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How easy is it to retire in Laos?

How to obtain Laos retirement visa for US citizens?

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When it comes to retirement destinations, Southeast Asia is becoming quite popular. The tropical climate, beaches, rich culture, welcoming people, and affordable cost of living have turned the region into a hotspot for travelers and expats alike.

However, one Southeast Asian country that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves is Laos. being a landlocked country, Laos doesn’t have any beaches; however, don’t let that turn you away.

When it comes to natural beauty, and relaxing sceneries, Laos offers even more than its coastal neighbors. From lush green jungles and breathtaking mountains to crystal clear rivers and waterfalls, Laos is full of natural wonders that can soothe the minds and souls of retirees.

So, if you are thinking about retiring in Southeast Asia, you have to read this post about Laos.

Pros and Cons of Retirement in Laos

Retirement is an important part of your life, and before you consider spending it at any destination, it is important to consider the pros and cons.

Low cost of living:

Living in Laos is very affordable. From accommodation and food to transport and entertainment, everything is quite affordable, especially when compared to other countries like Malaysia.

An average two-bedroom house or apartment in Vientiane, which is the capital of Laos, and the most popular retirement spot in the country, can cost as little as $400 or $500 per month. Groceries are very cheap, especially if you buy local products.

Adding all the utilities, rent, some entertainment, and other everyday expenditures, you can easily live in the major cities of Laos like Vientiane, and Luang Prabang for as little as $1,200 a month.

So, the cost of living in Laos is very low, and even a person with a limited salary of pension can live here comfortably and enjoy their retirement.

Incredible natural sceneries:

Though Laos is a landlocked country, it isn’t lacking in natural beauty in any sense. In fact, it has some of the most incredible natural sceneries in Southeast Asia.

Laos is known for its majestic mountains, mind-blowing waterfalls, and luscious green forests. To experience the incredible beauty of Laos in its full form, you need to step away from the main cities, and visit places like Pha Taem National Park, Kaeng Tana National Park, Khon Phapheng Falls, and the Tad Yuang Waterfall.

One of the most incredible places to visit in Laos is the Gibbon Experience Office. It is a kind of resort that is made up of treehouses in the middle of the jungle, and spending some time there is an experience that you can’t have in any other part of the world. You can also have some adventure here and take a swing at the jungle zip line.

Buffalo in Laos – Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Living with the incredible locals of Laos:

The kind of response you get from the locals of a destination is very important, and it can be a major contributing factor in your decision for your retirement destination.

The people in Laos are simple and straightforward, and they are quite friendly as well. However, many expats say that you have to be the one initiating the conversation, otherwise they will just let you do your thing.

Healthcare in Laos is quite decent:

Now obviously, you can’t expect a country like Laos to have the same medical facilities that you have back home in the US.

If you need healthcare in Laos, it is better to be in large cities like the capital, Vientiane, or Luang Prabang. The public and private hospitals in this region are better than the rest of the country, and they are more than capable of helping you in any kind of emergency.

However, if you do have a serious issue, it is better to travel to Bangkok.

The visa application process is quite easy:

Though Laos doesn’t offer a direct retirement visa, it is very easy to get a tourist or business visa to the country. The immigration office is known to be very lenient when it comes to the application of business visas. In fact, you don’t really need to have any considerable business presence in the country to get a business visa for 12 months, with multiple entries.

When you arrive in Laos, you can get a tourist visa for one month, which can be extended from within the country.

Laos has a very slow pace of life:

Though this might not necessarily be a drawback for some people, it is the slow pace of life in Laos, can get on some people’s nerves. Even in the biggest cities like Vientiane, no one is in a hurry to do anything.

Everyone in Laos is pretty chill; however, this can be a bad thing if your landlord starts taking more than a week to fix some simple issue like your WiFi.

For some retirees, who are fed up with the fast pace of the world, Laos can be a great destination. However, some might say that the pace of life in Laos is a bit too slow.

Beautiful young girl in Laos. Photo by seesouk souvannaphongsay from Pexels

The Internet connections aren’t the best:

These days, living without the internet is almost impossible, and one of the major cons of retiring in Laos is that the internet connections here aren’t as reliable for as fast as you may be used to. Still, it is more than enough to get you by.

Laos does not offer an official retirement visa:

Most Southeast Asian countries have official retirement visas that you can apply for. They usually last more than a year before they have to be renewed; however, in Laos, the visa process isn’t as simple.

The country doesn’t offer any official retirement visa, instead, retirees have to either apply for a tourist visa, which can last for 90 days at max, before it has to be renewed, or they can apply for a business visa that lasts for 12 months.

