Don't retire to Pattaya, Thailand!
As seductive as retiring to Thailand may be to you, not just vacationing you
should FULLY think through the decision.
To that end, months ago I wrote a list of reasons NOT to move to Pattaya (see
Issue #108 ) to offer a counter-balance to its allure
In the same vain, this 'classic' essay was posted on the Internet at least
eight years ago.
Although I am NOT the author, he offers thought provoking ideas that should be
'I have some advice to any westerners out there contemplating moving to
If you are rich and are sensible with money, then go ahead. If an
international company or similar offers you a high salary job in
Thailand then fine. If your are retired or have steady funds from
aboard and want to live modestly on those funds, go ahead, but watch
yourself. And if you're a young dude travelling around the world, and
you want to spend some time in Thailand teaching or whatever for
experience, then that's OK too.
If you don't fall into these categories then "don't" consider it for a
moment. Many middle aged westerners in particular (including
professionals) like the idea of living there, having a business or
making some money and "enjoying life" in Thailand. But very few make
it. (Forget about western restaurant or bar owners and alike you might
meet in Thailand boasting about their good life there. It is common
for faltering foreigners to keep up appearances). Mostly they end up
broke or crazed, sometimes both, then they leave. Thai business, visa
and residency laws get you in the end. The "Thai way" will get you in
the end. Have a minor run-in with a wealthy or important Thai and
your status and possibly your life will be at risk. Their whole
culture is geared around making sure that foreigners pursuing
individual efforts are not successful. It's ingrained in them from an
early age to believe that they are the never-colonised master race of
Asia (yes they really think that) and their mythology runs so deep
you'll never budge it. Remember, in Thailand you'll never have any
real business, legal or ownership rights. But Thai's can go to your
country (very possibly) and buy and own anything they can get their
hands on (because of the more tolerant business laws). To Thai's,
this is just further evidence of how clever they are, and how foolish
are the foreigners to go to Thailand.
Remember too, that Thailand is dominated by a comparatively small
military-industrial elite. They have all the power and most of the
wealth in the country. The idea of western foreigners living in the
country and achieving wealth and status through individual
entrepreneurial efforts is seen as a threat to the hegemony that they
have over the Thai underclass - the bulk of the population. For this
reason, it is never allowed to happen.
Think of Thailand, for westerners, as being a bit like a casino. A
casino is a place with a touch of excitement, the lure of good fortune
/ the good life, and a place for fun, even with a bit of a risk. Go
to a casino every now and then for fun and that's OK. Go there
everyday all-day and you will ultimately lose, because the House
Advantage will always get you. So it is in Thailand. The Thai "House
Advantage" will get you. They make sure of it.
Of course, if going to Thailand with all your money and slowly losing
it and ending up teaching English for a pittance (because that's about
all you can do), either illegally or working legally but being treated
like a serf by Thai institutions, appeals to you then go ahead. And
running around the country several times a year getting visas, or
always being at the mercy of authorities on visa matters might be your
bag. If so, then go ahead, at least you'll be able to spend your
nights at cheap restaurants sharing your impoverishment and
frustration with other exploited western teachers. If not, think
In case you are thinking, let me say that I am not a former go-go bar
owner gone bust, I have not lost my all doing business with Thai's, no
I haven't been cheated of everything by a bar-girl, no I haven't been
reduced to the indignity of teaching English for a pittance. I have
my own money, have spent a lot of time in Thailand, and have done some
business there, have observed the experiences of a lot of foreigners,
can see what goes on, and have enough concern to want to tell others
If my words can prevent even one westerner of modest means from
selling up and going to "enjoy life" in Thailand (and getting shafted
in the end) then that will be something. Don't make the mistake of
thinking that as a foreigner (even with professional skills) you can
"make a contribution" to Thailand, no matter how good your intentions
or needed your skills may be. Your contribution will *never* be
welcomed, only your money. There is a saying in Thai that captures it
well: "farang roo mark my dee" - foreigners who know too much [about
Thailand] are no good. Gullible tourists, however, are great.
So, go to Thailand as a tourist if you like, enjoy what you enjoy
there, but don't be taken in by the culture or people, as many
westerners have, and don't under any circumstances give up anything
back home to go and stay there unless you are financially secure for
life, or know exactly what you are doing.
There is a tradition of resident foreigners in Thailand not telling
you the truth about the country because they don't like to admit to
themselves and to others about the mistake they have made in moving
there. But especially now, with the financial mess Thailand has got
itself into through a mixture of greed, incompetence, arrogance and
corruption, and the prospect of difficult times ahead (to say the
least) it is time for plain speaking.
A final comment to anyone who strongly disagrees with these comments.
Unless you have lived, worked and conducted business in Thailand for
many years, I'm not interested. The views of "oh how can you say
that, Thailand is really great" 2 week tourists carry no weight with
those of us who know Thailand and Thai's well.'
Although I think the essay's author is unduly negative about Thailand
and its people, it still should be REQUIRED reading for anyone seriously
considering the Kingdom for retirement.
And this applies DOUBLY for potential investors.