Key to living the Thailand lifestyle is eating local food, sometimes derogatorily referred to as going native by expats. Sure, Western food is readily available in the city and the cost of life is significantly lower when compared to Farangland, but I still stick to my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Living the Thailand lifestyle has a double meaning, in my opinion. First of all, it refers to leaving the expat bubble (i.e. Bangkok and Pattaya) and experiencing local culture. To a large extent food is at the center of Thai culture, thus implying that you eat local food. For me personally, living near Korat, that means eating Isaan food from the North-Eastern region. Isaan food is completely different from the dishes you know from your local Thai restaurant, and for some reason many farang won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. Luckily I really adore it, except for any dish that includes Paraa, fermented fish. Most locals are genuinely surprised when I order Laap, Namtok and Somtam Thai, which always seems to make them happy.
A second possible interpretation of living the Thailand lifestyle is, let’s be honest, benefiting from the lower cost of life. When visiting Thailand as a two-week tourist anything appears cheap but we still loosen the purse strings, because we deserve it. For a longer residency, budget comes in the picture once again. If you still want to live somewhat large and eat out regularly, local food is the way to go. It’s actually cheaper to eat at an Isaan restaurant and order two or three dishes each than to cook for yourself and do the dishes at home.
Today, my girlfriend and I ordered four dishes and two cokes, and walked away having paid less than EUR 6.
Nothing wrong with going native.