Why foreigners fail in Thailand

Thailand has always captivated the heart, and the vast majority of tourists will often start a conversation over a barbecue and a tipple whilst watching a mesmerising sunset on a tropical beach which starts with the words:

“You know I could live here, I could sell up in Europe, tell the boss where to go and be over here in a few months and get started.”

As improbable as this sounds, ask any foreigner who lives successfully in Thailand who has actually made a living here in Thailand, and I mean someone with a bank account, work permit and a proper well paid job, how many people have tried to settle here and start a business and gave up; the numbers are staggering!

The age of people who mostly fall for Thailand’s charms are predominantly in the 40-65 age group, and as much as I would like to keep this blog about business the indigenous woman are a part of the success and failure.

All’s fair in Love and War

Too often European gutter press will pick a story of some Thai woman who has fleeced a European male out of his savings and got him to buy a house in the North East where all the farmers live, and he has since been evicted out of his home, yes it happens, and in my experience for each 100 men I meet here who are blissfully married to loyal South East Asian woman, one maybe two, has had serious issues, and this is no more than I hear about why their marriages to European partners go wrong back in their home countries.

Western males 40-65 just divorced and recently landed in Thailand are the most vulnerable to the charms of ‘Venice of the East’, the girls here are honey skinned, much slimmer than their European counterparts, the vast majority do not smoke and drink much less alcohol than the girls in Europe and well we will not mention Australia as that would tip the balance of the alcohol argument overboard. Their lives are quite simple and not overbearing with issues about a woman’s’ place in any relationship.

Frequently many ‘new to Thailand’ European men find the Thai woman too simple and happy within themselves to have a meaningful conversation, They ask me; How can a woman be happy just to work and or be a just a Mother and a wife?  Ask 1950’s European woman who were on record as one of the happiest generations ever, and the most sexually repressed according to today’s standard of what a woman should be happy with, and guess what? With all the liberalism now; European woman are generally miserable balancing work and home life.

My Laos Girl

My Laos Girl

Most struggle with a massive culture shift, many foreign men wonder why Thai woman working in the cities where it is expensive to live yet will still send money home to their parents, conversely Thais will reel in horror at how we treat our elderly in the West, family is everything young or old, and Asians care deeply about family regardless of age.

Call it what you will, love of money or a better life, yet I have seen the girls here have full devotion broke or rich to a foreign man, and they do not see what the rest of us see which often is a ridiculously obese, badly dressed, ready for the knackers yard, chap, on the arms of a much younger lady whom a Premier League footballer would be proud of. Asian woman see beyond appearances.

So the vast majority of business done by foreigners in Thailand will be because of love of the people, the weather, the food and then the scenery, in any order you like but these are the main reasons why middle aged men sell up and try anything to stay.

But love can be pushed to the very limit and all too many have to give up their love and go back home broke and the main reasons are:

Visa Runs.

The first few times you come here you get a 30 day visa on arrival or a 2 month double entry tourist visa, which costs around 50 Euros. Now you are probably flush from selling your house or business, so 60 days flies by and you find yourself stressing out how to get to an immigration office to extend your stay, that is an all-day affair, or leave the country to get to a border only to come straight back again with a fresh stamp for a month or two, which you can only do a few times.

If you are late, you end up paying a daily fine of over 12 Euros a day! During the time you are overstay if anything happens to you, anything at all where you need to talk to the authorities you could very well end up in Jail, and there are documentaries a plenty about Thai Jails!

There is a website called Thai Visa.com that is one of the busiest websites in the Kingdom because the government is always changing the rules and you are never 100% sure whether you can get back in to the country and their visitors are always asking what they need to do. There are many types of visas; marriage visas, retirement Visas, dependent visas, Business visas, and learning all about the monthly law changes and how not to be fined is like a full time job by itself. Don’t even ask about having a baby here!

Starting a legit business

OK you have used up a full passport of stamps going out the country every so often and paying visa fees in every bordering country; you have done all your due diligence, so now you are ready to start a business.

Let’s hope you have 50,000 Euro left that you need to demonstrate to the authorities to be able to start your business, with a bit of frugality you have not spent all of your money on the good life, and believe me it is easily done!

Thai Bureaucracy

Bearing up during weeks of getting hundreds of forms photocopied more times than an Amazon forest can supply and keeping your cool whilst uniformed important people who have one job to stamp everything with an old fashioned rubber stamp on one day of the week, if it’s not one of the hundreds of Bank holidays they have.

Then after a few cheeky bottles of whiskey under the table to his favourite Employment officer from your Thai lawyer who is never really sure about anything except his astronomical fee; well done; your business is set up and it’s 51% Thai owned!!

Work permit Thailand

Work permit Thailand

Getting a work permit from an employer is as hard as getting the job itself. You need to find a company who has 2- 3 Thai people working for them to justify your work permit; or; if you are starting a business you will have to find 2-3 trustworthy people for you to employ so that you can physically practice your trade.

The forever changing landscape

The attitude towards foreign investment in business in Thailand is viewed by many clerics as somewhat reactive, and often things change too quickly for registered foreign owned businesses to manage.

The changes in Government and the coups, which sound really scary to the uninitiated in Europe but trust me these are an excuse for the retired and rich to ring the bell in your local beach bar and have another drink. But they are disastrous for many businesses, not just foreign owned, and many do not recover.

Then there are the floods I am not a believer in Global warming as such, but I do know the oceans are rising due to general ice ages coming and going and Bangkok is in grave danger of sinking over the next 50 years but the government seems blase to the impending Armageddon.

Hobby as a business

Starting a bar in Thailand sounds like fun, I mean if you like a drink, how can you go wrong chatting on the beach with friends who pay you to drink with them? The happiest bar owners I ever met are the ones who were prepared to lose a fortune just doing what they love for a few years, and not expecting to make a lot of money, happy just to get a work permit and be legit to stay in Paradise without the dreaded visas runs.

Beach bar Thaiand

Beach bar Thailand

When a person buys a bar and treats it strictly business and fights against the institution well he is the one miserable guy at the bar bemoaning how the government is against him all the way.

Nothing in life is easy, if you want to kick off you shoes and feel the sand and Azure ocean, to eat amazing food on a tropical beach in your dinner hour, and have an amazing devoted and beautiful woman probably half your age then; you have to pay the premium and jump through all the rings of fire most successful expats have endured to stay here.

Netmedia Thailand has since 2007 been teaching Business from all over the world how to get ahead with a content marketing strategy and we are the owners of the website you see when you Google: ‘business leads Thailand’

We all say TIT (This Is Thailand) and it means do like the Romans, and except what may, it’s an amazing wonderful place and you are forever smitten from the first holiday, however the day TIT becomes more than your tenacity to endure the obstacles, then drizzle and your neurotic plump wife back home is all yours my friend.