For eight months now, I’ve been trying to close out my remaining IRA and have the funds transferred to my bank account. There was no problem with my other IRA, but right from the start in trying to be sent the necessary forms, this second company has been a problem. It hasn’t helped that I’m overseas, since the IRA provider has no international long-distance number or email listed on its website, only an 800 number.
When I returned to the States last November, one of my priorities was contacting this company, acquiring the necessary documents and transferring the money to my bank account. After some fits and starts, I did manage to do this before departing for Thailand, leaving my daughter, who I gave power of attorney, to follow up.
One month passed, Two, Three. My daughter tried to find out what the holdup was and became entangled in a series of steps to prove she was my POA. All this time, she was told the company had my completed documents. It did not.
Finally, they admitted they had no record of my documents. In fact, they had no record of the calls I made, even though they supposedly keep phone records. To say I hit the roof, is to be kind.
An angry response to my daughter, not directed at her, then translated into an angry call from my daughter to the company, which somehow tried to put the blame on me. For a time, they thought we were lying about the whole situation. They even asked why I didn’t just call them on their international 888 toll-free number. Duh! They don’t list the number anywhere!
A company spokeswoman, obviously peeved that she had to go this far, finally contacted me by email, with the necessary documents attached. So today I walked to the mall to have PDFs made of the completed document, as well as my Florida driver’s license. Also needed copies of my new rental agreement for three weeks from now when I do my 90-day immigration check-in.
First, I looked up the mall’s store list and found a company on the third floor. It was no longer there. Stopped at a camera store where I’ve had passport photos taken and they directed me to the basement shopping area. Searched the whole area and could not find someplace to make copies and PDFs. Went back upstairs to the information desk and the woman directed me to the far, opposite corner in the basement, where I finally found the don-descript area with one woman, a couple of copy machines and computers.
She very quickly made the PDFs and the copies. Since this was in the mall, I expected prices more akin to foreign prices, but I was surprised. Only 18 baht for the whole thing. 52 cents!
Like the headline says, worth it in the end.
The form and the PDF IDs were emailed back immediately on my return home and now I await them probably telling me that something is wrong with the document.
First no power, now no water
Woke up yesterday to find there was no water in the pipes and the pump outside was running continually with no effect. Called the landlord who came over and found that my outside water connection had been closed and locked down. Seems the water bill hadn’t been paid.
My previous apartment did not require me to pay my utility and internet bills on my own; my landlord simply collected the fees and paid them because it was a three-apartment complex, with all units under her name. Now, I’m responsible for making the payments for electric, water and internet. But since I have only lived in the house for less than a month, I thought my bills were to come. Wrong! They were in my mailbox – but I couldn’t read them to know what they were.
The landlord said he would take care of the overdue water bill, which was mostly from before I moved in. He also told me what to do with future bills. The water came on shortly after he left and made a call, although it’s lucky I have wire cutters or I might not have been able to open the water connection.
You have to pay these bills in person here. The electric bill is paid at Market Village, while the water bill is paid at the company offices on Soi 76, about half a mile away. Don’t know yet where the internet bill is paid. And if you don’t pay your bill within seven days, they turn your water off, or rip out your electric meter. They don’t fool around.
Personal transportation or not – a tough choice
During my past six years on the road, I have flown great distances, taken many auto and motorcycle taxis, a few tuk-tuks, buses, minivans, ferries, even a private car with driver. What I have not done is purchase or rent personal transportation.
Whether you decide to rent a car or motorbike for personal use in another country, or even purchase one or the other, it is a major financial decision. I have chosen not to do either, preferring to walk whenever possible. Such a decision, however, is not always possible for everyone.
With a larger monthly budget, renting a scooter might be a no-brainer in Hua Hin (except for the traffic and the accident rate for motorbikes). But I have tried to avoid adding recurring monthly expenses to my budget, so far limiting such expenses to rent, utilities, internet and bank fees.
And after some analysis, I decided a motorbike would only have limited use, as I would still probably take public transit to the two places I do my grocery shopping, and I’m not going to drive to the bars when I go out to play pool (Alert: drinking involved!). It would also make me less inclined to continue the daily walking that has kept my weight down and my heart strong. And, it is at least $50 less each month in recurring monthly expenses, not to mention the hassles of acquiring a license.
Many expats here purchase cars or motorbikes, but then it looks like many of them have substantial incomes, and, quite frankly, would be hard-pressed physically to make walking a normal occurance. That’s great if you have the means, but it also means you have one more thing to worry about if you decide to move – sell your vehicle. That may not be a problem for many expats who find a country and stay there, but for me it just ties me down unnecessarily.
Why I write this blog
I’ve now been on the road for 6 years today (June 1). Originally, I started out letting my friends in the U.S. know about my experiences via email, because they asked. They were curious about Costa Rica, about their impending retirement situations, in many cases, but mostly just curious.
Eventually, as I wrote an ebook, I adopted using Facebook as a communication medium, but somewhere along the line I discovered blogging, and WordPress. I don’t know why or exactly when, but I started this blog as a more efficient way to inform my friends about my experiences. Since then, I have advanced that to creating three WordPress sites for myself (aimlink.com, batamexpat.com, and huahinexpatnews.com). My latest might not make me any money but it keeps me engaged and also serves to educate me about my new home.
Why bother is a question I sometimes get. Do you just need to talk about yourself?
Maybe that’s partially true, in that I want to share my experiences with others. But actually it’s hard to bare yourself to others, even friends, much less the many strangers that read this blog. Exposing my weaknesses and stupidity so that others do not make the same mistakes as I have can be personally humiliating. If you let it.
For me,it’s just sharing.