For Expats, The Good Old Days Are Starting Now
For expats in Thailand, the good old days are starting now (end of 2020).
For want-to-be expats, not yet in Thailand, the good old days are waiting for you here.
This submission will make the point that Thailand is still an excellent location for expat living, probably even better than before.
For a certain group of potential expats, it is worth the effort to get here.
(I’ll explain about that group at the end.)
My perspective is Bangkok where expat living is better than I’ve ever seen it in the past 10 years.
Rents are low and getting lower.
Not just rents but also “extras” like 3 months free or free parking.
And availability is high and getting higher.
This is prime time for living in Bangkok and, probably, in any city in Thailand.
New restaurants are sprouting up all over.
Some of them very, very, good (not all).
Lots of innovative dishes like Turkish pizza (I like it) and fish-and-chips with tofu fried in batter. (Sounds awful, but surprisingly delicious and I’ve ordered several times again.)
And just last week I had one of the best cheeseburgers ever in Bangkok (Arno’s Butcher & Eatery).
Delivery services deliver everything.
A small number even deliver some things 24 hours.
A big box of computer printer paper – heavy to carry – ordered yesterday and delivered to my door today (Office Depot).
Sirloin steaks ordered this morning, delivered this afternoon (from Joe Sloan’s; in a sturdy cardboard box, with ice packs against the heat and sealed with tape; not just a plastic bag).
Grocery stores: TOPS, Lotus, Villa Market – delivery tomorrow free, or delivery today, in 2-3 hours, for an extra 60-90 baht.)
Even 7-Eleven delivers, by motorcycle.
So, hot season, rainy season, who cares!
I have even arranged for traditional Thai massage at home.
Three days a week, on a regular schedule, in the comfort of my own apartment.
And after two hours of that luxury, no need to go out in the heat, the rain, or the traffic.
Just relax right here at home.
And when I do go out, shops and malls are “wide open”.
Open corridors and open aisles.
No long lines at checkout cashiers.
Yes, since the lockdown disaster many shops out of business, but those still open are not crowded at all.
Plus, there’s an extra measure of politeness from shop clerks, security guards, bank tellers, etc.
They are starting to understand that their jobs depend on customers coming back often.
About the mask nonsense?
In official places, like shopping malls, post office, almost everyone puts on a mask.
But many below the nose.
Some under the chin.
But the mask is there.
In local markets and small street-front shops, not so much.
Maybe 50% mask wearing, and even that percentage is steadily decreasing.
In general, Thais get bored easily and tend to stop doing whatever it is they are ordered to do.
Recently at Immigration (Cheng Whatanna), in an office area with five government clerks.
The manager was not wearing a mast at all, and two of the remaining clerks had the masks below their chins.)
But this is not Shangri-La.
I’m talking about Bangkok here.
Up-country, in the smaller cities or the villages, I don’t know.
Bangkok has bad air pollution right now.
From my balcony I can see for miles in the distance.
Or can’t see, depending on the level of pollution.
It’s not pretty and it’s not good for health.
I bought two large air filters that run 24 hours (Hatari brand, at HomePro).
Plus, added filter media to each air conditioner (3M brand, “Filtrete” at HomePro).
So inside my apartment, air is clean and cool.
Well, it wouldn’t be Bangkok without lots of traffic.
But it’s not so bad as “before”.
Rush hours are still times to stay off the roads, if possible.
Bangkok, of course, has the highest prices for everything compared to anywhere else in Thailand.
But Bangkok also has the best quality of anything, compared to up-country.
And many things easily found in Bangkok are just not available elsewhere.
Let’s go back to those sirloin steaks mentioned above.
In Bangkok there’s a choice of local beef, beef imported from Australia, imported from Argentina, imported from USA, grass fed, grain fed, fresh, aged 30 days, aged 45 days, aged 70 days.
And on and on for all kinds of products.
For variety, there is no suffering here.
Just be prepared to pay for it.
Attitudes towards foreigners are changing.
When I first started visiting Thailand about 20 years ago, the friendliness was palpable.
It wasn’t always genuine, but there was plenty of it.
When I arrived here to live, people were still polite, but not quite so friendly as years before.
Just before the lockdowns, attitudes towards foreigners were cooling noticeably.
Slowly, the locals are realizing that we expats help to pay their salaries.
Attitudes are changing in a positive way, but they’ll never go back to the warm friendliness of years ago.
Who is that group?
At the start of this submission I wrote that for a certain group of potential expats, it is worth making the effort to get here.
No change: same as ever.
It’s trendy now for white women from Western countries to go to exotic places.
But here, in spite of what we see on the Internet, women are still separate and un-equal.
Maybe it shouldn’t be that way, but it is that way, and it doesn’t bother me.
– White men
The local people here still like Caucasians.
For non-Caucasians, I don’t think Thailand would be a pleasant place to live.
Africans, Indians and Arabs have never been very welcome here (except in small enclaves that cater to them).
– White men with some money
Used to be everything in Thailand could be very cheap, and that attracted a lot of old men on small pensions.
But Bangkok is no longer the cheap bargain it once was.
Living comfortably here, in Western style, costs real money.
I consciously try to live the same as I used to back in the USA: Similar apartment, similar foods, similar clothes.
Call it an “expat bubble”, I like it that way.
My overall costs here in Bangkok are only about 20% less than they were in the USA.
Sure that’s a nice savings, but it’s not a great bargain.
– White men with some money who are retired
The retirement visa extension in Thailand costs only US$ 60 per year.
No visa-run aggravation or expense either.
But retired means retired: Anyone on retirement extension is prohibited from working.
(Work on the Internet is a gray area. No regulations about that.)
Can see no place better
So, overall, is Thailand, still a good place for retired expats?
In my opinion, yes.
I’ve searched and searched and can find no better.
It looks to me like the “good old days” for expats in Thailand are just starting, right now.
If you can, try to get here to enjoy them.
I welcome comments on any of this, either in your own submission here on Stickman, or in private email to me: [email protected]