Rich Expat V Poor Expat

20 Oct

Rich Expat V Poor Expat

Whenever you read blogs about expats in Thailand you either relate or you do not, there is very little middle ground. Here is a day in the life of both the rich expat and the poor expat.

Tristan wakes at 0645 and gets straight into the shower, Felicity rolls over in bed and moans to Tristan to be quiet as she has an hour extra in bed.  Felicity wakes at 0800 and gets ready for her job at the UN where she is a liaison officer and case worker for rescued woman. The Three children have a bedroom each in their house in the suburbs and have their own pool where they are currently splashing about as their parents are getting ready for work. Their Nanny comes along and ushers them to get out of the pool and get ready for school.

A year ago, Felicity and Tristan were living in New York City with their 3 children and Tristan was offered the expatriate position as a Financial consultant of the Blue Chip company in Bangkok salary 180,000 THB per month with a very generous Tax break of less than 20% of what he was paying in the U.S. and Felicity asked a few friends from their Masonic Lodge to help her land the role rescuing sex workers in Thailand who do not want rescuing and she is on 130,000 THB  a month as an NGO.

Both their roles come with all necessary work permits with visas, the apartment in the plush area of the city, International schooling paid for by the company.  A Driver is waiting downstairs to drive Tristan to the city centre office. Felicity however roughs it and get the Sky-train with the ‘natives.’

Mr and missus middle class Stockphoto

Trevor wakes up and switches off the fan in his studio Condo and looks out the window on the second floor at the sprawling confusion that is Bangkok, and still wonders why he loves it so. He gets a cold shower and wonders if he should bother the landlady downstairs again to put in hot water, after he switches on his laptop and sighs at the state of the strong baht and the lack of business in 2020. Trevor works online and sells T shirts across the world.

Trevor first came to Thailand in 2010 on a few holidays and fell in love with the charming people, the weather, the food and the cost of living, so eventually after meeting Ploy an attractive Thai lady who is 20 years younger who now lives with him, he decided to make the move and become an expat in Thailand.

Trevor is a Plumber by trade, he is 48 years old and Thai Visa regulations are a continual stress on him. It would have been a lot easier if he did not have a son with Ploy just recently. Ploy is besotted with her handsome half Thai; half English son. She cares not that Trevor more than often struggles to make the 8,000 THB rent each month as sales from his T shirts online is his only income, as he cannot work as a plumber in Thailand. Ploy, forever a doting partner, sees the stress on his face and tries her best to relax him and care for him the best way she knows how.

Could be Trevor or the one on the left!

Trevor can get a retirement visa at 50 years old , but wonders whether the Thai authorities would consider his website and overseas sales of T Shirts as technically ‘working in Thailand’ he is on a 60 day tourist visa which clearly states you can not work on a Tourist visa or a Retirement visa.

He can get a Married Visa but he has to visit the UK where he is from at least once a year to see some clients and his T Shirt manufacturer, so a married visa is not always the best option for him. He wishes the Government would offer him a way to work online which would give him visa security which isn’t depending on buying an apartment for 10 mill baht first.

Tristan met Felicity through a family friend at Yale University when they were new graduates and their romance blossomed. Tristan and Felicity’s folks are part of the golf Club and are both lawyers. Their married life resembled their parent’s lives a lot, but this is what they both welcomed. A house in the Suburbs, a thriving portfolio and when they were offered the chance to work in Bangkok, they welcomed the chance to work abroad and ‘see the world.’

Trevor met Ploy at a bar on Sukhumvit Road in the red-light area of the city and was smitten by her dark and long beautiful hair, slim figure and her simple life back home on the farm in the North East of Thailand where she had previously worked for less than 200 baht a day planting rice and working on building sites in the searing heat.

Ploy found Trevor very sweet and attentive, she told Trevor of an abusive ex husband who was constantly with other woman, used prostitutes a lot, never let her have friends and raised his hand to her on many an occasion. Ploy even had the indignation of having to pay for the divorce, so Trevor’s kind and understanding nature was a world away from what she is used to.

