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Living in Thailand is not for everyone. Thailand has a rich culture, but a culture that may not be accessible to all. When you're living in Thailand, it could be hard to form strong friendships. One may always feel like an outsider. Most relocate to Thailand for marriage, not necessarily citizenship.


Living In Thailand
Will the Kingdom provide you a life worth living?


"Living it up in Thailand is preferable to just living in Thailand and immensely better than dying in Thailand. "  Doug Knell, Doug's Republic


Millions of tourists, led by the Japanese and the Koreans, flock to Thailand annually, to frolic in the sun, drink to oblivion, and perform seedy pickups galore. Whether the stay lasts several weeks or several months, coming to a place for a holiday isn't the same as living there. If it were, debauched American college youth wouldn't let loose on spring breaks in Miami Beach and Myrtle Beach. They'd attend universities there full time.

The distinction to be made is that tourists on holiday 'live it up' in the Kingdom.  They go to Full Moon parties, get high on acid, and sleep with the drunken English girl who was recently shared among a crew of drunken Irish soccer players.  When they wake up the next day, they can creep off to the airport, fly home, and forget (or relish) every sordid detail once they get back to reality.

Living in the Kingdom means that everyday life in Thailand is your reality.  Do you think you can handle that?

retire in Thailand

If you don't watch yourself, you could wind up in a perpetually laid back stupor

living in Thailand
Why Are You Coming Over?

The reason may be none of our business, but it certainly matters to your business.  Are you coming over as a retiree?  As a young man ready to start a new life and meet the woman of your dreams?  As a couple?  Do you have an automated business that's already earning adequate income for you back in your own country?   (For more info on businesses and working in Thailand, click here.)

Thailand is laid back, offers wonderful food, a lower cost of living, friendly people, and pickup opportunities even for the autistic and mentally ill.  But if the life you're able to carve for yourself living in Thailand doesn't match the experiences you're seeking to get out of life, then living in Thailand is bound to be a negative experience for you.

Some things to consider:

  Boredom.  Retirees, wherever they retire, tend to sit by swimming pools and read books, dine out at restaurants,living in Thailand and go to bed early.  The average retiree can and definitely does do that in Thailand -- and a lot cheaper than s/he would in Europe, the USA, or Australia.  If you're living a life of do-nothing retirement in Europe, you can live the same boring life in Thailand for a lot less.  However, if you're more of an active retiree, the kind of person who likes to volunteer his/her time in some field related to the work you did during your prime, life in Thailand may seem inadequate. 

The boredom issue extends beyond the retirement community.   The range of extracurricular activities in Thailand differs significantly from what one could do in the motherland.  At home, you could join a book club or an improvisational acting troupe, learn juggling or tap dancing, and do volunteer work for your house of worship (if you're into that sort of thing).  That range of activities doesn't exist in Thailand.  Some communities setup their own clubs.  For example, a community of Scandinavians in Bangkok have set up their own cycling club that anyone is welcome to join.  Outside Bangkok, organized extracurricular groups are thin on the ground, and even in Bangkok they're not numerous given the size of the city.  

It's a different way of life completely in Thailand.   You should already know that or you wouldn't be considering living here. 

  A lack of culture.    This is not to say Thailand has no culture.   It has a very rich one, but it's not the same type of high society culture you may be accustomed to back home where you can attend live theater, visit art galleries, do regular Iyengar, Hatha, or Anusara yoga classes, and participate in a vast array of social events.  Bangkok is the most cultural city, by Western standards, of any in Thailand, yet in some respects it doesn't measure up to what would be on offer in a mid-sized Western town.  If Western cultural activities are of prime interest to you, rethink the move to Thailand.

