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The Essential Thailand Retirement Guide

The Essential Thailand Retirement Guide

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The Essential Thailand Retirement Guide

Lunghezza:
175 pagine
2 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 19, 2012
ISBN:
9781476311623
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

It’s not surprising that Thailand was chosen as the best country in the world for expats to reside. The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey of 2011 found the Kingdom beat 31 other countries for health care, accommodation, work environment and lifestyle. Thailand is my home. I live in a beautiful tropical beach community in a three bedroom condo with security and spacious pools. Where can I live like that in America for $2,000 a month?

I don’t paint the "Land of Smiles" as the be all and end all for every retiree. Buddha knows, it has its issues, but for someone who has the courage to get out of their comfort zone and doesn’t have the money to retire in a luxurious style in the West, Thailand can be that special place.

Make no mistake, it is going to take courage to travel half way around the world and live in a place where things are very, very different. Family and friends are rarely coming for a visit and trips home are expensive. You’ll probably never speak or read the Thai language. You’ll always be an outsider. You’ll never have the same rights as Thais and you won’t be looked at the same. You’ll always be vulnerable. You're a foreigner or as the Thai refer to you, “farang".

Thai culture is very different from the West. Combined with a very different language, Thailand can be a difficult place to grasp and understand. "TIT," short for "This is Thailand", is a phrase coined and frequently used by former Bangkok Post nightlife columnist, Bernard Trink. It’s often used in conversation and writing by expats to explain puzzling behavior and the way things are done. "TIT" can be frustrating and fascinating.

Retirement in Thailand is as close to stress free as you’ll ever find. No place can match the “fun factor” that Thailand offers. Lower your expectations and be flexible enough to overlook the everyday craziness that makes Thailand unique and you’ll discover, this is the place.

The book will help you decide if Thailand is the right place for you. This is a guide to the "Land of Smiles" for the retiree, with all its blemishes. You'll know exactly what to expect. A concise and colorful "How-to" manual for a successful retirement in Thailand.

All the information you'll need is here. Topics include: visa requirements, budgets from $1000 a month, the Thai people, the food, the women, driving, religion and 100's of everyday tips to make the successful retirement transition to the "Land of Smiles".

I’ll breakdown the expenses for different budgets and the lifestyles they provide. I'll suggest different places where you might want to live in the Kingdom. I’ll tell you about the people and the culture. You'll know exactly what to expect. This is the Essential Retirement Guide to Thailand.

Join me for the adventure of your life.

Pete Bowen

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 19, 2012
ISBN:
9781476311623
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Growing up in the small town of Hamilton, Massachusetts, Bowen graduated from the University of Massachusetts and headed west. When the car broke down in Vail, Colorado, he stayed three years. After getting an MBA from University of Northern Colorado he wound up in the San Francisco Bay Area, working in marketing for high tech firms. He's the father of Patrick and Leslie and when they flew the coop, he headed for Thailand. He lives in Phuket with his Thai wife and thanks Buddha for his fulfilling life in a beautiful place.

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The Essential Thailand Retirement Guide - Pete Bowen

The Essential Thailand Retirement Guide

Pete Bowen

Copyright 2012 by Pete Bowen

Smashwords Edition

Introduction

It’s not surprising that Thailand was chosen as the best country in the world for expats to reside. The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey of 2011 found the Kingdom beat 31 other countries for health care, accommodation, work environment and lifestyle. Thailand is my home. I live in a beautiful tropical beach community in a three bedroom condo with security and spacious pools. Where can I live like that in America for $2,000 a month? You can’t do it for twice that amount!

I don’t want to paint the Land of Smiles (LOS) as the be all and end all for every retiree. Buddha knows, it has its issues, but for someone who has the courage to get out of their comfort zone in the West and maybe doesn’t have the money to retire in a luxurious style in a western country, Thailand can be that special place.

Make no mistake, it is going to take courage to travel half way around the world and live in a place where things are very, very different. Family and friends are rarely going to be coming for a visit and trips home are expensive. You’ll probably never speak or read the Thai language. You’ll always be an outsider. You’ll never have the same rights as Thais and you won’t be looked at the same. You’ll always be vulnerable. It’s just the way things are. You're a foreigner or as the Thai refer to you, farang and no matter how hard you try, you'll never be Thai.

