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  • The Good Old Days

    ...when beer was cheap, the women cheaper and the rent a piffle...now, however:

    Thailand's foreign retirees see their good life slip away
    https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Thai...life-slip-away

    Surging baht and new rules dull the country's allure for budget-minded expats
    GEORGE STYLLIS, Contributing writer MARCH 05, 2020 14:31 JST


    Pattaya has been popular with foreign expats and tourists since American servicemen flocked there during the Vietnam War. (Photo by George Styllis)

    PATTAYA, Thailand -- From the mountains of Chiang Mai to the beaches of Phuket, Thailand has long been a draw for foreign retirees wishing to spend their golden years in tropical bliss. But for the many who have enjoyed paradise on the cheap, their dreams are ebbing away as the country opens up to a wealthier class of retirees.

    The Thai baht rose to a six-year high against the dollar last year to become one of the world's most stable currencies. Though it has depreciated in the past two months, it is still significantly stronger compared to three or four years ago. Seen as a safe bet amid the U.S.-China trade war, the baht has caused visitor numbers to drop and hotel occupancy rates to halve.


    But for those living here on fixed savings or pensions, the baht's strength has decimated their income. British expats have lost about 30% of their purchasing power following the pound's plummet in the wake of Brexit.


    The financial squeeze comes amid changes to visa rules for retirees. As of February last year, foreigners must have a security deposit of 800,000 baht ($25,364) in a Thai bank account for two months prior to application or a monthly income of 65,000 baht; or a combination of the two totaling 800,000 baht.

    Applicants must now also have health insurance. For someone aged 75, for example, that is a "big problem" as the premium could be as much as 100,000 baht per month, said Sebastian Brousseau, CEO of Isaan Lawyers.


    The stringent regulations have caught many elderly expats used to a free and easy lifestyle off guard, with many fearing for their future. Here in Pattaya, a coastal city with a big retired community, the sense of desperation is palpable.

    "Life in Pattaya has been getting worse for people ever since the economic crisis and since a few years ago," said Leng Leng, who runs Mercy Pattaya, a local Christian charity.
    Two men watch the world go by in Pattaya, a coastal resort with a big foreign community that is being squeezed by a strong baht and new visa rules. (Photo by George Styllis)

    Pattaya has been a haven for expats ever since American servicemen flocked here for sun and sleaze during the Vietnam War, turning a sleepy fishing village into Asia's sin city.

    Gerry, a U.S. Navy veteran who declined to give his last name, first visited back then and has stayed ever since. At 83, alone and estranged from his family, Gerry has built his life here. But barely able to cover his living costs, let alone the deposit he now needs for a visa, he feels trapped, having been "out of the U.S. system" for more than 30 years.

    "I'm too old and too scared to go anywhere else," he said.

    Gerry does not own property here, but for those who do, a downturn in the real estate market has dashed their chances of a quick sell.

    Demand for properties has waned since last year as many expats, disgruntled with Thailand's tightening immigration system, have moved to other parts of Asia, while China has imposed new controls to curb capital flight, said Jean Charles, the founder of TwoFlat Real Estate. The situation has intensified Thailand's glut, which is set to worsen with arrival numbers decimated by the new coronavirus.

    Yet amid this turmoil, the country has been unflinching in its bid to capitalize on the world's aging populations, promoting Thailand, with its sunny weather and affordable health care, as a place to age with dignity.


    Thailand issued almost 80,000 retirement visas in 2018, an increase of 30% from 2014, with Britons accounting for the bulk.

    Research by Kasikornthai Bank estimated that in 2016, there were 68,300 foreigners over 50 years old holding long-stay visas, a 9% increase over the preceding two years.

    The market's niche but lucrative potential is prompting huge investment from health care operators.

    The Thonburi Healthcare Group launched Jin Well-being County in 2018, a 3.7-billion baht retirement city complete with a hospital and apartments aimed at wealthy Thais and Asians. The group plans to build a 43-hectare facility in Krabi targeting largely Westerners in the coming years, said Jin Well-being manager Ken Chen.
    "It'll be more like a five-star hotel," said Chen.

