How to build a life here in Thailand?
By - SlappySpankBank
Most of the guys that have been here for years came at a time before the internet when there were many unknown manufacturers and factories who made products for cheap that they could export to their business partners back home.
I knew a lot of French people who did this back in the day from the late 70s onwards.
The original french business men who came here and helped mentor the next generation were those that fled the wars in the french Indochina and settled in Thailand.
I know a young Brit who did this not too long ago (2012). He came as an ESL teacher but he found a niche in the online market. A year or two later he wasn't just exporting, the factories he had connections with were making the products he was designing himself.
Yeah lots of people did that in the piercing and silver jewellery business or gemstones even. The smart ones took their profits and build up their own factories here.
This is a hard question to answer.
First of all, you have to answer “what do I want out of my life?”. Liking Thai culture really isn’t a strong reason for deciding to try to build a life there. I lived there for 12 years, got an MA in Southeast Asian Studies, and my whole career has been focused on Thailand and I still made the decision that I didn’t want to live there (and my work is still focused on Thailand). My wife and I moved back to the USA and we haven’t let go of Thailand. We cook Thai food daily, 90% of our friends are Thai, we visit yearly (other than now because of covid). We hope that one day we can spend more than a month a year there- maybe 3 or 4 out of the year, especially as we have family land there.
The truth is that both my wife and I made pretty good money in Thailand, but felt for a variety of reasons that we still weren’t going anywhere with our lives. We didn’t like the fact that we couldn’t own a house together, that we’d have to eventually raise our kids in an education system where conformity is more important than critical reflection, and freedom of speech is repressed.
At 27, you’re probably at the age where you’re starting to want more but not exactly sure what that looks like. My advice would be to just look for new opportunities and as you experience more, you’ll come to your own conclusion about the best way to stay in Thailand. But, you should also be flexible. At 25, I thought I’d never leave Thailand and the idea of moving back to the States was extremely depressing. We moved back about 5 years ago and it was a great decision for us.
> At 25, I thought I’d never leave Thailand and the idea of moving back to the States was extremely depressing.
Thailand is changing. When I first came here, I thought I'd never leave, not even want to go elsewhere for more than 2-3 weeks. These days, while I still have a strong connection to Thailand, I'd be perfectly happy visiting once a year for a month or two.
Yup. Also, the older you get, the more you change. I used to love the chaos. When I was twenty, I enjoyed weaving through traffic on my motorbike, getting lost in the mountains and finding random villages etc. Then, I eventually got sick of dodging bad drivers all the time and finally got thrown over my handlebars while dodging a driver who decided to run a red light, who saw me crash and didn’t even stop to help me. I have arthritis in my neck as a result.
Something as simple as wanting to have a dog was difficult. Taking him for a walk in my mooban with street dogs coming at him…. The fact that a lot of locals are either afraid or straight up cruel to dogs. (Yes, we brought ours back to the States and he’s infinitely more happy and healthy here).
The easy going aspect of life was great till I was in grad school and my teachers wouldn’t show up for their students and didn’t have time to read my thesis, which ultimately made me have to find new advisors from other unis at the last minute so I wouldn’t have to pay another semester’s tuition which I couldn’t afford.
I think my problem probably was mostly with urban areas: Chiang Mai where I lived, and Bangkok where I went to grad school. A lot of my career had me in rural areas- which I love.
Even though I go back to Thailand for work- I work solely with village communities and don’t have to deal with Thai bureaucracy anymore. I much prefer it that way. Or, just going to Thailand to visit the in-laws and some close friends on vacation is enough for me.
If you really want to make it here there is one crucial step that will diversify you from 99% of foreigners living here - learn Thai fluently.
I keep being amazed at how many foreigners that have lived in thailand for years and does not speak Thai. It’s a huge competitive advantage to be able to speak and understand the culture.
Once you know how to speak thai the opportunities are vast. The most simple I have found is to set up a basic recruitment/BPO function, hire Thai that have decent programming/graphic skills, but not competitive English and lease their skills globally. You cover the admin, salaries and translation, you’ll quickly make a markup of 200-400% on services depending on how well you set up a process and client level.
But as mentioned- learn Thai.
Yes. I have said this before, but it bears repeating. If you learn to speak/understand/read/write Thai well 95% of the issues that people bitch about on Thai forums like this will just disappear. So many of them are due to misunderstandings, false assumptions, quasi-paranoia because of a lack of being able to understand what's going on, frustration at being unable to make yourself understood, and so on. It makes your life here so much easier in every way to be able to communicate well. Knowing Thai well gives you the keys to the Kingdom.
The simplest and easiest career path that will insure that you have a real career making a six figure (baht) salary is getting a education degree and teaching at an international school.
Plus if you can focus in math or science I have always found that’s the most sought after position for international schools. Also like I said in my previous post getting certified to teach AP courses or getting certification in IB can really take you places. Sure it’s an investment and I don’t know if you have the money to spend on that but with those kinds of qualifications you can land a pretty good job and once you have a few years experience you can really start to move up if you know your shit. You can see I’m not advocating overnight success, this is more like a five or 10 year goal. But if you are patient and direct your time and resources towards it in the long run you can do quite well.