Thai culture is very different from the West. Combined with a very different language, Thailand can be a difficult place to grasp and understand. "TIT, short for This is Thailand", is a phrase coined and frequently used by former Bangkok Post nightlife columnist, Bernard Trink. It’s often used in conversation and writing by expats to explain puzzling behavior and the way things are done. TIT can be frustrating or a never ending source of wonderment and fun.

Retirement in Thailand is as close to stress free as you’ll find anywhere. No place can match the fun factor that Thailand offers. Lower your expectations and be flexible enough to overlook the everyday craziness that makes Thailand unique and you’ll be happy here.

I hope this book will help you decide if Thailand is the right place for you. This is a guide to the Land of Smiles for the retiree, with all its blemishes. It should give you an idea of what to expect. I’ll breakdown the expenses for different budgets and the lifestyles they provide. Give you alternative places where you might choose to live. I’ll tell you a little about the people and the culture. Finally, I’ll give you some tips on what to do for a safe and fun retirement. Join me for the adventure of your life.

Chapter 1 - Checking Out Of the Hotel California

At 59, I found myself unemployed and the US economy didn’t present many future prospects. My children were grown, had moved away and I’d recently ended a long term relationship. I sat in my four bedroom home in a wonderful San Francisco Bay Area community, feeling a little sorry for myself. What the hell was I going to do? After a lot of soul searching, I decided to take a chance, roll the dice and cash out. Sell the house, all my belongings, say goodbye to friends and family and retire…somewhere.

Looking back, it was the right thing to do at the right time. It was the perfect storm of circumstances. No job, children gone and no relationship, what was keeping me there? The roots ran deep in my adopted hometown. It was where I raised my kids. I did a lot of youth coaching. I knew a lot people. I couldn’t walk down the street without running into people I knew. All my friends were there. Yes, the roots were deep.

This was a hard decision. Maybe, the hardest I’ve ever made. Retire and move half way around the world? I think very few people can make the same decision and it’s a shame. It shouldn’t be that tough. Stay where you are and struggle or go for a life in paradise? I think we’re just afraid of change. I’ve learned something in the last few years. Change is good...very good.

When I was 23, my wife and I moved to California after graduating from college. I didn’t want to spend my life in cold, staid Massachusetts. There was a precedent for making big moves in my life. I didn’t know anyone in California. There was the East Coast vs. West Coast culture shock and of course, the language barrier. I spoke Boston at the time. It wasn’t easy, but we did it. California was home for the next 35 years.

The housing market was in the dumper when I decided to finally make the move, but my town hadn’t been hit as hard others. It’s centrally located, upper class with great schools. I could have made another $100,000 if I had sold my home the year before, but that was blood under the bridge in that housing market. I had owned the house for 15 years and with appreciation, had significant equity. I needed every penny I could get out of it, though. I priced it fairly and listed it with a discount broker. I baked cookies every time someone came to see it and it sold in a month.

Now the hard part: getting rid of 25 years of accumulated stuff. I never thought of myself as a pack rat, but there was a lot of stuff. Furniture, clothes, office equipment, tools, appliances, all had to go. Let the garage sales begin! What I couldn’t sell, I gave away or tossed and I tossed a lot. It took months. I’m a musician so cherished guitars and keyboards went on Craig’s List and EBay.

I made a promise to myself that I would never accumulate stuff again. It’s a good plan, but difficult to stick to. Every time I move now, I’m amazed at how much more stuff I’ve acquired. When I buy something now, I ask myself, Do I really need this? Still, stuff accumulates. A car, motorbikes, musical instruments, TVs, clothes, computers, last week I agonized over buying a blender! It was a good move. I start every day with a mango smoothie, now.

The stuff cleansing process took four months. The day after the sale of the house was completed; I left on a one way ticket to Phuket, Thailand. I had all my belongings with me in a suitcase and a guitar on my back. Three years later, I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Chapter Two - Where in Asia?

