Richard McCully

Decisions, decisions

Is it time to stick or twist? To leave Thailand or stay?


I remember it was so easy to pack my bags and come to Thailand but it is proving much harder to pack them and leave the land of smiles. Now as I enter my fourth year in Thailand I am beginning to wonder If I will ever leave or If I will slowly but surely become stuck here even if I want to move away.

About 2 years ago I was about ready to leave Bangkok; I had had enough of the traffic, pollution and way of life. I might have stayed in Thailand or checked out another country but I wouldn't have gone back to the UK at that point. It was about that time I met a special girl....

Now I still hate the traffic and pollution but have someone amazing to live here with. I bought a condo last year and things are going great. However, my Thai girlfriend lived in New York for a year before I met her and is keen on living overseas again. It has put us in a limbo where we are thinking about leaving Thailand but there are many hurdles to jump and other factors keeping us here.

Job options

TEFL teachers in the UK seem to get around $15 -20 per hour or around $25,000 a year for the better jobs which wouldn't be enough to meet the visa requirements to support a Thai partner in the UK. There is the option of getting a better paying job but I would hate to go back into sales and I really can't be doing with sitting in an office in front of a computer all day again. This makes us moving to the UK a possibility but maybe not an easy thing to do.

There is the idea that we can move to another country and I can teach but then what would my girlfriend do? She isn't the type to sit around all day at home and she doesn't fancy living in other Asian countries so I guess it would mean moving to Europe. I would have nothing against a stay in Italy, France or Spain but the problem comes to my girlfriend's work and visa opportunities. She worked in a Thai restaurant in New York and she wouldn't go back to that kind of job again. Maybe a job at a company who need a Thai speaker but I imagine the opportunities for that are very slim.

'Lifestyle'

Then there is the lifestyle here in Thailand which is very relaxed. Some of my friends think I'm not really working hard and being here is a bit of a jolly. To be honest in some aspects I would agree with them. My working week at school is 28 hours including office hours and lunch breaks. I love this way of working. Working 9-5 now seems like a stupid thing to do and if I moved away from Thailand I'm certain I would have to work harder and longer. The thought of leaving this style of living is hard to embrace and a reason to stay.

Having family on the opposite side of the world is not an easy thing to deal with. Right now I see my family around twice a year for a couple of holidays and speak on Skype. If I had the chance to see my family more often then of course I would take it but then it means my girlfriend wouldn't see her family so it's a double edged sword. We stay or we go and either way one of us sees a lot less of our family. My girlfriend's family relies on her a lot, we would need to think a lot about this before leaving Thailand.

My girlfriend and I both have condos in Thailand and whilst it is possible to rent them out whilst we leave, it is a hassle. My condo will be paid off in around 3 years so this point is maybe a better time for us to leave as until then I would need the security of either it being rented out at a high price or using it as a place to live. I don't regret buying a condo but it certainly has meant that I can't be as flexible as I might want to be.

So why would I want to leave Thailand and its relaxed atmosphere? Well there are a few reasons and although I like living in Thailand many of these reasons are becoming important in my life.

Rising costs

Firstly money is an issue. Over 3 years I have noticed that prices have increased and despite recent news that Bangkok is only 74th in the list of most expensive world cities, I still find I have to think more about buying things than I did when in the UK . You can argue about salaries and cost of living but I only made around an extra 20K a month in the UK than I do now in Thailand and felt I could spend more without worrying.

I think this goes to show that the day to day costs of Thailand are cheap but when you need to buy something it hits your pocket more than living in the UK. If it isn't these expenses that put me off then it is the long term financial implications of living here that do.

I guess most people take pensions and free health care in the UK for granted. You couldn't live here off just a standard UK pension but it would sure help to get around 7,000 Baht a week if you had a full pension (although I'm sure I heard about deductions for those living overseas?).

Let's add on health insurance for which, as a 28 year old male, I was quoted 40,000 Thai baht a year - this will only get higher and is already over a month's salary for many people. My company doesn't offer a pension for foreign staff so my savings would have to be invested and we all know that can go wrong. I'm thinking it's best to spend a few years elsewhere and get these benefits and come back later in life.

Next there is work. I enjoy teaching but I wouldn't say it is my calling. Am I just teaching to stay in Thailand? Not at the moment but I could see that happening in the future if I stay. The thought of working in a school at the age of 40 or 50 really doesn't appeal to me. Maybe I could see myself teaching a few hours a week at a university but I feel I would like a new challenge at some point and I'm afraid that's not really possible in Thailand. There are a few other non-teaching jobs here but nothing that stands out. A move away would give me the chance to do something different.

This isn't just a decision for me, it would also be for my girlfriend. I have huge belief in her ability and feel it is being wasted here in Thailand. She has a lot of potential and I feel she would thrive in a different environment. She shouldn't be stuck behind a desk making 25K a month - she would be a great asset to any company and I'm sure leaving Thailand would open up many opportunities for her to study and work.

Comparisons

Another major point is thinking about quality of life. It is hard to compare between different countries when you earn different salaries but I would say I have a good quality of life here, although it could be better.

Sure my condo is nicer than the room I rented in London and I can eat in restaurants more often here in Thailand but you can't tell me that Bangkok is a better place than London. To be honest Bangkok isn't in the same league as London and my girlfriend feels the same comparing Bangkok and New York.

As a first time visitor to South East Asia, it is so different and amazing but now I find it incredibly boring and lacking in things I want like parks, attractions and decent public transport. I could move to a different region but I'm not giving up a higher salary to go live in the sticks where I would probably get bored after a few months.

Looking further into the future I want to be able to retire and live a full life. If I stayed in Thailand and saved maybe 20K THB a month I still wouldn't have enough to live on, even if I invested and got lucky. I already mentioned pensions but I feel living elsewhere would allow me to save more or be supported by my company to start saving.

Finally one of the reasons I came to Thailand was for an adventure and I fear this adventure is nearing its end. There is a new journey to start and I'm hopeful its one that can begin but for now I'm feeling a bit stuck.

Maybe it's a consequence of growing up, you have less freedom and can't do everything you want and I'll need to work harder to give myself the opportunity of heading home and trying something new.

All I know is I don't want to be the guy who stayed too long or regretted missing out on a new experience. The world is big and I love being in Thailand but I hope in the next few years I make it out and can come back sometime in the future to enjoy this fantastic place.


If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country 


Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

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Comments

Thanks for sharing your experience Amy.

I think a coffee shop is really just a plaything for most people here - unless you are on a real piece of prime estate then the chances of succeeding and making good money are low.

Working online is an option but I would miss the social side of being in an office or just around other people. I also feel I would resent where I lived as it would turn into an office.

I still enjoy being here in Thailand but I guess the initial wow factor and constant surprises have decreased. Either way I will be here for a little while longer but hopefully taking better opportunities for my future.

By Richard, Bangkok (28th July 2016)

Richard,
You have some very good responses here. A lot of people seem to cast a negative light on your stay or go situation, and seem downright negative about businesses and work opportunities outside of teaching. I have a mostly negative outlook too. I envision that Thailand in a few years from now will look a lot different, and after just over 2 years here, I am just ready for new scenery.

You wrote:
I have heard that many coffee shops and restaurants are opened as the playthings of rich Hi So housewives and aren't really there to make profits.

This is very true. A lot of the businesses don't turn a profit, and if it does, it is not a big one and certainly not something that will keep you afloat and provide savings and security.

Let's use the coffee shop as an example:
A typical coffee shop likely won't bring in 100,000 baht in sales a month. I don't know that the rent and cost of business would be, but it seems that 100k sales or more would be needed, assuming operating costs of maybe 20k or so. Again, very rough estimates, but you get the idea. A general Thai coffee shop will probably sell a beverage around 50baht. So that would be around 65 beverages a day, every day. I was good friends with the owner of a coffee shop on Sukhumvit Soi 81 years ago, and she realized average sales were around 1100-1300b a day. There is also significant start-up costs which will take awhile to recover. The math just doesn't work in a lot of cases.

I threw in the towel on teaching about 4 months ago. I have been doing my online business on the side for about 3 years now, and the monthly income generated is finally enough for me to live on. The only problem now is that I feel like I am just wasting my time here. I have already traveled throughout the country and visited nearby countries. The initial bliss and euphoria has finally worn off, and I am ready to leave Thailand.
I am not sure if you still feel as excited to be here as you did when you first arrived, but if you do, then consider staying a few years. If not, then plan on your next move. If things in your relationship are going as well as you described, your girlfriend will surely accompany you to the UK without hesitation.
Good luck!

By Amy, Nonthaburi (27th July 2016)

DHK & Karl

I feel setting up a business such as a bar / restaurant / tourist shop would be the wrong direction for me. Also as you said Karl there are many obstacles, legal and otherwise, to consider. I'm not one to take big risks and opening up such a business would be risky in my opinion. I have heard that many coffee shops and restaurants are opened as the playthings of rich Hi So housewives and aren't really there to make profits.

There are opportunities for sure but I feel it comes from information / online sources. In this form I also feel it would be prudent for such a business not to be area restricted but to accept customers from around the world.

By Richard, Bangkok (27th July 2016)

DHK:

Most of those foreign-owned businesses are not exactly foreign-owned. The structure of the deal can be complicated.....Sadly, many foreigners put everything in their girlfriend/wife's name, yet neither the investor or the Thai partner is qualified or business-savvy.

What are the options anyway? For the most part, I see foreigners talk about the same things over and over and over and over..... Here is the perpetual list of generally bad ideas:

Bars, restaurants, guesthouses, cafes, internet shops, travel agencies, rental services, and salons (foreigners love to talk about investing in a salon and having the gf/wife run the operations - I don't get it)

There are certainly endless possibilities, but most people seems to feel that there is some golden opportunity in one of the above businesses - most of which are either saturated/competitive, or becoming obsolete. All carry an incredible amount of risk.