    At 99,000 baht per sq. meter, Jin Well-being's apartments are not cheap, but for foreigners they could help bypass some of the stringent retirement visa rules, said Chen.


    Bolstering this bid for wealthy retirees, the government has been successfully promoting an elite visa scheme, with options for five-, 10- and 20-year visas ranging from 500,000 baht to 2 million baht.



    Applications among retirees jumped on average 34% between 2016 and 2019 amid record growth, after citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners Group was appointed as exclusive global concessionaire for the program.

    By avoiding the need for annual renewal, the elite visas offer "longer-term certainty" for those wishing to live or invest here, along with other "bells and whistles," said Dominic Volek, Henley's Head of Southeast Asia.

    The bid to lure wealthier individuals has made many here feel they are being squeezed out, said Darren Low, owner of The Sportsman pub in Pattaya.

    Yet Low is hopeful that with Thai economic growth dropping to a five-year low last year and tourist arrivals forecast to drop as much as 50%, the government might look to expats to buffer the economic impact.


    A positive sign came earlier this year when the government quietly dropped a revived immigration law that drew heavy criticism, days after China announced a ban on overseas tours to contain the coronavirus.


    Meanwhile, relief from the baht is expected after it softened at the start of the year, following the central bank's announcement that it will relax rules on capital outflows to weaken the currency.


    Yet Low has noticed many around him have already abandoned themselves to despair, drinking heavily as their once-rosy vision of Thailand turns bleak.


    "People are just deteriorating," said Low.

    Even if the government does throw them a lifeline, it may be too late. "It probably already is," he said.


    Last edited by harrymsmarkle; 03-06-2020, 03:52 PM.

  • #2
    The good old days.
    Of course.



    Dependent on what one considers to be the era of good old days.
    Certainly not gonna get a true perspective from Generations Haven't A Clue crowd, who consider the 1990s to be nostalgic.

    Comment


    • #3
      The good old days of Pattaya fizzled out around 2006

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Arthur Daley View Post
        The good old days of Pattaya fizzled out around 2006
        Oh dear...

        Damn Xers and Millennials.
        Not even close to retaining any such knowledgeable presence.

        ....and they go on to pretend they created most everything.

        Comment


        • #5
          ...for many, the good old days are now...

          Comment


          • #6
            Pattaya has changed, enormously. If you're a real old timer, the good old days was RnR and a few years beyond that. Then, Walking St was pretty much the only game in town, and the usual sprinkle of basic restaurants. Second Rd was a dirt track where poor Thai people lived, there was no 3rd Rd. I could have visited for a few days partying, but doubt I would have wanted to live there. When I first visited (1995), you then had the Pattayalands, the Marriot, Naklua and Jomtien were starting to get lively. That was just the beginning. I'm sure there were even a few back then, bemoaning the "good old days" too!

            Now, Pattaya has a city skyline, everything from budget guesthouses to 5 star hotels, fine dining, modern shopping malls, world class golfing, and sprawls from Naklua in the north to Jomtien in the south, and of course the Darkside to the east. Walking St, pfft- that's for tourists. Loads of expats live there, call it home. It has also become much more multicultural. Now that sort of place I could live, and obviously did. Oh, and the traffic has got much worse too- of course. It's a city.

            The old boys are mainly moaning about price, but also displacement in a cultural sense. Their currency has gone down precipitously, and prices in Thailand have gone up too. They used to think they were king of the walk, these builders from Barnsley, now they are conspicuously outspent by middle class Thai down for the weekend, and diluted by ample numbers of Indian, ME, Chinese & Russian tourists. But before that, they were moaning about the influx of Germans & Skandi's to Naklua & Jomtien. Now plenty of Germans are moaning too, about more recent influxes! They used to believe Pattaya was just for them- but it never actually was. That was a passing phase.

            Of course, there are still plenty of facilities for the old boys (like this one)- more than ample actually. Perhaps they have to tighten their belts a bit, but that is hardly Thailand's fault. Pattaya is actually quite a friendly place to be on a budget. So you can't walk in and feel like you own the joint- hey, that's your problem amigo. You dont.
            Last edited by sabang; 03-07-2020, 06:12 AM.

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            • #7
              1969-1975...

