“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (8) Living Well? Farangs and Finance: The Reality, Stupidity, and Hard Knocks.”
“Most Farangs living in Thailand, especially Farang teachers, barely make ends meet.
By the time normal living expenses are accounted for, there’s little (if any) money leftover from their meager monthly salaries.
Money is EVERYTHING in Asia (i.e., life, love, health, security, etc.).
Needless to say, I watched my new girlfriend’s spending habits closely and was delightfully surprised.”
“Prosperity: The eternal flow of all that’s good in life…”
By Carl “J.C.” Pantejo, Copyright January 2008
(Author “My Friend Yu – The Prosperity Mentor,” Copyright August 2007. Pantejo – Y.N. Vurce Publishing.)
*Below is the eighth episode in a series of real life events experienced by the author. The only deviations from the truth may be the names of people and places. These stories are also incorporated in “My Friend Yu – the Prosperity Mentor: Book II,” Pantejo – Y.N. Vurce Publishing. Release Date: 2008.
In “Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (7) – Living Well? Farangs and Finance: The Myth,” I explained that most Thai people believe that “ALL FARANGS (Thai: foreigners) ARE RICH.” The reasons for this? Free-spending tourists, currency power, and, by Thai standards, “luxurious” living.
In this article, I will describe the reality for most Farangs’ living in Thailand.
After reading about the “real deal” – the financial life and cultural pressures bestowed upon most Farangs in Thailand, I hope you begin to understand that life in “Paradise” has its challenges.
– Reality –
Most Farangs living in Thailand, especially Farang teachers, barely make ends meet. By the time normal living expenses are accounted for, there’s little (if any) leftover from their meager monthly salaries.
In fact, they usually suffer from the “too much month leftover after the money” crisis.
Additionally, Farangs must pay for their visas and work permits <Only BAD employers do not cover these costs and force the costs on the employees – Stick>. If they should absently let their visas expire, they must pay 500 baht per day of over-stay.
Those Farangs who have not obtained their work permits are forced to make monthly trips outside of Thailand to one of the neighboring countries (e.g., Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam) before their 30-day visa expires – an expense that Thai people do not have to deal with.
Granted, some Farangs piss away their money on booze and women (a convenient pastime to be found everywhere). But in my experience, many Farangs simply fall short financially because they cannot enjoy all the money-saving benefits of being Thai (e.g., living rent-free with their parents, local Thai prices, a huge safety network of friends and family to rely on during emergencies, etc.).
Furthermore, Farangs are pressured by their Thai friends and Thai society to appear richer than they actually are.
I have a Farang friend who didn’t need (or even want) a car. But, according to local Thai culture, “All Farangs, especially old, stable, and married Farang teachers, should drive a car.” If they didn’t have a car, something must be “wrong” with him.
Maybe he had a few “Mia Nois” (translated: minor wife or wives, concubine or mistresses) that took the better part of his salary to maintain? Maybe he was a drunk or drug addict? Believe me, Thais can come up with some imaginative scenarios; scenarios that actually are played out in many Thai households.
Since he needed to “look the part” of a rich, old Farang English teacher, he and his wife ended up purchasing a vehicle. Not doing so would have doomed them both to public and private shame. Life for them would have been unbearable in the Mubon (Thai: village) and Soi (Street).
But, of course, now they must deal with a 5-year, monthly “mortgage” for their vehicle; a vehicle they probably will never drive often because of the stifling traffic jams in and around Bangkok.
Fortunately, since I am single and younger, I can get away with simply driving my motorcycle.
And personally, I couldn’t justify paying a large car note over many years just to satisfy societal expectations – especially for a car I neither needed, nor wanted!
I’d rather keep my age, status, and profession a secret from all but my closest friends – or simply move to another Mubon or Soi.
It doesn’t end there.
Thai culture also lends itself toward putting young Thais at an advantage (financially) over older Farangs.
Many times, after being invited to dinner at a restaurant or BBQ by my Thai friends, colleagues, or students, I still ended up footing the bill. Why? 1) Because I’m a Farang and 2) I’m usually the oldest person in the group. In Thai culture, with the exception of non-working parents/grandparents, the oldest person normally pays for the whole group. <Even more often, the person doing the inviting pays, which is very much the custom – Stick>
Another big expense that most Farangs are not used to is the expense of relationships.