I found an interesting article about doing business in Thailand - these seem to be the main "hurdles" and it sounds like a massive headache.

1. Being ripped off by lawyers.
2. The owner of the property.
3. Having to have 2 million baht in a Thai bank before you can start.
4. Renting versus Owning (you never own the business, just the goodwill and fixtures and fittings)
5. Having 7 Thai partners. (Does this mean you don’t have control of your own business?)
6. Key money. Good side and bad side.
7. Corruption.

Some better ideas to consider would be something in IT, consulting, etc.

I like what a previous poster wrote earlier: Focus on creating and not investing. You will get burned.

By Karl, Phitsanulok (26th July 2016)

I'm visiting Phuket now, namely Kata and Karon beaches. I can definitely see the attraction of the Thai lifestyle and such, but again, how long does it last if you factor in cost of living and future prospects? That said, it seems a LOT of farang have businesses or live here long term, something I hardly see in the Phils or Korea. I met this Italian guy from Naples who runs his own pizzeria in Karon Center. Not saying you should do a restaurant (it's prolly the riskiest biz out there), but well, the owner barely spoke English and I'm betting his Thai is worse. Still, he runs a biz by the beach and such. Probably dozens more Europeans have business going on in Thailand. So while I have to agree about the long-term prospects of expats in Thailand, esp. those who speak no Thai, well, you only live once, right? Many times, the most successful of people end up on paths they never expected (waste management can be a lucrative field but most frown on it), but they took chances and succeeded. At any rate, good luck.

By DHK, Seoul, Korea (26th July 2016)

I do believe we can still make some good money and live comfortably by investing in something local…like one of many small mom and pop resorts…of which I am sure I could buy for less than the price of a condo in Pattaya…

I think this is heading in the wrong direction. Get off the idea of "investing" and focus more on creating. As for the Pattaya and Soi Nana references...no idea where that is coming from. I have never been to either. Lots of crazy expats in the villages and outskirts too.
I think you spent one too many trips at the Tiger Temple.

It sounds like your friend started a good business in film. Seems to be a market for media-related ventures.

By cen_gls, San Antonio, Texas (23rd July 2016)

Where is there a 5baht bowl of soup in BKK? Boat noodles at Victory Monument? Even those run 10-15b a bowl. I think the previous poster was talking about a 5baht increase in the cost of a bowl of soup.

Also, my wife's village near Paisan is experiencing huge price increases. The rising costs certainly extend beyond Bangkok.

[[[[As for OnNut77…this was simply an alternative I was familiar with…having bought and sold two different flats there after using them for about two years or so and remodeling them…basically flipping them…at the same time they offered me a comfortable place to stay and for free really as both flats were purchased for nearly nothing…and I mean nothing…subsequently selling for 4x that much…and last time I checked…2013…I could still do that…]]]]]

As a previous poster wrote...avoid the pitchman and people speculating on things such the Thai condo market. "they offered me a comfortable place to stay and for free really as both flats were purchased for nearly nothing…and I mean nothing…"

Also, what exactly is "nearly nothing" and selling at 4X cost? I am curious but calling BS. Live on On Nut 77 (On Nut 8) for 3 months and hated it as well.

I have been following this thread and this conversation is getting way off topic. Focus on helping Richard.

By cen_gls, San Antonio, Texas (23rd July 2016)

Charles,
I wasn’t implying one should stay in BKK...merely that ones aspirations are best fueled in a ‘city not their own’,,.basically saying don’t go home...and look at the rest of Thailand…and I agree…BKK could be a distraction for some individuals…personally I love it….but then I don’t have to live there full time anymore…
As for OnNut77…this was simply an alternative I was familiar with…having bought and sold two different flats there after using them for about two years or so and remodeling them…basically flipping them…at the same time they offered me a comfortable place to stay and for free really as both flats were purchased for nearly nothing…and I mean nothing…subsequently selling for 4x that much…and last time I checked…2013…I could still do that…
On the topic of ‘enough money’…you make the assumption that enough money means “enough to get by” which to me are two entirely different things…..by example….I made 102k in a previous job….my next job I took it for 60k…it was ‘enough money’….because I placed a value on my personal time and endeavors…
I agree that costs in Thailand especially BKK, are rising as they have been for about a decade…as someone who loved to go back to BKK for wholesale purchase power several times each year, I gradually found competitive pricing on about 50% of my products in other countries, as the costs continued to rise in BKK, and I reduced my trips…so I understand the trend is not a positive one as gone are the days of the 52Bht to the Dollar and the 5Bht bowl of soup in BKK. However, that said, my wife’s village (KPP) where we have been going for over 20years and own our home…continues to have ridiculously low prices…and yes…even a 5Bht bowl of soup….not for much longer likely but I do believe we can still make some good money and live comfortably by investing in something local…like one of many small mom and pop resorts…of which I am sure I could buy for less than the price of a condo in Pattaya…

Lastly, the entrepreneurs link was just for inspiration…not statistical definition, entrepreneurs and their spirit are still alive and well in BKK…(you won’t find them in soi nana)…surely the vastness of BKK still has some incredible entrepreneurs left…..as one…my good friend recently started his own film company with nothing but a few creative friends, laptops, and a camera….he’s already had several contracts and produced adverts for PTT and others on TV and Online…how did he do it…he got creative…..

By Craig Garrison, California United States (22nd July 2016)

Whatever you do, don't get caught up in people trying to pitch business ideas to you and people who suggest becoming business partners. In my 8 months in Bangkok, I encountered a ton of scam artists, which people always say to look out for in Thailand. However, I am referring to the expats, not the locals! I can't believe that people can be that gullible to take these con artists seriously. Very few of these people had any credibility, nor could they articulate and outline their business/business ideas for more than a minute or so before drawing a blank.

If you have a business plan, go at it alone and bring people on board down the road if you choose to.

By Ny8, Boston (22nd July 2016)

Richard,

You are at a tough age. If you were under 25, then by all means, stay in Thailand, and gain some experience and insight into the culture. If you are over 50, then you might be thinking about retirement. However, at your age, 28 (if I read correctly) Thailand is not the place to be for you at the moment.

By Al, Australia (21st July 2016)

Craig - To be honest I hate the idea of living in On Nut or Thong Lor or similar. I can bear these places maybe once or twice a year for someones leaving party or birthday but have no desire to be anywhere near there more often. Starting my own company is a possibility but the issue is it is a risk and not one that makes financial sense in my situation.

Charles - Your point about needing more than "enough" money is my main issue. I make enough now to live and I'm sure I could survive and be OK if I didn't want a family or was happy for them to just have the basics but who really wants to be like that? I'm not aiming to be a millionaire and the issue is that I love going back to the UK on vacation and I wouldn't be able to afford to do that all the time in the future making 70K a month.

Tony - To be honest the trip will give us answers either way. If she likes it then we can start planning things if not then its back to the drawing board. She lived in New York for a year and loved it - I hope London has the same appeal.

By Richard, Bangkok (21st July 2016)

Craig's comments:

[but your creative desires and aspirations are best fueled in a city not your own...so get creative if you don't want to be teaching...and realize that in the end of the day...its OK to make 'enough money'...and be joyful and happy]

I suppose we are all entitled to our own opinions, but I couldn't disagree more. Creative desires and aspirations are best fueled wherever you can get by without distractions. Merely living in Bangkok can be a huge distraction to many people, especially doing a job that you don't like and given the tough decisions that Richard is pondering.

Also, OnNut 77... seriously? I don't even know where to start. Yes, there are some decent condos and places to live...but there are 12 million people in the city and soooooo many other options. Foreigners seem to be attracted to only select locations within the city. It is odd.

Your comments about making enough money are flat out wrong and very big generalizations...given the rising costs, and low wages, Thailand is a time bomb long-term. Too much risk... political, social, economic... the cracks are finally beginning to show. I worked at the World Bank and the UN here and I have certainly read enough economic reports, outlooks, and opinions to keep me busy for a long time, and the consensus is almost always negative. I can't begin to imagine what Thailand will look like in the next few years, let alone the next 30+ years. I have been here more than 6 years, and I will leave when my contract expires in mid-December this year.

Merely having "enough to get by" is not good enough, and it is a terrible answer. More money is generally needed as a safety net. Most people will tell you that you should have a minimum 2-3x your annual income in savings at all times. This assumes too that Richard will not have children and other significant expenses in his life. I am quickly learning that there are not a lot of financially savvy expats living in Thailand, yet many people claim to be. Apparently a lot of financial experts working as English teachers, etc. I am growing so sick of the argument that costs here are so low, and the money/wages earned might be low, but it is enough because "everything is relative" to prices back home in the West.....Come on.... you will have enough money when you don't have to think or worry about money. I agree with earlier responses to this blog and I tend to meet a lot more foreigners/expats here that are not doing well... emotionally, physically, financially, etc. Broken relationships, no meaningful friendships. It is quite sad.

Also, the link provided by Craig... the one citing the low costs of living and quality of life as reasons to live/work in Thailand...the author is a guy with 4 jobs in 17 months, and has a Snapchat photo as his LinkedIn profile photo...not exactly a credible business expert.

He writes: "If you cannot meet entrepreneurs while you are in Bangkok, then you are intentionally avoiding them."

I would be weary of all of the expats in Thailand 'claiming' to be entrepreneurs and business experts. I have certainly heard my share of wild and far-fetching claims here. People have to convince themselves that they are happy and regardless of the setbacks, life will always be better here compared to back home (insert country). That seems to be the problem for a lot of people residing in Thailand. They will defend their lifestyle in Thailand to the death and they really don't even know why.

