There has been a lot of talk about leaving. By those who can, that is. The rest of us – those with commitments and constraints like jobs, families, finance, or locals who simply have nowhere else to go to – feel almost left out. Whether it’s the horrors of the annual pollution, frustrations over the TM30 requirements or the strength of the damn baht, some people have said enough is enough. While it makes those of us who remain sad, we can only wave fondly and wish you all happy trails…
I was lifted from my sulky doldrums and abandonment issues this week, however, when the results of our 2019 readership survey was correlated and revealed. My feel-good moment came first and foremost by the overwhelming response to the survey, and we thank you, and you, and you for taking part.
But then the feels kept coming. The good news is that we got just about the same number of respondents who were Thai as internationals, and while some of the results were vastly different – a quarter of our expat readers earn over 100,000 baht per month, while the Thai number was only about half that, which to be fair was expected – many of the numbers showed that our readers are consistently engaged and invested in Chiang Mai.
Across the board, our readers cite the local culture, the foodscape and surrounding nature as what they love most about being here in Chiang Mai. I did have a giggle when I read that foreigners tend to like the people more than Thais do! When asked what they think the most pressing issue Chiang Mai faces, it was almost unanimously about the state of air pollution, with 92% of foreigners and 84% of Thais saying it was an urgent matter. Both found traffic to be the second most concerning issue, with over development coming third. Fascinatingly, nearly 40% of Thais were concerned about crime, whereas only 1.5% of foreigners were! A disconnect we guess can be attributed to all those dead bodies seen on Thai social media pages and newspaper front covers.
I’ve always been rather nosey, so my curiosity was peaked when reading about who you are and how you live your lives. Interestingly enough, we have just published a book as well as did a Citylife cover story in August about Chiang Mai being a coffee city, and it appears that we weren’t off the mark. A quarter of all our readers go to a coffee shop every single day, a habit I’m sure the coffee industry is going to be quite interested in. Funnily enough while 30% of our international readers eat in a Thai restaurant every day, only 18% of our Thai readers do – make of that what you will. I am also thoroughly ashamed of myself for joining the 21% of foreigners and 10% of Thais who don’t regularly go to the gym or exercise…tsk tsk, but am super impressed with all of you who do! Another intriguing vignette of data was the fact that night life wasn’t that big of a draw here, with under 4% of people going out every night, though 35% of foreigners and 8% of Thais do party weekly. It must be because you are all out appreciating nature, because just about all of you say that you find time for nature on a regular basis.
I think the fact that our readers are all highly educated, is probably why there is so much positive engagement within in the city, after all, in both Thai and English language surveys, exactly 83% of our readers held at least one degree, with high numbers with masters degrees and PhDs. Intriguingly well over half of our English readers are male whereas only a quarter of our Thai readers are male – huh! Another wildly differing demographic seems to be age; most of our Thai readers are between the ages of 25 and 44 whereas most of our international readers are aged between 45-64. Perhaps older Thais are not fluent in online media whereas younger foreigners have multiple platforms from which to get information? I do wonder.
The fact is, you are all invested in and contributing towards the city’s future. You are an engaged, active, social, woke lot who want to see Chiang Mai become here best self. And that is some power you have right there.
They say it’s always better to leave than to be left behind. I say nonsense. We live in a great (though flawed) city, but it is the people – you, you and you – who make it great and can come together to make it truly special. With the invaluable information you have given us, I feel confident that we can improve our content and our business so that we can continue to do our bit to make Chiang Mai a better place for you all.
I can’t resist adding one last stat…and yes, it is shameless self-congratulatory. A whopping 98.84% Thais and 98.47% foreigners (see how I added the decimals there?) think that Citylife is trustworthy. I am humbled. And promise that as our business develops and expands, integrity will remain at our very core.
See you at the Citylife Garden Fair on 23rd November!
Facebook: Citylife Garden Fair 2019
And check out our company’s great new service site at CitylifeGroup.co.th
Photo: Alex de Blonay