This is absolutely correct. The highest paid teaching jobs are the specialized science jobs and kindergarten. With the latter they often do discriminate as young, white, and female are the preferred demographic.
Expats that I met in the late 80s and 90s who were living in Thailand permanently were most often those who worked as ESL teachers. I think the next most common were people who worked for a company in their home country that had an office in Thailand (large travel companies, banks, resort management, large construction companies, architects, etc.). They were transferred or asked to be. Back then getting a job under the table (without a work permit) in Thailand was fairly easy. I did meet several who were working this way as bartenders, waiters, etc. in popular tourist destinations.
20 years ago, Farang ESL teachers were typically paid 30k baht. Right now, the median salary is not much higher.
Back then, this amount was comfortable (about 2-3x of what most Thai office workers would make), especially when coupled with a light workload. Right now it's tight, especially in Bangkok.
My first job here was as an English teacher at Saint Johns college. Boy those were fun times, and I was making 20,000 a month. Then I would go home at night and I created a small tutorial school in the ground floor of my townhouse. Weekly I was teaching about 30 to 40 kids, individually and in small groups, charging around 150 baht an hour. I did that more or less for about 10 years, but my big break was getting into international schools about five years into my stay here. There was much more room to advance, especially if I upped my degrees, so I got my masters in education through and abroad program and then got my administrators license as well through an abroad program. Lots of time and quite a lot of money going into that but it paid off over the next nearly 20 years that I was at my last international school, where I was headmaster for almost 5 years before I made my break and changed my career.
Not Thailand, but Philippines. I met my wife in the states. She was there on a work visa in the medical field (like most Filipina women). I got burned out in my IT business, so we liquidated everything and moved to the Philippines. My wife is very business oriented, so it was not difficult for us to build businesses together.
I'd say the best thing you can do is find a business minded wife.
Kind of sounds like my story. Met my partner in the states who was getting a Masters degree. Very goal oriented and helped me at the age of 23 to find direction in my life and work on goals.
Makes all the difference in the world. My first wife (Vietnamese) of 15 years was only concerned with status. Essentially forced me to work harder, just because her friend got the new Mercedes, and ours was 4 years old. I was working myself to death, in my IT business.
It was a blessing when she had a breakdown and left one morning. I would not have gone snowboarding in Crested Butte, and would not have gotten injured and require physical therapy. My current wife was my therapist. She helped me after fracturing my spine. Took a year, but I finally got a date. Funny thing was, she was attracted to me when we first met. She just wanted me to walk again before expressing her feelings.
Thats cool. I had a wild life til i was 23 Nd met my life mate. After that i just got goals oriented and busy. But those are both professional and personal goals. Stull a lot i want to learn and do but I’ve accomplished a lot on my list.
I was a manager at a logistics company in the US. The same, or even similar job here requires fluent Thai AND pays peanuts.
What am I good at.... I honestly don't know the answer to that question. It seems when I think I'm good at something, life finds a way to prove to me that I'm not.
I guess TEFL is a pretty good worst case scenario.
I know people that started as teachers and then moved into project/product management in tech companies and they make decent cash, multiples of your typcal teaching salary. Others have moved into journalisms or investment.
If i were you i would network like mad (once this covid blows over obviously). Meet groups outside your interest. Always found Thailand easy to network because many people moved here in the middle of their life. They are not tied into old circles of friends from school or uni and so on. Everyone is very open i found. You find the good jobs that way, not by browsing the job listing websites.
Think I'm out of here in Nov. Two fucking years of lockdown shit. Didn't get a chance to do much networking at all :/
Maybe go back and get a Masters in Education. Do two years at a US school and then come back out here.
Quitters never win, and winners never quit. Good luck.
I quit my job in the US to be a white monkey, I think I won that deal. But I get what you mean... Confidence in my self is quite low. Should probably focus on that.
> get a masters in education
Given your credentials why do a masters? I don’t believe it’s going to add value to schools you can apply for unless you are going down the university route. You need teaching qualifications if you are looking at international schools.
A masters degree will give me a teaching certificate AND a masters degree.
If you are able to make connections+overcome the culture barrier your skills will be desired. Logistics is a focus for both the Thai government and business interests. It is a challenging environment in many ways . They are looking to over come the current bottle necks and waste while looking forward to the issues caused by climate change. I have been approached online and in person to enter this industry and my background is military intelligence. They are graduating a lot of new talent but there isn’t much institutional knowledge in the country and also lack people who are able to combine data analysis with the messy reality on the ground.
This is really from an industry outsider so please don’t make life choices based off of this comment but I do encourage you to try and make in roads with Thai business people. There is a big appetite for western knowledge and experience from people who can exist in the Thai world. There is a lot of opportunity that isn’t advertised simply because companies don’t want a revolving foreigner that needs to be coddled with the language and will create cultural issues. I’m a transgender veteran who deals with PTSD and was diagnosed autistic late in life. I get job offers willing to accommodate me after doing gigs or helping out friends. There is definitely opportunities and a desire for westerners here because I definitely don’t receive unsolicited offers WITH accommodations in other countries.