By Charles Laperfeld, Bangkok (20th July 2016)

On Nut 77 - ha. I lived there twice and didn't care much for it. Richard said he was not a fan of heavy traffic and pollution. The area is especially noisy and chaotic, even by BKK standards. If he wants to stay in Thailand permanently, I think Richard is thinking about living outside of BKK.

I hope you trip to the UK with your girlfriend in October goes well. I agree that it will likely answer some of those burning questions and pressing issues that you are debating. I have to wonder though....if she doesn't like the UK, does that make your decision easier or harder?

By Tony Alchan, Saskatoon (20th July 2016)

Aaron - I feel you are right re my trip to the UK. It will be interesting to see how she feels about it afterwards.

Mick - I think you hit the nail on the head. Getting by and saving a bit in your 20's is ok but to be living the same lifestyle when you are 40 isn't the way to go in my opinion. Thailand will always be here and in the future I will be able to come back if I decide to.

Xan - what is your reason for not heading home now?

By Richard, Bangkok (18th July 2016)

Bro....

Stay put....you're going to be better off in the long run if you plan on retiring into a simple life....UK is great...but look at all the retired people...is that really an easy life....how about in the villages of Thailand...near the waters and mountains...year round summer... you could stay in BKK...keep the condo or simply sell it and rent a cheap flat on OnNut77 and just improve the inside so its comfortable...but your creative desires and aspirations are best fueled in a city not your own...so get creative if you don't want to be teaching...and realize that in the end of the day...its OK to make 'enough money'...and be joyful and happy.. check out this link https://e27.co/5-reasons-bangkok-right-place-launching-startup-20160713/

By Craig Garrison, California United States (18th July 2016)

Richard isn't having a mid-life crisis early. I give the guy some credit for trying to avoid a life crisis altogether.
If all of the expats in Thailand are surveyed, I have a feeling the majority would be unsatisfied with their lives and the direction it is going. I'm sorry to that, but I have met far more miserable, broken people in my years in Thailand vs. stable, happy, people.
After you visit the UK with your gf in October, I think a lot of your questions will be answered on where things stand. Regardless, start thinking about going to the UK permanently at some point.

By aaron, Albany (17th July 2016)

Xan

Why are you stuck? Get on a plane and return to California. You create your own walls and barriers. What we your situation is, I doubt you are truly "stuck" no one is holding a gun to your head and if you are staying in Thailand because you don't have a plan, then create one.

Also, I don't know about 4 years as a magic number. For me it was around 2 years. It is different for everyone, but I think most people who come as a teacher without a plan, 2-4 years is about right. Anything longer is for the lifers and the lost/confused.

Richard is not having an early midlife crisis. He just doesn't wanna be an old, washed up expat wearing a beer wifebeater shirt and having no purpose years from now. Honestly - all those thousands of shady expats walking around Thailand, whether they are living or visiting on holiday, did not turn into those people overnight. They have issues with relationships, alcohol, etc. Richard sounds like he just doesn't want to become someone like that, so at least give him some credit for acknowledging what will likely become his reality if he doesn't return to the UK.

By Mick, Sydney (17th July 2016)

I also have been in thailand over 4 yrs now. I think this is the average time it takes for honeymoon to end. When I first got here everything was perfect and what was not I just didnt see it.
After 4 yrs living here I see that there is very solid ceiling that a foreigner cannot break through. Our careers here are limited, our immigration status here are limited, our ability to do business here is limited and we are even limited about buying property.
Yeah if you are not too ambitions and can be satisfied with what you have and not be bothered in having go to immigration every 90 days for the rest of your life than Thailand is seems all right.
I am still here today because I am currently stuck, I am not satisfied living here but until I find a solution this is the best option.
You are correct london and NY is much better, personally I cannot wait to move back to California.
I miss very much the parks, the cooler weather, driving a car, be among people who speak the same language.
I am sure some will not agree with mine or your opinion, for these people I just say .... give it time, your perception of thailand will change drastically compared to when you are a new arrival. I think 4 yrs is the magic number.

By Xan, Bangkok (17th July 2016)

Hi John - You are right I make a decent salary but will it give me enough to retire on and save money?
I would rather be having these thoughts now at 28 than serious problems when I'm 48.

Trlgeth - No problems, I honestly appreciate the feedback people have given me.

By Richard, Bangkok (14th July 2016)

Richard:
Thank you for taking the time to reply to all of posts from both myself and others regarding this blog post. It is nice that you took the time and put in some thought to articulate generally good responses.

By Trlgeth, Redmond (14th July 2016)

Richard, sorry to say, but I feel you are being a drama queen. You make a very decent salary as does your girlfriend. You both have condos. You have plenty of money to travel locally. You live in a country with fairly good and affordable food. What am I missing?

Sorry to burst your career bubble, but almost every job gets boring over time. Also, more money doesn't mean more happiness. Thailand may not be perfect, but would you rather work on a zero hour contract in Blighty while your missus slaves away unsociable hours at the local Thai eatery? I'm not even gonna mention the horrible weather.

Seems to me like you are having a very early midlife crisis.

By John B, Bangkok (14th July 2016)

Ashley - My girlfriend has a degree in humanities, majoring in English. She works as an English tutor at a big language school . Her English level is C1. My degree is in Business and I worked in sports/travel sales for 3 years. It was through my job that I first came to Thailand in 2010.

The reason for being here in the first place was to do my CELTA and as I had already visited I knew about the country and had enjoyed my time. I do enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in Thailand, I have always been quite laid back. I enjoy the leisure activities available in Thailand and the cheap price they cost. Apart from that there are also interesting places to visit. Overall I would say that I'm not a fan of Bangkok, neither is my girlfriend.

My salary is acceptable for now, I can also save between $300-500 a month. In reality there is only a limited chance for it to grow and as someone else mentioned below 100K THB per month is probably the ceiling without changing to a different type of work.

Bluesky - You are correct about Thais not wanting to move and work in neighboring countries (except perhaps Singapore) and as I said my girlfriend is not really keen on living in one of these countries.

I bought my condo as a place to live in for the next few years and when it is paid off the plan is to rent it out. It isn't a fancy place and the monthly maintenance fee is 900 Baht per month. Currently other units in the building are rented for between 12-14 K per month. The condo is 250 metres walking distance from the planned Pink Line BTS/MRT station. If worst came to worst I would be shouldered with around $30 -$40 a month to cover costs, although these costs could rise in the future. If this was the case I would just use the condo as a holiday home as I would still come and visit Thailand even if I didn't live here.

I agree with your points re condo and family life, the two don't mix.

Trlgeth - Thanks for your points. I actually enjoy my job but just feel there are other things I would prefer to do.I see a number of 50+ teachers in the same area I live in who look depressed and stuck in their situation, that's where I don't want to be and why I wouldn't like to be teaching when I'm 40+

Your points about sacrifice and give and take are true. I have certainly become comfortable in my lifestyle over the past year and feel I need to take more chances and try new things. My girlfriend and I have a vacation to the UK in October so it will be a good opportunity for her to see things in England and if she likes it. We are currently planning things and researching options. It is interesting to read that other people can be sponsors not just a partner.

I agree with you about the state of the UK. Things aren't as bad as some people say and I'm not too worried about the chance of finding work. I would prefer to avoid the traditional office job and find something else more stimulating to do. The next step is finding out what that is and seeing what I really would like to do.

Regarding my condo it is true that I probably wouldn't have bought it if I was single. My girlfriend didn't tell me to buy and didn't put any pressure on me to do so. As I said above in reply to Bluesky I haven't spent the world on this place and the future costs are likely to be low. I could leave Thailand and continue to pay it off but it would involve renting it out first. Selling is an option but as you have said it isn't easy to do that and can take time to find a buyer.

Finally I will take your point of an exit strategy, I think that is a great idea and something that will help a lot.

By Richard, Bangkok (12th July 2016)

Richard,

Thank you for taking the time to write this article. It certainly has provoked a lot of responses. Using a bit of Brexit terminology, most of the responses seem to favor a vote “to leave” and not “remain” I would also agree with the consensus. Despite some concerns about Brexit and the future of the UK job market, immigration concerns, etc. it likely won’t materialize for years and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not returning.

No one likes to hear it – to be told that your stay in Thailand has ran its course and it is time to move on. It is a hard thing to accept. People get comfortable here, and they don’t want to leave what is comfortable and familiar to them. You are merely existing in Thailand at the moment, not living in Thailand.

I just wanted to address some of your points in your original posting:

“There is the option of getting a better paying job but I would hate to go back into sales and I really can't be doing with sitting in an office in front of a computer all day again. This makes us moving to the UK a possibility but maybe not an easy thing to do.”

“Some of my friends think I'm not really working hard and being here is a bit of a jolly. To be honest in some aspects I would agree with them”

“She worked in a Thai restaurant in New York and she wouldn't go back to that kind of job again.”

