Deciding Where To Live in Phuket
There are three distinct locations in Phuket in my mind. The first is the east side of the island, which I would define as being Chalong going all the way up to the airport. The second is the western side of the island, which are the towns along the coast starting at Rawai and going all the way up a bit past Patong. And finally I believe Patong falls into its own category. There might be other areas and I know I am sort of missing a couple, but I think the geography really captures the up / downsides pretty well for those in between places. I actually only lived in Chalong and Rawai in my year there, but visited all around the island quite a bit. My conclusion is that most readers will like the “west” category the best, although I bet for some the decision could easily be either of the other options.
Upsides of each:
East – The prices of just about everything here is cheaper. There is greater variety of choices of everything “Thai”, meaning things like services and markets. There is a much greater selection for long term housing, and they were of the highest quality that I saw. As far as night life goes the girls were certainly the least mercenary of the island. You will be closest to the highest quality shopping on the island. There is a mall with a nice movie theatre. You’re also really close to a good quality hospital should the need arise. The quality of life seemed to have the least amount of shift between low and high season…which I’ll touch on again later.
West – The location is awesome for just living life – I am not fully sure how to describe this but it did feel like living a dream sometimes with the super nice weather and a couple minute ride to the beach. You’ll be really close to a nice beach almost certainly. You will find some pretty good western restaurants here with a decent variety. The girls are mostly really friendly and it’s not all business with them. On the southern side there are a couple of clubs which are actually fun. Getting around on a motorbike was really a pleasure on the west side.
Patong – This is where the hottest girls are, plain and simple. It also has the largest variety of night life spots. I seemed to run into something new almost constantly. It was also the most exciting part of the island; I went several times and
was never bored. There are a ton of choices for places to eat also and the shopping isn’t bad. It really felt like this entire town was in party mode as long as the sun was down.
Downsides of each:
East – The traffic was quite bad compared to the rest of the island. I found it really hard to navigate at times, even after living there for a year. There were very few choices for everything “western” and what was there seemed lower quality to me (this is just anecdotal and there absolutely were exceptions). All of the Thais spoke less English and were often less friendly than the west side. While they were cheaper, the Thai food choices seemed less sanitary and less tasty than their western counterparts. Being 15 minutes from the nice beaches did suck a lot more than expected. Unless you’re a cheap Charlie, have medical issues, can get a good job here or like to shop every day I can see no reason to really live on the east side.
West – I found it somewhat difficult to find a reasonably nice place for a fair price. The variety of places was also lacking and I did end up “settling” to some extent. I think this is because a lot of the rentals are not geared towards those living there, and the short term options are exceptionally expensive. The westerners on this side of the island were a much lower caliber than those living on the east (again exceptions for sure). Options for things to do outside of the “beach life” and bars are kind of lacking here, too. Finally, the quality of life was much higher here during high/hot season as most of the benefit comes from the beach. During the rainy season you might get a bit bored when the weather is crappy. I felt like the west side of the island offered the best balance and I really did enjoy living here a lot.
Patong – While I’m on the topic, this place was really a lot worse during high season. The attitude of the girls here is already the lowest, but during high season it truly is a seller’s market and unless you are
throwing around a ton of money you have to fight for attention. During high season you will still plenty of attention off the main drag but for that there isn’t much of a reason to even be in Patong. During low season a gogo bar will be
10 girls for every guy, but during high season it will be 10 guys for every girl. I am a decent looking 25 year old and I am still quoted 3,000 baht for ST during high season by most of the girls. Yet during low season I’d have the hottest
ones wanting to do LT for 1,500-2,000 – and be willing to come all the way to Chalong. What I am getting at is that Patong is really quite lousy during high season. Also, Patong is way more expensive than the rest of the island. Finally,
it felt hard to “take a break” in Patong, and unless you’re a rock star you will get sick of it.
I think Phuket would be a great place to retire to. As for the best location, I don't think I could live near one of the beaches as they are just too tourist for my liking – in terms of a place to live!