Expat Life, Not for Everyone ...

My attitude toward events and life in Thailand can run opposed to those who predict doom and gloom or wear rose colored glasses.  Perhaps I have been desensitized and become excessively blasé over the years.  That said, one does need to take a good long look at things, before choosing to become an Expat.  Of course I can only speak to my personal experience in Thailand.  For some the risks are mitigated by the fact that an organization, corporation, government or God is paying the bills.  Being hired from overseas, on a good expat package leaves you with little financial risk.  If you are trying to make it entirely on your own, you are in for a very steep learning curve, however.  You had best be very, very good at something, that there is a market for, and have massive people skills.  You will need contacts and help from the right people.  Pretty much everything I have done in Thailand was handed to me by people who liked me or needed me.  I certainly didn’t go around knocking on doors and asking for things.  One skilled friend of mine did put out feelers early on, but it took a year or two, before people locally, started to take him seriously and offer him assignments.  His skill and patience won out in the end but that is hardly the norm.

Young, single, unencumbered, polite and highly skilled or perhaps old and retired with adequate money, are workable scenarios.  If you marry into the wrong Thai social class you had best be retired with money as it will make things more difficult with the people you will need to socialize and associate with in the working world.   Children, or perhaps a western wife, will add a whole new set of challenges, that I thankfully have not had any experience with.  Education, healthcare and a myriad of western expectations will likely not be filled in exactly the way one might wish for.  As a youthful adventurer, teaching can help to pay some bills and open doors to learning about real people in your country of choice.  Even as a retiree, a little teaching can provide great social rewards and recognition among the locals.  Of course you won’t be held in as high esteem, by many of your expat compatriots. 

Like me, some become lifelong expats and manage to somehow survive and sometimes even thrive.  For others it is just an interlude that enriches their lives with vivid memories and vital life experiences.  Now we get to the poor souls who should never leave their native lands.  The bigoted and intolerant are better off being unhappy at home and not inflicting themselves on another nation of people.  Those who are week willed, lacking in self-discipline, or possess an addictive personality could easily find themselves on a very slippery slope toward a nightmare scenario.  Without a social safety net and no one looking out for ones best interests, many a life has been waisted in the notorious bars and nightlife of Bangkok and Pattaya.  Families have been shattered and fortunes lost as people have fled the safe predictability of life at home and sought out adventure or love in a far off land.

There are of course risks in life regardless of where one resides.  Those risks are not the same for everyone, however.  While some fear for their safety, security or comfort, others have no greater fear, than living a normal and predictable life within the confines of what is expected.  There is no right or wrong about it.  With no sure things, sometimes you just have to go for it.  If it doesn’t workout, have faith in your own ability to persevere.  Much easier done without debts or responsibilities, of course.