Well where do I start? I have a few questions, although before I ask, I best give you all a brief rundown on why I am asking these questions to start with. You seem to have a fair bit of experience living in Thailand and also have piles of other people's experiences wanting to either share something or find something out. So here is mine.
As for me and my experiences, I have previously lived in Thailand for about 5 years, around 5-6 years ago. Back then life was great, enjoyed teaching, I married the love of my life (a Thai girl) and we had a baby. After giving it some thought we opted to leave Thailand briefly - for one reason we were low on cash, and most of all to head back to Australia for my parents to meet their first grandchild. Our plan was to stay a couple of years, save some cash and return back to continue living that always exciting life in Thailand of never knowing what to expect next.
Though after 2 years, we had our second child and decided that since we have started our family we would then have our third and last child. We are a happy loving family and as for returning to continue living that amazing life in Thailand, we decided that at the beginning of this year we would head back to Bangkok with our family of 5, buy a house and live the simple life again. Well that's where it hit us. Going from a single couple to having a young baby living in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok we could always do it, though with 3 kids aged 5, 3 and 1, life had hit us in the face and things weren't so easy like before.
The start of the struggle
Noticing the obvious, like trying to cross a road with a pram- a no go, walking through the busy streets and markets squeezing our 3 beautiful kids hands with grips like Popeye' to stop people from grabbing them to say ‘sawasdii krap' - ‘mi luk saam kon roh'- most of the time it was all in good spirit, though it was bloody hectic at times as total strangers expected us to just hand over our children just so they can hold them. All in all life back in the smoke was starting to be a real struggle.
We have a family friend who is a taxi driver in Bangkok who took us around soi after soi, mubaan after mubaan searching for a simple three bed room townhouse to buy. You know the kind that is posted on every bit of spare pavement on every soi and highway in Bangkok. Well we found our house, put in a deposit thinking our life was about to change for the good. Though the day before we were quite literally about to transfer our money across, my wife said I'll just get on the net and just find out a bit more info on the local schools and the area, she then came across review after review talking nothing but negative things about the houses built there and the area in general.
We had found out that all the houses built in that area leaked and had all sorts of problems. There were thieves around and it flooded regularly etc. I even called up some of the houses for sale saying ‘ I'm not interested to buy your house I just want to know why your selling it as I'm in the process of buying a house down the street'. They told us all the issues and we were pretty disappointed and walked away from going through with it all, losing our deposit and feeling quite heavy about it all. After working our backsides off for 5 years to save the money and return to Thailand to continue on with the dream, it was looking very shaky.
We tried briefly looking for apartments/houses to rent that suited and that were somewhat close to the school I was to teach at, but that was to no avail. It was starting to become very apparent to us that life had changed very much over the past 5-6 years and after giving it some thought, we decided to put it behind us to return back to Australia - only just after being in Thailand for 3 months. I was bitterly disappointed as we had been working so hard for this to work out.
Oz is not for me
So after being back in Australia for 7 months now, I'm still disappointed and can't settle here either whichever way I try. I have tried several different jobs and in my heart they don't really suit me. I guess I really just miss the Thai lifestyle I have been waiting so long for. I have been having some pretty heavy discussions with my wife about possibly giving Thailand another go, perhaps even in a different city or just going about it in a whole new way. Though we all know that Bangkok is where all the work and opportunities are.
I guess this isn't really a brief run down after all, though it's as clear cut as I can be. So I guess my questions are: Are there families doing it ok in Bangkok or Thailand in general just on normal teachers wages of 35-40k per month? That's the basic salary I'll be on- though I do intend to supplement my income with extra tutoring and possibly other ideas of coaching/training people in other things on the side. We are simple people who can live on the basics though just want some happiness in what I'm doing career wise. My wife is still probably 1-2 years off working as our little one is still only one.
Questions that need answers
So we are just sitting back here umming and uhhhing whether to make the move again and give it another shot. I would be confident our kids would settle as our 5 year old understands Thai, though he is shy to speak it, he can read and write basic things for his age. I know there are families all over Bangkok and Thailand alike getting by though are they because that's their only option or are they really doing it because they like it and want to?
I've always wanted my children to be enveloped by Thai culture and understand the importance of Thai etiquette. Though people here in Australia think I'm crazy wanting to move my family to Thailand, as after all Australia is a nice place and it makes sense to live here like every other puppet who is trying to do the same thing. But deep in my heart I know the people here haven't had the experiences I've had and they simply don't understand what else is out there.
In your opinion is Bangkok a place to raise a family or is it a single man's game? I'm hoping you have met and/or come across people in the same boat as me. Please enlighten me with some knowledge either good or bad- it's been an up and down year so I can take the ride.
Phil, ajarn.com says - Thank you Adam for sharing your story with us. Frankly speaking, I'm not the right person to give you advice because I don't have children. However, many teachers do and I'm sure they will be sympathetic towards your plight and have some good advice to put in the comments section for you. I'm looking forward to reading the responses.