Stickman Readers' Submissions January 8th, 2008

A Day In Pattaya And Retirement Planning

My British pals are like a John Steinbeck novel. Maybe Cannery Row. They live for the moment. Enjoy a good drink or thirty. Barfine the misfits just before closing. Occasionally they get sucked into a quasi-relationship for a few weeks, even sometimes spanning a return annual visit, but they always come to their senses and move on, usually before paying for the pregnancy termination, which is nearly an annual event for one of them, no matter how old the woman.

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I’ve been reading about so many topics here on S It began with bargirl horror stories but is now much more sophisticated. How to retire with a bouncing baht, unsure inflation, and new medicine that might add twenty years to your life. And a group of guys that want to do it (retire) in the pre-Viagara years! If we’re not careful we’ll run out of bargirls!

Without being a kiss-ass let me say that Stickman is wise beyond his years. His is the voice of reason in a world of chaos. I don’t think his economic predictions of where the American dollar will end up are any more substantiated than those predicted by a Thai bargirl with a Ouiji board or I would put more money into the overpriced Chinese funds and wait for the land of plenty. Economics aside, (and he may be correct), he is a genius.

But the compassion displayed by Chiang Mail Kelly and his concern for the working lady in Thailand (see here) will someday be the subject of PhD dissertations. Soi 6 in Pattaya will someday be named Soi Kelly and I will be proud to stroll down it looking for a new story for the forum. Hemingway is to Key West as Kelly is to Soi 6.

But again I digress. Sitting by the pool in Pattaya, this American dude whom I’ve never seen before, call him Jim, is in the pool and starts chatting. Asks for a helping hand out, which I find a bit too friendly for someone who I’ve spoken with all of two minutes, Jim is living in Pattaya with virtually no money, talking of his great earning potential as a security guard in Las Vegas and dreaming of the retirement visa but doesn’t have enough money saved (800,000 baht?) to qualify. After complaining to the visa providers that he didn’t have time to transfer all of the funds, he was granted a one year visa without the money with the expectation that all would be fixed for next year. Eating 90 baht dinners, living in a hovel, sneaking in the hotel pool every day and sleeping on the side for cheap with an old flame who now lives with “this decrepit old German guy” (his description), he is trying to scheme a way to stay in the LOS for potentially another thirty years.

Here’s a reality check. If you’re fifty and don’t have 800k baht net worth, you aren’t ready to retire. Get off your ass and go work for a few years. Join the gang who visits LOS for 2 or 3 weeks and dreams about it for the other 49 or 50.

Ahead of us, walking down the street, is a very attractive woman with wet hair kissing her previous night’s employer goodbye and walking ahead of us. Not thirty yards from her emotional goodbye, she spins around and asks “Where you go?” I believe it was the great Stickman that said “Never barfine a woman with wet hair.” Words to live by. My British mate Tony and I took her bar hopping for a few midday hours and promised to meet her at Tony’s Disco (not the same Tony) at midnight. Tony was quite enamored with her but made the mistake of showing her pictures in my camera that showed assets at home and won her undying love immediately. She apparently won the contest of who could not get trashed first, so I went home for a nap. Tony told me she was visibly disappointed when I didn’t show up later that night. It must’ve been my white hair and beer gut she was attracted to.

The maid in Pattaya claimed to be 21 with two children and a rat bastard boyfriend who hit and run, leaving her, or her mother, actually, to raise them. Such a unique story! Lovely hard working, not really attractive young lady. Being American, I’m only there for a few weeks at best so I tipped her modestly nearly every day (don’t want to ruin it as we’re famous for). My last day in Pattaya, I gave her a cell phone that was not displaying numbers properly, but told her that if she needed one it might come in handy.

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No good deed going unpunished, I got a tearful call a few days later while in Bangkok getting ready to leave. She said that she had quit her job and did I want to see her! It happened to follow a hang up call where she was obviously being coached in whispers by a friend. My disappointment in her was that she couldn’t accept kindness without attempting to leverage it to another level.

Back to our retirement requirements and having taken my first Lipitor tablet yesterday, 33 years after first visiting the LOS, my philosophy is to keep one’s options open. If you want to move to Thailand, your investments should be growing while there due to the inexpensive cost of living. If this is not the case, you are boxing yourself into a situation where your options are limited and return to your former country might be difficult or impossible. Working in Thailand after retirement age is the equivalent of working as a WalMart greeter in the United States. You’re being publicly underpaid for your efforts. Work is about trading time for money, why not do it as profitably as possible? A foreign paradise loses its charm rapidly for a broke visitor.

In business and in life, always plan for the long term.

Stickman's thoughts:

It’s tough to know when to retire in Thailand. The county is slowly changing, and not necessarily for the better. But then I am already seeing many guys struggling to enjoy life as they retired way too early and are finally accepting that they will have to go home and work again, or live the rest of their days in a rat hole. Decisions, decisions!

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