Finally living within my budget


When I left the USA in 2010, I did so knowing that I had to live, more or less, within a certain limited budget, dictated by what I received monthly from Social Security, and augmented, when necessary, by my small IRA savings. I think I did a pretty good job of that for the first 14 months, when I lived in Costa Rica, irritating, to a great degree, I think, a friend, who wanted me to open up the wallet more. Live a little.

Then, I decided to travel. My budget seemed useless, given it had to accommodate air travel, hotels and move-in expenses for every country I visited. So I began to drag on my savings in order to travel but still tried to maintain a “living budget” wherever I relocated. So, food, rent and daily living expenses still needed to stay under my allotted monthly budget. The travel and relocation stuff came out of the savings.

Then Indonesia happened, and for 2 1/2 years I was able to save money as I worked. Travel expenses did spike during this time, and for another year and a half in Indonesia. And during the latter period, I frankly lost control of my budget.

Moving to Thailand, I faced the usual initial expenses of airplane ticket, hotels, transportation, rent and deposits, and restocking of apartment. So my first month was expensive, relatively speaking. For the past three months (April included), however, I have managed to spend less than my monthly SS payment. Meaning my bank account is going up instead of down.

So what, right?

Well, given the premise of this blog is “how to live on a budget in other countries,” I thought it might be important that I am able to do that here.

I’m not one of the many European retirees in Hua Hin who have pretty good retirement incomes that maybe weren’t so great back where they’re from. From what I can tell, most live in expat conclaves in multi-floor apartment complexes with their own pools and gyms – and probably most of the tenants are from one country.

I actually don’t have much of a retirement income to live on and can’t afford such amenities. But, then, I didn’t move to Thailand to live in the U.S.

Now, about the point of why I even started this rant. My landlady lowered my rent.

Now, Goy is not the owner, just the manager. She does a terrific job. I had a problem with my refrigerator and she had it replaced. She hasn’t been able to help, though, with the bed bugs.

Anyway, my main disappointment with my current apartment is its location. It’s just hard to get anywhere from here. I can’t buy vegetables or any fresh food without a taxi ride. I can’t even buy soda or booze without a half-mile walk, each way. So, I’ve been considering alternatives when my lease expires July 11.

Now, Goy is obviously local and knows the area. And I am, if you didn’t know, likely to say anything at any time. It’s an almost uncanny ability to shock, awe, aggravate and antagonize sometimes when I say things. When you look at the results of such outbursts, you might contend they are premeditated. But they’re not.

Sometimes it’s an angry outburst, perhaps profane, that catches people off guard. Generally, it has the desired effect.

Other times, it may be more subtle, as in my discussion with Goy.

She had come by to pick up the monthly rent and utilities payment. My rent is 10,000 baht; I pay 150 baht per month for water ($5); and my electric bill this past month was 790 baht ($23), slighter higher than the previous month but now I had a working refrigerator.

As we talked, I asked about Khiri Khan, a quiet community an hour’s drive south of Hua Hin. She suggested a day trip and I said I was looking at two nights to assess the area. Then I asked about other areas of Hua Hin, stressing how I liked the quiet and security of the apartment, but felt isolated from the community, from the ability to go outside and buy food or even just a soda.

On the face of this, it may seem rude that I would ask my landlady such questions, but I was only seeking input from a local. Consciously, I don’t think I was looking for an advantage.

Subconsciously, however, I think that is exactly what I was doing – planting the seed that I was planning to move with the one person who would benefit/suffer because of that. I didn’t think much of it at the time.

Two days later, I received a text from Goy that because I was a long-term renter my rent was being reduced 10%, effective with the next month’s rent.

My brain does things I’m not aware it is doing.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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2 Responses to Finally living within my budget

  1. 2bagsandapack says:

    Well, if you’re in Hua Hin we certainly should meet.

  2. wmeier5 says:

    Hello again Ken, I enjoy your writing and I hope we can meet. I am waiting in FL for my first one year, long stay Visa from the Thai embassy. Like you, I have traveled and lived many places. I am starting my journey with two suitcases, two PCs, and a backpack in Hua Hin but am already researching the other places (from Cambodia, PI, Ecuador, and even Ethiopia). Have a nice day.

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