For me personally, I would classify urban areas as a location where major city centres are with a big population. I am not going to write about Bangkok or even Hatyai as I don't stay there as long. However, I would describe more about the northern areas of Thailand.
At the north,there is Chiang Mai. This is the 2nd largest city in Thailand. There are many shopping centres and you will be surprised that a lot of expats prefer to stay here than in Bangkok. This is because its busy but not as polluted as Bangkok (although things might be changing now). Chiang Mai thrived on Tourism as it serves as a gateway for people to visit furthur northern areas like Mae Hong Song or Chiang Rai. Its International airport was recently renovated with one more terminal to handle the growing crowd.
The expats ratio staying in Chiang Mai are quite high. My condo in Kad Suan Kaew has more than 80% taken by foreigners. If you walk along the street, its very common to see foreigners on the street. One of the main reason is that the city has a lot of schools that attract these people. Chiang Mai University is worldwide recognised and gives lessons in English rather than Thai. Thai language, art/crafts and Buddhist schools also peppered the city.
There are pubs and bars in Chiang Mai but their number is not as much as in Bangkok. Expat pubs are common for foreigners and most of them cater to a niche group. Such as German restaurant and Irish pubs.
Overall, the impression of Chiang Mai is that its still developing and have not reached its potential yet. Business opportunity is good. Capital needed to rent a shop house or even a store is definitely not as high as in Bangkok. But again, things are changing as Chiang Mai has recently become more and more expensive.
Here's some references