Happily Ever After
I’ve read many hard luck stories and negative experiences on this site and frankly my experiences have been different and I want to share them with you. I also want to share what I think is necessary to be successful in Thailand and the background
I have which makes it all possible.
First, I retired at 38. You saying WTF? Yep, 38. I started working and supporting myself before I hit my teens and by the time I was 17 I already had enough experience under my belt to realize I wasn’t going anywhere without a lucky break or by paying my dues the hard way. The hard way meant an education and it meant doing things I wouldn’t have normally done. Nope, I didn’t sell drugs or kill people for money..:) Well.. not as a criminal anyway.. I figured I’d work 20 years doing whatever I was told to do and then the rest of my life would be free to do whatever I wanted to do. At 17 I joined the military without even a high school education and after some tests and boot they sent me on to some of the country's finest electronics and computer schools, two years worth. During the next 20 years they put braces on my teeth (and took them off..:), sent me to college for a four year degree, then my first masters, gave me lots of responsibility and the discipline I would later need to be successful in Asia, and then retired me at 38 with a good pension and medical. Now, the pension wasn’t nearly enough to live the way I wanted and I knew through simple math that fact when I first signed up. So I created my own supplemental retirement plan.
Everywhere I was stationed I bought a cheap house, fixed it up and lived in it while I was there, and then rented it out for years until I recently sold them all. This wasn’t easy. It required scrimping and saving and not going out to the bars with my friends and spending all my hard earned money on drink and women. I also had to save for things like tuition and other necessities, but since I was stationed mostly in Asian countries I did spend some on local travels, learning the languages, and enjoying dating and the such. At 38 I retired, cashed out, and decided to live simple enough to live off the interest and the pension. This was a life long plan folks, this required discipline, hard work, foregoing fun and games, and thinking about the future. On the other hand.. 38 years old is pretty damn young when you think about it, so it was worth it. Do I still work? Sure, at something I love and I’m good at it and I make my own hours (very few of them) and it involves traveling to other countries and doing more things I love. I don’t have to, but I want to.
Ok, enough of that. Why Asia or why Thailand? I’ve been fortunate enough to live in most every Asian country, know some of the languages, almost all the games, and Thailand has the climate, friendly people, and it’s a lower cost of living than my other choices. To be sure I wanted to retire here in Thailand I first came here for two years to earn my second masters degree. I loved it and during the first year or so here I dated and dated and about wore myself out. If you’re a half way normal male you don’t need the bars, the massage places, etc.. There are tons of women to date. During my last year of studies I met someone younger than me but not too much and we dated. It was very traditional with the first six months worth of dating being in the presence of her family and her very large brothers who always kept an eye on us. This was very different from the many dates I had before where after a few hours or days you’re in bed together. This was a traditional long courtship with a woman who had never been allowed to date before we met. By the end of my second year in Thailand it was time to go home and it was time to decide if I would be taking her with me or not. Now, she never asked for money, her family always paid their own way when we went out, only sometimes allowing me to pick up the check, and this hasn’t changed in five years of marriage. Her family isn’t rich by any means, maybe Bangkok lower/middle class. There was a sin sot but just enough to cover the cost of a small local wedding, 50k baht. So, off to Farangland we went.
In over five years her family has never asked for anything, she’d never lied or cheated that I know about, and despite the valiant attempts of her many farang women friends she’s maintained her “Thai wife” attitude and as been a wonderful wife. She’s the sort of person who does so much for you, that you feel like crap if you don’t return the same. More, she loves my son who was eight when they first met and have become best friends.
