Readers' Submissions

10 Myths About Mongers (and their Thai Bargirls) – Part 3

  • Written by Anonymous
  • August 13th, 2015
  • 10 min read






Stick-Myth #10 The economy would fail if the farang bar areas closed.

As Stick makes quite clear this is such a myth I don’t even feel a need to comment on it… so maybe I could add one little myth of my own…

Harry-Myth #11 Thailand is a perfect place for a farang to retire to.

Clearly anybody having read these pages for the past couple of years should have no belief in this myth. I say this despite (as I pointed out in another article here a month ago) I have been living here for a dozen years (after accepting an ‘early-retirement-package’), and have no present intention of departing these shores… but, as I always say to the many people I meet here every year, ‘It works for me. That doesn’t mean it would work for you.

For many, many years before I retired I met, and heard about, hundreds of Westerners (especially northern Europeans, and northern Americans) who were taking the pension and relocating to sunnier climes – Spain, Italy, Florida, Arizona, Greek islands. After ten years or so, many of them still claimed it was the best thing they ever did. Still more said much the same thing, but sounded less convincing. And a large percentage admitted maybe they made a mistake. In the last 10 – 20 years many folk have adopted the ‘long-haul retirement plan’.

I have two main attitudes to such plans: Do not make the move too abruptly, nor hastily; and do not burn your bridges behind you. This is exemplified by the guys (with or without Thai partners) and couples who have a nice fortnight’s holiday, return the following year for a month, check out the real estate market, put down a deposit, return home, sell up, realise their assets, and return to paradise with a big bag of money. The dream home is purchased and then, sometimes, the nightmare begins…

Either the property doesn’t pass muster, or the resort itself, or the local service personnel, or the place quickly becomes over-developed, or the locals no longer seem as welcoming, or the girlfriend takes all… and then what can you do…? I know many people who bought in Spain and Florida who are currently desperate to pull out (and relocate to Thailand?) but have one, or both, of two major problems – they cannot sell their property, and they can no longer afford to buy back ‘home’, where prices have risen in their absence… and their retirement is down the toilet.

I would only offer two pieces of advice: first, Do Not Be Hasty…! If you’ve had a couple of pleasant holidays in Thailand and think this is the place, find somewhere to rent, preferably for a year – see all aspects of a year in paradise and even move house every 3-4 months. Only if you then really still like it should you even consider relocating – up to then consider yourself on a long-term 12-month holiday.

During that year I would recommend scouting around for property – to rent as well as to buy – and a secondary piece of advice would be to avoid real-estate agents like the plague. Not one of them is in business for your benefit…! Not-One-Of-Them…! <Different country, I know, but in New Zealand real estate agents are the one group of people I loatheStick> Rent a car and just drive around, looking for signs: ‘For Rent’ and ‘For Sale’. These will more often than not be in Thai. Get a Thai person to point them out, take a photo on your phone, and you will soon learn to recognise the signs. These signs always have a phone number, and you might need to get a Thai friend to make the call for you – I find restaurant staff happy to oblige. If there’s no number, either call next door, or ask anyone in the street – they will all know, and will be happy to help, because they will usually get a small commission if you buy. Security personnel on gated estates will usually know what’s for sale there, for the same reason.

Check the size of the property, the furnishings (not too important – basic furniture can be very cheap in Thailand), the neighbourhood, and the price. If you find somewhere that really appeals revisit it at different times of the day, especially when the children return from school, or the men arrive home from the bars. Walk the entire length of the street, and maybe also the adjacent streets. Check the amount of unsightly rubbish in neighbouring front yards – it won’t go away so, if you find it unattractive, make haste – away…

By all means then see what the agents have to show you. The properties might be newer, better furnished, and on enclosed, walled estates, and will always be much dearer – even the same property you’ve previously seen privately – and many agents will try to divert you towards a new property, of which they are the developer/builder… Beware… I live in one of these little ghettoes, which I always used to deride, but am very happy here. There are about forty houses in all, about a third of which are for sale and / or rent. I looked at seven over a three-day period, and came back at different times during the following week. They are all 2-3 Bed., 2 Bath., 1-2 Kitchen, with large living areas, a little outside the town centre, and you would eventually need your own transport – again, this is easy to rent to begin with.

