LIVE A MIDDLE-CLASS LIFE IN THAILAND
27 Pages
English
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LIVE A MIDDLE-CLASS LIFE IN THAILAND

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27 Pages
English

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LIVE A MIDDLE-CLASS LIFE IN THAILAND Manual for a New Life MAKING A BUDGET p.3 ACCOMMODATION p.8 TRANSPORTATION p.15 MAKING THE MOVE p.20 FURTHER READING p.25 Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 2 BUDGETING FOR LIFE IN THAILAND Getting You Settled Two Social Security Budgets I turned to an expert on Thailand budgeting, Nancy Lindley, for this report. She has years of bookkeeping experience and both makes personal budgets and also keeps to them – and keeps careful note of unexpected expenses. Significantly, Nancy has a second calling: she cares for expatriates who fall on hard times. She visits them in hospital, contacts their relatives, talks to the consulate and spends countless hours repatriating very sick people who cannot afford long-term or major medical care in Thailand and must go home for treatment. She has seen a side of expatriate life that few of us even think about, so my budgeting conversations with her are always sobering. I asked Nancy to draw up two budgets, one for half the average Social Security check and one for twice the average, and to comment on each. I’ve added my own comments after hers. Both budgets are for Chiang Mai. For Bangkok add 15%; for the countryside subtract 15%. E-mail me, godfree@thailandretirementhelpers.com if you have questions.

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Published 14 May 2015
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LIVE A MIDDLE-CLASS
LIFE IN THAILAND
Manual for a New LifeMAKING A BUDGET p.3
ACCOMMODATION p.8
TRANSPORTATION p.15
MAKING THE MOVE p.20
FURTHER READING p.25
Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 2 BUDGETING FOR LIFE IN THAILAND
Getting You Settled

Two Social Security Budgets
I turned to an expert on Thailand budgeting, Nancy Lindley, for this report. She
has years of bookkeeping experience and both makes personal budgets and
also keeps to them – and keeps careful note of unexpected expenses.
Significantly, Nancy has a second calling: she cares for expatriates who fall on
hard times. She visits them in hospital, contacts their relatives, talks to the
consulate and spends countless hours repatriating very sick people who
cannot afford long-term or major medical care in Thailand and must go home
for treatment. She has seen a side of expatriate life that few of us even think
about, so my budgeting conversations with her are always sobering.

I asked Nancy to draw up two budgets, one for half the average Social Security
check and one for twice the average, and to comment on each. I’ve added my
own comments after hers. Both budgets are for Chiang Mai. For Bangkok add
15%; for the countryside subtract 15%.
E-mail me, godfree@thailandretirementhelpers.com if you have questions.
Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 3 $600/Month Budget
CATEGORY US $ EXPLANATION
RENT 80 12 months lease agreement
UTILITIES 30 Electric, TV, water

INTERNET 20 1 hr./day @ Internet cafe

TRANSPORTATION 20 1 Songthaew ride/day

FOOD 200 Requires careful nutrition selection

PERSONAL CARE 30 Toiletries, hair cuts, etc.


ENTERTAINMENT 30 Nice meal, movie, day trip

MISCELLANEOUS 100 Visa, phone, laundry

TOTAL $510 (I did this for 12 months)

Nancy’s Comments on the $600 Budget
“I've seen single people lead nice, pleasant lives on this budget. Here’s how they do it:
− They have a fan (no a/c) room on the lower, east side (cooler) floor in the old city,
− They walk or bicycle just about everywhere,
− They use the AUA library for books,
− They breakfast at the Pub where they watch American, Australian and British sports.
− They take Thai lessons at a wat (temple), etc.
− There’s no room for a steady girlfriend or regular beer-drinking habit.
− You must have savings/insurance for medical costs which are not reflected in this budget.
− I've known several guys who have a pension of 30,000 - 40,000 baht/month who live on a 15,000
baht budget and save the rest for medical emergencies and to build a bank account to justify a
retirement visa. This takes discipline, which disappears if they acquire a Thai girlfriend who learns
about the existence of a savings account!”

Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 4 $2,400/Month Budget
CATEGORY US $ EXPLANATION

