Readers' Submissions

The Two Year Itch

  • Written by Casanundra
  • February 27th, 2007
  • 7 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


Having stepped off the treadmill at the tender age of 38 with several million baht in the bank I can agree generally with what BKKSW said I his ‘three year itch’ article, HOWEVER I do think a healthy health warning should also come with his article too.

So why do I say this, well because although I agree that you can live here on 40k per month or 5 times the average Thai salary, either as a teacher, a retiree or even on a visa extended for marriage etc… You still have to agree that the rules also change along the way and no more so has this been evident than here in LOS recently.

For me, I see far too many foreigners coming here to live the dream early only to find that Thailand likes to snatch it away from them just as quickly.

Let's take the many teachers who work here on less than 40k and who are married. Many don't even have a degree and based on current changes they are now considered illegal teachers as well because the new enforced rule is that you now need a degree to teach. Ok for me and many others, but the majority don't have degrees, but many do have a Thai wife and kids. Many of these poor souls came here to live the dream 5 years ago and felt they were contributing to society by helping the future leaders learn English. As a thank you many are now in the shit because the game plan has been changed for them and they are being squeezed out of a job and a country that no longer wants them. Good riddance is what many would say, abuse of human rights is what I retaliate with. Of course they could go and get qualified, go and do that degree, but the return on investment is not being returned when you teach in Thailand because the salaries are just too low.

So let's put aside the unqualified teachers in a bad position and consider the nominee shares debacle and game change on businesses here because this will have an impact for sure. Let's take Foster as an example. He may have to bale out soon himself if he doesn't get the BOI for his business again and he has been here circa 20 odd years, has a wife and two beautiful daughters and has contributed to Thailand for years and years. They thank him by making it tougher for him to stay. What happened to his lifestyle dream? He is a man without a country to call his own and at his age he should be looking to relax not worry about where he may have to live next.

Take me for example. I do have the money to stay here. I also can live the dream the same way BKKSW can, and probably can continue to do so for the next 30 years by which time I will be either dead at the age of 70 or I may live to be 80 or 90 and then what would I do? Paradise isn't as it is all cracked up to be and it can get a tad boring with nothing worthwhile to do. So I work here but you know after a while it gets to be no different to that of the West because you end up on the same old tread mill again, except this one has a Thainess too it. So let me ask this, if you are on the work tread mill here in Thailand, earning 90% less than you could earn back home whilst taking the same level of shit mixed in with the Thai's xenophobic claims and continued finger pointing that all foreigners are to blame for all the ails in Thailand, then in the cold reality of it all, you really do need to ask yourself where you would rather be.

In my job, I am reasonably protected in terms of stability and visa and WP in Thailand because my bosses are in the position to be influential. Unfortunately not many foreigners coming here can make such a claim, yet here I am seriously making plans to move on out of it.

I don't have to go back West but I choose to now after just over two years here because change is very much in the air and I don't think that the 3 year change cycle that BKKSW talks about will ever really go away no matter where you are. Besides, Thailand is not going anywhere, well actually it is, it is going further down on the scale of best places to be, but I can always come back if I want to.

Under the current rules, a guy with say 8 million baht in the bank can live the dream here. That money if invested would give him say 18 to 20 years here if he was being frugal and doesn't sink half of it into a Condo. That takes a guy aged 40 up to the age of say 58. Great! But what if this healthy stress free living in Thailand has been so good that he continues to go on and lives to be 78? That's another 20 years of effectively having no money coming in, and that's assuming of course the game plan hasn't been changed by the Thai's in the meantime. OK so he could get a job as an English teacher to keep him ticking along but how many 'really' want to give up the West to come and teach crap English to a classroom of 50 uninterested kids who are just interested in fun and not actually doing any learning. I can assure you that this particular dream wears thin after a while and as for other money making opportunities here in LOS, well they are increasingly getting thinner on the ground to the average Joe coming here as well.

I read an article today that said something along the lines that 'patriotism' will be taught more aggressively to all Thai people in order to remind them that Thailand needs to protect it's interests. This was followed by another article that said that Thailand wanted its Satellites back from Singapore. It was also followed by another article that said foreigners are responsible for the cracks and bad engineering at the airport.

If this isn't evidence enough that things are going to become more insular then I don't know what is. Burma and North Korea be bound, we have Thailand following suit any day now. Thailand is for Thailand and we are very much becoming a less than welcome part of it.

Let's look at retirement. To retire here you currently need 800k in the bank and to be at least 50 years old. That basically puts all those aged under 50 who have retired early at a disadvantage. Also don't forget, that this is under the current rules. What happens when in say 1 year’s time this becomes 1.5 million or even more as a requirement to retire and let's not forget that this money has to be available in the bank year after year after year until you die!

I now tell people who want to retire here that they need at least 14 million baht as a minimum. I believe that if you cannot muster that much together then don't retire in LOS or even consider coming here long term as the game plan will come and catch you out at some point in the future. Look around you, the evidence of this is here and now, you can see it happening everywhere and I know far too many stories of guys being dropped in it to recite them all here since the new visa rules kicked in.

LOS is quickly becoming paradise lost and the only thing next to death and taxes is that the other certainty in life is ‘change’ and boy is Thailand making that happen within the foreign community here.

I am leaving Thailand soon to make hay while the sun shines and my recommendation to anyone aged 30 to 50 is to do exactly that. Earn it while you can and come back when the timing is right. These years are the greatest years for your own earning potential and topping up those coffers for a later return to Thailand is way better for you to pursue your dreams. Let me ask would you rather retire at 40 with 8 million in the bank or for an extra 5 to 8 years working, retire with 30 million in your back pocket instead. I know which I would prefer and that's one of the reasons I am going back, so that I can top up the coffers to allow me to come back with pockets a bulging.

Besides, I have what I came for and she is coming back with me. See you all in 5 years.

Stickman's thoughts:

The brutal truth of this submission is going to put fear into many – and IT SHOULD! Casanundra makes so many good points in a relatively short submission that it is scary. Massive food for thought.