This was a rough time. I eventually had to move out of my first Thai apartment and in to a tiny Thai-style apartment with no air-conditioning and a communal toilet (squat) and shower. The place ran me $90 a month including utilities and it was the sort of place where the prostitutes lived five-to-a-room so they had a roof over their head for virtually nothing. Every so often I'd pick up a couple hundred baht teaching them English and it was this small amount of cash, and interacting with them, that kept me semi-sane. To this day, studio apartments make me claustrophobic.
Before moving to this luxurious suite, I managed to squeeze a thousand bucks from the person who had defaulted on my business. I was a day or two away from living on the street and it was this money that kept me fed and off the streets. Despite my love for Thailand, Bangkok's streets are no more exotic than Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.
Four months later, I found a job in Phuket and my situation slowly improved. Somehow, I made it though. Many people debate how much is needed to live in Thailand. I made it off $250 a month for four months, which was just enough for my crappy apartment and food.
My wife has a friend who while attending university, lived off 2000 baht a month. She and her boyfriend lived in a 1500 baht a month apartment. This included utilities. They split this 50-50, leaving her 40 baht a day to live off. She would spend 15 baht at the school cafeteria for breakfast and a coffee, 10 baht for a snack at lunchtime, and then the remaining 15 baht went towards dinner. She walked everywhere, and if by chance she needed to go somewhere, she would squeeze a couple of baht out from her budget and use this for bus fare.
Now this was many years ago and food prices were lower but the point is she did what she had to do. She had two choices: live off 2000 baht a month or drop out of school and go back home to Suratthani. Her sacrifice paid off; she now has a good position working for the Thai government and earns an excellent living.
Would you be willing to do what she or I did? Are you willing to live off next to nothing if it means you can stay here? Where do you draw the line and when do you say, "Enough, I'm going home?"
When is moving back to your native land a better option?
Please comment and let me know!