UTILITIES $100 Covers A/C on hottest days

INTERNET 40 Cable Internet

LAUNDRY, MAID 85 Weekly Maid Service

TRANSPORT 100 Songthaew or rent scooter

FOOD, DINING 500 Some wine, beer

PERSONAL CARE 100 Monthly Manicure/Massage

ENTERTAINMENT 200 Nice weekly meals/movies

INSURANCE-MEDICAL 300 Out-of-pocket medical

VISA 170 Renewals, extensions by lawyer

PHONE TIME 50 Calls in Thailand are cheap

RENT 500 Rental for a nice house

MAJOR TRAVEL 200 Or big ticket purchases

TOTAL $2,345


Nancy’s Comments on the $2,400 Budget
There is much more room to play with this budget. In it I assume:
− The couple is renting a condo in town.
− Housing is cheaper further out but transportation costs are higher–making a car a necessity.
− No sane retiree is going to rely solely on a motor scooter [see the note below].
− The couple is fairly healthy,
− They eat local cuisine. They don't have to eat expensive imported food for every meal.
− Drinks wine/beer very moderately [wine here is imported and expensive]
Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 5 My Observations and Nancy’s Responses
− I lived on $1240/mo. during my first year in Thailand. I made lots of mistakes and wasted lots of
money but, after 6 months, found I could live quite comfortably on $600. For example,
− I rented a long-term studio in town for $80/mo. [see photo below] Utilities added $10.
− My long-term scooter rental, $100/mo. includes registration and insurance, servicing, new tires as
needed, and a new scooter every 12 months. I’ve had no scooter problems. But see Nancy’s
observations about scooter danger, below.
− I stay within the $200 food budget and have never eaten a better diet in my life.
− All my regular medical and dental expenses are out-of-pocket because I’m over 70. Thai health
care is excellent and cheap. I just paid $600 for a root canal and crown.
− Toiletries are cheap. An organic skin cream costs $4 a good haircut $7.
− ‘Entertainment’ is up to you. I like wandering around observing Thai culture.
− The Internet provides plenty of information and entertainment, and I went to the pub to watch
major sporting events since I don’t like having TV at home.
− Cel phones are cheap; overseas calls are not. Skype or use Google Hangouts to call home.
− Nancy is not kidding about Thai girls and savings accounts. They’re not mercenary, it’s just part of
Thai culture. You are a rich farang whether you think so or not.
− There are decent restaurants where you can have three bottles of ice-cold beer served at your
table for a total of $5.33, and good meals for $3
− You’ll notice the absence of a clothing budget. Clothes are so cheap here and you wear so few of
them – shorts, tee-shirt, flip flops – that it’s not an issue.

Scooter Danger
When I shared my observations about scooters with Nancy her response was, as usual, grounded in a
reality that I’ve never experienced. Here’s what she said: I stand by my original observation the elderly
shouldn't use motor scooters. It isn't a matter of "if" they'll have an accident, but rather "when" and
"how bad". Just come with me to the orthopedic wards at Suan Dok hospital to see what a motor
scooter accident can do. These aren't the guys with the head injuries – they're in another part of the
hospital.

See my web page on scooter dangers in Thailand.



Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 6
Accommodation
Studio rents in the building in the photo (left) start at
$80/month for a 12 months lease agreement.

It’s within walking or biking distance – 5 km/3 miles – of
downtown and close to local stores. It’s clean, well-run, and
in a quiet cul de sac. The tenants are mostly Thai, with a
sprinkling of farangs, and they’re a nice group of people.

Places like this abound throughout Thailand and they’re
perfect for someone who, say, wants to establish a business
here and spend as little as possible on necessities while
doing so.

The new moobaan in the photo at right is on a quiet, leafy,
hillside lane above the university.

It has 24-hour gated security, a/c, off-street parking. One
bedroom, study, living room, big bathroom, wide balcony.
Free broadband Internet: $240/mo. It’s 5 km, or 3 miles from
downtown. Songthaew fare to downtown is 70¢ each way.


Food and Entertainment

I spend afternoons here, with 20 acres of Asian botanical
marvels, a 50-meter salt water pool, poolside bar and
restaurant. $3 for the pool and a towel, $2 for a baby
coconut served chilled, and $4 for a bowl of baked rice,
Chinese sausage, fresh pineapple, raisins, and cashews. A
large bottle of beer, served over ice, is $3.




Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 7










MAKING A BUDGET p.3


ACCOMMODATION p.8



TRANSPORTATION p.15



MAKING THE MOVE p.20
FURTHER READING p.25
Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 8





















ACCOMMODATION IN THAILAND
What it Costs and Where to Live




Have you ever fallen in love with a place – say, Geneva – then
found the cost of accommodation put it out of reach? In Thailand
good accommodation is so cheap you’ll chuckle. Whether renting
or buying, a little homework will find a place that really suits you
and your wallet. For example, my friend lives in a traditional Thai
houses –constructed entirely of hand-carved teak and rose-
wood – with a lawn, garage, 3 bedrooms and servant's quarters.
It’s on a quiet side street 5 minutes’ walk from the university
campus. His rent? 10,000 Baht ($340)/month.
Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 9 Buying Vs. Renting
Modern condos like mine are constructed of reinforced concrete and tile. (Thais love tile). They're sturdy,
cool, airy (3 meter ceilings are standard), and clean. Electricity works – except during the spectacular
electric storms accompanied by equally spectacular amounts of rain and deafening claps of thunder – as
does the plumbing, the traffic lights, road-cleaners, and everything else that we take for granted and which
are often absent or unreliable in emerging economies. There is a fly in the ointment, however. Like many
countries Thailand allows only Thais to own land. There are three ways to address this:
− Marry a Thai and buy in their name. This will make them the owner but you can have what lawyers
call ‘usufruct’, or use for life.
− Become a Thai citizen. This is a slow process and requires you to know Thai fluently and
contribute to the wellbeing of Thailand.
− Buy a condo. Half the condos in Thailand, including all the new ones, are exempt from the
Thaiownership rule and prices start at $10,000. Yes, ten thousand dollars: you can get a pre-owned
studio in a large, picturesque town like Chiang Rai for ten thousand smackers.

But despite the tempting prices I recommend waiting at least a year before buying property in Thailand.
Renting is cheap and gives you time to investigate neighborhoods thoroughly.

To give you an example of why I recommend renting: my apartment is in the moo baan (see below) in the
picture on the right. It's on a quiet hillside street overlooking the university. It’s brand new, air-conditioned,
with a huge, white-tiled bathroom (see bathroom warning below), a study, bedroom, large living room,
cable Internet, international TV, a broad balcony, and 24-hour security staff who will send out for pizza for
you or arrange an early taxi to take you to the airport. My rent is $240/mo. Whatever problems you might
experience living in Thailand, accommodation cost and quality will not be among them.






Where I swim everyday A Traditional House My Moobaan
Click Here to Subscribe to Life in Thailand Newsletter | 10