Wherever you are in the world, if you are a long term expat, you often sit at your favourite haunt and watch the newbies making the same mistakes over and over again whilst you laugh to yourself, however there is a small part of you that thinks how exciting the world was back when you first arrived and finding your feet in your new homeland.
Here are 3 things experienced expats will be glad to tell you and help you avoid making your own mistakes if you can stomach their old man moaning for just an hour.
Getting a Job
People step off the plane with a couple of wonderful holidays under their belt aiming now to live in the land of smiles, and just get a job, and seem to feel that the ‘holiday experience’ will continue, spending 100 bucks a day on food, alcohol and whatever sexual pleasures that came with your 2 week vacations.
You are labouring under the misapprehension you can get a 2,000-5,000 USD a month from job here in Thailand as a construction worker, or an accountant, lawyer etc. Nope, read the fine print! You cannot work in Thailand in a profession that a Thai person can do, which is ethical really.
In your home country you are quick enough to complain, as is your right to do so, about people stealing jobs from the people that lived there all their lives.
It is not impossible to land a well-paid skilled job, but the laws are still pretty much unchanged over the last 20 years. Okay, one foreigner in a company, but you must employ 3 other Thai people to offset your work permit or look into a BOI company, whoops their goes all your night out money!
Then you have to try get your visa to coincide with your work permit or you will find yourself every month or so cramped up on a visa minibus all night with some 20 year old Philippine English teachers going to do regular border runs to stamp your visa out and back in again a good waste of 2-3 days of your life!
The people you do meet with good jobs here are the ones who have worked really hard at one company for many years and have been offered a position from their own home country. These are what I have always determined as ‘real expats’ who think nothing of spending an English teachers monthly salary on a couple of dinners in the top restaurants. The others will be mainly Hotel Managers who get moved along to new spots every few years.
Lesson one; don’t think you can get a job in Thailand easily, unless you want to be an English teacher earning around 35,000 THB a month.
Falling in Love
Tricky one this; who is to say what is right when it comes to affairs of the heart, one man’s misery is another man’s comfort right? Easy to judge and assume that the twenty something girl on the 70 something man’s arm is reprehensible. However maybe she comes from a world where young woman are beaten by young men, and found herself with no friends, a child or two and no support and within the arms of this older man she found safety, peace and support.
The only advice I would give is; to try your very best to immerse yourself in the culture, understanding is a two way street. Yes your Thai partner needs you to take care of the people back in their village which means regular payments back home, which is alien to the way most Westerners live. On the other hand the care homes we send our old folks to in the West, are just horrible to Asian ways, and their elderly live with them till the end of days. If you ask older people from all ends of the Earth and I would think that will be what the vast majority want which is to die with all your children and grandchildren near them. In Southeast Asia that is the norm.
So when it feels like you are a never ending ATM try to envisage how they will feed you are care for you till the end of your days the very best they can.
Many things are a culture shock and it’s your ‘love’ that will get you over these hurdles,
Love as they say is just 2 imperfect people trying to be the best they can for one another.
Your average expat has heard all the stories about how some Thai woman has stolen a newish expat’s house, car and dog, (Yes Siree, like a good Country and Western song!) but in my experience these types of men had similar problems with partners in the West, not to say there isn’t mercenary people anywhere. Try to remember the least experience you have of the culture the more vulnerable you will be to being scammed.
Chief takeaway is make some Thai friends, listen, more, learn and try above all to remember different cultures mean different values , some good , some not so good.
Just because some young slim and very attractive much younger lady has told you she loves you and that you are in fact handsome, should be taken with a pinch of salt and some humility
There is a saying amongst experience expats that says:
“How do you make a small fortune in Thailand? Answer: Come with a big one!
Moving to the other side of the world is always going to be costly, even if you feel your money goes a lot further here. It all depends on what you consider is a comfortable standard of living.
I have a wealthy friend for UK who could easily afford business class flights and the top Hotels, however he always flies economy and always stays in a rundown Khao San Road Hotel for less than $10 a night. He believes this is how he stays wealthy and not waste his money. I however think that one day he will die wondering what it might have been like to splash out once in a while and have the memory forever.
As George Best the first Millionaire footballer who once replied to being asked what he spent his money on:
“I blew it on beer and woman, the rest I wasted!”
All too many new expats rush into buying this condo or house and opening a business, or worst still opening a bar! The smarter people I met who opened a bar explained to me that they never expected to make any money on it, the ‘bar life’ was just a way to get a visa to stay, and they knew it would either be sold in a year or two down the line so they can move on, or it will just have enough life for a couple of years before it sold for buttons to make a coffee shop..
The new expats dream of franchising their brand around the world, much to the fun of the experienced folk and the local copper who sits everyday listens to their ambitions just for his regular tea money!
I can include myself in this equation I had 2 houses in UK in 2005 I sold them both , at the peak of the house prices in my area I may add to soften the blow for my misadventure. I bought a condo in Hua Hin and sat idly for 2 years wondering what to do, I did ever so enjoy myself. However if I knew what I know now. I would have invested some time in myself to learn some online skills and get a website up or do some ecommerce or learn about investing and life would have been a lot easier for me but I took the road called ‘learn the hard way sucker!’
I had to sell my beach condo 2 years later, I made a bit on it but that cash lasted me another year and a half and I was then broke, unable to work in the country unless I wanted to teach English as a foreign language. Over the next 15 years went back home to work a few times, now I have a good online startup and good clients am still here and okay now, but as my older brother once said;
“You have got to have big balls to live like how you did bro!”
My Brother had one job all his life and never ever late to pay anyone or anything. The true opposite to me. He sadly died in UK 53 years old hardly travelling anywhere!
Getting good financial advice would be the main takeaway here, and recently I did, all it cost me was a coffee and I have now found ways to get my own investment for my startup through old pensions I forgot I had, this and moving some money to better jurisdictions for better returns and that I could cash some or all of the pensions.
You could be in for a big cash surprise if you just sit and chat with people in the know.
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Remember 2 ears one mouth, makes sure your wealth does not go south!