“My girlfriend's family relies on her a lot, we would need to think a lot about this before leaving Thailand.” (What does that mean, exactly? They rely on her financially? If that is the case, she would be better off earning a decent wage abroad to support her family)

“This isn't just a decision for me, it would also be for my girlfriend. I have huge belief in her ability and feel it is being wasted here in Thailand. She has a lot of potential and I feel she would thrive in a different environment”

“Working 9-5 now seems like a stupid thing to do and if I moved away from Thailand I'm certain I would have to work harder and longer. The thought of leaving this style of living is hard to embrace and a reason to stay.” (Silly – not everyone works 9-5 jobs! I certainly don’t, and even if you did, why would it be a stupid thing to do?! Let’s say it provides for you and your girlfriend/future wife…does that make it a stupid thing to do?? Also, you might not be working harder and longer. You are making a lot of assumptions. Lastly, when you speak of the thought of leaving this style of living is what is causing you to stay….that is correct. You are afraid of confronting your own reality. You have a lot of fear and doubt in you. Way more than you should. It must be stressful – so much so that the carefree and easy-going lifestyle you cited is likely dampened by your internal issues. You created the situation, but then you don’t want to confront it or deal with it in a logical way that requires action and not words. That’s a huge problem)

You don’t sound like a very optimistic person. It appears that you have little confidence in your own ability. You shouldn’t assume that your life would only lead to a certain type of job such as sales. You have the ability to do other things. Gain more education, learn a trade, develop new skills, etc. You even write it would not be an easy thing to do. I agree, it would not be. However, it is still the most logical thing for you to do at this point. Also, you put a lot of confidence in your girlfriend’s ability… more so than your own ability. Logic would then suggest that you should make the move, right? At least one thing seems certain: You know that you are not destined to be a teacher in Thailand for your career. Sure, not everyone likes their job, and some people just put up with it day-in and day-out as a means to be employed and have a salary, but that is the wrong mindset here. Teaching is a personal job and you can have a profound impact on the lives of individuals. It should never be taken lightly. It requires a lot of heart and dedication, and it appears that you don’t have it anymore. I am sure you are a good teacher, but if your heart is detached from it, and by your own admission it is, then you need to stop.

“About 2 years ago I was about ready to leave Bangkok; I had had enough of the traffic, pollution and way of life. I might have stayed in Thailand or checked out another country but I wouldn't have gone back to the UK at that point. It was about that time I met a special girl....

Now I still hate the traffic and pollution but have someone amazing to live here with. I bought a condo last year and things are going great/”

About the condo:

I am so confused… I just want to be clear, and correct me if I am wrong: You came to Thailand approx. 3 years ago, and after 1 year, you were ready to leave. Then you met your girlfriend, and you decided to buy a condo last year. You waited approx. 18 months for her to move in with you, which is good I guess, but now you are thinking about maybe leaving again? Did the girlfriend have any decision on your decision to buy a condo? I know you will likely answer “no” when the more likely answer is “yes.” Did she already have her own condo before you, and convinced you it was a good idea to get one as well? If it is truly your condo that keeps you there, then please sell it immediately. What a liability and hassle. You feel it keeps you stuck in Bangkok, which I am sure makes your girlfriend happy, but keeps you in a constant state of should I stay or should I go? My friend from Denmark bought a condo in Thailand – paid for it in full in 17 months, and he says it was easily the worst decision in his life. Great location – steps off the Udom Suk BTS stop (Ideo). Brand new building, but fees and costs quickly went up, management was poor, and it was hard to sell when he decided to move home. For some reason, Thais generally don’t want to buy “used” condos. The value it was assessed at was nowhere near what he paid for it. He paid 2.1MB, had it assessed at 2.8MB two years after, but it ultimately sold at 1.4MB, and that was before the taxes, etc. More than a 50% loss on his so-called investment. It was a disaster. A condo is rarely an investment. If you sell it, and combine the proceeds with the other UK savings you mentioned you have, your assets should surpass the minimum thresholds for a K1 visa. Thus, it won’t all be tied to your income initially. It will be a burden off your shoulder as well. Also, you always have the option of a parent or guardian as the sponsor on the K1 if you don’t meet the minimum requirements. Did you know that?

Which raises another very important question…. What does your family think? Do they support you and your decisions? Do they have an opinion and does it influence you in any way? If they do support you (and hopefully they do) then certainly consider moving back to the UK. Seems like a lot of positive outcomes will occur if that is your choice.

In my opinion, the best 2 options for you are as follows – note that both options assume that you leave Thailand and return to the UK, as it seems to be the only logical option at this point:

First, you can return to the UK without your girlfriend, which would end the relationship, and get your footing. Start a new career, find a place to stay, and work hard. It might require you to gain further education or develop new skills. It won’t be easy.

Second, and much more favorable, you sell you condo, return to the UK, work a few months to create an employment record, then file the paperwork for a K1 fiance visa, which would begin the process of bringing her over to the UK, and eventually get married. There are plenty of jobs available for her. It might not be skilled labor, but few first jobs abroad would be. She can start out working part-time gigs, meet new people, etc. Your family can be her support system too.

If you really believe there are no opportunities for either of you in the UK, something is wrong in your thought process. I am not from the UK, but I know the situation is not as dire as many expats make it out to be. Economic reports suggest that unemployment and inflation is still relatively low, etc. Again, I know the Brexit thing is a concern, but life will move on and it likely won’t be as apocalyptic as the media is making it to be.

“If I had the chance to see my family more often then of course I would take it but then it means my girlfriend wouldn't see her family so it's a double edged sword. We stay or we go and either way one of us sees a lot less of our family.” (If you move to France or Italy as you suggested, then neither of you will have the option of seeing your families on a regular basis, and it will be hard with her paperwork, so just take that option off the table)

Life involves a lot of sacrifices and compromises. You seem to want to avoid both. However, you can’t avoid it and need to confront it. What is your girlfriend contributing? What sacrifices and compromises is she willing to make? It is good that you got the conversation started and you are now beginning to ponder your options. Ultimately, the only thing that counts in the end is acting on those decisions, and responding to that nagging voice in your head that are telling you this isn’t working and you need a plan.

You need to be more willing to take two steps back and one step forward at times, and eventually your path in life will get easier and the course will be reversed. I am unclear what your girlfriend’s intentions are. I am not even sure if she even intends to get married. I would assume so. You suggested that she had a desire to work abroad, but not in a restaurant. So going back to that sacrifice/compromise thing, maybe she just isn’t on board yet. No one says it would be her life to be in a restaurant. Maybe just a few months to get things started. You put a lot of confidence in her ability, whatever that means….Quite honestly, that is pretty vague. Does she have a university degree? (hopefully) Can her skills be applicable to other professions? What is her English ability? I don’t see a realistic scenario in which both of you live in Bangkok for many more years, and all your problems just disappear, so she should sell her condo, and use the proceeds to help in the transition of both of you getting to the UK. Sacrifice and compromise. Both you are her need to make the hard decisions necessary to have a legitimate chance at a future together. Putting off these big decisions now will only result in a bad outcome in the future. It is a certainty. Does her family live in Bangkok? If not, what is that talk about having them stay there rent-free in the future? What would they be doing for work while in BKK – assuming they are not in BKK working already? Draft an “exit strategy” now and follow through with it. Don’t feel trapped and option-less. Hopefully both of you can agree on an outcome together. However, be open to the possibility that some of the harder decisions in life are not mutual and need to be made by yourself. She is your girlfriend, not your fiancé or your wife. She might certainly become that down the road, but for now, you are in control of your own life and your own decisions.

I don’t claim to have all the answers and accept that each situation is different, but not that different. This is a common scenario played out thousands of times in Thailand for foreigners, and more often than not, the wrong decisions seem to be made. Also, judging from your own words, it appears that you will stay in Thailand regardless.

There are a lot of options out there – just make sure you are aware of them. Don’t feel stuck, because you aren’t. Get back to the UK and give yourself and your girlfriend/future wife a chance at a great life.

I wish you and your girlfriend all the best and hope all works out. Keep the community posted.

Cheers.

By Trlgeth, Redmond (12th July 2016)

Simple decision: Just leave.

Ok, it is not "simple" It is going to be a hard decision for you either way, likely the hardest decision of your life so far...but you sound like you already made your decision to stay a few more years, so I am not sure why you even dedicated the time to write this article.

You are 3 main issues: 1) Career 2) Girlfriend 3) Condo

Don’t take offense, but you probably feel that only the career/job issue concerns you.
Be careful of relocating to nearby Asian countries. Many Thais despise their neighbors, and the feeling is mutual (Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia are a few examples - is it okay to say racism is prevalent?) Most Thais won't live or work in these countries, and few will even be given the opportunity to do so. ASEAN really only is fully open/free movement of people if you fall under certain type of skilled professions, including doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants, tourism. Thus, while you might be open to living and working in nearby countries, I would assume that your girlfriend would not be on board with the idea.
Also, would that also just be a stint for a few years as well, before your next move? Living as a nomad might have its perks, but I think you need something more stable. You are 28 years old. If you were 22-25, I would suggest staying a few years and sorting things out (which is kinda what you did and where you are right now) and if you were 50 years old+, this would be an entirely different conversation. It would be a retirement discussion. But you are 28 years old.
Read the book "A Woman of Bangkok" in your spare time. It sounds like you have a lot of spare time and hopefully you are engaging in meaningful activities and constantly learning as well.
As far as the whole condo issue, I would suggest reading this article:
http://www.stickmanweekly.com/StickMarkII/WhyIWillNeverBuyACondoInBangkok.htm
If I was retiring in Thailand, I might consider it. Under any other circumstances, it seems like it is full of pitfalls and setbacks. There are also massive risks…do you really think the Thai economy will be stronger in the next 5 years? If you do, you are in the minority. Also, does anyone remember the 1997 financial crisis? Most readers here probably don't even know what I am referring to. It was mainly a currency crisis….it could certainly happen again.
It might even be difficult to sell your condo now or once you pay off the remaining balance. Try and unload it, even if you take a loss. The taxes are generally on the arbitrary assessed value, not the market value. Thus, the tax you will pay could be as high as 30% of the purchase price! Also, need to consider the taxes, insurance, fees, etc. There are numerous bureaucratic complications and peripheral costs. Those will go higher before they go lower.
I know you feel that you have it all sorted out…. Pay off the balance in 3 years, rent it out or have your gf/her family stay there for awhile, etc. Hey, this will be great! You won’t have to pay rent for the rest of your life. I’ll be the envy of all my family and friends….(the ones back home that I rarely see anymore). The price of the unit will only go up, etc. Sounds a lot like the timeshare trap that so many people fall for…Honestly though, it rarely works out that way. If you sell it, your head will be clearer and your decisions will actually become a lot easier. It might not feel like a stress on you now, but it will be at some point. It is just a condo afterall. Please don’t get too attached to it like so many others do and don’t think of it as a sound investment. The general global consensus that real estate is a good investment is just that... a consensus. That does not mean it is true!There are so many things to consider. Maybe find a decent career back in the UK, save up a decent amount of money (not just 10k-20k baht a month – that’s a respectable savings on your current salary, but I am speaking of the big picture) and if your heart still says that you need a condo in your life, buy one many years from now. But if you marry your girlfriend, and want to have children someday, you likely wouldn’t stay in a condo anyway. You would likely need more space. I know it can be done, but it is not ideal for most people. Keep your quality of life higher.

