Retired? Maybe You Should Stay That Way
Originally published in Chiang Mai City Life Magazine
Some people look forward to retirement while others plan to work forever. I have been luckier than most in that I have always loved my jobs. But I have always loved not working better.
For various reasons, ranging from needing to support a new, young partner, and family, to taking a huge loss in the stock market crash, to just being bored and wanting to get back into the “game”, I have seen retirees here in Thailand headed back to work. Here, where work permits for retirees are not easy to come by, this usually means starting their own business.
But starting a business in Thailand can be rather risky. I don’t know how many people have told me that they thought they could make a good business out of opening a restaurant or bar here. You get an idea of how many though if you see how many farang-owned restaurants and bars are for sale. Kind of tells you there might be a problem there. Since a business here has to be 51% owned by a Thai national, you might want to be extra careful who you partner up with. Here is a story that explains why I wouldn’t start a business here.
A good friend came to Phuket to retire. He was raking in about $4,000 a month in dividends and interest so he was set for life. Not! Being a Type A personality it was hard for him to sit back and relax. He saw a “great” business opportunity here, so with a bunch of his savings, he got a “trusted” Thai partner, his girlfriend, and the business took off. Just last year, with a booming business, his Thai partner/girlfriend, who had written the articles of incorporation with her being the one and only decision maker, transferred all the business assets to her new company, informed immigration that my friend was here illegally (he wasn’t), and she took off to parts unknown. Then of course the economy crashed.
After months of lawyers, immigration officials, bank loan officers, and having spent most of his savings, and having the stock market take away most of the rest, my friend now has his business back. He last told me that his $4,000 a month has dwindled to about $4,000 in total. It looks like my friend has changed from someone who was looking forward to retirement to one who will be working forever..
If you just can’t keep out of the game, you might first want to read How to Establish a Successful Business in Thailand by Philip Wylie, Paiboon Publishing. Good luck and remember, avoid taking the big loss.