This is relatively new and not how the old timers did it. These potential employers almost unanimously have international education/work experience or children that do. You won’t be the white hero, you will be the much needed diversity hire bringing in foreign experience as an equal to your Thai peers. There will likely be seniors sympathetic to your situation as an immigrant and a good employer will help you gain residency.
Last paragraph makes a lot of great points.
I think you have somewhat made u/RedPanda888 point.
Living overseas is Adulthood 2.0. It requires more effort, more self-reflection, and more responsibility than adulthood back home.
Thailand chews up and spits out thousands of aspiring expats every year.
If logistics jobs require you to speak Thai and pay peanuts, find something else to do.
Like they say in the military, improvise, adapt, overcome.
It sounds like you’re going to have to learn some new skill sets.
You may have to build up a location independent business.
You may even have to go home for a few years, regroup and restratigize, and start here again.
If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way.
I came to Thailand on vacation 20 years ago and even though I had travelled all over Europe and the Americas, this place just hit me. I knew I was going to live here one day.
I spent almost a decade positioning myself financially and skill-wise to be able to move here and live comfortably.
I don’t mean for this to sound like some Boomer telling you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps.
But the cold, hard truth is that it’s not easy.
Living overseas means you’re giving up many of the home field advantages you have back home and there’s no safety net if you fail.
That said, there’s never been an easier time to do it.
I remember when I first came to Thailand, the only internet available in a 4-star hotel was in the business center. LOL.
Nowadays, you can access a plethora of learning opportunities online. You can video chat. You can buy and sell stuff with a few clicks. You can find jobs online.
But it’s pointless for people here to tell you what to do. You have to figure out what works for you.
That said, I would recommend keeping in mind a very simple ideal that has guided my career for over 30 years, you’re only as valuable as the value you provide others.
Get out of the mindset of, I want to learn X so I can get a job Y.
Think, what can I do that increases someone else’s sales, efficiency, profits, happiness, etc.
In today’s worldwide economy, companies are awash in people who have skills.
You can go online and find a programmer in India or Pakistan that will work for peanuts.
Figure out how to add value they can’t.
For instance, maybe you can specialize in logistics software. Build up some clients. Work wherever you want to work.
Nobody can tell you what the right combination of skills will be for you.
And you may even miss the mark at first. But if you keep working at it and keep focused on solving problems for other people, you’ll eventually hit on something that people value.
Like, I’ve known people with jobs like accountants who said, “I can’t move overseas. My job means I have to work in an office.” Then one of them realized, maybe they would specialize in helping expats.
Originally they were trying to solve their own problem. When they started asking how they could solve other people’s problems they got a different answer.
I met a dude who was a plumber and he started making YouTube videos on how to fix common household plumbing problems. He made enough money from that that he started traveling around the world. Then he started making online courses for people that wanted to become plumbers.
If you want to stay in Thailand in the long term then fluent Thai will serve you well, not that you can't make it without it, but it will be much much harder.
I have been here for 20-odd years, moved here in my mid 20s. Did all kinds of odd things until I sat myself down and rekindled my passion for programming, had I sat down and learnt Thai first I would have had more options.
Anyway, it is not so much about how much money you make and more about how much money you spend - and how.
CE MFG guy here; I wouldn’t give up on the logistics gig. It’s a growing job niche that pays well.
It sounds like you’re young enough to get good/near-fluent in Thai in 3-4 yrs. Focus on that and it will open up other avenues.
While you’re doing that start pulling together a list of foreign companies in Thailand. When I briefly lived/worked there I was with Seagate, but there are quite a few. Focus on US, AU, CAN, and UK companies - they’re going to be looking for native English speaker with high Thai language skill (there’s tons of Japanese, Chinese, and a few French and German companies too but they usually want their own countrymen that speak Thai).
The job descriptions will ask for fluent but usually accept conversational as long as you have enough to understand the Thai terms/phrases specific to logistics very well. You don’t need to discuss philosophy in Thai, just the art and details of moving freight.
Stay well-read in Supply Chain developments by following online sites, professional organizations, online and forums/groups. This is crucial so your logistics skills stay reasonably fresh and your Supply Chain chops grow.
You should be in a spot with your Thai where you can start applying to gigs in 2-3 years. Remember: fluent is nice, but conversationally adept in your specific job role is the actual requirement.
That sounds nice, but also quite the gamble.
I also hates logistics in the US. "Everyday is a bad day, and some days are worse" was the general feel of it. Like gymnastics. Always trying to get 100% but it's literally impossible.
Idk maybe other companies/positions are different. I'll have to look more into that.
Yeah. I wouldn't listen to that guy too closely. You are NOT going to walk into a Thai X company with your X skills and get an X job. That's pretty much a fantasy unless you're at the tippy-top of your industry. You aren't a Thai citizen and don't speak Thai, and unless you bring some qualities to the job that nobody in Thailand possesses (and English skills are NOT as uncommon or valuable as people think in the Thai business world), nobody will be interested in you. And if you DO manage to get an X job, you'll be paid a Thai X worker's salary. For almost all expats in Thailand, being a self-employed business owner is the only way to earn Thai Baht.