By BlueSky47, Toledo (11th July 2016)

I tend to favor the opinion that you should leave Thailand as well. You need a career, not a job. You seem too attached to your condo, and ultimately, it would seem logical enough that you should put it up for sale once it is paid off. Also, I don't understand why Thais tend to favor buying condos that they really can't afford. Just because the bank will approve the loan does not mean it is sound. The banks are competitive for business in Thailand. Buy a condo later in life. Take a look at the BTS masterplan. It will look a lot different in 2030 - which means a huge glut of new condos being built and sold. I would not consider a condo a safe investment. There are too many unknowns and risks associated. They may not seem present now, but they will likely materialize in the coming years as Thailand's economy appears to be turning lower.

I am not sure what type of employment your girlfriend would find outside of Thailand but she should be open to just about anything, and more jobs will pay more than 25k baht a month. She should be more open and willing to engage in new type of work as well. There are other options besides only restaurant work - what about being a cashier at a supermarket or retail store? There should be plenty of options for part-time work as well. I won't get into your personal relationship too much, but you shouldn't stay only for her, as hard as that may seem.

I was not clear on what her education background was. What type of work is she currently engaged in? Also, I believe you failed to mention your background as well. It would assist readers of this blog to know what your skills are, and what type of alternative work you would be considering.

I agree with a previous post that the longer you forego employment in the UK or wherever you decide to settle outside of Thailand, the more difficult it will be for you to gain meaningful employment. Most employers can't get over those "Thailand years" when they present their CV, and the longer you stay, the harder it will be.

Also, what exactly is it that you "love" about Thailand? It may seem like a silly question, but it is surprising how many foreigners have trouble answering this question. I have heard people say its the beaches, or the food, or the people. All of these things together create a culture, but I have to believe there is something more that drives people to commit their lives and futures to a country that is riddled with issues and challenges (every country is, I suppose) which for me personally, includes political risks and rising costs. I see both of these elements as getting worse before they get better. Honestly, I can find nice beaches, good cuisine, and friendly people just about anywhere in the world, so when I asked myself this question, I also had some difficulty answering it. Please don't compare Thailand to your home country like so many people do... "the costs are cheaper, the weather is nicer, etc" there has got to be more to it than that....

Most of all Richard, you don't see to enjoy your work. Foreign teachers in Thailand either have to accept that they are there for a short-time, perhaps 1-3 years, or they are in it for the long haul, and try to establish a teaching career. Anyone caught in the middle is lost and needs to examine what they are doing. You have a decent salary, and financially you seem sound, but do you see it keeping up with inflation and the cost of living from now to 2050 and beyond?

By Ashley Harrison, Glasgow (11th July 2016)

Thanks Allen

I actually work for a private language school so it is very different from a traditional Thai school. Even so I don't think it is something I want to be doing at 40 or 50 years old and maybe they don't want a teacher that old anyway!

I take your points re education and know the cost of an international school here in Bangkok would be extremely high - maybe 500,000 THB per year. Even some of the bilingual schools are quite expensive and I'm not sure of the overall quality.

Right now I have a "visa guy" who does all my visa stuff, I just have to go to immigration once per year for 30 minutes, it's ideal. The tales of immigration woe I hear would make me reluctant to have to do everything on my own.



By Richard, Bangkok (9th July 2016)

Ryan>

If you decide to stay, you need to think long, long term. Can you be a teacher for another 25+ years if your heart isn't fully into it? The Thai education system is crap for the most part and thus you would be putting up a lot of crap for a long time. Whatever you do, if you ever decide to get married (you should) and have children, DO NOT put them through the Thai education system. In other words, your only option would be going home in that scenario. It is hard to write unfavorably about the Thai education system on a Thai teaching resource website, but teachers know it is true. I worked at BCC for just under 2 years. Their reputation is high, but it is so unprofessional and unorganized.

So another option is getting out of the education system altogether, and finding a new way to generate income on your own. The problem in this case is that you will deal with visa issues forever.

I worked in the UK from 2004-2005 and enjoyed my time there. If you have a degree, you should put it to use.

For the record, I checked out your website and I enjoy it. Some of the information is quite valuable and also useful.

By Allen , Perth (8th July 2016)

Hi Richard:

Thanks for the response. I hope it didn't feel like an attack. I sent the link to your article to my friend Jon who also lived in Thailand at the same time as me - so that is why our responses came at roughly the same time.

I think your answers are quite clear and you seem to have a pretty good understanding of your options, etc. Honestly, I think over 2 million baht for a condo on the outskirts of Bangkok is a little pricey. Depends on the size I guess. Also, I still don't understand how your gf can pay for a condo on her salary. Also, it's not true that all restaurant work is evenings. I used to work at a steakhouse when I was a teenager and I didn't start until 5:00pm. I only worked part-time too.

I used to work with James Pitchon, the country head at CBRE - Every year he published his real estate report. I cannot find the 2016 report, but here is the 2015 one - there is come good info: http://www.amchamthailand.com/asp/view_doc.asp?DocCID=4540

Good luck to you. Keep your options open and your head clear.

By Alex V, Toronto (8th July 2016)

Mark - I fall into that bracket 60k+, as you said it is enough for now but if there are extra expenses in the future it would be difficult. I would imagine a family in Bangkok would need 100K per month to be comfortable and that figure would be hard for us to hit every month as I'm sure there will be extra demands on our time.

My parents visit Bangkok once a year and I'm sure some other members would happily come. However I do have elderly relative who wont fly so the option is I go back, perhaps on my own, once a year.

Steve - 100K should be great if you already have a condo. That is my plan, to have the condo to rent out when I leave and to live in in the future. As you said I think it is best to have that as the aim and return when I'm older and not to save a few thousand a month here now and hope it lasts me and that I don't need to seek medical treatment etc.

By Richard, Bangkok (8th July 2016)

I think it's been said before but the Thai government sets income minimums when applying for a one year non-immigrant O visa of
THB 40,000 /mth if you have a Thai spouse/child and,
THB 60,000 /mth if you are retiring to Thailand for a year.

So these are really the minimum you need to earn to live in Thailand. The first one assumes that because you have a Thai spouse or child you will live like a Thai person. I also suggest it assumes that the visa applicant will live with the Thai spouse rent free.
The single retiree needs more than this THB 60,000 because they will have to find accommodation and live a more Western lifestyle.

So from this I would assume anyone living on minimum monthly income of THB 60.000 as set by the Government must be really doing it tough.

Personally I will be retiring to Thailand on about THB 100,000 / mth and from personal experience I need about THB 60,000 to THB 80,000 to live comfortably. This is without rent as I own my own condo. However I do have a wife and child so maybe if I was single I would spend less. But then again maybe I would spend more 555.
I hope you make the correct decision and go back to the west to save money and plan for your retirement back in Thailand.

Cheers,
Steve

By Steve, Abu Dhabi (8th July 2016)

If you are making 60k baht plus in BKK and your partner is covering most of her expenses it's worth staying. However if you plan to have a family in the future which would mean your wife giving up her income then you need to be aiming for 75 K baht + and linked to inflation every year. Rather than going back to the UK to visit family and friends encourage them to visit you in BKK instead.

By Mark Double, Bien Hoa,Vietnam (8th July 2016)

Alex and Jon - you both have similar points so I'll answer them together.

Firstly I appreciate your views as people who have been in Thailand and left. I know there are good opportunities and benefits of returning home, some of which I mentioned in the article. I think hitting the 3 year mark started these feelings or perhaps it is just that I haven't been back home in over a year so I am missing things more than before.

I'm not here to defend all of the choices I have made in my life and I have had some great times in Thailand so I don't regret being here but there are a couple of points I would like to make in regards to your comments.

First things first, I have no intention of leaving my girlfriend - part of the reason for looking at being overseas is for her. As for our future, we know what is going to happen and after over just 2 years of knowing each other and a shorter time living together things are moving in a good pace in the right direction.

As I said in the article we aren't looking to move right away and have recently decided to look into this. Like you Jon, I had the idea of being here for a year or two but that quickly extended - I'm sure that is the same for many people. Like others have said below restaurant work involves night shifts and I would want us to have a lifestyle where we work similar shifts and have time together. There is no point moving and working opposite ends of the day. Whilst we realize moving would mean making sacrifices in the short term, the idea is to improve our quality of life.

Without going into my complete financial history I do make more than many teachers here in Thailand - over double what a government teacher would earn per month. I'm not living in poverty and to say I have "no business" owning a condo is unfair. My condo is not an 8 million Sathorn mega apartment and I have savings in the UK which I don't include in my monthly income. It cost 2.6 million Baht - hardly an extravagant purchase. Also Jon salaries in America are higher than those in the UK - my UK salary was just over the UK average so I guess you feel sorry for most UK citizens and our small pay packets.