The prices ranged from 9-17,000 ฿/month. The one that best suited me was asking 16,000 but after polite and gentle chatting, the Thai owner offered 13,000, for a 12-month contract, payable quarterly, with a 10,000 ฿ deposit. Many of these places rent by the month (to tourists) for 2-3x as much… I suspect you could offer to rent for a year, pay the first quarter and the deposit and, if you want to move on, forego the deposit and depart – but you didn’t hear that from me…

My second piece of advice, which works for me: Rent, Do Not Buy…! Quite apart from the difficulties for farang to properly and easily own property in Thailand there are other more practical reasons to rent. I’ve never been able to understand why most buyers in Thailand (Thai and farang) are only interested in brand-new property, and there is very little secondhand market here, and thus very few agents holding older properties on their books. To buy older property you will be best advised to adopt the independent system I outlined above.

If you do buy, and something goes wrong – a paint factory appears at the end of the street, a 20-storey condo gets built in the field opposite, an extended family of twenty people move in next door, you have to return ‘home’ to take care of an ailing relative, or you just want to move (and the less time you spent doing the initial recce the more easily you might find somewhere you prefer) – you might very easily find it impossible (not just difficult) to sell, even if it’s less than five years old…

I’ve even encountered people in Hua Hin owning two or three properties at the same time, having fallen out of love with their first choice, bought something else, and been unable to sell the first property…

That’s a practical consideration. There is another, financial, and equally valid, aspect: Renting can be much cheaper. The house I rent cost over 4,000,000 ฿ (possibly much more) when new, about eight (or ten) years ago. It is now possibly worth less, because Thai property doesn’t normally increase in value as it does in the West. Granted, Bangkok is not the same as Hua Hin but a condo I nearly bought 16 years ago, near the British Embassy, which was brand-new and I negotiated it to 3,550,000 ฿, is still empty, and apparently available for 4,799.000 ฿, which doesn’t compare well to the western property market.

Assuming the figures I’ve been given are accurate, I am renting for 156,000 ฿/year which would take 25 years to reach the 4,000,000 purchase price (by which time I should be long dead), but the beauty (in my opinion) of my system is that my assets are still tied up in property in the West, which is let, at today’s exchange rate, for 972,000 ฿/year. These figures surely speak for themselves… and yet, additionally, if I want to move I can just walk away – if I want, or need, to return to the West I will have somewhere to live – and, in the meantime, it is providing me with a healthy addition to my pension…

It is of course possible that my rent here could increase but this might equally be off-set by the slowly deteriorating standards on the estate. The number of absentee (farang and Bangkok Thai) owners, who cannot sell, and refuse to pay the annual service / maintenance costs is already affecting my estate. Security has recently been reduced, along with some street lights being disconnected, and trash collections now only every 2-3 days. So far this has had little or no effect on me but… if next year I decide I can do better elsewhere, I can just move – just like that…!

And don’t forget, an owner would still have to pay maintenance / service charges, which will probably increase.

Now… all that applies to single guys, with ostensibly nobody else to consider, plus couples who are already used to considering just each other… but perhaps does not apply equally to those farang with Thai partners who have been living / working in the West and now retire here… most of whom will be encouraged to ‘invest’ in Thai property – in her name of course. How you deal with this is your own responsibility but I would assert the basic tenets of what I’ve written above still apply. Added to this however is the additional problem, much discussed in these submissions, of a farang setting up his partner in the manner in which she wishes to be kept, and then losing the lot… so I would naturally advise caution, and to also ensure you do not become worth more to your partner dead than alive… It sounds gruesome but there is much evidence to suggest this problem is more than a rare occurrence…

Another writer here recently declared he was currently living and working in the West (with I believe a Thai wife), holidaying here just two weeks a year, and was wondering whether he should still be considering retiring here, which is presumably what his wife will desire. My answer would be to of course still consider it – presumably, with a Thai wife, other options are rather limited. But a bigger problem for him might just be that he currently has so little experience (especially recently) of living in Thailand, so again my advice above might work to his advantage – i.e. retire here for a couple of years, rent a house first, and be cautious of selling up whatever property he currently owns, if any, which should be let, to provide an income… and avoid telling your wife she will inherit the lot on your death. If you’re a nice guy you will naturally want to reassure your beloved on her future security but… as I say, you must take responsibility for how you deal with this… and, even if you’ve been happily married for twenty years, things, and people, can still change…

I once told my wife that all the rental money and my pensions were transferred to Thailand, monthly. When I died she would inherit everything I had in Thailand… and my two daughters and two sisters would inherit everything I had back ‘home’… She then instigated a slow, covert, and underhand, campaign to drive a wedge between my family and I, in order to encourage me to disinherit them. Sadly it blew up in her face, and she was disinherited…

That’s all folks… Pip, Pip.

Hua Hin Harry






Stickman's thoughts:

I agree with what you say about renting in Thailand, especially so if you're outside of Bangkok and not the youngest man in town.