The two boxers complete twelve grueling rounds of boxing and it goes to the scorecards. Both eagerly awaiting for the decision, both hopeful that they had done enough to win.
“Ladies and Gentleman, we have a draw” announces the ring announcer. Really, was it that close? The same applies to this very question ‘Is it an end of an era for the Westerner Expat?’, those surveyed on my Facebook page were unable to reach a conclusive decision. 318 replies later and it was a dead heat – 50% yes and 50% no.
So, who is right?
Well it is all personal opinion, so I am not one to say right from wrong. But I posted the poll for a reason, as I think it is very much an end of an era for the Western Expat and I cannot think of a single reason to see otherwise – but things can change in a flash I realise that.
Let’s look at the trends in the market. The Chinese are arriving in their droves – and that still only represents 5% of the population who currently have passports. Expect far more numbers to arrive in the next decade. This will cause and is causing a market shift and that impacts on expats. Unless retired, working expats are here because of the market and that market is moving. So it is reasonable to suggest the Chinese will impact on Western Expat numbers.
The question also asked is it an ‘end of an era‘, just consider what parts of Thailand used to stand for. Western Expats would be the majority and so there were lots of restaurants and bars geared for them. Thailand was their stomping ground, and it certainly is not that now. The era, from what it once was, is over.
Many retired single male expats loved Thailand for the bar girls and beer bars. The image of the old guy with his vest on sitting with a bar girl next to him in an open beer bar, or hurtling through the Soi’s on his Harley Davidson were staple almost iconic images of how it was, really that is how it was, it is not that now. The girlie bar scene has been squeezed and marginalised.
Is there hope for the Western Expat?
Sure, there has to be hope. Thailand is still a beautiful country and even though it has become more expensive it still has a strong draw.
Thailand is still developing and Western workers – although no longer oil and gas – will have opportunity. If any of you have worked in Bangkok you will realise there is thousands of professional expats working, and they are a good calibre. Admittedly, Singapore still represents a big hub of expat workers – and many of these oversee business interests in Thailand remotely; but this can change in the future.
I will leave the debate at that for now. I think we have to accept the ‘era’ of what the Western Expat was and did before has moved on, change is inevitable afterall. Thailand is not what it once stood for for the Western Expat and that has changed the dynamics.
It may well be the end of the era for the Western Expat but that does not mean it is game over quite just yet.