              Comment


              • #8
                It is also true that Pattaya doesn't reflect the entire expat retiree experience in Thailand. While some may live in hovel-like (though elevated) shipping containers, others have chosen urban and suburban condos, houses in moobans, and more isolated but still comfortable arrangements in various local backwaters. Many foreigners arrive with the necessary financial support that enables them to weather currency volatility and the inevitability of rising prices. The stereotype of the aging beer-addled Brit sitting with glazed eyes in a bar waiting to diddle a local teenager day after day is fading as they die off or move away.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                  1969-1975...
                  It was still OK up until 1980 or so.
                  You could take a boat out to Koh Laarn - rent a jet ski for sfa - have a nice BBQ lunch with no hoards of tourists.
                  God, the panic within the Dems, MSM, and left must be horrifying...realizing that Joe is really the best they've got.

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                  • #10
                    ^^ Of course. And need we even bother with that rather dumb stereotype, which may have had some currency up to the mid 90's- I think it mainly comes from impecunious TEFLers. I don't even have a beer belly!

                    ^You still can actually. Just avoid the main Chinese beach, there are plenty more. Save yer money and get the old ferry- not the new one, which lands you in China beach.
                    Last edited by sabang; 03-07-2020, 06:39 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sabang View Post
                      ^^ Of course. And need we even bother with that rather dumb stereotype, which may have had some currency up to the mid 90's- I think it mainly comes from impecunious TEFLers. I don't even have a beer belly!

                      ^You still can actually. Just avoid the main Chinese beach, there are plenty more.
                      What dumb stereotype are you talking about?

                      There's really only one China Beach and that's in Da Nang...
                      God, the panic within the Dems, MSM, and left must be horrifying...realizing that Joe is really the best they've got.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by harrymsmarkle View Post
                        It is also true that Pattaya doesn't reflect the entire expat retiree experience in Thailand. While some may live in hovel-like (though elevated) shipping containers, others have chosen urban and suburban condos, houses in moobans, and more isolated but still comfortable arrangements in various local backwaters. Many foreigners arrive with the necessary financial support that enables them to weather currency volatility and the inevitability of rising prices. The stereotype of the aging beer-addled Brit sitting with glazed eyes in a bar waiting to diddle a local teenager day after day is fading as they die off or move away.
                        Indeed.
                        You know the kind of locals.....especially in the rural situations.
                        Farang.
                        Farang that build watering hole/gathering spots so that pathetic losers, like themselves, can keep that the company and camaraderie of other fellow Farang.

                        Their diet consist of Farang fare.
                        Only shop at the Western-style supermarkets where they can imbibe in Farang things.
                        Never make an attempt to socialize or integrate with the highly uncouth natives.
                        Barely get on [nor understand/connect] with the Thai missus or the extended family.
                        Over the years of residency, still haven't learned the language to the point basic embarrassing conversation.
                        Outside of the invented and mystifying stereotypes and legends, still hasn't a clue about the culture and customs of the backward monkeys.
                        .....the listing is endless.


                        Commonplace traits.
                        Have to wonder why they remain.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                          What dumb stereotype are you talking about?

                          There's really only one China Beach and that's in Da Nang...

                          ....in the day, south of Saigon.....actually.
                          An invention by American military/civilian personnel.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Sounds like booner is exactly the type of old fart we are taking the piss out of, quelle surprise. China beach is a nickname some of the resident expats use for the beach in Ko Larn that most of the Chinese tourists go- it even has a modern ferry linking it to Pattaya. It is overcrowded, full of tawdry souvenir stalls, but you can no doubt get OK Chinese food there. There are many other beaches however, quite uncrowded, and that is where you should go- unless of course (snigga) you are a sinophile. Capiche?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I used to know a guy that might just fit your stereotype somchai (another stereotype), in Ubon. A drinking buddy actually. He hated Thai food, including garlic, chilli, plaa raa- even nam plaa! Oh, but he didnt mind fried rice sometime. But he was accepted perfectly fine in the village, a bit of an oddity obviously (but aren't we all), and the thing about his boring diet is- he could. He ended up dieing of stomach cancer unfortunately- not sure if there is a lesson in that. Lots of Isaan folk die of stomach & liver cancer too.

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