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Anyone Remember The Good Old Days?


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Back in the day, companies regularly sent their top people abroad to countries like Thailand on "expat" status wherethey live like "kings" with huge flats, customed made furniture and fancy Persian rugs along with maidd and drivers.


I visited my colleagues in Bangkok and Hong Kong. Their flats were paid by the company along with cars and drivers!


One outrageous story my expat colleague told was another expat living in Bangkok flew to Chiang Mai and

before doing so, ordered his driver to drive all night to Chiang Mai to meet him there at the airport.


Living in Thailand as a expat or other countries, you feel like a millionaire many times over. Here in the states, not many millionaires can afford drivers or even maids on a full-time basis or at least in the big cities like New York.


Thailand was also very good during 1997 period when the baht lost value, dropping to an all time down of over 50 baht to 1 US $.


Nevertheless, Thailand continues to be a bargain to many overseas visitors, myself included!

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Living as an "expat" can spoil a person very quickly, more so for Brits whose salaries are a fraction of those in the USA.


What is also a benefit is these "expats" get to buy back their furniture (customed made or otherwise) for a fraction

of the cost.


For example, my expat friend in Bangkok spent over $20k US on furniture/rugs and was able to purchase it for a few

thousand. Another expat who had a higher level position in HK spent over $70k US on furnishings and he too was able to purchaseit for a "song"...These expats also have their suits tailored made.


When they come back to the states or the UK, there are in for a rude awakening!


Fortunately, things have changed since the "hog days" and very few companies are providing those outragous benefits today.

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Many US companies followed US policy until recent years and perhaps a few still do. As you know with any bureaucracy, US is slowed to change its policies and the hardship allowance may still be in effect.


Although you will agree, Bangkok has all the amenities of other great cities with tony shops like Rolex, Gucci in modern shopping centers, including Paragon as well as 5 star hotels like the Oriental, Erawan Grand Hyatt that are among the best in the world. The only difference, Bangkok is more affordable.


If I were working for the US embassy, I would rather be posted to Bangkok than say a country in Africa and still qualify for the hardship allowance.


Hey, perhaps Hillary Clinton, whose last day on the job was Friday, did not do such a good job at the State Dept. She should have taken funds from the "hardship allowance" account for countries that no longer needed it and reallocated it to provide more security to the consulate in Benghazi where Ambassador Stevens died.

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COLA (cost of living allowance) is what is now used - not "hardship" allowances. Basically US government employees (military also) get a COLA to match their purchasing power to match what they would expect if stationed in the USA.


US Government COLA for some cities: http://aoprals.state.gov/Web920/cola.asp


Bangkok: 25%

London: 80%

Tokyo: 60%

Paris: 50%

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