The thoughts farangs caught between the East and West are interesting and leads to some pretty unique choices, such as whether to make “the move” to Thailand. Most of us who frequently travel to LOS have likely faced this decision. The recent
piece on “Returning to the USA” expresses these thoughts well.
Some of us are sitting in Thailand even now, while others dream of being there while sitting in homes or offices throughout the first world; but some are actually sitting in Western homes and offices happy they are not residents of Thailand.
I am going to take the less popular and last stance just mentioned. It is the pro-West view I am sure most readers find less popular, but it seems to be where most of us need to be, because perhaps there is some street-logic in the idea that farangs are better off living in Farangland!
Most Westerners caught in the “love Asia, hate Farangland” mindset seem to think about a few basic points — women, cost of living, not working / retirement / a low stress job. If you concentrate on just these few points, then “early retirement in LOS” seems to be the right choice. However, if you consider other factors often left unmentioned, the story is different. I’m going to make an attempt on looking at the few basic points and throw in some of the overlooked but relevant factors now. Given the scope of this subject, I’m sure I’ll only be glancing the surface.
If you are an over 30 year old Western man, white / Asian / etc., you will likely do better in Asia in finding attractive women — i.e. women who are younger, have low fat / trim builds, are beautiful, and are willing to deal with an older man of modest to moderate financial means by Western standards. The reason for things being better for Western men in this position is due to obvious economics – some parts of Asia, such as Southeast Asia and Thailand are still relatively poor and the opportunities afforded women with Western mates is relatively great.
Some overlooked factors in this “advantage” include WHY the woman is dating the farang and if she will be his equal in interests / education / status / maturity. In most of the cases I’ve seen and the Thai women I have come in contact with, this is an area where Western women have a clear advantage. It is often a choice between a woman with culture, education, and interests, as opposed to a woman who is more of the “trophy wife” or girlfriend. While some men accept the shortcomings, others often downplay the impact until later in the relationship, by believing the Thai girl’s apparent intellectual disinterest is a cultural difference or because neither one of them are able to speak the other’s languages well. By the time he realizes it is not a language issue, as her English gets better or his Thai improves, and as he starts to understand that even a middle class Thai family is still poor relative to Western standards (in finances AND education), the reality of the matter usually sets in.
There are also the obvious concerns one should have if monetary wealth is a primary motivator for the Thai lady in question. I won’t go into this, as the subject is well explored already in other reader’s writings. Despite the arguments that Western women are the same way, there is definitely some common sense truth in that a person from a poor background may be more apt to surrender “true love” and “real lust” for an easy way to a better life. A farang woman in the West with financial means would be willing to give up a lot less and demand a lot more, thus introducing the notion that they are demand and offer little “value”. However, the lot more they demand is often someone they feel an emotional connection with, someone they have common interests in, someone with a similar education / intellectual / financial background, and someone that they actually love. Aren’t these the very things that make a relationship work? The counter argument is that Thai women are often more attractive and beautiful, which is so often true. However, isn’t going after just looks or someone willing to massage one’s ego the very things that lead to failed or unhappy marriages in the long term?
Another basic point or advantage is Asia’s lower cost of living. However, this lower cost of living doesn’t really exist in the “first world” Asian nations, such as Japan or Korea. It is arguable whether Hong Kong or Singapore
really have lower costs of living, given the rents for Western accommodations RELATIVE to the salaries paid to Westerners who ARE NOT on true expat employment packages. In a developing nation like Thailand, if a farang works for local farang wages,
the lower cost of living is more than offset by the lower pay available. If you throw in the cost of “Western goods”, as indicated by Stickman recently and observed by anyone who frequents Thailand, someone could actually effectively
REDUCE their purchasing power based on their wages. In fact, I believe that is the net effect for most farangs who relocate to Thailand and are still in their working lives. Whether they care depends on their priorities (women or Western style
accommodations, easy “intimacy” or building equity in a home / retirement account, a high salary or a low-stress job).
Finally, there is the low stress lifestyle of Asia. This “advantage” is basically a myth for anyone who plans to continue working in Thailand. Asia is not low-stress affair for the Thais trying to make a living with 60 hours work weeks. For the working farangs and Thais of the middle class, the day in the office is just as long, if not longer than a Western work week in Farangland. If you are from Europe, the Thai professional work week may be even longer! Additionally, as a farang working in a Thai office, you may face additional stress due to the cultural differences and the status of “outsider” you would likely carry as a farang or Westerner.
If you plan to retire, the situation is completely different. Depending on if you plan to create stress with a bad relationship, a life of sleeping, bar hopping, visiting temples, pursuing hobbies would definitely be low stress. However, so would a life of golf, reading, spending time with family, etc. in the West. Again, the real advantage is the hordes of women willing to fraternize with an older retiree in Thailand who would not give the time of day to such an older gentleman in Farangland, unless he is willing / able to overcome these objections with massive money and the understanding that he is dealing with women motivated by money. Obviously, the possibility that those young Thai women are after the money is just as great a risk, if not greater, given they will usually be much more poor compared to the farang women an older man would meet in the West.
So when we take all of the above factors into account, what is the real bottom line?
Is Asia a better place to retire? The answer is not clear. It depends on whether we are talking about a first world country (i.e. Japan) or a developing country (i.e. Thailand).
Is Thailand a better place to retire? In general, no. It may be just as good as retirement in the West, but it is not better across the board. Some will even say it is a worse place, given the cultural issues, lack of rights due to our being aliens in a foreign land, and lack of infrastructure.
Is Thailand a better place to retire for an older man wanting to “date” younger, attractive women usually out of his league in appearance, looks, and age? Absolutely.
The plain truth is that it is all about getting hot young women for men in this matter, and it is usually all about money for those hot Thai women the men are coming to Thailand for.
What about the guys married to Thai women who relocate to Thailand? Well, isn’t she still a much younger hot Thai woman? So how is his motivation different? Well, there is one difference, if he is actually loyal to just her….in the case of the “single” guys, it’s about a bunch of hot Thai women, but in the married guy’s case, it SHOULD be only about one hot Thai woman.
Interesting. I agree with the stress thing. I truly believe that for many, Thailand is more stressful than the West – but not for all, of course.
But the over-riding theme in the second half of your article basically suggests that Thailand for Westerners is only advantageous if you are in it for the women….well, that should get a few comments!