Trevor has travelled on the train to her Farm to meet her parents and lived in one room ramshackle barn house and washed each day in a bucket of cold water outside the house next to the chickens and the pigs and looked at the beautiful mountains that surround Ploys farm and he felt good to be the explorer. And see the world from the base cultural aspect.

Tristan and felicity have seen the temples in Bangkok on a guided tour, and seem quite satisfied they have seen the culture, they have been to Phuket once, they flew in and then were taxied from the airport straight to the Sofitel resort and stayed there on the beach that is part of their resort. They went to some of the exclusive restaurants in the city whilst they were there.

Trevor and Ploy love street food like noodle soup or many of the standard rice dishes for 50 baht along with a 20 Baht coke. Ploy is a good cook and buys veg from the markets and cooks a good rice dish most days on the small balcony in their condo.

Tristan and Felicity meet each night after work at the local Irish bar in town and enjoy a western Bourbon or a pint of Guinness along with a dish they are familiar with like Steak and Fish or a western prepared Thai meal. They think 3-5000 Baht is an average bill for a meal.

At the end of the 2-year posting Tristan and Felicity are excited and happy to return home to the US to see family and get back to the Golf and friends. They have many photographs at the temples and the beach at the Hotel and the Irish bar. And have saved a lot of money which can be added to the extensive portfolio.

Trevor however is in a depressed state at the Airport, he had to borrow the money from his brother for the flight and has left just enough cash for a few weeks for Ploy and his son. He is in a bit of a panic because his  Visa has expired and he is a month or so overstay and faces and maybe fine and a small ban from entering Thailand again,  and now has to say goodbye to his son he adores and his wife he loves dearly and must now try to get a visa for Ploy to visit the UK which will be very tricky for him as he does not receive a regular income from his website.

Trevor has worn out 2 phones with so many photographs of all the cities and towns he and Ploy went to see together on the buses, boats and trains where he met the wonderful farming folk and the farm animals he has grown to love and care for. His portfolio is his memories, but he also he berates himself for the state he is in financially, if he could have saved more his heart would not be breaking as they call for the final boarders to get on the plane.

There was a television program that aired in the UK which really peaked my interest; it documented over time; 2 classes of school children in UK in the 1960’s both with equal number of girls and boys between 6-7 years old. And asked the children what they wanted to be when they were older.

One school was in a very deprived area were predominantly working class, and the other school was at the other end of the not so blatant UK Class system where the parents of the school children were all upper middle class.

They then revisited those same children 20 years later in the 1980’s. it was an experiment in the types of work and opportunities that were open for both sets of children. What they found was although the education they received was of a reasonable equal standard and the child who excelled the most through their academic studies was actually in the poorer set, the children from the more wealthier backgrounds mostly had good steady skilled jobs, lawyers, accountants , doctors and engineers, The poorer set mostly were train drivers, car mechanics and shop workers.

My takeaway from the television documentary is that you are not wholly bound to your upbringing, but if you are happy and live within your happy bubble there will be little pull for you to become more.

So, my blog is not an attack on either my fictional types of expats, it is just merely an observation from my own quarters about certain expats I have met and the types of lives they live in my 20 years living here.

You can become what you want to be if you are prepared to enter the not so comfort zone and challenge the normal.

One thing the rich do is have more of an eye on the future, their parents drum it into them, whereas poorer people tend to live more for today. Wealthy people understand the laws of money as in save ten percent of all you earn and use your savings to make money work for itself and compound its own interest and to spend ten percent on yourself frivolously, these are the first two main rules of finance you need to master, and it makes no difference what background you hail from.

If you find yourself more in the corner of Trevor than Tristan, then perhaps you always berate yourself for having little liquid cash. Well if you have a QROPS pension you can do yourself a favour and cash some in and use that to make more cash through many alternative ways, and put the rest of your  your pension into a more tax efficient jurisdiction and maybe you can start to have a Guinness in the Irish bar instead of coke on the road!

For free advice on pension cash-ins and moving your QROPS to a better more tax efficient jurisdiction drop us a message