. Of course, real estate is always a popular option.
In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?
Live here is sooo laid back. For the expat, the majority are retirees. Life does not revolve around work, it revolves around play. Many expats - the younger ones- tend to get jobs related to beach activities - snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding.... Where to eat is usually the top priority for most expats.
If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.
I think the best advise is to make sure you have a way of earning money that does not involve having to find work here - unless you are an English teacher. If you can find an opportunity to work remotely, that is best. If you are from the US, there is a 12 hour time difference. This actually works to your advantage because you can answer emails in the morning and then again at night. This allows you to respond promptly to clients and also allows you to enjoy the entire day without distractions (as everyone in the US is sleeping). A new law is requiring all expat to enroll in an insurance plan. I would have advised that anyway, but it is now mandatory.
I would also say, bring less clothes than you think you need and bring more of your favorite cosmetics and linens. There are many knock-offs in Thailand in the cosmetic offerings and more likely than not, you will be buying an inferior product. It is also hard to find good quality sheets and towels and even pillows, so I recommend bringing your own. Good quality water shoes and practical shoes are also hard to find and when you do, quite expensive.
An Expat Talks about Culture Shock & Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
An American expat who moved from Hong Kong to Chiang Mai talks about how she underestimated the how much culture shock she would experience in Chiang Mai. She loves the welcoming Thai people, low cost of living, affordable medical care, respect for elders, Thai food and more. However, she explains that Thai culture is very complex and it's easy to make social mistakes.