I’d been to Thailand a half a dozen times over the previous ten years and loved the place. The people, the food and the low cost of living made it an ideal spot to kick off a retirement home search. The Kingdom of Thailand, formerly Siam, is known as the Land of Smiles (LOS) for good reason. People smile easily and if you do the same, it’ll get you a long way here. A smile can mean many things of course. It can indicate happiness and contentment. It can cover-up awkward situations and defuse confrontations. I kept reminding myself of that.

The Land of Smiles was high on the list of eventual permanent retirement destinations, but I owed myself a look around at all possible destinations in Asia.

Phuket would be my base of operations for checking out a permanent retirement home. Phuket is a beautiful island, 500 miles South of Bangkok. It’s surrounded by the Andaman Sea with great beaches and a wicked nightlife. The Phuket airport is a regional hub and it would be easy to check out the countries on my retirement list: the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

On Phuket, I started out in Patong, the busiest resort town. I rented a furnished apartment right in the middle of town for $500 a month and started the party. Patong has something like 300 bars, a modern shopping mall, great food and is the center of the adult entertainment industry. Motorbikes are the preferred mode of transportation, but I’d never driven one. So, I walked everywhere. Food is cheap and food carts are everywhere. A grilled chicken and rice meal (my go-to food) is $2.

Malaysia

My first trip out of LOS was to Malaysia. Malaysia is a liberal Muslim country. The cost of living is higher and the country is wealthier than Thailand. The infrastructure is better. Unlike Thailand, Malaysia welcomes expats and makes it easy to live there. The MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) program allows you to stay there on a 10 year visitors pass that allows you to come and go as you wish. Thailand will have you jumping through hoops on a regular basis with their Visa requirements. Malaysia is one of the safest countries in the world. It has a modern medical system. English is widely spoken. It has a world class telecommunication system and modern highways. You would probably drive a car there; Thailand is dominated by motorbikes. It’s an excellent choice for retirement.

My problem with Malaysia is the low fun quotient...boring compared to Thailand. Maybe a couple would find Malaysia more to their liking? The nightlife in the major cities can be found, but leaves a lot to be desired. The expat community is a lot smaller. I went to Malaysia’s second biggest city, Penang. The clincher for me was, I went to see the beaches around Penang and they were polluted! You couldn’t swim there. I know there are some beautiful beaches in Malaysia once you get away from the city, but it just isn’t Thailand. Malaysia is far more conservative than Thailand. I looked forward to getting back to Phuket.

The Philippines

My second retirement exploration trip was to the Philippines. The big advantages here are the widespread use of English and the significantly cheaper cost of living. I would guess the savings is at least 15% over Thailand. The healthcare is good for those with money. Household staff, including a driver and maid, is dirt cheap. It’s an island nation with loads of beautiful beaches and scenery. It’s a conservative Catholic country. I was in a grocery store one evening when everything stopped at 6 PM for the reading of the Lord’s Prayer over the store intercom. Nightlife was comparable to Thailand in the big cities. It’s easy to get a visa and stay forever, but who would want to? The Filipinos want to get out of there.

The Philippines has many problems, too many problems. Poverty and crime are widespread. Crime is a big problem. Children are begging in the streets. The Poverty is much worse than Thailand. There are armed guards everywhere. When I used the ATM at a bank, a shotgun toting guard would stand next to me. I suppose you get used to it after a while, but I was a little paranoid. You absolutely must live in a gated community with security if you live there.

There is great beauty in this Island nation. I’m sure many expats have found their little piece of paradise, but the corruption and poverty are a turn off. The other problem is the food is terrible! Philippine’s national dish is pork Adobo, pork cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Adobo is not only limited to pork. Chicken, other meats and seafood are cooked this way. It’s a vinegar based flavoring which is unlike the food in other Asian countries. Herbs and spices are unknown. Cheap fast-food copies like Jollybees, which doesn’t serve a single healthy food item, are popular. All the other Asian pacific countries have delicious spicy food. I don’t know what happened to the Phils. For me, survival there would mean cooking all my own food.

Vietnam

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