Candice Broom is an American mother of two young children. They have lived in Asia since 2002. She loves travelling with her family any and everywhere! Candice holds an M.A. in teaching and has many years experience working with children of a wide range of ages, from preschool to University students. Her blog is Mom Most Traveled.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Alabama, USA
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Vientiane, Laos.
Q: How long you have you lived here?
A: 7 years
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: I was already married, but I had kids after we arrived.
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I taught 1st grade in China for a year, then I didn’t want to go back home yet so I heard of an opportunity to teach in Laos. I decided to try that for a year too. 7 years later, we are still here!
About living in Laos
Q: What do you enjoy most about Laos, how’s the quality of life?
A: I love the laid-back pace of life, living in an international city with a small town feel, fabulous restaurants of all kinds, and friendly people. The quality of life is outstanding.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: One big negative is that it takes over 24 hours to fly back home for a visit. I miss people back home. Everything else that I thought I missed (like Taco Bell, for instance) turned out to be better in memory than in reality.
Q: Which are the best places to live in Vientiane?
A: We live near the international school, which is great for us, but many expats choose to live on the Mekong River where they can get the cool breeze.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Asia?
A: If you are willing to pay for it, you can get just about anything. We choose to rent a modest house. We have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but the bathrooms are shower stalls with no bathtubs.
Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Fresh vegetables and fruits are cheaper than back home, as well as things like clothing, home goods, and dining out. Buying imported foods like cheeses seems more expensive than back home but that might be relative. I think the cost of petrol/gasoline is about the same.
One shocker is that the tax on buying a vehicle is almost 100% unless you work for an NGO, in which case there is no tax.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: The locals are very friendly and laid back. I have been here for 7 years so I can speak Lao well now. I do mix mainly with other expats but have been invited to participate in all kinds of cultural celebrations by Lao friends.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Yes, there are lots of opportunities for socialising. There is a Women’s International Group that would be a good start if you were a stay-at-home mom.
About working in Asia
Q: Did you have a problem getting a visa?
A: No, the school took care of that.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in Laos, is there plenty of work?
A: There seems to be no shortage of teaching positions.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: Since I am at an international school it is very similar. Overall, though, the Lao culture is more laid back and less time-driven.
Family and children
Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: Yes, this is their home.
Q: What are the schools in Asia like, any particular suggestions?
A: Vientiane International School is an IB/PYP school for ages 3 to grade 12.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Laos?
A: For major issues, most foreigners choose to go to Udon Thani or Bangkok for care. For minor issues and dentistry, there is a clinic staffed by French doctors that all of the expats use.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Slow down, settle in, and don’t try to do too much at once!
► Interviewed February 2010