Yes, and you can also be miserable anywhere, under any circumstances. Being happy is choice you make. It is, of course, much harder to choose happiness if you’ve recently suffered a loss, or are sick, or worried about money or a loved one’s welfare. The great opportunity involved in choosing to live somewhere new involves temporarily being released from things you’ve already decided are boring or oppressive. Of course, human nature being what it is, it’s only a matter of time before you form the same opinion about parts of your new surroundings and daily experiences. But here, you’ve given yourself a second chance. Take it, keeping in mind that no matter how beautifully the setting sun shines on the water, there is no smooth sailing off into the sunset, even if you bought a new home in what looks like paradise. The quality of your life will depend far more on the relationships you establish with ex-pat friends and your new neighbors, than on picture-postcard views of your new home that you can post online to share with your friends back home.
OK, I know I’ve been crowing about the joys of being retired, but I got offered a job that seemed promising,
and so I’m back teaching at a University. This week we move into our new apartment, which is in a vast, mostly vacant apartment complex called University View Apartments. The Universities they view are all housed in a complex called “Academic City, which is directly across from our building. Just cross twenty acres of sand and there you are. Of course, if I were to stumble and fall, I might be a bundle of bleached bones before anyone discovered me, as I’m the only person who walks to work in this area.
In Thailand, women are everywhere. They’re more visible than men. I don’t know what the men are up to, maybe they’re home drinking or taking care of the kids, but women are highly visible. Here, men outnumber women ten to one. The metro train has a special car for women, and in that car, men are not allowed, though women can be in the men’s car. The bus has a special section for women. Quite often, women are veiled in public, and dressed in black from head to toe, with only a little window for the eyes. Sometimes that’s not even there, and they have to see through the fabric.
In Chiang Mai, I rode a motor scooter or bicycle to get around. Here, it’s like living in Texas. You have to drive or be driven everywhere. There is mass transit, but it only works for a small section of the city .Unfortunately, nothing in my life here corresponds to that section. So we’ll be buying a car as soon as we get a permanent residency visa.
Prices here are about the same as in the States for most things, which means they’re about three to five times higher than in Thailand.
So Thailand is a great place to live on social security retirement, and this might be a great place to live if you want to make money. I don’t know. Jury’s still out on that one.
As the movie “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” showed, in the future a whole lot of people who never considered themselves travelers are going to wind up in foreign countries because they can no longer afford medical care or even to simply live in their own. In a lot of these countries they end up in, the populace will not speak English.
One of the ancillary effects of growing old is an increasing sense of isolation. Now that you are no longer cute, people tend to ignore you. You fade into the woodwork. And if you can’t speak the language, this happens even faster, making the loneliness more profound.
So there’s a market that didn’t exist before. Teaching older Americans to speak Spanish or Thai. Waiting for the host country’s populace to learn English simply isn’t an option. They’re working on it, but they’re much less motivated by loneliness than the elderly ex-pat.
Learning Spanish is a piece of cake compared to learning Thai. It’s quite a shock to realize that not only can you not speak to anyone, you can’t even read the signage. When you were four years old you couldn’t read, but you knew how to say and comprehend three or four hundred of the most important words in oral communication. Now you don’t even know those!