This sounds nothing like what you read about does it? Why is my experience different than most others you read about involving Thai women? I think it’s simply because we met, dated, and married in the exact same way I would have dated any girl in my home country. She’s the same sort of girl I’d have married in my own country, same values, same attitude, but much better looking..:) There were no bars, no background to deal with, no old boyfriends, no family that expected anything, just a girl who liked a guy where both got married and both families support them. I know most people don’t have the resources or time to move to another country for a few years, but if you’re going to get married don’t you think you should? You don’t really think you’re going to VACATION for a few weeks among prostitutes, pick out a life partner from the bunch in ten days or less, and have her love you so much she’ll never cheat, ask for money, or lie to you… do you? Not really right? I mean, out of 100,000 sperm you’re the one who made it right? Guys, REAL relationships take time and commitment, lots of hard work and sacrifice. I know some people get married and then do all that, but the odds are something like a bazillion times better if you do this first. A life partner is worth it plain and simple. Like your retirement you either pay your dues up front or you’re going to come up short in the long run.
So now it’s over five years later and we’ve moved back to Bangkok where her family is. For the last five years she’s stood by me and helped me through some difficult times so I have no problem moving not less than an hour's drive from her family. She’s also learned English to a very comfortable level, took classes on how to cook farang food, and keeps very fit. She’s the greatest but I’m sure you’ve already picked this fact up already..:)
The rest of this post will describe how I live in Bangkok and how much it costs. I’ll say right up front, when I came here as a student I lived like a student (i.e. CHEAP), but this time I came as a retired person who wants to enjoy my life and I wasn’t willing to lower my standard of living even a bit. So while the prices might be high in comparison to what you’re used to hearing, please keep in mind that this is quality living.
After a six week search we found a condo which is over 2,700 sq ft, four large bedrooms, three large baths, everything is very nice. So nice that if we still like it by this time next year we’ll buy it. The condo is in a very large high rise resort style complex complete with a tennis club, five swimming pools (one HUGE one in the middle), gyms, saunas, basketball courts, racquetball courts, a clubhouse, restaurants, shops that include mini-markets, dry cleaners, travel agencies, massage, basically whatever you might need. The restaurant serves over 100 western menu choices and most are very good. We live about 20 stories up so we don’t need air-conditioning though we have it in each room if we need it. We have glass walls on three sides of the building on all our outside walls and we can see all of Bangkok. I could go on and on about this place because there are so many nice features and facilities.. but let’s just say it’s extremely nice and by the time I pay my utilities including broadband internet, digital cable, electric, water, housekeeper, and all fees.. it comes to roughly baht 50k a month. One month it was 46, another 51, but will probably average 48-50k.
What other expenses? Well, there’s food and we buy what we want from Villa, Foodland, eat out, use the resort restaurant, etc, and I figure we spend about baht 15k a month eating whatever we want without regard to expense and this includes several nice New York cut steaks each week that we BBQ on our grill. Then there’s fuel and insurance. My insurance is yearly and under 20k a year for full coverage on a brand new SUV. It's diesel and frugal and I’ve yet to fill it up more than twice in a month. Entertainment? Some, we go out, I get 2-3 massages a week in my condo, we shop, see movies, etc.. And at least every 90 days for a visa run we travel to another close by country and spend a week in a nice hotel seeing the sights a enjoying whatever we feel like. I figure all told, everything included, about baht 85k a month. I’d guess many people would spend more than I do but keep in mind I’m happy with my wife and the things we do together so there’s no great urge to hit the bars, pay for girls, etc.
Keep in mind that I also feel at home in most Asian countries. Once again I’ve put my time in, learned language, got used to foods, acclimated to the weather, understand the culture. Will we live here forever? Maybe. I suppose no one is ever 100% sure. Right now I’m nowhere near “old”, yet I feel satisfied with my life, where I live, my family, etc, and it feels like a real sort of paradise. We might keep a place here, get another place for a few months at a time in another country, it’s hard to say. But at the moment, this exact time and place in my life, I feel like I’ll be living in Thailand for the rest of my life and growing very old with a wonderful woman. Anybody can do it, but it’s not easy. Chances are, the less time it takes to select a wife, get married, etc, the less chance you have of success. The less you save, the less you have when you retire. The less education, the less you earn to save. It’s all about choices and while I’ve made some very bad choices in my life.. the choices that resulted in my currently situation were very good ones.
Great discipline to get where you are.