My finances are mostly separate from my girlfriend's. We don't share a bank account and in general we split most things. I don't give my girlfriend an "allowance" or tell her what she should spend her money on. I'm also not the stingy guy that wont help her out, if she needs a couple of thousand baht for something important then I will lend it to her.

Thai banks are not too friendly towards foreigners but for Thai citizens with a 25K THB job they can get a mortgage of 1.5M THB no problems. Obviously that wont buy a 2 bedroom central condo but outside the centre it will get you a decent 1 bedroom condo. My girlfriend lives rent free and only has to pay 3-5k per month to her mother so she has money to spend. I help her out a little bit from time to time but the amount I give her doesn't affect my decision on staying here.

There are lots of options out there and as you said having a plan is important, it's something I'm looking into now. I didn't grow up with a dream job or feel like I was destined to do something - some people are lucky and discover it early whilst others have to look around. The change to move out of Thailand wont happen overnight and I'm not rushing to make it. I make enough money now to have a decent lifestyle and do many things, I'm not going to move and be in a worse situation for the sake of it.

My website is just something I do for a bit of fun - you wont see me spending hours on Twitter or attending networking events, I have other things to do. I spend less than five hours a week on my site just updating things and writing a few articles a month. It is fun and it is an option that I would look into when it comes to considering a new job or perhaps gaining new qualifications.

Again I appreciate taking the time you took to write a comment. I'm sure there are many other people in a similar position to me, I even know a couple myself, and they will gain a lot by hearing about your experiences of moving home.

By Richard, Bangkok (8th July 2016)

Story does not make sense. Information is being left out. The author says that his girlfriend own a condo too, yet she makes only $25k baht a month? Surely you are helping to foot the bill, and your finances are co-mingled, thus making it a lot harder for you to separate yourself not only from her (the real issue) but away from Thailand.

By Alex V, Toronto (7th July 2016)

I am intrigued. Your previous blog articles all seem rosy and positive. Why the sudden change?

I would tend to agree with others. You should really consider leaving Thailand. You have a job, not a career. You live in a country, not a home. You don't have a plan and you urgently need one.

But at least you seem to be aware of it. Whether or not you act on it is a different story.... most expats know that they are squandering aimlessly, but don't make much effort.

It seems there are a few things that keep you where you are:

1) Your girlfriend (how many years have you been together? If it is more than two years and you haven't though about marriage, that might be a sign it is time to move on) What is her skillset? What does she want to do? You seem to talk so highly of her qualifications and speak so lowly of yourself (I can only do 9-5 jobs, I only know about sales, I can only make xxx amount of money, etc)

2) Your condo. You expressed a need to stay until it is paid off, and you want to make sure it is "rented out properly" Are you seriously going to let a building determine your future?

3) Your website. I cannot tell if it is just a side project, or if it actually generates income. If it doesn't, you gotta ask yourself if the tie you invest into it is worth it. Also, because the focus is about measuring and reporting on the cost of living in Thailand, it would likely be defunct if you were not in the country. You have a lot of analytical skills.... looks like you are good with numbers, etc. Perhaps a data entry-type of position down the road would be something to consider.

My advice: Start a new career. This requires moving permanently. Sorry, but a 28-year-old who doesn't have their full heart into their professional and is making grossly-low wages has not business owning a condo and thinking about living in Thailand forever. The problem is the labor market when you return home is going to look at your CV and have a lot of questions. The longer you are in Thailand, the harder it will be to launch a real career. Your LinkedIn profile has 5 connections. It should be at least 100. Go to networking events, talk to business people, and focus a little more on what the heck you are doing at this point in your life.

By Alex V., Toronto (7th July 2016)

You are answering your own questions...thus you really don't need advice (and despite asking for it, you probably won't take it - you sound like a lifer with little direction, no plan, and full of self-doubt) but here it is:

I worked as an English teacher in Thailand for 3 years. Overall, good experience - never wanted it to be a profession mostly due to the ridiculous low pay. . It was more about trying something for a year, which quickly became 2 years, than 3 years. I worked 1 year after the teaching stint at the US Embassy as a contractor. Again, good experience, but it was a contract that couldn't be extended. If I could do it over again, I would have stayed a year less overall.

SALARY: Salaries for foreign teachers in Thailand haven't changed much in 20 years. People can argue it all they want, citing that the pay supports their lifestyle, costs in the West is much higher, etc. All true perhaps, but ultimately it might be a good thing to have a little job/life security... savings, insurance, assets, etc. A lot easier to do outside of Thailand. (Why do you own a condo if you are so uncertain about your career path? Are you honestly using it as an excuse to stay 3 more year until it's paid off?? Wow.) You seem to be struggling in confidence.... saying that 9-5 jobs and sales are the only things you are qualified for, and suggesting you can only make 20K (baht?) more in the UK vs. Thailand. If that is true, that is kinda sad. What is your education background??

Not all jobs are 9-5. I work at a Fortune 500 company in the USA and my hours are either 6:30-3:00 or 7:00-3:30 daily, with the option to work from home 2x a week. 15 minute commute, 1 hour paid lunch. Salary is $62,800k a year (dollars)... about 260% more than I was making in Thailand, and a lot less stressful and rewarding. It's not bad at all.

NEWSFLASH: You need to be more clear on terms with your girlfriend.... that seems to be your biggest issue. I have seen too many foreigners have long-term Thai gfs for years - personally it seems silly. It is a waste of time for both parties involved. After 2 years or so, you should know if you are going to marry her or not. It would make your decisions a lot easier. What is her education level? Why wouldn't she go back and work in a Thai restaurant? I would have to imagine the tips are pretty lucrative. What does she really want to do in life? Don't play a rescuer/savior role, suggesting that she shouldn't be stuck behind a desk making 25k baht a month....that is a decent salary for a Thai national, and maybe that makes her happy.


Look into a new profession back home. Meeting the poverty guidelines only applies to Thai fiancées, right? That seems to be what you are concerned about. If you don't think you are able to meet that minimum salary, you are setting the bar pretty low. Also, if you are only meeting the minimum salary, that is not necessarily a good thing,

Get your goals figured out, and make a timetable. A real one, with deadlines, etc. You said you don't want to be the guy that stayed too long, but you already did. Sorry if this response seems a little harsh. A lot of guys need a wakeup call, but no one is ever being honest with them, and thus they are never being honest with themselves...

By Jon, Chicago (7th July 2016)

The problem with restaurant, or other evening night work, is that if you have a normal 9 to 5, you never see each other. If you arent seeing the person you love, and are immigrating to a new country, whats the point?

My advice, again based on experience, is to ensure you work the same time patterns, or you will grow apart.

By Rob, Bangkok (3rd July 2016)

I think it has really helped me to write this article and get everyone's feedback so thank you all.

My trip back home will cost around 100-150K THB I expect which includes flights, shopping, going out and I'm sure many other unexpected costs. If I did 10 days in Japan I guess the cost would be around 75K for the 2 of us. I can understand why a lot of people who come here cannot afford to go home even on vacation.

The main financial outgoing I have is for my condo and when this is paid up things will be much better financially. I guess it is the same as buying a house back home, I wouldn't be able to do as much as I did when I was younger. Everyone reaches the stage of their life where they have to start becoming a little smarter and taking things more seriously, I guess that is where I'm at now.





By Richard, Bangkok (28th June 2016)

As soon as Richard sent me this article, I had a feeling it would start a lot of good discussion - and so it has proved. Thank you everyone for your great contributions so far. Reading through the latest comments, this one from Richard resonated with me most of all.

"I am off to England for 10 days with my girlfriend and even with free accommodation it has taken the best part of 8 months to save up for it. Also whilst on other vacations we often have to check prices in restaurants and stay in basic hotels to keep costs down. I just feel that I have to think about money more here in Thailand whereas in the UK I was more care free."

In the ajarn cost of living section, you often hear teachers say the opposite thing - they had to worry far more about money in their own country than they do in Thailand.
I think you're very wise Richard to take a long hard look at things if this is not the case for you - and it clearly isn't.

You're young enough to do something about it though and I'm sure it'll all work out fine in the end. It usually does.

By Phil (Ajarn.com), Samut Prakarn (28th June 2016)

Mark - I think Vietnam would be a good option but I don't think my girlfriend is keen on being in a country which is similar to Thailand. I'm sure there are lovely areas and I did hear that pay is higher and who knows it might be an option somewhere down the line.

DHK - Running a business would be great. The problem is coming up with an idea and following through on it. Then there are visa requirements. I currently have a guy at my company who does everything for me - I don't even have to go to immigration anymore. If I could have a side business that made 50K THB + a month then I would consider stopping teaching and live off that. If it could be run online then even better but I don't think it is as easy as it sounds.

John - I have a similar view as you. I feel like I am taking the lazy route and just do the minimum and I'm sure I'll be able to scrape by and make enough to live if I continue like this. I think the end goal is to have the condo here in Thailand and then look at 6 month / 1 year contracts to travel and explore a bit in other countries and then when I'm older split time between Thailand and another country. April - September in the UK / Europe and October - March in Thailand sounds like a possibility.

By Richard, Bangkok (28th June 2016)

Aaron - Thanks for your feedback and advice. I'm glad things have worked out for you!

I guess being married makes it easier to move with your Thai partner and I think issues such as education are important and having worked in a Thai high school I know what the quality is like here.

I'm not too concerned about the economy in the UK as I wont be moving for at least a couple of years so hopefully things will be a bit better. Also I think there is always work there and opportunities - maybe it is a good time to study some more.

Condo ownership shouldn't be a problem - the rent I will get for mine should more than cover repayments on my girlfriends condo and her mom can move into that condo if we do decide to move. Of course it will mean renting a new place in the UK and the probability of staying with family in the short term, I'm sure that will make them happy!

