Moving to Thailand, How I Did It
After reading a few of the recent submissions about moving to Thailand, I thought I might add my story.
I sent in a few submissions a few years ago, many things have happened since then.
As background, I am 39, from Northern Europe, married to a wonderful Thai woman, no children yet, no real education to speak of.
I used to work for the procurement department of a MN engineering company. I was reasonably happy in that job. It could be stressful at times, but I had a fair bit of autonomy and the work hours and pay was good for me. However, living in The Netherlands can be “claustrophobic”. I have traveled a little and have a good group of friends from school.
In early 2008 I came into contact with the woman who is now my wife. As luck would have it, my company sent me on assignment to Thailand. This brought us closer together. I had already proposed to her, so that was already on track. This story has been detailed here and here.
I had already been to Thailand on holiday several times and loved it, of course. In that time, I found Stickman, read the column on living and working here so I was not exactly unprepared. I started learning Thai on my first trip here. Today, I can hold a basic conversation, order food and drink, talk to my family in law and neighbors about more than just food, talk to my mechanic (very important) and generally make myself understood. Most times people comment that my Thai pronunciation is very good. My reading is not so good yet.
As Pete said, expat assignments are never long, in my case only 6 months. By the way, I would like to nominate Phrakanong Pete’s sub for a green star.
In the time I was on assignment in Thailand, I had sold my apartment. I had no own abode anymore, all my stuff had been moved to the rental apartment in Bangkok. As it turned out, I would be living out of a bag for the next 2 years.
My wife had made it clear from the outset that she would not move from Thailand. She had her own company there, which she had worked very hard to get up and running. I agreed with her that this was understandable. As an aside, if I had convinced her to move, she would have changed and not be the same woman I fell in love with anymore.
Consequently, I planned to find a way to stay in Thailand permanently. From the sale of the apartment and some other savings, I paid for a wonderful wedding, a car and a honeymoon in the Maldives.
My plan was to save up as much as possible, and come up with a more viable plan. After twiddling my thumbs in the office in The Netherlands for many months, I got sent on assignment to China and later Spain. Those trips enabled me to save quite some cash. I managed to travel back to Thailand quite regularly due to a nice boss, plenty of vacation days and money. Setting up my own business was not needed in the end as my wife decided to fire all her staff (thieving, lying, yaba bastards), save one and restructure her company. She asked me to join as shareholder and director.
Towards the end of 2010, we bought a bit of land in Bangkok. On this land we have built an office and the house has been designed. The building permission is taking forever. What with purchasing the land, in her name of course, and paying for the office building and a bunch of other investments, the savings disappeared quite fast.
However, today we are living together on our land, albeit in a simple way. We have a company of which I am part owner and employee. I am all legal with extension of stay, work permit, tabien baan, Thai driving license etc.
It has taken a lot of time, scrimping and saving, self denial, luck and patience on both our parts in order to be here today. Most of all, it is because of full trust and communicating with each other that this has been possible. We have had to trust each other for 3 years, before I was here full time.
I was playing with the idea of moving here before I met my wife. I can tell you now that it would have been infinitely more difficult and most probably would have failed. I would not have been able to find any sort of worthwhile employment here. I did try. Getting into the O&G game here is ever more difficult.
To contrast, a buddy of mine also just made the move. He is single, my age, has less education than I, had a lot less money when he arrived here than I did and is going to start the TEFL course on January 16th and then become an English teacher in Chiang Mai. We have talked about his plan for a long time.
I worry about him whether he will succeed and be happy here. I have warned him many times of the pitfalls. Pitfalls which I seem to have been able to mostly avoid. There are many things that can go wrong in this country. Most of these things you have under your own control. Just don’t do anything stupid. It seems that a lot of guys coming over here dig their own graves.
To sum up:
Do I miss my friends? Yes.
Are there things here that annoy me here? Yes.
Are there things I wish I had handled differently? Yes.
Have I burned some bridges? Yes.
Am I happy? Yes.