First, want to say a great post.
I think we all have our reasons for staying or leaving. When I came here I didn't think I'd ever leave, still not sure leaving will be permanent. Now, more than nine years later, I had already decided to, probably, leave and that was before the U.S. embassy discontinued the income affidavit - the changes due to that just sort of cemented it. I love this country, I love it's people (not just in BKK, but also up in CM and down South). I fell in love with Thailand the first time I was here, and on the balcony where I was staying on the river heard the adhan while gazing over across a Buddhist temple, something just said this is the most wonderful place on earth.
I don't mind the smog and never been stopped by police at all, but I live in a Thai neighborhood and never had a desire to live in the areas that draw a lot of foreigners. That said, other issues were drawing me home. Most of my family passed away in the years I've been here, my father passed away a year after I came here and was buried within the time frame it takes to even get back there. I also have a son back home as well and want to be closer to him as well.
I had already decided to go home for a few reasons. One was because I'll be turning 65 and while in good health will lose my current insurance, which is through my retirement plan and has excellent coverage abroad. I went back and last month signed up for Medicare B and my retirement's health insurance for those of us on Medicare. It too will cover me abroad, but much more limited (no limit on emergency care but one on routine care) and it requires me to reside in the states as a condition, so I've officially changed my residence back to the U.S. already and just back here to take care of things (mainly giving my possessions away, but also saying goodbye to friends). I have a house there, a dog, and family, things I don't have here. They also have to take me, which is a step above the uncertainty here. Also, back home state law requires state-supported universities, colleges, and vocational schools to waive tuition and fees at age 65 (I'd rather not turn 65, but if I have to...). Another reason is that I want to spend several months over the next year or so traveling in Europe, especially in Ireland.
These changes just sealed things. If they would accept my official documents from back home I might have yet changed my mind. However, in addition to all the uncertainties about transferring money here and it showing up here as an international transfer. I love my bank back home, it's locally owned and I get hugs whenever I'm back there or leaving to return here, and for me a few trips to the ATM work fine. But not with the end of the income affidavit. Also I help out back home with the bills and property taxes and insurance. Not something I have to do, but something I choose to do, and something I just won't stop - and importing the 65,000 each month wouldn't let me do that.
I may return one day, or I may opt for Indonesia (due to it's permanent residency option) or the Philippines, where I have in-laws and can enter with my spouse for a year at a time as balikbayan. Or Central/South America. However, I think I'll just stick to lengthy (and short) trips to various places around the world, unless Ireland ever becomes an option. If I do come back it would probably only be if my spouse and son joined me.
I wish you well Captain Jack. Thanks for a thoughtful post, and ignore the naysayers. I think a lot of us are making this same choice for a whole lot of disparate reasons. Life is too short to live it with all the uncertainties.