You're actually at a perfect moment in time (because of the pandemic) to do something I've been doing for 20 years: Find a work-from-home job in the United States. There are more opportunities than ever now. You'll need a U.S. bank account, a U.S. phone number, a U.S. home/tax address, and U.S. citizenship. But if you have all of that, then find out what jobs you can do from your home office, get one of those jobs, make sure it is one you like, and then become a digital nomad... And earn a dollar salary no matter where you are on earth.
How do you have a US phone number and live in Thailand? I've researched some options like Google Voice but they seem unreliable
I have a Skype number. I coincidentally just renewed another year's service today and it cost $38.
> I guess TEFL is a pretty good worst case scenario.
Saw your comments over in the international teachers section. All I suggest is if you don’t like teaching at 45k, then you certainly won’t like it at an international level.
As others have said, chose something you like ( and in demand) but also be realistic how long it will take you
Could you look at some of the large online retailers like Lazada and Shopee and see if your skills fit at those? I am sure they need senior logistics people, however I am unsure exactly what your role might have entailed so correct me if I am wrong!
Agoda, Grab, Lazada, Rabbit, Shopee, LINE, Foodpanda. Plenty to choose from IMO.
Not all super tech focussed in terms of their products but hire for tech roles and business roles. If someone has the right skills and put in applications to all of those I would be surprised if they didn't at least get pretty far in the interview process for at least one of them.
Or just become a monger.
Been here 7 years and am very fortunate to have a high paying position. The reason for that is I work in a field that was very new when I came here resulting in high demand but low supply.
If you want to have a differentiated income you will have to be differentiated yourself. For a career side The primary space in Thailand is tech and there is still a lot of demand for roles in design, dev, product, data. You said that screen work all day won’t fit you so I would rule that out.
Another way to earn a differentiated income is to
become fluent in Thai. Expats that can speak both Thai and English are not the norm. Given you don’t yet know your special sauce I would suggest then developing your Thai to fluency. As you find what you really enjoy, the dual language skill will apply making it a safe bet and ensure you stand out vs. other expats.
Finally, consider the services space. Many expats here don’t speak Thai but they need help. AC repair, home improvement, home service etc. Finding reliable people in this space is super hard as you almost need someone to speak Thai to find people. Even then it is hard. There is an opportunity for real income and if you carve up a space serving expats you can charge more assuming you target the right segment of expats. If you can speak Thai and English you would be able to source local labor at international rates. Get into condo groups for nicer condos and there are ALWAYS expats looking for help here.
Think outside the box, I have been living here for 15 years. I used to work in the Middle East and came here for breaks from the conflict zones. Then I decided to stay here, became a dive instructor, gained some experience and started a small dive shop. By the time Covid hit, my business has grown to two resorts, two bars, diving, snorkling, rock climbing and speed boat tours. This has been all put into mothballs for the time being and wont ever by the same, but the point is I was able to re-invest profits to grow the business here in Thailand
I know foreigners of all ages owning or running loads of different businesses including: food, bars, adventures tours, accommodation, legal / visa / accounting services, agriculture consulting, shared work space cafes, export of good, local distributions networks etc. Not to mention the digital nomads.
Its not always about being and English teacher or working for a corporation in Bangkok, like any country, there are opportunities here, especially around the tourism sector.
Whatever you do, never burn your bridges, and try to have a plan B outside of Thailand.
It's hard to "build a life" on yearly visa extensions with requirements that could change at any time and seem to be moving in the wrong direction for 15+ years. Some people say permanent residence process has become easier, but not many have actually done it.
Thailand is changing rapidly. Many Farang lifestyles which worked well 10-20 years ago are no longer viable. Same applies looking 10-20 years down the line.
100%. You can't build a house on sand and that's what a lot of expats try to do.
I spent my 30s saving up pretty much all of my income. I bought assets in my home country specifically cars. I rent those out to taxi drivers in my home country and split the profits with the person managing the business.
I know this isn't a direct answer to your question but hopefully it helps
That sounds like a good idea!
Do you have income in Thailand as well?
I bought a tattoo shop in phuket but its not been opened yet. So I'll eventually have incomes in both country's.
On the topic of finance there's a great book you should read called 'the richest man in babylon'
Second the book recommendation.
If you enjoyed teaching, you might want to look into working for more elite international schools. They pay quite well.
As an international school teacher, you’re going to need a proper teaching license to work for a reputable one. As an American, you can get a 9 month online license in DC from Teach Now. Without at least a license, you’ll always be in that same boat as the ESL crew.
Can confirm. The best you can do is get a temporary job at an international school as an ESL teacher, usually if they have some kind of summer school for Thai students who want to study in an international school. Other than that you will need proper certification, the MOE is quite strict on that now, or at least it was five years ago when I was still in that scene.
Didn't look for a career. Since I left the West, I left the Western goals and aspirations too. I played music, taught, studied, even did a digital nomad gig for a while. It's a gig economy for the most part. Why go halfway around the world to try and do the same careerist shit you'd do back home? Imho.
