I have touched on this subject previously when I posted my initial impressions about our new home in Chiang Mai, which can be found HERE.
We have just completed six months living here and I thought I would expand the topic to cover my experience of living in a Thai Moo Baan, village or in this case a gated community.
Gated communities are very popular in the cities of Thailand and well adopted by both Thai and farang residents. There are many new Moo Baans being constructed on the outskirts of Chiang Mai to keep up with the fast expansion of Thailand’s number 2 city – no it isn’t a little backwater no matter what the tourist brochures tell you.
Having lived in a Moo Baan for a while I can appreciate the benefits as well as acknowledge some of their limitations.
These are self contained communities with security to limit access, which means they are quiet without intrusive traffic other than resident cars. As a contrast to traffic burdened Chiang Mai this is a welcome oasis of peace. Our Moo Baan has a double security layer. The complex itself is made up of five separate Moo Baans within a huge walled enclosure. There is a main security point entering the main complex:
We then have a second security gate coming into “our” Moo Baan within the complex:
The complex is maintained by a body corporate type central organisation. Water, electricity, grounds maintenance and supporting facilities such as the sports centre and shops come under this umbrella.
The grounds are meticulously looked after by a small army of Myanmar workers. There are about a dozen people working six days a week just watering grass, mowing and generally manicuring this main thoroughfare. There are other teams working within the separate Moo Baans. Our road and paths are swept once a week by hand.
The complex has a small shopping centre with a restaurant, massage place, shop and laundry. The restaurant is 100% Thai. Most residents are Thai not foreigners and the facilities like this reflect that.
The water is filtered within the Moo Baan and is good for general use but Thais, and me too, prefer to use freshly filtered water for drinking and cooking. We buy water from these filtered water stations beside the shops. 1.5 litres costs a bit over 3 cents. We provide our own containers and fill them every couple of weeks. My house in Si Bun Ruang when built will have its own filtration system.
Many Moo Baans use their recreation facilities as a selling point but I’m not sure why because hardly anyone uses our fitness centre. Looks good on the brochures I guess. We have got into a routine – finally – of going to the gym one day and then swimming the next, with Sunday off! It is unusual to see anyone else there.
Recently the water in the pool has been almost too warm to be refreshing but as we move into a wetter period we are getting regular evening storms, which has made the water slightly cooler. Who would think I would be complaining about the water being too warm?
On the way out you can refresh yourself and put the calories back on at the local cafe:
Once inside our Moo Baan, which is called Chonlada, we turn right at this lake into our part of the bigger village area:
So on the plus side a Moo Baan gives you a very sheltered, secure and civilised living experience. Chiang Mai is a busy city and coming back to a wonderfully peaceful, garden environment is a pleasure.
On the downside having a home within a Moo Baan isolates you from the “real” Thai living experience. This is something I will experience when we build in Si Bun Ruang and become just another house in a Thai village street. The comparison will be interesting.
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