Thoughts From A Bangkok Retiree
Having been a follower of the site for a number of years, and a contributor once, I must take issue with some of the recent publications that are using such debasing language that would seem to imply misogyny. This was never the purpose of this forum. Might I suggest the hate writers perhaps are better served by S&M forums or others who invite such anger and debasement of humans?
With that being said, addressing the now “ages old” complaints about 2 week millionaires ruining the bar scene prices for long-term locals, ummmm, what did you do on your first trip as a newbie? Maybe you overpaid then compared with the “regulars” price and wasn’t any the wiser? Regardless, I have never been a patron of the “scene” of P4P, but I do wonder if you are living in TH of PH long-term, why would you ever need to pay now? Or more to the point, it is one thing to become enamored with young inviting ladies of the night, and quite another to make it your life’s obsession. I used to live on Sukhumvit Soi 31 and could take a 5-minute walk to either Asoke or Phrom Phong and I would always make sure to duck into the Interchange Tower to get to the BTS or MRT so I did not have to witness “local” expats frequenting the Cowboy and many looking worse for wear in the game of life. On a related area but off subject, Scruffy Murphy’s has a great happy hour that lasts all day until 8 PM, and it’s a relaxing place to watch the comings and goings of the expat and sexpat communities.
Anyway, enough about a quite tired subject. Having recently “retired” to Bangkok in December, after taking 4+ years to wrap up my business affairs in the USA, I have a few comments and observations related to Stick’s post about retiring in the Big Mango. First the comments on cost of living; 4 years ago my wife and I leased a condo in Rhythm On Nut (right across from the BTS). It was a 68 square meter 2 bedroom unit, overlooking the 7th storey park of the building. The unit was only a couple of years old, great layout, big balcony with incredible amenities (infinity edge roof top pool, roof top park, nice roof top gym, billiard room, yoga room and steam sauna). The price? 42,000 baht a month. Right across the street is a Tesco Lotus center, and across the road was the On Nut night market (now a shopping center/hotel/office building). Since we didn’t cook often, we would frequently go have lunch in the food court which was about 160-180 baht for the two of us, and have dinner at the night market enjoying live music and watching the world go by. Night market prices vary, but there were great food vendor options including sushi and burgers. Cost of food about 300 baht for the two. A large Singha was 110 baht. So on average our daily expenses were about 600 baht plus miscellaneous items at the condo (milk, bottled water, juice, fruit etc.) figure maybe 100 baht a day of consumption. Calculating that expense for about 25 days of the month staying local is about 15,000 baht. We almost always went out either Friday or Saturday night for a nice dinner and some drinks listening to live music that would average about +/- 1,500 baht a night. So 5 nights = 7,500 baht. Internet (no TV – streaming is the best even back then) utilities and mobile service was about 4,000 baht a month (and that was running air-con day and night). Add another 5,000 baht or so for miscellaneous purchases during the month = total average expenses of 73,500 baht. That was for a quite comfortable living arrangement with BTS across the street and no need for cabs anywhere. In reconnaissance of Stick’s article, I revisited Rhythm recently and noted that the same condo size was still available for virtually the same price. Prices in Tesco and the food court are almost the same. On Nut night market is gone but there is a cool little food and beer garden village just 50 meters up the street with similar prices for food and beer, so I think someone could count on comfortably retiring in Bangkok for around 75,000 a month with a nice standard of living.
But the big question is WHO should think about retiring in Thailand or some other remote country? From my observations and interactions, not sexpats, not folks running away from bad relationships, not folks in poor health, not folks with bigotry or anger issues, not folks who are impatient and demanding, and certainly not folks who do not have a comfortable pension and retirement cushion. Also if you don’t already have a significant other in Thailand, it seems most who lack a companion mate seem to fall off the cliff quite quickly here.
Who should consider retiring here? Travel, nature and scuba diving lovers – this is paradise. Cheap to travel, some of the best scuba diving in the world and great natural parks to hike and explore. Big city lovers who like the buzz and energy of the world around them can have great music, food and entertainment options for a fraction of the cost of most other major cities of the same ilk – paradise. Country lovers who enjoy the peace and quiet of listening to the rice shoots rustle in the daily breeze and enjoy the solitude of a good book on the porch in the evening – paradise. Those of us lucky enough to have found our significant other here (not sex toy) and enjoy the social interactions with a different culture while still being able to have a comfort blanket of many similar amenities and English-speaking friends as we did at home – paradise. Finally, those whom have toiled for decades to save for retirement and have a nice nest egg that will never see you through to death in your beloved California (or fill in the blank) and have to ponder moving to another state (which will be a similar culture shock and start over moment), then certainly explore your options here and elsewhere.
My advice for interested parties is to come and “stay” – not visit – several times for at least 30 days – 90 if you can. Staying means just that – living like a retiree and not a tourist. And then when you decide and make the move, plan on only staying one first year by leaving a safety net to return to the old home-state should you discover that it is not your cup of tea. Also, if you are approaching 60 you need to have a plan for health insurance. It gets quite costly here in Thailand, so if you are from a country with universal health care, keep it! Otherwise you may need to travel back to your home-state half of the year to maintain affordable (not in California!) insurance. You cannot show up to a hospital here and not have insurance or money – count that as a life or death fact! Also, I advise not coming here if you are not planning on some sort of regular fitness routine. Sitting around watching Netflix and watching your declining health in a mirror is just not a good idea when you are isolated from your lifelong family and friends. I have seen many an expat that within a year or two aged 10 plus years because they fell off the wagon and didn’t have the energy to catch back up and get on. Finally, if you come here and don’t have a real companion to share life with, get out and about and find some new friends and activities / hobbies. It is very easy for expats to get quite lonely here and fall off the wagon and into a never-ending hole of alcohol and debauchery (and then get quite sick or join the building “flyers” club).
So with Eyes Wide Open, strap in, check it out and enjoy the ride. It can be one man’s paradise and another’s hell.