Because I like the culture here. I don't mind the career lifestyle. I just hated leaving work and being depressed about where I was and everything around me seemed to be the same old boring shit everyday.
In Thailand it seems like everything is in constant chaos outside, which I like. But I also like to know what job I'll be doing each month and how much money I'll be bringing in.
It depends on what you mean by career.
If you’re talking about working for a Thai company and working your way up the corporate ladder, I would agree.
If you’re talking about doing gig work for 40 years, I would strongly disagree.
Get good at something and learn how to monetize it. Jumping around from skill to skill, wherever the money is easiest is, IMHO, a fool’s errand.
There’s plenty of examples here in Thailand or older geezers that have somehow survived chasing the newest fad. Import/export, eBay, blogs, etc. Most of them are in their sixties and still hustling to make the rent.
I have a lot of friends just like that. Getting older and constantly trying to make a million on the next big thing, but never quite getting there. I admire their entrepreneurial spirit but I’m happy that I took the slow route towards making my mark and being able to build a business slowly till it is what it is today. Though I am a Gen X I have the baby boomer mentality of loyalty to a company and being patient and hard-working to get to a level of success that I was happy with. This attitude seems to be pretty much dead now as people flit from company to company or idea to idea without sticking to something long enough to make it viable. Or refusing to invest in themselves and rather think that it’s the organizations obligation to pay for their professional development. I mean a company should invest in their employees but there is a limit.
Honestly imo go back to america, go back to your old job. Save money, and then retire early here in thailand.
That's what I'm thinking about doing but at this rate... Idk if I'll actually be able to save any money.
You really want to spend the next 25 years in a country you don’t want to be in whilst simultaneously wasting the best years or your life and working a job I assume you don’t enjoy. And yes I have done this :)
You’re only 27 so why not keep going with the teaching, look at jobs that can be done remotely and start learning the necessary skills to get one of those jobs in the future.
There are other options in Asia. School teachers are paid more in places like South Korea and Japan. Thailand has a reputation as being a low paying teacher country - I don't know if that's true or not as I'm not a school teacher but before heading home, look at other countries in Asia first.
Are you an only child? Honestly if you don't have much talent to create a better income, you'll still be happier chilling calmly on 45k (maybe add private tutoring too) until your parents pass and leave you their home to sell. Then you can retire off that.
Personally I wouldn't mind being stuck in Isaan even on 20k a month. Better than working full time back home.
Be creative and have a goal in mind. For instance, living in your parents' basement in the US is looked down upon, but that's easy $24k savings in 2 years.
I've only visited Thailand for 3 week trips every so often. The first time I went, I didn't want to leave. The second time, I was good to be getting back home to my job.
Over the years, my Thai wife and I have visited and we had dreams of going back, but some things have been irritating her and we made some changes.
Now, she's happy in the USA making good money and disappointed with a lot of things with Thailand: pollution, drunk drivers, the excessive use of pesticides, buying something at a store and unable to return it. The list goes on and on. And she likes the cool weather we have in the Puget Sound area.
As time goes on, the less we want to go to Thailand. There's just so much to appreciate here in the USA that isn't really available in Thailand.
I think what happens is people go to Thailand and simply love it (and rationalize) and then start to have a sour outlook on their home country. The ones on YT are jaded and only see negative things about the USA, for instance.
Salary is 45k? My Thai stepdaughter here in the states makes that in a week and a half as a part-time server in the USA. Killer tips. My wife makes good money in a restaurant, way more than 45k.
Yes, there is an allure to Thailand. I miss going to outdoor breakfast in a restaurant, the laid back kind of feeling there. It's one aspect we miss.
We have a Thai flavored life here with wife Thai and can bring Thai food anytime home. We have a Thai Buddhist temple in the area. Plenty of Thai people. We have a blended culture - she's become Americanized and I've been affected the other way.
We will probably move back to Thailand in a few years. Wife wants to work and make her own money (she doesn't have to work). She likes to work!
Some of those fellows on YT living in Thailand - they seem to be scraping by or rely on their spouse for an allowance? Or YT money? I don't think I'd like to scratch by like that without savings and no possible Social Security and Medicare and nothing or next to nothing in savings.
My wife wanted me to stay in Thailand, but convinced her to go to the USA. It was a good decision.
The only thing that troubles us about the USA is healthcare costs and everyone can agree with that.
I have not met any Thai people who want to return to Thailand to live. Maybe in retirement.
If you learn Thai that will open many doors…also for foreigners doing business in Thailand having a US citizen that speaks Thai on payroll is valuable. So might as well start now if you really want to stay.
If you enjoyed ESL, getting a teaching license and trying for an international school position seems like a logical step.
I wouldn’t personally advise you to move here in the business world unless you already have demonstrated expertise and management experience under your belt.
20 - 30 Years ago, most of the people I knew living in Thailand were real expats, working in Thailand/Malaysia for European companies like Philips or Siemens. Or working in Asia, but they used Malaysia or Thailand as a hub.
(At that time, I received a job offer in Malaysia from a large chip-producing company, now doesn't exist anymore).
This was the time before the Alibaba's and Amazons in the world, and I knew people who bought cheap products in Thailand and shipped them to Europe. Some persons were specialized in silk as raw material or clothing.