I think the points re holidays is very valid. I am off to England for 10 days with my girlfriend and even with free accommodation it has taken the best part of 8 months to save up for it. Also whilst on other vacations we often have to check prices in restaurants and stay in basic hotels to keep costs down. I just feel that I have to think about money more here in Thailand whereas in the UK I was more care free.

By Richard, Bangkok (28th June 2016)

Almost twenty years here and I think I have gotten lazy. I have no motivation to do much. I once wanted my own business. I wasn't thinking about; could I become a millionaire, just could I make enough to retire and be comfortable. Now I can't see Thailand as a place that welcomes foreigners unless they're tourists who come, spend, and leave. I feel Thailand is changing, but not for the best. My wife, who is Thai says the same. I think my wife and myself will always want to spend time in Thailand, but we both think we need a place to call home if (and sadly when) Thailand falls apart.

By John, Bangkok (28th June 2016)

One thing I heard is Americans can set up a biz in Thailand without a Thai partner. If you have a good biz idea, perhaps you can run with this. I hear many expats are wary of setting up a biz in the LOS because of the Thai partner requirement. At any rate, the West isn't the same as it was when we grew up there, and an economist said it best years ago: China's rise will eventually erode living standards in the West. Of course, predictions can be wrong (remember those who said Japan would take over the global economy?) but as two-thirds of the world's population live in Asia, the region could offer possibilities.

By DHK, Seoul, Korea (28th June 2016)

If you want to attract decent women any where in the world, you need to go to the gym regularly to stay in shape. Cut down on boozing and junk food. Bar fining is also a big NO NO. You have no secrets in BKK believe me!!!

By Mark Double, Bien Hoa,Vietnam (28th June 2016)

I'm sure if you visited central HCMC or Hanoi you would have been put off by the pollution, volume of motorbikes buzzing around like busy bees and the inflated tourist places. I live in a much smaller town ( Bien Hoa) about 50 minutes drive from HCMC International Airport. Every aspect is much better. There are also great teaching opportunities at amazing beach locations such as Pham Thit, DaNang and Nha Thrang. You can also escape from the intense tropical heat in the central highlands where they grew coffee and strawberries. Thai and Korean restaurants are springing up everywhere so you won't even miss Thai food.

By Mark Double, Bien Hoa,Vietnam (28th June 2016)

This is a great blog post. I could write a book in response to this, but I am going to try to be brief. I was in similar shoes back in 2011-2012. I am a 31 year-old American who moved to Thailand in January 2009 after teaching English for a year in Korea. Four years later, at the tail end of 2012, I returned to the US. In between, I married a Thai women two years my junior who had one son from a brief, previous marriage.

I am going to refer to some of the comments below this blog post to save time. At least one commentator said that Thailand works well for certain people. This is absolutely correct. If you are between the ages of 20 and 26 or 55 and older, or you were hired from abroad to work in an international school or multinational corporation/NGO/government, Thailand makes for a great country. Why? There are a host of reasons. For pensioners and the retired, insofar as they have a decent pension or savings account from which to draw, the culture promotes positive treatment of the elderly, the pace of life is slow, and money earned in the West tends to go a long way towards day-to-day essentials like food, water, basic clothes ( as long as the bigger items, like housing, are already paid for). For those working for government or multinationals, there are often bonuses like transportation stipends and free international school for dependents on top of the regular Western-sized salary. For the younger subset, $1000 per month in salary for teaching English is less than you'd make at home in New York or (I am sure) London in teaching or almost any other field, but where in those cities can you rent a new studio near the downtown with a pool and small fitness center for ~$400 US per month? In NY, a studio runs at about ~$2000/month. Thus, for young people who don't have kids and want to live an urban lifestyle, eating at restaurants and drinking at bars, Bangkok is a great option. As long as you are content eating rice and noodles, watching censored and out-of-sequence seasons of Western TV shows, drinking Bia Chang or Singha, and swimming in the pool for the rest of your life (with the occasional trip to the beach or Chiang Mai to break up the monotony), then Thailand is for you. If you want to finance a car, travel internationally, send your children to a good school for free, take a nice walk to the park without being attacked by a gang of soi dogs, buy an expensive watch for less than three times what it costs in your home country, and stop worrying about how much the latest changes to visa rules for foreign teachers is going to eat out of your annual savings, well, Thailand may not be for you.

You just bought a condo, and your girlfriend also owns one. This is a complication that makes your departure from the Kingdom more complicated. As others have noted, Brexit is probably making Thailand's visa/work permit problems seem less onerous. The British economy is obviously not performing very well, but, when I returned to the US in 2012, the US was not exactly in peak performance mode. In some ways, the economy has improved since then, but US governance and political functionality has not. I can't really speak to what it's like on the ground in the UK, but I can say moving back to the US was one of the smartest things I've ever done. There are problems. It is much more expensive. It took a couple of years to get on a career track that I can be content with. We cannot afford to live in the "Big City". I miss the HELL out of Thai food and just the extraordinary food culture of Bangkok in general. Our housing is not as plush, especially given what we are now paying, as it was in Bangkok. On the plus side, I was able to finance a car and a Master's Degree. The car is half paid off and the Master's I am starting to pay off now. My wife and I, with combined US salaries, make almost three times what we did in Thailand (this took a couple of years of not working, then working in a crappy job, and then moving across country). My wife's visa costs for the US were a burden, but after four years of living in Thailand, she has probably spent about what I spent on visa runs, work permits, etc. and she has ten year, renewable, permanent residency status with no one looking over our shoulders. My wife has begun earning her Associate's Degree for free from the community college where we both work. Four years after moving to the US, my stepson speaks fluent English and is one of the better students in his class of 22 total kids. His strengths are not math, in line with Americans' stereotypes of Asian students, but actually in languages. He is now learning Spanish.

This is not to pat myself on the back. I tell you this because it is very complicated to consider all the tradeoffs when moving back West. Just remember that many, many people will ask you about what your job plans are. They will ask you about how you plan to work with the Brexit fallout and all. They will warn you about how your professional experience in Thailand will be judged. They will tell you about such-and-such friend or story they read about how disastrous a move back was. They will tell you about stereotypes and mistreatment of foreigners. What is easy to forget is that Thailand has many, many of those problems as well. All the anxieties implicit in the questions you will hear, if you decide to pursue the move, help to make it clear why it is so hard to leave Thailand. No one will mention that you have to be patient, but that if you have decent skills and no criminal record, there are jobs to be had for hard-working, motivated people. The statistics do not help you to see these things. I personally found that I needed to be willing to move to where there are jobs in the US. It would have been foolish to have announced to myself that I am moving back to Manhattan! I had to move to New Mexico to find a decent job, and this has troubled my wife. She never wanted to leave the East Coast of the US (either FL, DC, NY, or Boston) and that has been a challenge, but the benefits of education have counterbalanced culture shock. I now have the money, educational pedigree, and freedom to move back to Thailand or find work somewhere else in the US (more desirable). It was such a blast returning to Thailand to visit my wife's family this past Christmas for the simple reason that I didn't have to count every single baht every day to make sure I could survive the two weeks. Every vacation while I lived in Thailand felt like it had to be planned to the hilt to avoid running over budget. I now understand why the tourists all seem so happy in the Kingdom and the local expatriates are often hustling just to make the rent. One thing I think that stands out above all else as something you just can't do in Thailand is borrow a significant sum of money to finance personal development such that you can make more money in the future. The banking system in Thailand is a joke even for Thais. For foreigners, it's outright hostile sometimes. It was so nice to be able to apply for and quickly receive a loan to pay for my Master's Degree. I went $20,000 in debt to pay for something that will bring an immediate plus $3000/year return for me in my current job. I now have the degree I need to get myself a better were I ever to return to Thailand. The education and finance opportunities in the West alone are enough to return.

In short, if you are going into your 30's and feeling a little ambivalent, do consider the move. Do you want children in the future? If you do, I can tell you that education is a disaster in Thailand. When I told all the families of the students I worked with (after moving to Thailand in 2009, I quickly transitioned out of ESL teaching to college admissions consulting for international school kids in order to make more money) that I was leaving Thailand in 2012, I had one mom say, "Why are you leaving? Do you not like Thailand?" I told her that Thailand was great, but that I was concerned about education for my stepson. She immediately nodded her head in agreement and never said another word about it. If you think your girlfriend can handle the fact that you may have to live and work somewhere you didn't expect once you move, you will probably be OK. I don't know that the stereotypes of Thai people in the UK are more pronounced than they are in the US, though because of the distance, I imagine UK-ers are much more familiar with Thailand than most Americans. There have been some issues with my wife being treated as a foreigner. Namely people aggressively and unnecessarily leaping in to correct her English when in fact she is talking about the unique name of a company or some such thing. On the whole though, Americans are far less conscious of "foreign-ness" than I think Thais were. It's hard to say, but one thing I do know is that there is no double-pricing and my wife does not have to worry about shake-downs from the local police like I used to periodically worry about. If my wife wants to get a loan from the bank or a credit card, she just applies. It took a couple of years but my wife has good credit and her own bank accounts. Probably best of all, she is 10,000 times stronger than she was before we left Thailand. She doesn't take crap from anyone anymore.

By Aaron Prebenda, New Mexico, US (27th June 2016)

Dave - I think at the moment everything is a bit unclear about the EU - might just wait a bit and see what happens, maybe it is still possible to live and work somewhere like Italy.

Mark - I hardly ever go to central Bangkok, I live in the outskirts but the price out here is still creeping up... I have often wondered about Rayong - haven't been there but maybe is worth a look at. My condo will be next to the new Pink line which should be up and running in the next 4 or 5 years I hope. I do hear good thinks about Vietnam but I went there on vacation and didn't really enjoy it. Interesting comment re Thai women - I think there is a valid point about dating women who are able to take care of themselves and don't rely on handouts.

