Readers' Submissions

Thailand Earning Power and Opportunity Cost Response

  • Written by Anonymous
  • May 26th, 2014
  • 7 min read

While I'm sure Codefreeze had good intentions and has made some very relevant points i.e. that you cannot just drop into another country / lifestyle for an extended period and think you can return to your previous professional career (if you had one) however it is rather pointless comparing gross incomes to analyse the situation. There is no point making examples of people sleeping under the BTS as there are many people in our home countries who have grown up in wealthy families and are in the same predicament, however, they have never left their hometowns.

Financial prudence goes a long way which is missing in his sub. Comparing people who have initiative and some financial sense against dreamers, people down on their luck, and bums is just not the same. If you're a bum in any country you have no chance of getting rich. Only difference here is in western countries the government may support you to a limited point if you would like to live like that. An Aussie pension would see you living quite well in rural Thailand!

If you have some sort of financial prudence i.e. have genuine savings that you have built over time, you know you don't put all your eggs in one basket, you don't spend what you don't earn, you don't rely on gambling whether on sports, cards or business and you have some understanding that you will probably need to fund the last 15 – 20 years of your life, add some self control and you can realistically establish a life in Thailand.

A little about myself! I had travelled throughout Thailand and loved it; fell in love with a girl; left the corporate gig via redundancy (f'ing love these :)); sold everything in Australia and went Thai bound shitting myself whether I would end up broke. I had the 100k salary but the mortgage to match. Mortgage was under control until messy split tacked another $100k on to it. Throw in wage stagnation and rising interest rates and then I'm walking 4 km to and from work to save a bus ticket. The tailored suit from Bangkok looks great but the holes in my socks aren't that impressive. I had to watch the weekly grocery shopping and many times put things back on the shelf. Yeah, I could have given up the smokes and drinking but homebrewing saves you heaps in these situations and tastes great!

Life was pretty miserable and pretty limited in what you could do in terms of digging myself out of it financially. If you think prices in Thailand were going up try living in Australia, especially inner city. You could cut costs and move outer suburbs but then I don't know whether you would actually be saving anything and just adding to any commuting time.

So I took the big risk and followed my heart. I'm not your average teacher on 30k THB as I would earn that in interest anyway from Australian Superannuation which has had a great run of late as well! While not working I had time to read up and shift the allocations around. Get out of resources; high AUD shift it global funds, easy money! So working as teacher on 30k THB and meeting new people who become good friends, having a great new Thai lady and nice family, meanwhile quietly supplementing my lifestyle from interest I'm giving myself 60k THB to live each month. Happy days!

This was covered in previous article. F@#$#@ it my teeruk then died. Blah blah we'll skip over the next few months but this is what it is like to return to your home country even after just one year for those that bitch about Thailand changing and being expensive.

Your fall back people who you thought would look after you until you get your feet back under you and of whom I had unloaded a lot of nice furniture when originally moving to Thailand are suddenly only good for a couple of weeks if not days at most. Then I'm not going to enter into 12 month rental lease when I don't know where I will work and I'm not staying at a backpackers hostel or sleeping on the floor of an unfurnished apartment. At a professional level the job hunts were taking 3 – 4 months to process. At this stage I am putting in for jobs Australia-wide. Willing to take a step back. Anything to get up and running again. I am willing to fund / fly between cities for interviews. Anything! It is a very costly exercise. HR are the most incompetent idiots I have come across and really stifle any employment opportunity. A typical interview can start like this (all answers and timeline already given in resume which you are naive if you think their actually read it).

– Company HR – opening question – "Why would you like to work for ______"

– Response "I have heard it is a fantastic company and I really like your products"

– Real response "As you are fully aware I have just been told the company's name and details two hours beforehand, transportation has taken me 1 1/2 hours so I'm not late and a 15 minute search on your website was totally fruitless as it is outdated."

– Company HR – "What motivates you?"

– Response "I work well with open conversations about objectives then I can really work well with the team and put into place some great processes (oh business analyst can actually true I can cut through a lot of bullshit and fix things).

– Real response "Check out Maslow Hierarchy of needs. Money / Security are the basics, then some form of intellectual stimulation."

In the end I could not wait for the interview to be over. The recruitment firm rang me the next day and asked what I thought. It was a cold, wet miserable day in Melbourne. The company while good, has its office in no man's land (one coffee shop and a red roster). The office environment was silent with one inch separating people and no conversations going on. There were no noticeable windows. It was pretty dark and gloomy. I gave them an honest appraisal and said I wasn't interested. If I had taken this job I would have been sitting there quietly looking at a picture of Koh Samet and dreaming.

In the end I had limited worthwhile friends and family in Australia that sort of gave me the impression I had abandoned them before by moving to Thailand. They were very shallow and somewhat racist; not good company when you just lost the one you love. You just got the feeling you're on your own now. Cost of 3 months back in Australia for this I can live without working in Thailand for 12 months. If or when I could finally get a job in Australia again (over qualified, over experienced vs. the opposite) heaven knows and the biggest risk is just what capital I would have left. Then I know at least I can live in Thailand and teach hence I returned. Another sub back in the saddle again!

So if I work a little in Thailand, even if it's the low 30K THB (I know people doing extra pulling 70K THB per month – initiative in any country is initiative), I can live comfortably in a nice relationship, work hard and meet interesting people, I then have enough time off to manage my nest egg.

In the end I view cost of living vs. income is how much do you have to realistically and sensibly to spend on a Friday night out. A $100K AUD package in Australia just doesn't do it in Australia with a mortgage to match if you live anywhere close to CBD. In Australia I had to look at what meat I was going to buy and put it back on the shelf many times.

Yeah, opportunity costs (for F@#$ sake this is net), I'll work as a teacher, have a lot of fun, meet new people, Thai and Farang, and will be having sanuk and weekends at Hua Hin or Koh Samet. Teaching will pay the drinks and food bill each month. A bit of financial prudence will cover the rest. Plus a few holidays to Isaan.

In short, life is worth living. Loving fully is probably the greatest thing a person can do. Live you life while you can but have a bit of financial sense about you.