Some persons bought gold in Thailand and sold it in Switzerland.
Today, they are all out of business.
The most steady group are people who live from expats, from the same home country. They specialized in restaurants in combination with hotels/resorts specific to their country.
Like Belgian/German/Dutch/Swedish specialized restaurants.
To be clear, 99% of the new start-ups never be successful; they all went bankrupt.
I was shocked to see that now, in Pattaya, some of these businesses are closed because of the covid restrictions.
(Deutsche Haus, Brauhaus, Retox Game On, Holland Belgium House now only open for take-away, and so on)
Or Beergarden, but that is more, "pride comes before a fall".
(Kicked Bitcoin users out because they suddenly became BCH only. Never forget the people who helped you made your name)
The second steady group is people who created criminal money in Europe and flee to Asia to enjoy the money. Most of them, after some decades, choose to go back to Europe.
This reply has a ring of truth and realism to it that many of the responses lack. I think this is the long view perspective on what has actually proven stable for people trying to live here over many years.
I do believe that (1) there are stable job opportunities in companies for people with truly bilingual fluency, and (2) there are entrepreneurial opportunities (that don't just become failed ventures / money pits, like trying to open yet another crappy cafe or bar in an oversaturated niche) for people who are already somewhat affluent and propertied (e.g. able to meet BOI capitalization requirements).
I don't believe there are many rooted expats because both of these groups are small/rare and the groups you described as steady ( (3)motherland niche-targeted venues with a ready base of expat patrons, and (4) shady wealth from Europe) are likewise not that common, in comparison with the amounts of nomads who want to settle down here but don't have any realistic pathway for doing so sustainably.
The category of (5) well-paid international school teachers is the other significant one, in terms of expats who can successfully build a decent life here, but they also seem somewhat uncommon, probably because as I understand it, the experience and certification requirements are actually quite demanding (i.e. requiring a long term investment of time and money, not something that can be achieved in a few months).
Other than those five categories, there is also the rare situation of (6) a good international company transferring someone from their Western offices to work in the overseas HQ. But that is something that cannot really be planned for as a goal IMO, it's largely going to come down to a lottery draw in one's native job market.
Of those six total categories, I'd say only 1, 2, and 4 are really that stable in terms of not leaving you too much at the mercy of an employer's graces lest you lose your residence status (via loss of work permit) or end up running out of money at some point as the legal and job market circumstances here may change. The Thai government doesn't make it easy to have stability here given that anyone who can qualify for permanent residence probably doesn't even need it to be stable. Which means it really boils down to two options being the most secure: either already be rich from money that didn't come from within the Thai economy, or become fluent in Thai. This shouldn't surprise anyone. Then the second-most secure option is specialize in teaching English as a serious career path with native country degree(s) and experience before coming to Thailand, and/or some remote-friendly skill at a high level such as programming (also very hard to acquire/achieve, if talking about a skill level that is high enough to be in strong demand and not too vulnerable to being left behind over coming years).
This is just my two cents after having spent time in Thailand on and off, and given serious thought to this problem of how I'd build a life here. The solution that I ended up choosing is a combination of acquiring fintech-related coding skills, digital marketing management skills, and marrying someone whose own work can be complemented well by my marketing skillset as a further fallback.
I would say internet marketing. I’ve been doing it for 7 years now making a good living from it. It’s not an easy job though. It’ll take lots of time, discipline, research, some Investments to set up sites etc. Send me a message if you’re interested and I’ll tell you where to get started, no strings attached, for free.
Moved here in 92. With my Thai partner. We both saved up and were quite frugal for ten years. We also continued our schooling throughout. About 15 years in we saw a business niche and started our own company and another ten years later we are quite successful. Not living on yacht successful but heading towards comfortable retirement successful.
You are right, find the area you like and train up. We both have PhDs and that upped our status as well as knowledge in the field we are focusing in.
May I ask what field you work in & what your phD is in?
Oh my PhD is in organization development focusing on effects that coaching has on professional and personal relationships between team leaders and the team members.
Manager and leadership development. Really focusing on developing coaching skills in leaders to be better. Also training programs for those looking to be certified coaches. Also coaching services. We also partner with professional trainers who do not have the marketing and promotional capacity we have to sell their programs. We also work with a couple prominent universities here collaborating on programs and do tons of csr and outreach in thailand (we dedicate about 25-30% of our time to these endeavors).
Wow and i got a downvote on my last post. Weird people here. Probably jealous. Whoever downvoted me, its ok, maybe you should think more positively.
I upvoted you :)
I think you were downvoted because of your other posting history. I vote based on the actual post, not the poster, and this post was just fine.
I upvoted as well.
Thanks. Yeah i get heated. Trying to calm myself down.
I have a quick question about the university system in Thailand. How feasible is it for a foreigner to get a job as a professor in Thailand? Do you know what the salaries are like? Are there expectations of publishing?
I would love to be able to work remotely in IT in Thailand, but I think this is still a few years out before it becomes more accepted at large companies. Covid has opened a lot of remote working potential.
