Moving to Thailand, Another Point of View
There have been a lot of submissions over the last year regarding moving to Thailand at a young age; the debate will rage on and there is no one correct answer. Each person’s situation and life aspirations are different.
So let’s say you are 25 or 30, living in a cold Northern climate, stuck in a dead end job with no future, getting laid once a week (if you are lucky) to a woman who does not fit your ideal.
You read the advice on Stickman’s site, sell everything you own and get on the Big Bird bound for glory.
The first month is heaven. You are getting laid right and left by the most amazing women you have ever seen, the beer is plentiful and the weather a delight.
One day you wake up, toss the two ladies out, put your feet up on the balcony railing, and start to consider your future. Unless you were born rich, you need to start earning some money. Hmm…what will you do?
You can teach English. If you want to do this, you MUST reach Stickman’s exhaustive article on the subject of English teaching in Thailand. My understanding is that salaries range from about 30,000-50,000 baht, but I have heard of some people with advanced degrees getting 70,000.
Let’s see, with an average bar fine of 500 baht; couple of drinks for you and 2 lady drinks for her, let’s say another 500 baht; 500 baht for some food and 2000 baht (average) for “long time”; that’s 3m500 baht/night for sex. If you want to perform every night that will add up to a cool 100,000 baht/month for your enjoyment, but wait! You are only earning 30,000-50,000/month. And you haven’t even paid for your rent, your meals, cable TV, internet, clothes, etc.
So you budget yourself, one night a week with a bar girl, but you’ll go crazy that night and spend 2,000 baht for drinks and food. Maybe you can afford that. About half your income for sex, half for living…don’t worry if you’re not saving anything.
Let’s summarize, you are now living in Thailand, in a dead end job with no future, getting laid once a week.
Well, that’s not that much of an improvement, is it?
The basic point—Thailand is and can be a wonderful place to live and to spend the rest of your life in. But having sex every night with a different girl whose name you don’t remember the next morning can get pretty old pretty fast. Unless you are happy to wind up homeless on the streets within a few years, you will need a decent job paying decent money. You will want a nice flat, and eventually be able to attract a nice girl (not from the bars) who you can have a normal relationship with, eventually with kids, and not have to worry about her soaking you for every last dollar. The best way to achieve that is to have a relationship with a “normal” girl, and you are not going to find her in a bar.
What other options are other?
1- Work hard at your current job, save up your money, and fly to Thailand twice a year for a good 10 days of fun. While you are there, try to make some contacts regarding what kind of work possibilities there are, other than teaching. Wait until you have something substantial before moving.
2- Take no holidays, sell everything, live like a hermit, don’t go out, don’t drink, don’t get married, don’t get a mortgage…until you have a million in the bank. Invest it at 5%, and with the 50,000/year in interest move to Thailand. That money will get you a very nice lifestyle and you can top it off with the odd job or two.
3- Have a normal life, and when you are 50 chuck it all and make the move. Burn yourself out in 2 years and give the middle finger to everyone you have left behind.
4- In your home country, get an education/experience in a needed skill for Thailand, learn Thai fluently, find a reputable Thai partner (this may not be easy) and start a business in the Kingdom. You may not get it right the first time but eventually you will succeed.
5- Get a job at a multi-national in a discipline where the skills are transferable, and get them to send you to Thailand. While expat packages are not nearly what they were years ago, this is still the most lucrative way to go.
Most people I know who are happy in Thailand followed the last approach. They were sent by an MNC, and eventually left to start their own company. Others came with marketable skills and got a job locally.
Clearly there is not one best route for everyone but, as romantic as it sounds, chucking it all and moving to Thailand without forethought is a recipe for disaster.
However, with a little bit of planning, you can avoid your dream becoming a nightmare.
Of the scenarios you outline, #4 and #5 seem to be the best.
As far as teaching English goes, average salaries in Bangkok are higher these days, but unless you get a very good position – they are out there but very competitive – then you'll just never make that much.