By Richard, Bangkok (27th June 2016)

I lived in Bangkok back in the 1990s! I made a point of only dating women who were fluent in English and who had good jobs in international companies. Therefore, I never had to support anybody at the time I was in my late 20s/early 30s and was in good shape . Now in my 50s this would no longer be possible hence the reason, I no longer live in BKK.
Two months ago, I returned to BKK as a tourist as was outraged by the cost of living especially the price of drinks in bars and clubs therefore after 1 night, I jumped on a bus and headed for Rayong and was pleasantlty surprised by the lower costs, clean beaches and virtually no pollution. Its basically Pattaya with out the sleaze! Plenty of teaching jobs there also and you can buy an apartment near the beach from 650 000 thai baht and up.
Owning an apartment should never be a problem especially if it is close to the MRT, prices are rising and they are very easy to rent out through various websites. See them as long term investments!
I now live and work in Vietnam, teaching jobs pay more than Thailand and the cost of living is lower and the real bonus is that women don't need supporting as much as Thai women and their families. Remember BKK 30 years ago Vietnam is like that now!

By Mark Double, Bien Hoa,Vietnam (27th June 2016)

With all of the racism and anti-immigrant sentiment currently rising to the surface in the UK, I personally would not consider moving there with a Thai. You might be better off elsewhere in Europe or in the States or maybe New Zealand or something, but the Brexit will make it harder for British people looking to migrate to continental Europe, and going to the States is always tough for a Thai with no American relations.

By Dave, Bangkok (27th June 2016)

Thanks for the info Rob - as I thought it isn't an easy procedure and there are a number of hoops to jump through.

I think tourist visa might be ok but I am not sure about living in the UK full time.

Overall I think you are right and an opportunity to stay in this lifestyle would be great but maybe just need a change in terms of work.

By Richard, Bangkok (27th June 2016)

Firstly, having immigrated a Thai wife into the UK, I know this is expensive and that employment is tricky. You will need either a fiancee visa or tourist visa, followed by a spousal settlement visa, then after 2 years an ILR visa. None of those comes in much short of 1K GBP.

Also, Thai wifes, and Thai ladies in general, are stigmatised in the UK. Your gf maybe hi so in Thailand with a 25k job, but there she will be subject to the same prejudices (we all know what)as a Patpong veteran, and that makes finding work in good jobs extremely difficult, especially if immigrated without a job.

After reading your piece, it seems that you like the Thai lifestyle out of work, but not Thai work practices. I think most people are the same. My advice is to use your Thai job for basics, and try to do a second job based on a passion or competitive advantage that you have. Then you can enjoy the lifestyle and enjoy work a bit more.

By Rob, Bkk (27th June 2016)

Danny - Some very good advice - I think that is something I should do and will probably give a better view of my options.

Steve / DHK - I am beginning to agree with your points that being here in your early 20's is great but it will get harder and less fun in your 30's. I think the option of hitting another place and coming back to Thailand to settle in the long term sounds good.

Steve, how would you rate UAE - I am thinking of it but many people give it the thumbs down. Stickman has some interesting articles for sure and I'll be looking through some when I have spare time.

DHK - I think I would miss this lifestyle terribly if I moved but as you say there are priorities in life - family being an important one. As I said maybe a couple more years here an it will be time to head off but maybe to somewhere not far away.

By Richard, Bangkok (26th June 2016)

I think Thailand is great if 1) you're young and fresh out of university; 2) are a digital nomad (as in you earn your money online like I do); 3) are retired with a good pension; or 4) you've got the plum expat package job. Not saying you shouldn't try your luck in Thailand but well, realistically assess your prospects there and such. Not speaking Thai will definitely be not good over the long run, and I agree with the person who said don't base your decision on your girlfriend, as that can flame out at any time. I will say this as a long-time expat in Asia: you will go through serious withdrawal if you go back to the West, and in my case, I ended up returning after a short stint back in the U.S. I also know of loads more who've done the same. If you have children, well, you have to think of them first, esp. with education and freedom from air pollution (which is one of Asia's biggest drawbacks).

By DHK, Seoul, Korea (26th June 2016)

Hi Richard,

I haven't yet made the transition to living full time in Thailand yet although I do have a condo in Bangkok and we're building a house in Udon Thani. I grew up in a small village in the UK so I love the life style living in a village with buffalo and cows walking the streets and the smell of poo everywhere. But most probably wouldn't. I actually love Bangkok and it's probably my favourite city. But I can see how it would get boring if you like to explore new things all the time. Having said that; this would apply even to London and New York, where I have also spent some time. I was in the Village, Geenwich that is, in a city that never sleeps and they closed the bar around 3AM. If you want a change come over here to Abu Dhabi or Dubai for a year or two and live the movie lifestyle.
But you sound like you have got to the point that Stickman got to before he moved back to NZ. Have a read of his arguments about planning for the future and working in BKK and some other city in the west. His arguments are sensible and he gives comparisons between working and saving in BKK and the west. Given the point you've reached over in LOS's you should read his novelesque writings. His conclusion is basically that Thailand is great for young (backpacker) single guys and retired single guys. But for couples and guys trying to make a living and save for their future, Thailand's not great and you're better off living in the west and saving for your retirement in Thailand.

Stick is well worth a read on this subject.

Take Care
Steve

By Steve in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi (25th June 2016)

Your asking yourself "should i stay in bkk or leave?" But the questions you should be asking are much bigger and more challenging - "what kind of career do i want? What kind of life do i want to have?"

Make a list of your interests and the things you love doing. Then make a list of your skills - what are you good at? Then try to find a career that combines your interests and your skills. Or, if you dont have the skills, figure out what you need to do to get them

Once you have a career and life plan in mind, it will become much clearer where you need to be to give you the best chance of realizing it

By Danny, Bkk (25th June 2016)

Tony - being out of Europe does make things more complicated - I wonder if English teachers will have to get work permits to work in Europe now.

DHK - good points, we never know what will happen. Both of us would be happy to live in New York but then that means both of us finding new jobs and I'm not sure how employable I would be there.

Biran - On average I make around 75K per month. I use some of this to pay off my condo and save around 10-15k a month. When my condo is paid off I could save more but I don't want to live in a condo forever and I guess it would turn into savings I use to buy a house.

By Richard, Bangkok (25th June 2016)

Richard,

it has been awhile since I have lived in Bangkok, and I used to save around 20 k per month. May I ask what you are making per month?

By Brian, Canada (24th June 2016)

This is a dilemma many an expat in Asia faces down the road. I'm an Asian American who's lived in the region for most of my adult life, but I got married three years ago and have a child, so I'm wondering if moving back to the U.S. is good for my family. Also, it's not good to use New York or London as comparisons because not everyone can or wants to live in either city. Also, know that immigration can lead to divorce, as your Thai girlfriend might not want to live in the West after a few years. That said, you live just once and always living on the safe side can get boring and such. Just my two cents.

By DHK, Seoul, Korea (24th June 2016)

I wouldn't make any decisions based around your girlfriend. Do what you want. She'll struggle to find work other that at restaurants. Carefull thinking especially now we're out of Europe.

By Tony, Bkk (24th June 2016)

Ah, life's decisions are filled with trade offs and complexities.

Good luck working your way through this decision.

By Jack, In a chair at home (24th June 2016)

All very good points Dave. I think like many people I am still not 100% sure what I would like to do, it was probably a big factor in deciding to come to Thailand in the first place.

I don't have a problem to stay here and save for a couple of years, I just don't want that to turn into a longer period and in the end have regrets about staying. Starting a business would be interesting and give me a degree of flexibility when it comes to location if it can be run online.

I think my girlfriend enjoyed working in a Thai restaurant but it's not her dream. I think if it was a short term option then again it's not a problem but she isn't the sort of person to settle for second best.

By Richard, Bangkok (24th June 2016)

So if not teaching, what do you really want to do? Sounds like you need to think on that for a while before making any decisions to leave. If possible you might want to go back home or go travel alone for a month; a change in scenery and routine always helps me to see things more clearly.

I'd say that generally speaking, some sacrifices are necessary to change careers and move at your age -- maybe back to school or an internship or working hard for a while at something you're not really into just to save money for something else, like starting a business. Or maybe even being apart from your girl while you sort things out. Sometimes it's best to think about the end result rather than getting stuck in short-term desires that aren't really leading anywhere.

Why won't your girlfriend work at another Thai restaurant? I worked at a few Thai restaurants in the States for 10 years and nearly all of the Thai people in my city were employed by a restaurant in one way or another. And that includes many really bright Thais with good educations and moneyed families back in Thailand. The reality is that for immigrants from SE Asia, unless they have some specific skill in tech or medical or something, restaurants are the only options other than bagging groceries or working in convenience stores. There's no shame in it. One of the restaurants that I worked for was like a tight-knit family with some wonderful people. Sure the work can be hard and the hours can suck but that's the price that most Thais pay to live in the West.

By Dave, Bangkok (24th June 2016)

Hi Monty

It has crossed my mind but as I said I don't feel that I will always want to be a teacher. I feel the time and money I would have to put into that would lead to it becoming full time.

Also many jobs now require at least 1 year experience in your home country and then there isn't a guarantee I would get a job here straight away. Also a couple of years away from my girlfriend doesn't sound too good.

If the online course PGCE was actually worth the paper it is written on I might have looked at that but it seems like it is pretty useless.

By Richard, Bangkok (24th June 2016)

Have you thought about developing your teaching practice with a pgce or masters fr the UK? Once qualified, you demand a higher salary and it potentially opens up more of the world to you

By Monty, Saphan khwai (24th June 2016)

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