My ideal would be to split time between our house in the US and our house in Udon Thani. I want a job that supports that and a process to make visas allowing for it to be easy as well.
This might change soon though if the news are to be believed.
Your current problem is that your visa is tied to a job that doesn't pay enough, so you're stuck in a situation where you are where you want to be but won't be able to afford to retire long term.
You need to network like crazy, sell yourself, find an opportunity where upward movement is possible and stick to it. Those jobs are out there, but you need to find them - not the other way around.
As you already have some skills in teaching you could look to leverage that into online work of some desecription either freelancing or building an online business. Remote Instructional designers (course and curriculum design, content writing, scripting, assessment creation amongst many other things) are in very high demand at the moment as are elearning developers and designers. There are many of these opportunties in language focussed businesses but no reason to focus on that small subset if you don;t want to. This is also something you could dip into in your spare time and easily make the equivalent of your Thai salary in 15 to 20 hours per week over a month.
I went there as an offshore oil worker and stayed as an offshore oil worker, but I’ll probably retire in the USA once I quit working.
Do a year in teaching Saudi whilst living e cheaply. Learn to daytrade in the evenings. Come back to Thailand a digital nomad.
Just one path.
If you're presently making B 45k working for somebody else, you could probably at least double that by getting the teaching contracts yourself. That's what I did with a buddy of mine for a couple years before returning to the States to go to grad school 20 or so years ago. It also doesn't hurt to have rich Thai friends who can give or refer you to business. The other teachers I knew that had the best situation were those that were teaching at universities, mostly in Bangkok, but some up-country (where the pay mostly sucks).
Be friendly and entrepreneurial, and you can build something, no doubt.
Oh, and it should go without saying, but LEARN TO SPEAK (and read, maybe even write) THAI!!
I think your last sentence is the most important one that the original poster should pay attention to.
That kinda sums it up, I think.
I took a significant package in the tech industry, invested that which provides 100k baht/m, my wife works in Thailand as well in tech making near western wages - we also breed mini Labradoodle pups which makes about $80k baht/ month after expenses and is more a hobby we enjoy - Iam in my 40’s we have 3 kids so that takes up the rest of our time usually family stuff….a lot of ppl here just survive and have no plan etc I’ve had to stop socializing with many because it was just a huge time drag of complaints and whining
Right, i had to make a whole new set of friends who were future focused rather than whinging about what they don’t have.
Wow that sounds like you got an amazing opportunity! Nice!
Running a puppy mill isn't impressive.
Neither is judging someone when you know nothing about their business.
This is exactly the bitter jadedness you will find often in Thailand from a few
Can u send me info on your labradoodles?
How is this downvoted, it proves the point the guys sideline is profitable! 555
Qualified teachers average 100,000 a month pretty easy. They get 3 months of paid vacation. They work easy hours often going home around 3:30 or so. The course schedules are light and many really enjoy teaching their subject area. Many successful expat go this path.
The salary is about right, though many international schools still only start around 80,000. But I left my position as headmaster making around 275,000 a month. That was a full-time job though, from 7 AM till five or 6 PM, plus fielding all kinds of issues 24 seven. Taxes ate an awful lot of that though.
It also depends on which international school you get into. The top tier ones which will require a lot of experience and credentials, very good if you have training in AP courses or you know the baccalaureate system and have worked in that, you can get many inroads to great schools. But expect to have a work load of around 25 to 30 hours a week plus having to offer a clubs, I’ll be on committees, etc. It is a full-time job at a real international school. The lesser international schools, well it depends. In some you can have a work load that’s around 20 periods a week but that’s quite rare.
I have it from a couple friends who are still in the international school biz that there is going to be quite an exodus in the next year or so of teachers from international schools. So if you want to go this route, you should certificate yourself up while you can, and start going to recruitment fairs once you are a certified educator.
Why do you feel there will be many teachers leaving Thailand?
I don’t really know. But a friend of mine who is still deep in international school business here in Thailand has heard that this is going to be a trend in the next year or two.
I feel that that any potential shortage will be offset by a mass exodus from China, creating a glut. Vietnam is also slowing down as well creating a lot of teachers looking for jobs.
Yeah he mentioned China as well.
Exactly. With time and dedication you can certainly earn a good salary here, it’s not just a dead end job at 45k like OP describes nor a worse case scenario.
OP - u/SlappySpankBank I would suggest building qualifications and experience in the career that interests you (and is in demand here) it’s going to take time but eventually you might be able to build a life here.
At your age and if you find teaching satisfying, I'd sacrifice a few years and get a Masters in an Education specialty.
I have had a friend in Thailand for almost 20 years who has a Masters in Science Education.
He taught at the top Bangkok international schools never making less than 100K/mo., usually a lot more than that. About 6 years ago, he started teaching internationally; Hong Kong, Jamaica, Uganda...at each location receiving top pay and perks such as housing.
Not a bad way to live.
You might want to take a look into affiliate marketing, coding or other online jobs in general. Making 2-3 K is not too hard to achieve with discipline. It takes about one year of hard studying to get there , but It will be worth it and open a whole new world of opportunities for u.
Yes, this, and Thailand is the worldwide hub for that, actually.