  Difficulty in attracting a suitable mate.  It is not difficult, not in the least, for a foreign man to seduce a Thai girlfriends in Thailandwoman, and some men relocate to Thailand specifically for that reason.  But if you're desire to live in Thailand is based primarily on your love of Thai culture, the weather, and the geography, you may be frustrated by the types of prospects you continually meet.  Most of the Thai women you cross paths with will strike you as gold diggers or opportunists willing to go with any foreign man who'll have them.  This is not because the majority of Thai females are bloodsuckers.  Foreigners coming over with little knowledge of Thai frequent certain locales and meet a predictable type of prospect there.  Were the foreigner to spend most of his time in an indigenous Thai neighborhood and learn Thai, he would then meet a wider cross section of the Thai female population.   Most can't/won't make that commitment.  A foreign women deciding to relocate here solo will have an even harder time.  Forget the adjective 'suitable' in front of mate.  She'll have problems just finding a mate.  Foreign women are virtually ignored.  Her attitudes and values don't gel well with the local Thai men's.  A practicing nun in the West will feel at home in Thailand.

Some living here can content themselves with an unending series of noncommittal pickups.  Those are the minority.  Once you live in Thailand, the nightlife scene of drinks, gogo bars, and casual seductions gets old . . . fast.  The women start blending into each other.  It gets to a point where it's natural to desire intimacy with someone who genuinely cares about you, not just any foreigner who's willing, in turn, to take care of her financially.   Finding this match without immersion and acceptance of Thai cultural mores will prove difficult.  Of all the foreigners I've encountered in Thailand with Thai girlfriends or wives, I can count on one hand how many couples were reasonably paired up. 

Difficulty in making strong friendships.   In your own country, you'll meet people of all social strata.   In Thailand, you can also meet Thais that represent all different classes.   But because most foreigners relocating to Thailand never bother learning the Thai language, their interactions with Thais are limited to, predominantly, seducing Thais -- and mostly Thais of one particular class and region.  We can go further.  Even for those foreigners who can speak Thai rather well and have a Thai wife, their strongest friendships tend to be with people similar to their own culture -- and if that's not possible, other foreigners. 

lack of strong friendshipsWe are not arguing that this is the way it should be.  That's just the way it is.  Some foreigners relocating here, a very tiny number, go completely native.  They speak Thai 95% of the time and ALL of their social contacts are with Thais.  They're the exception.  The norm is that the foreigner moving here prefers aspects of Thailand without rejecting in any significant way the culture of his homeland. It's not so far removed as to why many immigrants come to American shores.  They usually love their native culture -- indeed, many replicate their homelands and communities in neighborhoods of cities in the U.S. -- but have still relocated to America for one reason or another.  The key difference, however, is that in America, foreigners are encouraged to blend in and, eventually, through their children, might completely melt in.  In Thailand, the foreigner never really melts in.  He may, at best, blend in less.  

The expats one meets in Thailand are not the average guy you'd meet in everyday life back home. If they were that sort, they'd still be back home. If we exclude retirees and expats brought over on cushy packages for a limited amount of time, what's left are extreme types of people. They might be extreme overachievers, seeking to seize or create opportunities in a new environment. Or extreme womanizers, who in Thailand have opportunities to philander they could barely dream feeling like an outsiderof back home. Or extreme alcoholics and drunks. Or the extremely dissatisfied who feel Thailand can offer them a chance to run away from a dead-end life in their native land.  Be prepared for this.

  Always being somewhat of an outsider.   Examine the differences between two immigrants below.  Rick is a a 30-yr old male American who relocates to Thailand, the most common reason being that he's married a Thai woman.  Poonchai is an average 30-yr old male Thai who relocates to America for better paying work opportunities.  Poonchai could just as well be from Laos, Korea, Cambodia, Indonesia, or many other non melting pot nations; and Rick could equivalently be from the UK, Germany, France, or any other Western nation.  We are aware that plenty of immigrants do not suit the profiles below.  This is  profile for the typical 30-yr old immigrant.

