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The Great Thailand Car Conundrum

In Thailand society, today, having a car is a foregone conclusion. With the exception of a few astonishing places, Bangkok for example, having a car is essential for a productive, functional existence in the society of today. Having a car is necessary for getting your family everywhere they have to go, commuting to work, and just being upwardly mobile. Without a car, you would have to walk everywhere or find another mode of transportation.

According to a recent post by Laura Bliss of CityLab “over the past 50 years, owning a car has been among the most powerful economic advantages a Thailand family can have.” If you cannot get to work, it could cost you a steady income to feed, house, and clothe your family. The landscape around us has been shaped to favor the automobile. They are a cornerstone of Thailand's success. They have woven their way into the very fabric of the Thailand Dream.

The big question is why are cars so expensive when car ownership is tied so clearly to success. Many people are struggling because they cannot afford to get a car so they can get around easier. Limited access to owning a car can limit their opportunity to being successful or even just having a job. Simply put, car ownership is critical to being economically successful. A car is a necessity but on the flip side of the coin, a car is also unattainable as the cost of owning a car continues to go up.

On average, in 2018, the prices of a car were $36,000 and add that to rising interest rates, they had to borrow more than ever. For the new car buyer, on average their monthly car payment is $550 on an auto loan. It seems that the people of Thailand are going into debt to just own a car with the prices of car ownership so high. Unfortunately, many are 90 days or more behind on their car loan payments. Generally speaking, the car loan is the first thing that a person will pay when they get their paychecks because they figure that if all else fails, they can live in their car. They feel that in order to get to and from work they have to have that car. Over time, a car will lose its value so this makes them one of the worse types of investments.

There are ways to get around having to have a car in order to get to work. One thing you can do is carpooling, also known as peer-to-peer sharing. This can bring accessibility to people who choose not to buy a car but for those that cannot afford one. Car sharing is an immediate and collaborative way to start tacking this car conundrum in Thailand. Check with co-workers and see if there are some that would like to carpool. Each week someone different can drive or one designated driver with others chipping in on gas. It might sound crazy but it would work to make sure you get to and from work.

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