Thursday, September 5, 2013

Working to Live

My husband and I are far from what one would call "workaholics." While we work hard at our jobs and strive to do our best at work, we don't enjoy spending all our time working or thinking about work. Our motto is "work to live, not live to work." We enjoy going on new adventures and exploring new places too much to spend so much time working.

Back in the D.C. area, though, that kind of life was very hard to achieve and maintain for us. Prior to embarking on this adventure, we heard and read that working and living in Thailand would allow us to live very comfortably with the quality of life that we had worked so hard to achieve.

And now we're living it. Even though we are currently a single-income family, we are still able to live just as well as, if not better than, when we were in the U.S., without having to work 60- to 80-hour weeks and while continuing to put more into savings than we used to. Everything (or almost everything) is so inexpensive here that we have not had to watch our spending at all. And although our current income is less than half of the income that we were earning in the U.S., we're still considered "well-off" by Thai standards (see "Interesting Indicators" on right side bar; the monthly average income here is less than $800!).

Still, we really had no idea how far our money could go here until we talked with other teachers and administrators. Many teaching couples with two incomes are able to live off one income and save the other. Everyone is able to travel extensively, regardless of family size. I think being able to travel so easily is, for a lot of people, one of the major attractions to this kind of life.

I mean, where else can a teacher live so well and still have the means to travel multiple times a year to exotic locations and other countries? Where else can one travel to countries with only a few hours’ flight for just a few hundred dollars total? As one mom with three children pointed out, she and her family hardly ever traveled in the U.S. because plane tickets cost so much. But here, they can get tickets to Hong Kong for only a few hundred dollars for the entire family. And at Christmas time, no less!

Many people also employ a combination of nannies, maids, housekeepers, and/or gardeners. Many have a maid for five days a week to grocery shop, cook, clean, do the laundry, and iron for them. When they throw a dinner party, the maid cooks and prepares everything for the party and then cleans up everything afterwards.

In fact, in Thailand, if you can afford to hire help, but don't, you're considered to be cheap and miserly. Because there is so much poverty here and the average Thai person makes so little money, it is almost considered the duty of those who can afford it to provide jobs to those who need the money and distribute the wealth a little. 

This way of living and thinking just amazes me because I don't think there are many teachers our age we know in the U.S. -- especially those with children -- who live like this, who already are able to plan for retirement to such detail (the when, where, and how, etc.), or who already have their retirement plans in place. If they do, it is not without also planning on working forever!

This "grand" lifestyle is especially easy to come by for dual-income families, so if I also find a job, we would be able to live an extremely comfortable life here. I have been thinking over what I'd like to do while living here, and have come up with several ideas to pursue. But also -- and this is quite exciting -- when I substitute taught at the high school for a couple of weeks, I received a tentative offer for a special education teacher position at the elementary level for next year (there's a teacher there now who's returning to the U.S. after this school year ends)! I've also been told about a currently open middle-school position (not in special education) for which they're looking for someone with teaching credentials.

The only caveat is that I would have to get re-certified for either position, but of course, being as helpful and resourceful as they are, several other teachers have already given me information on certain U.S. states that require only a teaching degree for certification, so I wouldn't have to take any coursework or take the Praxis to get re-certified. 

Now that my long-term subbing position has ended, I will start looking into getting re-certified. My preference would be to teach part-time and do other kinds of work on the side, but hey, I've seen the special education program here and seen firsthand how easy those teachers have it. I'm not about to complain about being given these employment opportunities that I hadn't thought possible when we first arrived!

1 comment:

  1. sounds good . . .
    and I noticed on the photo display page, how upscale the school is
    all the best, little one
    phyls in dc