What was the best year for expats in Thailand?

best year in Thailand 31 Oct

What was the best year for expats in Thailand?

Everyone will have a different view on their favourite year as an expat, usually it is the first few years they lived in Thailand. However asking around the same year came up a lot….

The year is 2005 and UK expats in Thailand never had it so good, you received 75 THB to 1 British Pound, so if you were a pensioner your state pension of around 150 Pounds per week would have given you around 48,000 THB a month. Beer was around 40 baht a bottle in a restaurant or beer bar and rents for a studio condo outside central Bangkok was around 5,000 THB a month.

I remember I paid 15,000 THB for a return flight for my first holiday to Thailand in 2003, which seemed a lot at the time, if you can get a flight for that now, you are probably flying on Aeroflot where the plane is held together by duct tape, or your flight is in 5 parts with days stay overs at various airports and although you left clean shaven, you arrive at your final destination with a beard a bear trapper in the Rockies would be proud of!

We flew into KL Malaysia, where we looked around the city for two days then got the sleeping train (with a bed and air con) train to Thailand which I remember costing less than 8 pounds at the station for a 600 km journey. We crossed the border to Songkhla in March 2003, en route to 10 glorious days on Koh Samui island.

The first thing I remember was the heat and buying a coke, and I got it in a plastic bag with ice, which was the first time I was introduced to the Thai’s dependence on plastic, the coke was 5 baht, and I remember the shock at how cheap a street meal was at street meal was 15-20 baht!

Cow pat Gai Kai dow khaap

Fast forward today; Pensions are around 175 GBP per week if you can get the full entitlement, and you now get circa 40 THB for the pound, so about 30,000 THB per/month after the exchange and beer in a club is on average 150-200 baths a bottle and rents for studios are currently around 10,000 THB a month. A street meal still one of the cheapest in the world is around 60-80 baht.

 Is it any wonder the general happiness of retirees is rock bottom? Throw in a global pandemic and it sometimes feels the only joy for many is remembering the good old days.

175 GBP is also the top amount you can get if you are 65 years young today and paid into your National Insurance for around 25-30 years. If you are mid 50’s now you have to wait until you are 67 years old to collect.

Any good financial advisor will have his head in his hands sobbing for you if you tell him you only have your state pension to look forward to and you cannot wait to retire!

State Pension payments are provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (D.W.P.) to diligent Britons who have put forward years of National Insurance contributions. However, while the sum is a valuable source of income in retirement, those who are looking at leaving the workforce soon have been warned it may not be enough to see them through their later years.

Financial experts have warned that Britons could not simply rest on the state pension to see them through retirement. You can’t rely on the state pension alone, it isn’t guaranteed, and at what the current amount offers you monthly, it’s nowhere near enough to provide you with the lifestyle you are currently used to if you have a good steady job.

How much for 1 GBP?

“But even if you have a company pension, that and the state pension on their own probably are not going to get you very far to the level of income you’d be hoping for.

Auto-enrolment has been great as it means more people now have a pension because you don’t have to proactively opt-in. However, the downside is that some people assume that because this is set up you don’t need to do anything else and that it’s all sorted. That is an area which is worth looking deeper into because on its own it really isn’t going to be enough.

The vast majority of people need to be thinking more about putting money towards your retirement in an active way. If you just rely solely on what is going into your company pension, you’re likely to get a bit of a rude awakening.

The pensions freedom act came in in 2015 and thereafter so many UK pensioners are finding the freedom to do as they wish with their savings is sadly not quite delivering the happiness they had hoped for.

Since rules governing how pensions can be taken were dramatically relaxed in 2015, more than a million over-55s have gone on a freedom-fueled spending spree.

More than £23bn has been “cashed out” from the nation’s pension pots via more than 5m individual payments. Research suggests that much of this cash has been spent paying down debt, renovating homes, upgrading cars or helping adult children on to the property ladder.

Whilst property is, and should be part of anyone’s portfolio, I am not sure paying off debts, whilst helping you sleep better at night and protecting your kneecaps in the most extreme of cases, is a good financial decision.

The sad fact is:

Most can’t be trusted with their own cash

In Robert Kiyosaki’s best selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad he asked a group of young people what they would do if they won the lottery or came into a large cash windfall, and the overwhelming reply was property. Yet he insists they are making a fundamental mistake, because they have no financial acumen.

Buying a house is a good decision for most working people, because it will become their most valuable asset and they will more than likely stay in the house for more than ten years which is the historical point when property starts to grow in value, and gain good equity.

However people who come into money suddenly, do not realise how much their lifestyle will change often they find they will travel more and have more choices about where they will want to live, more then often will sell properties after a year or two making a huge loss, they then repeat this cycle until their subconscious mind takes them back to where they were happiest, and it is hardly surprising how many recent heirs to fortunes are unhappy as it is such a dramatic change for them.

Everyone needs to have a good friend who will be brutally honest to you, someone who is financially educated, and has done well regarding their own financial affairs, to help you not make original mistakes, the world of money has rarely changed over the last century,  we  should all take time out to educate ourselves into how money works, yes it does not buy happiness, but it sure is better to cry in a Mercedes than on the bus!

Let us have a coffee together and give you the best advice of how to try to enjoy your life now, and if you are lucky enough to make it to retirement age, have some cash then as well.

Many people I speak to are scared to have a financial review as it will highlight major misgivings and make them sadder, but the truth is your friendly neighborhood financial adviser enjoys a beer and golf too ,so they won’t make you lock yourself up at work everyday till you have a decent pension pot, they are all about ‘good balance.’

Golf and financial review with no guilt!

You would also be surprised at how educated they are on all the latest government changes that you could take full advantage of now, and perhaps change your future dramatically, but you will never know if you don’t try!

They even buy the coffee (they will kill me for telling you that!!)