A Farang boyfriend is normally obligated to support not just his partner, but also the family of his partner. If he doesn’t acquiesce to this accepted social norm, it sends a clear message to all: This Farang is stingy, a “Cheap Charlie,” “Kee Nee Ow” – translated: “sticky shit,” you can’t squeeze anything out of it! Therefore; since he’s so cheap with her, he really doesn’t love his girlfriend. <That's why you don't date those from families who blow their money – Stick>
In fact, as distasteful as it may sound to most foreigners, a Thai woman will not consider ANY relationship or ANY suitor as being serious unless she receives something of substantial monetary value first (e.g., jewelry, a mobile phone, motorcycle, ATM account, car, etc.). <Boy oh boy, have you been dating the wrong women! – Stick>
I’m lucky to enjoy an ex-pat, military monthly pension and don’t have to rely solely on my English teacher salary for my living expenses. Several times during my two-year stay in Thailand, I have lent out money to many Farang teachers because they didn’t have enough money to eat.
Money is REGARDED IN TOTALLY DIFFERENT TERMS in Asia than it is in the West. In Western countries, money is a tool to be used to enjoy life. Furthermore, money issues and love are separated in the West.
In Asia, money means LIFE, LOVE – EVERYTHING. Since the majority of Asian people are poverty stricken, money can mean the difference between life and death; happiness and sadness, hate and love, bachelorhood and marriage, etc.
Want an example?
About three years ago, while living in a remote part of Asia, I witnessed dozens of totally preventable deaths (usually from common illnesses or infections) simply because the people were too poor to make the trip to the next town’s hospital, pay for a doctor, or pay for medicine (common, over-the-counter antibiotics). Of course, the hospital didn’t have an ambulance and medical insurance was unheard of.
– Stupidity and Hard Knocks –
Needless to say, I watched my new girlfriend’s spending habits closely…
…and was delightfully surprised.
After two years of living in Thailand, and especially these last few months living with Nueng (Thai: Number One), I realized how dumb I was (monetarily and otherwise) with the ex-girlfriend.
I now know just how expensive and wasteful my ex-girlfriend really was.
The magnitude of my stupidity?
Well, to begin with, I used to give her (the ex) the equivalent of a normal Thai working man’s daily wage in the morning JUST FOR HER BREAKFAST. Then I would come home and give her the same amount JUST FOR OUR DINNER!
She also enjoyed an exorbitant monthly allowance (allegedly for her living expenses and aging mother). The amount easily surpassed the monthly salary for a college educated, 60+ hours a week, Thai teacher!
Lastly, twice a month, I would give her “toiletry” money. Supposedly, the money was for shampoo, lotion, soap, etc.
I now know that the amount of money I gave her every two weeks for her hygiene needs was enough money to spend a full day at the mall shopping, entertaining her friends, eating at a restaurant, and sometimes, even watching a movie!
What did she use the money for? Who knows? What I do know is that she never saved ANY money I gave her. By the time I came home from work everyday, she was always flat broke.
In contrast, Nueng and I live nicely (and happily) on a fraction of the ex-girlfriend’s expenses alone!
Nueng saves almost every baht that I give her.
When she spends any money (her money or mine) she gives me the receipt. She does this to show me that she’s not wasting our money AND to make it clear that she isn’t hiding anything from me.
Since she just ended a long relationship of lies, infidelity, and abuse; honesty is very, very important to her.
And as a veteran of a recent abusive relationship, it’s a central issue for me too…
…Continued in “Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (9) ”
“Until next time, find ‘The Flow’ and jump in!”
Your Friend in this Intrepid Journey called Life,
Carl “J.C.” Pantejo
Falang, relationships, fidelity, infidelity, finances, visas, expire, ex-pats, Asian, culture, pressures, wasteful.
Note: If you want to read more about overcoming heartbreak, unconditional love, exorcising past personal demons, and the Illusive Secret of Happiness, please read the following articles:
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’: From Heartbreak to Happiness”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (2): Coincidence or Synchronicity: FROM RELAPSE TO MIRACLES…”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (3): LOST AND FOUND – Kindred Spirits and Mistakes made in Haste.”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (4): LOST AND FOUND – Meant to Be?”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (5): “The Stray”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (6): “New Beginnings, Old Endings”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (7) – Living Well? Farangs and Finance: The Myth”
“How Dare She! Out of Desperation I Learned How to Forgive”
“Remember Who You Are!”
“Need to Heal Your Broken Heart? Read on. Overcome Heartbreak and Learn the Illusive Secret of Happiness.”
(By Carl “J.C.” Pantejo and published internet-wide, keyword: [title of article] or “Carl Pantejo”)
At lunch time today I was interviewed by a Brit who is putting together a book about cross cultural relationships between Thais and Westerners. His first question was about any miscellaneous tips I had for foreigners entering into relationships with a Thai woman. I responded that guys should not do things in relationships in Thailand they would not do at home. What is considered proper at home is most likely acceptable here, just as what is considered improper at home is likely considered improper here in Thailand too. Follow this rule and you will generally be ok.