Chiang Mai and seemingly Koh Samui as well.
If you enjoy teaching, work hard and get yourself a pgcei or masters you can graft your way into teaching jobs paying 90k plus. I started in esl here and 8 years later I’m at an international school.
You need to hang out in the right circles. The most important thing here is who you know, because that creates opportunity. If you hang out with other ESL teachers who earn 45k, then that's probably where you'll stay. Not that there is anything wrong with that if you're happy. But I moved here at 22, now 32, and I've met many many other young lads who moved at a similar age, and we've all gone and set up our own business's or work for big multinationals or work in finance or whatever. And I'd say its that network of high achievers that motivates you to be better but also provides opportunity as we have collaborated on business's or helped each other find a great job when someone is looking etc.
So aim high with who you hang out with and you'll be amazed at what comes from it long term. Good luck
Invest in your education, study for a PGCE and you will double your salary within a year. Then, start looking for opportunities to get in at an international school at the bottom level and work your way up the ladder.
Or go in another direction and invest in your education in another area. If you want to have a comfortable life here you need to invest in yourself and make yourself aa valuable as possible.
Don’t do it. Thailand is a third world country with no prospect of developing into anything better, as South Korea has done. I can get not wanting to go back to America, but choose a different country. Europe is more established, or you could choose somewhere that is on a growth trajectory like Vietnam.
If you can do a living online in your home country then you can do the same in Thailand. The internet made expatriation so much easier for those who have the skills. There is probably opportunities in Thailand but being a foreigner put you at a disadvantage and the pay is probably less than your home country. I bought Bitcoin early and went on a world tour. Landed in Thailand by accident and never went back home.
Find something you like and follow through you're still young. The options are endless. Now that crypto currency is getting bigger and bigger I would take that route or open my own business. I'm guessing you live in Bangkok since your salary is 45K?
I worked remotely when I lived there and plan on doing so again when I move back. I do want to open a little bar on one of the islands someday, though.
Find a teaching job that pays ok. 60k is out there, I'm on 70k no teacher cert. They are out there. Get a side hassle that brings in 10 to 20k a month, do some online teaching for another 10 to 20k. Then your at 100k. If you find an educated wife, ideally a dr, computer, management or family business, then u are living the dream.
I gave up on the dream when I found out most expats jump out of buildings. When you want for nothing life gets more more difficult, not easier.
A little dark but in all my travels it is what I found. I still might consider one day but for not for now.
The idea that most expats jump is ridiculous.
It sure is. Everyone knows that in fact, most expats OD on heroin and alcohol.
I'm kidding of course. I'm sure the lives of most (98% of?) expats go on without excessive drama, suicide, or other heavy shit. But when the occasional guy does jump, that image is horrible and is the one that makes the biggest impression, creating the myth.
Sure, my comment was a bit dramatic and overblown but that said -- anyone seriously considering a move to Thailand indefinitely: it better be for the right reason and you better be mentally sound. Scorned lovers, empty bank accounts, ya ba, hangings, suicide notes, desperation, depression, alcoholism and many, many people falling off balconies is not uncommon in our beautiful land of smiles for unsuspecting farang.
Downvote me all you like but if you are moving there for your thai girlfriend you met at a bar, and you do not have a remote job and/or endless supply of bahts -- you will be in serious trouble in a couple years.
Don't get me wrong -- it is the most beautiful country on earth, and the people moreso but make sure you have a plan and a clear mind before considering the move.
Most expats? Probably far under 1%.
> when I found out most expats ~~jump~~ *get pushed* out of buildings
Many of those guys were selling drugs (cocaine) in the past, made some money and can still live from the savings or investments. Some do money laundering and things like that ....
In your field, I would say get qualified and aim for the international schools. The only issue would mean most likely heading home to study/gain experience before coming back - I understand many people are not in the position to be able to do that.
Been here 4yrs so far at an international school, best move I ever made.
That's also one of my plans. I only have a BA in Comm though. I have an interview with my University to go over options in a few weeks.
Your degree should relate to the subject you are teaching, especially for the top tier schools. Probably should look at doing a degree related to education if you really serious about going through the education route. Do it now and within 5-10 years you can work the decent schools here. For reference, I am at a second tier international school, have a degree in TEFL working one of the STEM subjects.
Edit: to avoid confusion, I also have a masters related to one of the STEM fields
Pretty much everything you said in this post is contradicting itself haha
From what I've been told an MA and 2 years teaching experience in the US is enough to get into really nice schools. Especially here in SEA where demand is lower than say, Europe.
I have just seen a position filled for a science teacher in a international school. The guy has a degree in zoology, was a marine biologist for over 10+ years and was a lecturer for universities at present. If you think having just 2 years experience and a unrelated degree is going to get into really nice schools then that really isn’t the case, but fine. You know better.
By the way, demand here *is* high. Even at my tier 2 school they wanted at-least 5 years of prier exp so don’t believe everything you read on Reddit.
Bro you just said you teach STEAM with a TEFL degree....
It’s STEM. And yes, the school curriculum is based on it. So instead of jumping to conclusions you can PM if you are interested as I also have a masters in one of the fields.