Should You Move to Thailand?
From 2003 to 2011 I ran a rather pathetic little website about moving to Thailand. One of the better parts of that thankless task was the emails I used to receive from readers. Typical were those from free and single 20-somethings.
They had invariably dipped their toes into the waters of the Andaman for themselves. Or perchance they had heard stories from their more adventurous mates, relayed in hushed tones over a pint down the local pub on a dark winter's evening. There were tales of derring-do, and of body parts dipped into the fishy klongs of Bangkok's naughty nightlife.
Now, suitably fired up, these horny youngsters were dead keen on heading over on the big silver bird and settling down to become a lifer in the land of smiles.
But something held them back.
Here was the gist of their question to me: Should they really take the plunge? What about their earning potential, their ability to build net worth? Would their careers be damaged beyond repair? Would they be happy in Thailand? Could they ever return to dear Old Blighty? Should they just stay at home?
Well, should you move to Thailand? Do you feel lucky, punk?
Lets consider the alternative for a moment.
You stay in the UK (or other Western poison of choice). You get a job. If you are lucky and you can fight your way over the legions of Poles who will do the same job for less and who are probably better than you at it anyway. It doesn't pay that well, but hey, it's a job, and there's that pesky student loan to pay off for that degree you did in Ancient History. The biggest piss up of your life – but forty grand well spent? You think?
Next you'll be thinking about getting a house. Interest rates are low – they can't go any lower! Before you know it, and with Mate Dave's latest incentives, you're in hock for 25 years with 5% down. No pesky saving for a decent deposit for you. You're good to go. I mean interest rates can't go up, can they?
Another dreary Winter passes. The grey sky seems to foretell of the economic misery to come. That house of cards, that socialist utopia, that mystical land were the rules of economics, or reality itself, need not apply – Europe – disintegrates further with each passing day. That baldy Pap and that dodgy playboy fellow Berlusconi are already history. You've glanced over the World Bank's data for Italy, Spain, and Greece, and it ain't a pretty sight.
Meanwhile Merv over at the Bank of England is printing money like it's going out of fashion, devaluing the currency, and your assets. You can't afford a foreign holiday any more, but neither can that smug bastard next door regale you with his trips to Ibiza. The Euro's toast, but then so's the pound.
The housing market stinks, and your "great investment" is in the doldrums. You couldn't sell now and even if you did you'd lose big time. Then the unthinkable happens, interests rates go up (you never knew they could do that did you) and everyone and their dog is under water.
The commute just seems to get longer. 90 minutes on a good day. That's if some asshole doesn't smash himself to bits on the M4, taking some other poor sucker with him, and causing a five mile tailback. That smart car you bought with a "cheap" loan is costing an arm and a leg. Tax and insurance are up again, and the weekly petrol bill is killing you – about 75% of that petrol money is going directly to those wankers running the country.
Still they need it, wars to fund, and countless billions needed to rebuild what you paid to bomb to dust in the first place. But those foreign johnnys still hate your guts anyway, and would stick a pipe bomb in your letter box if they got half a chance. It sounds fxxxed-up to you even when you're living with fxxxed-up daily.
Your fat western girlfriend is pestering you to move in. Your flat's too small for you, let alone her fat arse and all her shit – but you notice with a wry smile she ain't bringing any cash with her. And you know, and she knows (oh boy does she ever know), as soon as she moves in she's "got rights". She was the best you could pull though. But entitled doesn't even cover it.
Now she wants to get married. It could go well but you know if it ends in divorce you're toast. With even the best lawyer out there, your ex is going to serve you your nuts on a silver platter. Make that her silver platter. And then she'll come back for your dog too.
Damn this cold. You'd turn the heating on but you know British Gas would rape you. They charge what they like and Ofgem just bends over and takes it up the arse. You're sure those guys must be taking back-handers. You can start to relate to the 30,000 people a year who die of hypothermia in the UK.
Days become days. Then on one of those days you get sick. You look in the mirror. The last 30 years are showing on your face. You've packed on a few pounds and the stress is taking its toll. The divorce didn't help. You saw that coming – she'd turned the tap off years ago. And your solicitor was right about you getting nailed to the barn door. The pain is getting too much. It's deep in your heart and your soul.
You're lying in the hospital bed, supping on a chemo cocktail, and looking back on your life.
You worked hard. You played by the rules. You paid through the nose for tickets to the 2012 Olympics. You even waved your Union Jack at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. But you don't have too many fond memories involving days in the office hunched over the computer. Even the office Christmas parties were fxxxing lame, at least the ones you can remember.
What did you achieve? What do you have to show for your life?
Well you did own a pile of bricks and mortar for a while – before the ex took it.
What else was there? Wasn't there supposed to be this wonderful thing called life in there somewhere?
You cast your mind back. From the mists of time you remember this vague dream you had. To go to Thailand. To bed as many of the hottest Thai girls as you could get your horny hands on. You were gonna pick the wettest, sexiest one and spend a week working your way through the Kama Sutra with her, with a bottle of viagra and Jack Daniels on standby. And then do the same again with two more of them – at the same time.
Then you were gonna bum around, teach English here and there, start some internet scam, check out the islands – Koh Lanta looked nice. You were going to learn to dive, write that book you always wanted to, drink with friends every night, enjoy the sunshine and the blue skies, and of course get stuck into the local crumpet until you had to pump you pecker up by hand, or it fell off.
From the balcony of your small but sunny apartment, you'd watch the years gently pass. Money wouldn't figure in your life much, beyond paying for rent, food and your bar bill. You'd be rich though. Rich in experience. Rich in the beautiful women you'd slept with. Rich in the friends who had come and gone, who you'd shared an ice cold Singha with at your favourite beach side restaurant – the one with the thatched roof and the year round Christmas lights. You'd be rich in the crazy motherfucker things you'd done. Rich in life.
But it never happened. Those imagined Thai faces fade into the fog of morphine.
The young doctor does his rounds. You can tell from the look in his bloodshot eyes it's not good news. Better get your affairs in order.
You've got a bit stashed away. Your brother was right about hiding some from the bitch. Smart move. Only, you forgot about inheritance tax didn't you, the final "middle finger" from the criminals who run the country. Bye bye and thanks for all the tax you've given us over the years – sucker!
Should you move to Thailand?
Nicely put together – and anyone reading this would surely want to make the move.
Life isn't always a bed of roses in Thailand, however – and that should be obvious to anyone who has spent much time reading parts of this site. Chatting with two friends in Bangkok this week, both in their mid 50s, I can confirm that one is down to his last 2,000 baht. He is employed but his business has tanked. The other retired early and didn't plan well and his money will run out in 5 – 6 years.
Moving to Thailand is one thing but it needs to be planned VERY carefully.