Although I focus on Chiang Mai, Thailand in this and many of our other digital nomad “beginner” posts, this one has something for all digital nomad parents.
Advice for Parents with Young Children
The digital nomad lifestyle is not exclusive to young single folks, and I’m pleased to report that parents of little humans have options, too.
Chiang Mai is incredibly family-friendly and there are a number of young families thriving here. Every digital nomad family you will encounter will all sing the same song; it has a positive effect on family relationships and the kids turn out to be well rounded and able to adapt to change easily. In other words, it enhances their development —it isn’t detrimental.
The concept of “home” is transferred from a brick and mortar building to “home is where the Teddy Bear is”, or “where mommy and daddy are”.
One particular blog post that stands out to me in terms of mindset is from the Upwork blog entitled “How to be a digital nomad When You Have Family“.
Advice from a Digital Nomad Mom
Canadian digital nomad Liisa Vexler had this advice to give to parents considering the leap into living life as a digital nomad;
For the kids: Many countries have schools that will accept children of expats. You can easily seek out areas in the country of your choice that will accept kids for shorter periods of time.
Don’t over-think it: There’s no point in sitting around and thinking about becoming a digital nomad for too long. You just need to do it. Make a list of what you need to do to get to that point of freedom.
Live your life on your own terms: As far as work goes, you can be whatever you want to be if you believe that’s what you are. “I did that with medical writing,” Liisa says. “You have a lot of skills you don’t know you have —you have to identify those skills and make yourself an expert.”
When Liisa was asked about how supportive her family was about her lifestyle, she told Upwork blog writer Brennan Gamwell; “When we talk, they tell me, ‘You guys are really living life to the fullest”. You can find the full blog post here.
Health and Safety
Tropical MBA also has a great Podcast episode entitled “TMBA 277: How Does Location Independence Affect Relationships and Families?” and it is a solid 40-minute interview with Becky and Paul who are parents of 3 young kids.
In this podcast, Becky describes a time while living in Chiang Mai where her son required a medical procedure. She speaks highly of the care her son received from Chiang Mai Ram Hospital and discusses the experience at length. You can find that episode here.
Another podcast episode on the same blog is an interview with David and Carrie to learn how they’ve managed the location independent lifestyle with two young boys. This episode is entitled “TMBA 183: What is the Best Place for Location Independent Families?”.
Their interview discusses insurance and health care, in addition to mindset, costs, and a number of tips for parents ranging from what to take with you to how they found reliable babysitters. At around 30:00 they talk about their medical experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“It’s like a four-star hotel, and they happen to be treating you for something”
– Carrie McKeegan
You can find that podcast here.
In that TMBA podcast, Carrie McKeegan from Greenback Tax Services says she welcomes questions about bringing a family to Asia, and you can find her contact information within the podcast episode.
Some Tips for Digital Nomad Families in Chiang Mai
Here are a few key tips from a spread of digital nomad moms and dads that I’ve encountered along the road;
- Buy any plastic items which come into contact with food or children’s mouths (like baby bottles, soothers, certain toys, plastic containers) in your home country; Many plastic items for sale in Asia contain traces of lead and/or leech harmful chemicals
- Don’t over pack; there are a lot of safe ways to entertain your kids wherever you are, and over time your kids won’t need to be coddled or constantly entertained like they may have back home
- Scope out Chiang Mai Ram Hospital immediately, don’t wait for an emergency – Make sure they carry all of the medications your child needs, ask about vaccinations, etc. so your child can stay on cycle with kids back home in developed countries, while staying current with whatever additional vaccinations they need to live safely in Asia
- International schools can be quite costly while local bilingual schools can also provide excellent education and care for your children at a greatly reduced cost
- Bring one central “comfort item” for your child, instead of the whole toy box (and don’t lose it!)
- Kids don’t have life expectations; Don’t worry, they won’t feel like they’re missing anything and you shouldn’t either
Schools in Chiang Mai
Here are a handful of schools to get you started; the one at the top of the list is a school that a personal friend of mine took his children to. It’s a quality school and is much more affordable than the international schools I list after it.
Wichai Wittaya Bilingual School
264/1, Chang Klan Road, Nong Hoi, Mueang Chiang Mai
You can view information on Thai Visa here.
American Pacific International School
158/1 Moo 3 Hangdong-Samoeng Rd., T. Banpong, A. Hang Dong, Chiang Mai
You can find more information here.
Prem Tinsulanonda International School
234 Moo 3, T. Huay Sai, A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
You can find more information here.
Any Tips and Advice You’d Like to Share?
Let everyone know in the comments, your contribution will help to enrich the digital nomad parental experience for thousands of our monthly readers!
Other helpful links:
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You can download your free copy here.