Could you Live a Middle-Class Life in Thailand?
Do you want to live as you did in your $7,000/mo, $750,000 California-style house? Or would you be content to live a middle-class life in Thailand like a middle-class Thai person would?
What would it feel like to live a middle-class Thai life in Thailand?
Well, take a close look at any middle class Thai. Let’s say a high-school math teacher.How does a middle class Thai teacher live? How do Thai middle class government employee live? Or a middle manager of a big Tesco department store – how do they live?
Well, first, where do they live? If you want the full Thai experience with all the beauty and culture, great climate and laid-back lifestyle at the lowest cost you’ll live in Chiang Rai, up north, near the border. Move to Chiang Mai, where I live, and you’ll pay 30% more, to Bangkok and add another 30% for costs like accommodation. (If you have a Thai spouse, of course, you’ll pay Thai prices, but that is another story).
In Chiang Rai, a friend is a middle manager at Tesco, the British supermarket chain. He’s considered middle class and single Thai girls are eager to date him. He rents a nice apartment for 3,000 baht/mo. bought a new car on credit, and he helps support his mother, father and grandfather. By Thai standards his lifestyle is enviable.
As a farang, $1,200/mo. puts you into Chiang Rai’s upper class middle class. You would live in either an apartment or a townhouse – usually two stories, in a gated community — or rent a house.
But you can’t live a Thai middle-class life very well if you don’t speak the language because you can’t take advantage of Thai prices (farangs pay more for most things, it’s an unspoken rule here). If you don’t speak the language, what can you do?
You find a good lady friend. It doesn’t matter if she’s your wife or a good friend. Finding such a person can take time. It took me almost 3 years because it takes time to gain entry to Thai culture. Middle class Thai women are not falling over each other to befriend some random farang – any more than middle-class American, British, or Australian women are. Maybe it took me longer to find a Thai woman friend because I wasn’t interested in dating her. What I wanted was a cultural ‘in’ to Thai life.
If you get into the local dating scene you can easily find educated women with good jobs who are open to a relationship with a farang because their Thai husband or boyfriend treated them badly. That is much more common here than back home. Thai men abandon their families at an alarming rate – and don’t pay alimony or child support.
Bear in mind that you are definitely expected to support someone, whether it’s her child, or her parents. That’s part of marriage to a Thai. Get used to it now.
So, before you get here, use the online dating services. They’ll help you talk to with educated women before you get off the plane and give you the opportunity to learn about the Thai culture from them . They understand that you know nothing about Thailand. And they’ll help you understand the role of Buddhism, or respect for elders, or respect for objects and social norms. Before you come, do your homework and really prepare to live here. That way, you’ll learn how to live here as a middle class Thai would and you’ll live better than you’ve ever done before. I live on $2,400/mo., travel abroad 3 or 4 times a year, and drink only imported Belgian beer (draft, of course!).
What’s Your Thai QOL?
How do you define quality? My idea of quality for me might be different from yours.
For me, quality of life means that my environment is very safe, comfortable,and healthy. I feel my energy lifted just by seeing the beautiful environment, the smiling, happy people, and the climate that I’ve finally adapted to.
The man who owns my apartment usually fixes any problems within 45 minutes, then apologizes for them. Everything works perfectly and looks good, always. My studio is large, bright, cool and well-ventilated, with a balcony, at the end of a cup-de-sac, and costs me 3,000 Baht/mo. Yep, that’s $100. Of course, that includes free internet and is fully furnished, like most Thai rentals. You can buy a good secondhand car for $3,000 if you take your care and look around, you don’t have to buy a brand new $15,000 Honda Fit.
But here’s a warning: a $3,000 used car will probably not satisfy a middle-class Thai woman. It would threaten her status, her place in the community. There’s no point in complaining about that. A lot of Thai –and all oriental – culture is about status. If you want a middle-class Thai wife you’ll have to to fit into Thai society’s expectations of what that means.
So take a sober look at the pluses and minuses of the kind of life you want to live – then take another look at the money you have. My money from Social Security was $1200, the average. It wasn’t enough for the lifestyle I wanted so I started this business. It lets me work 1-2 days a month and, by so doing, double my income. Now I’m much more acceptable in middle-class Chiang Mai, where glossy interior design magazines still picture the emerging Thai middle-class dream.
I don’t have any insurance because it’s not available at my age. I live a very healthy lifestyle and if something goes seriously wrong, I’ll fly back to Australia or the US, where I’m covered by the national health programs.
Anyway, enough from me. Listen to what Richard Weeks can accomplish on $600/mo:
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