To Pay Or Not To Pay
By One Who Pays
To pay or not to pay? That is the question. George in his recent posting raised a point that got me thinking about the whole business of farangs supporting Thai families.
His point, which had never occurred to me, is that in most countries it’s the working stiff who supports the old, the sick and the work-shy through the taxation system. Depending on where you live in Farangland, the Government will take up to sixty per cent of your hard-earned money and give it to people they reckon need it more.
(I should declare an interest at this point. My sister, God bless her, hasn’t worked for more than fifteen years and is single-handedly raising three young kids in Australia, funded entirely by the Australian government. So for all you hard-working Aussies out there, thank you! Your taxes are paying for my sister and my nephews.)
That doesn’t happen in Thailand, so somebody has to support the old and the young and the ones who can’t (or won’t!) work. And when a farang marries a Thai, it’s the farang who’s expected to pay.
There are those who pay happily, those who pay begrudgingly, and those who refuse to pay. To each his own. Personally, I think I’ve found a fourth way, of which more later!
It wasn’t until I read George’s posting that I realised what a good deal I was getting in Thailand. Yes, I support my wife and her family, but I pay no taxes here. If I’d married a farang woman and lived in Farangland, I wouldn’t be supporting her family but I’d be losing half my income to pay for other families.
My wife’s sister also married a farang, an American. I meet him once a year or so and he takes great pride in telling me that he never gives the family anything. Not one dollar. Never has and never will. He didn’t pay a sin sot (but then, neither did I) and has no intention of ever giving the family any money. I don’t think the family likes him any less than they like me, and I don’t think they respect him any less. They just accept that that’s the way he is. If you don't want to pay, no one can force you. Personally, I think he should help out. But that's just me.
Anyway, I’m not in the business of telling anyone how to run their lives, but let me tell you about my situation and how I came to terms with the whole support thing.
I’ve known my wife for eleven years and we’ve been married for five. I always smile when I read the horror stories on Stickman’s site because I got lucky with my wife. She has never lied to me, not once. We argue rarely and every argument is over before bedtime. She built her own house up country and never once asked me to help contribute. Once when I was temporarily short of cash on a condo purchase, her family and friends came up with just over a million baht in short term loans over a forty-eight hour period to bail me out. She’s a great mother and a great wife. (She used to put toothpaste on my toothbrush but I asked her to stop.)
Anyway, she has a mother, and a daughter and a son from a previous marriage, who all depend on her. I was never happy about the idea of supporting an extended family, but honestly, what choice do I have? We have a young daughter together, so the extended family is my daughter’s family. Do I want my daughter’s grandmother/brother/sister to be living on the breadline while she lives in a 15 million baht condo, goes to an expensive international school and flies business class to Europe? Of course not.
My solution was to buy my wife a small studio apartment in Bangkok. It cost me just over a million baht five years ago. It’s probably worth double that now. She rents it out and at the moment it brings in fifteen thousand baht a month, which after management and agent fees gives her about twelve thousand baht. That money is hers to do with as she wants, and I never ask her where it goes. I know, of course. Her mum gets five thousand baht a month (which is plenty up country), her daughter, at university in Bangkok, gets five thousand baht (she’s in university accommodation and five thousand is ample – hell, she’s got more cash than many of her hi-so friends) and the son (who’s up country with his grandmother most of the time) gets two thousand.
From my point of view it’s a perfect solution. My wife has the security of knowing that there’s enough cash to support her family no matter what happens to me, plus she has an asset that’s appreciating in value. Okay, I know that not everyone has a couple of million baht sitting around, but there are plenty of places around Sukhumvit 22 that you can buy for 500,000-600,000 baht and rent out for 5,000-6,000 baht a month. And you have the option of putting the flat in your own name, so that the rent goes to the wife/girlfriend while the capital appreciation is yours.
It works for me, anyway!
A great suggestion / solution to a common situation. Such a shame the market has gone up a lot in the last few years – that is for those who want to get in now.