Rick from America relocated to Thailand Poonchai from Thailand relocated to America
Language: Will possibly pick up Thai, though not to fluency level but may not pick it up at all Language: Will probably speak decent English before relocation but will become completely fluent afterwards
Education: Probably not highly educated.  Maybe has a degree. Education:  Has a high education and earnings by Thai standards.  Possibly two degrees.
Marriage:  Immigrates to Thailand alone and winds up marrying a Thai Marriage: Immigrates to America already married to a Thai
Naturalization:  Rick would never get or be eligible for Thai citizenship. Naturalization: Poonchai would become a naturalized American as soon as he became eligible.
Identity:  Rick would always identify himself as an American. Identity:  Poonchai would be proud to eventually call himself an American.
Immigration process:  Rick comes over to Thailand as a tourist first, having little trouble procuring a visa, and eventually decides to stay on a whim. Officially, Rick is never considered an immigrant to Thailand. Immigration process:  Poonchai must plan for his immigration to America several years in advance and undergo grueling interviews before he's approved as a legal immigrant.
Citizenship of kids: If USA/Thailand dual citizenship were not allowed (it is as of this writing), Rick's kids, born in Thailand, would opt for U.S. citizenship Citizenship of kids:  If USA/Thailand dual citizenship were not allowed, Poonchai's kids, born in in the USA, would opt for U.S. citizenship
Childrens' language: Rick's children would be fluent in English and near fluent or fluent in Thai.  They would attend an English-language school program.  Childrens' language:  Poonchai's children would be fluent in English and possibly Thai at a young age.  They would attend a local American school.  There's a good chance, as they aged, that they'd forget Thai altogether.
Childrens' view of motherland:  Rick's kids would still continue to think of the USA in high regard even if they'd never been there. If Rick could afford it, they would attend university in the USA.  The kids would probably go back to the USA for work and settle down there.  Culturally, the children would always identify with America far more than Thailand. Childrens' view of motherland:  Poonchai's kids would think of Thailand as the country where Mom and Dad come from.  They might visit the grandparents occasionally in Thailand if Poonchai could afford it.  They would not ever relocate to Thailand. Culturally, they would identify with America.
Friends:  Rick's friends would mostly (or all) be fellow expats.  Rick's kids' friends would mostly be the children of other expats.  Rick's grandkids would likely be back in the USA.  Friends:  There's a good chance Poonchai would relocate to an area that already had a high population of Thais, and he and his wife would associate with Thais.  Ponchai's kids' friends would be regular American kids.  Poonchai's grandkids would have little connection to Thailand.
Work:  If Rick comes on his own, he'll probably have to create his own job.  Few Thai companies would be willing to hire Rick because of his lack of Thai.  Were Rick to know Thai, he'd feel the wages offered were too low -- if the Thais were even willing to consider him. Work:  Four generations back, no one in America would be screaming to hire Poonchai either, and he, too, would have to start his own business.  In today's climate, Poonchai could just apply for any job he felt skilled enough to do.  Poonchai would feel the wages offered were superior to what he earned in Thailand.

Rick is always seen as an outsider in Thailand. He is tolerated rather than assimilated.   Poonchai in America is both tolerated and, in the succeeding generation(s), usually fully assimilated. 

lack of passion Thailand   Losing sight of purpose.  In a stressful and regimented environment, the sort of environment most of us grew up in and still live in, if we don't set a purpose, a purpose is set for us.  Let's say you work in the re-investment division of a bank.  Then, on a day-to-day basis, like it or not, your purpose is to increase profits for the bank.  In a more laid back environment, like Thailand's, it's easy to forget there is a purpose, as you busy your time with drinking, partying, seducing, or just lazing.  Plenty teach English because it's not all that taxing of a job.  That's fine if you're using your off hours to pursue something of meaning to you.

People have mid-life crises because they reach a certain age and feel they haven't accomplished anything.  Life is passing them by and they have nothing to show for it.  It's fine to relocate to Thailand if the lifestyle better suits your temperament, but if you come without a purpose -- it need not be a noble or profitable one, mind you -- you'll find that the sting can be ever more harder to bear


 

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 Living in Thailand is for you? Thailand has a culture of champions. It is not so hard to make strong friendships in Thailand. One can always feel like an outsider. Most relocate to Thailand for purposes of marriage. Thai citizenship isn't easy to obtain.