Readers' Submissions

The Grass is Always Greener

  • Written by Steve
  • August 4th, 2014
  • 9 min read

To finish the name of the sub, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!” For those that may not understand this, it’s the position of so many around the world that if they attain what they see others having, that their life would be that much better. This is the main reason we have so many foreigners living abroad trying to find this happiness. Granted some come here to Thailand for reasons I cannot fathom, but nevertheless that is what they chose to do.

As I read Codefreeze’s submissions, Notes from Farangland, we should all move to England because we can get free health care, become rich, live free of pollution, be part of a perfect environmental system and basically live in a Utopia with great friends and things to do. It reminds me so much of past articles referring to Thailand and how glossing over the truth can influence people to believe this is how everyone in England lives and feels. Obviously we know this not to be the case as the number of English residents in Thailand today. Stick will agree with him, since he has one foot out the door and is looking to take residence somewhere else, the same as people who had one foot out the door of their own western country and can find agreement with those writing positive about Thailand.

Never mind the jobless, the NHS wait times, 1.9 million violent crimes in England and Wales 2012-2013, vandalism, rape, etc. Never mind that these things occur; only Heaven waits if you go to England. Never mind that the UK is 26th in math, 23rd in reading and 21st in science according to OECD’s PISA tests because of the absolutely great education system awaiting you there. Now is this a fair contrast? Probably not, but it shows how you can write with bias and just show only the good things and ignore the bad or in my example, just write negative statements about some country to demonize it. Everything he writes is how great England is and how bad Thailand is from education to corruption. I think Codefreeze should work for the Tourism board of England.

I find that over time, anywhere that one lives, we start to “nit-pick” even the smallest things that have somehow become big and then start the dream of living somewhere else, where these problems we currently have will not somehow exist at our new destination. Only to realize later, that new problems will be encountered and maybe we start the search again. I also find that people tend to forget why they decided to live abroad in the first place. A simple fact I find with men at least, because I am not a woman and cannot speak to their mindset, is that we forget our emotion. Though many women I have met in life seem to remember and hold to their emotions tightly, but this is not about women’s emotions.

I say this because though I recall the reasons I moved here, there is hardly any emotion about it, but if you had asked me the day I got off the plane, I would have given you an earful like so many I have encountered here. I find the long term expats can describe some of the reasons (because many of us do not recall everything) without much emotion and almost describe them as silly reasons now. I also find the longer term expats are now disgruntled about things here and think of moving somewhere else “Where it will be so great!” This is where the “Grass is always greener” comes to mind, because so many are never satisfied with what they currently have and continue to dream of the things they could attain “If only…”

The way I actually would read Codefreeze’s latest submission is that if you are willing to work hard, you can attain more in life. This seems to be missed on our millennial western generation. The fact that his partner got a job cleaning up piss and shit, just goes to show that the locals found that beneath them and she was willing to put in the time to advance her life. I see that with successful westerners here in Thailand as well. They came here with a desire to be a successful business owner and if they had a hard work ethic they usually prevailed. This is the universal truth – hard work pays off.

If you are in the bar industry (read as women included) or gambling on line to bring in cash, I do not feel these are the business models that will not suffer throughout time. But if you have any business sense here in Thailand, for a small amount of capital comparatively with significantly less regulation, you can run a business with very few headaches compared to western nations. <I am not sure where in the world you come from and as such cannot comment on business regulations in your homeland but I would VERY strongly disagree with this statementStick> The immediate response is normally “What about all the corruption?” or “What about the job limits on foreigners?” My answer to that is what fees are taken by Thais that even have a remote comparison to the 15 agencies and licensing and the slew of other things required to open a business in any western country? I know in the US it is a complete nightmare including the number of frivolous law suits that are brought against businesses and the sheer number of ever-changing regulations that then require you to hire a law firm in many cases just to protect you. Besides the IRS and the accounting requirements involved, the worker health care issues and minimum wage, the protection of big industry by the government limiting your own small business and many others, is there even a possible equivalent here? No. Maybe I cannot come here and work construction, but it does not stop me from opening a construction company with partners and making it into a successful operation.

I understand Stick’s desire to leave, but I think it is based on his work as well. Anyone who has spent that much time in the bar industry (photos and write-ups) will become saturated and disenchanted like a police officer who deals with violent offenders everyday for 10 years is going to be burnt out and looking for something new. He may have other reasons, but I believe it is a big part of it and his desire to go off and be happy somewhere else, I hope works out, though I will apply “The grass is always greener” to that as well. This is just how I see it, but not knowing Stickman personally and understanding all his reasons, I just apply the concept of anywhere is better than here currently to his situation. I could be wrong and accept that.

I will agree with Codefreeze on opportunity cost, but in a different sense. Economists say opportunity cost is the cost associated with the next best alternative. They throw equations and numbers at this, but simply I am choosing to write this article over doing something different and there is a cost to that decision. So to criticize people that they are choosing to live abroad while passing up on their best earning potential years is a fallacious criticism because you are implying that they need to do what you need to do for success. Are they passing up earning potential that they could put in the stock market, just to see it wiped out during the next recession? Are they passing up earning potential to give 50%+ to the next wife? What exactly are these people passing up? Maybe they are passing up high taxes so freeloaders can get welfare from the government? I am not sure exactly what they are missing.

We all make choices and if we are accountable and responsible for our actions then we have missed nothing. I remember my mom working from 18 until her death at 56. She worked and made good money and rarely took any real vacation her entire life. Is that my inspiration to work until I am dead? People make decisions for different reasons on the amount of work they choose to do or what earning potential they may pass up. I passed up my earning potential specifically because I was not going to work until I am 60+ then just go off and die somewhere. We only get one life and I prefer leisure time over crazy work time, though I know those are not my only choices, but once you start going into debt and planning for retirement you rarely have an opportunity, while in good health or your younger years, to enjoy life. It’s just work and try to fit in a vacation when you can, but YOU NEED TO MAKE MONEY TO BE HAPPY! I don’t buy into that line except that one needs to have security and medical coverage and the rest is just fluff.

If at some point later in life, I find myself in a bad situation because I chose to live the way I do, then it’s my fault and my fault alone. I am accountable for my actions the same way I hold other people accountable for theirs. Live life the way you want and not how others tell you to live it because they will not take responsibility if you choose to follow their advice and fail. People love telling others how to live, but never once take any responsibility for others' decisions that ultimately do not work out. They will justify with excuses like “If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?” I do not tell people how to live except to find what makes them happy and go for that. My recipe and their recipe for happiness will almost always differ and pretending your solution is the answer to all is just elitist in nature.

I do buy into the philosophy of working to live and not living to work, but that is just for me and I do not prescribe that to others as some people want to amass major fortunes in their lifetime. Well that’s a wrap. Enjoy your day wherever you are currently and I hope this has made some sense to you.

Take care gang,


Stickman's thoughts:

I find that foreigners residing in Thailand making arguments for or against Thailand as a place to live often raise issues that have zero relevance to them and zero relevance to most foreigners. I think we have to be honest with ourselves about where we're at in life and what we are looking for and what is important to us and make the decision accordingly. It's very different for each and every one of us.

One point you make that I strongly disagree with is the ease of doing business in Thailand compared to one's own country. As a foreigner doing business here there are huge restrictions that simply don't exist in one's homeland.