However, applying for either of these visas isn’t that hard, and most people can get them easily. Still, reapplying for your tourist visa after every 90 days can be a hassle,

There are no beaches:

When most people imagine their retirement destination in their head, they think about lounging at a beach, with a cocktail in their hand and the soothing sound of the ocean falling in their ears. However, Laos is very different from that.

It is a landlocked country, which means that it has no beaches. However, Laos is in no way, less beautiful than any other country in the region. It has its own unique charm with its incredible jungles, mountains, rivers, valleys, and caves.

In fact, Laos is easily one of the most scenic countries in Southeast Asia when it comes to nature.

The language barrier can cause problems:

The language barrier in Laos can be a problem, most of the population here speaks Lao, and it can be challenging to convey your message sometimes. However, in most hospitals, Immigration offices, and other important places, you can find someone who understands English.

However, most people who know English here aren’t that good at it, and communication can be a problem.

Therefore, if you are planning to move to Laos, it is very important to learn some common and useful phrases in the Lao language.

Beautiful mountain view – Photo by Pauline Tan from Pexels

How much do I need per month to retire in Laos?

Laos is a relatively affordable destination, several currencies are used in Laos; however, the US dollar is quite popular.

If you live in the capital, Vientiane, you can expect to rent a one-bedroom apartment for around $470 per month. However, if you choose to live in smaller towns and villages, accommodation can be a lot more affordable. Food is also affordable, especially in local restaurants, and street stalls. You can expect to pay about $7 in a local restaurant, whereas your bill might reach $12 in a western-style restaurant.

Utilities will cost you around $45 to $50 in major cities. Though the internet in Laos isn’t the best, you can get a standard 8 Mbps connection for around $30.

All and all, you can live in Laos as a retiree with a monthly budget of $1,200; however, if you want a more lavish lifestyle, your expenditures are probably going to increase.

Best place to retire in Laos:

Vientiane:

Laos is a big country; however, when it comes to retirement destinations, one shines above the others.

According to the majority of expats living in Laos, the capital, Vientiane is the best retirement destination.

It has the best medical facilities in the country and the best of all amenities. Finding accommodation in the capital city is quite easy; however, the food here can be a little expensive.

Vientiane is a very pleasant retirement location, and its architecture and streets still have an aura of its colonial past. There are several old french made buildings and roads in the city, which can be fascinating to roam around.

However, most of the incredible natural destinations of Laos are a little far away from the Capital, still, it is the best place to find all the amenities that you need for a comfortable post-retirement life, and all the incredible sceneries and nature spots in Laos are just a drive away.

Luang Prabang:

Another viable retirement destination in Laos is Luang Prabang. Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, Luang Prabang is an incredible city. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Laos, and until 1975, it was also the royal capital.

The city is reasonably developed and has all the basic amenities that a retiree may need. It is also close to many tourist destinations and has a lot of ancient Buddhist temples in it.

When it comes to architecture, Luang Prabang showcases a unique combination of ancient Laotian buildings, French-inspired structures, and modern architecture. The city itself has many incredible landmarks, and it is surrounded by many natural tourist spots as well.

Finding accommodation in Luang Prabang is not that difficult. You can find affordable apartments, or even rent out a house in the surroundings of the city. However, the prices are a little higher than in Vientiane.

Another major concern that most older retirees have is healthcare. Well, compared to the rest of the country, healthcare is quite better in Luang Prabang. The provincial hospital is located in Luang Prabang, and it has better equipment and staff than most other hospitals in the country.

Still, like Vientiane, you shouldn’t rely on Luang Prabang’s healthcare system for serious issues. If it is possible, it is always better to travel to Thailand or other nearby countries like China for better healthcare.

So, if you are considering retiring to Laos, Luang Prabang is another option that you can consider.

Eldercare in Laos:

If you are retiring in any foreign country, one of the most important things to consider is the healthcare facilities.

Average everyday healthcare in Laos is alright. There are some good doctors, but the overall healthcare infrastructure isn’t as reliable as other neighboring countries. In Vientiane, the capital of Laos, the french clinic is an excellent option to get quality healthcare.

However, for anything serious, I would suggest visiting Thailand, as many of the locals do. Though health care is affordable in the country, it can be beneficial to get expat health insurance. Though it might be a little expensive, it is quite useful for a retiree who needs eldercare.

As far as medications are concerned, there are many pharmacies in the major cities of Laos. These pharmacies are usually well-stocked, and you can get almost any medication that you need. However, the language barrier can sometimes be a problem. Though, some pharmacies in the capital Vientiane have English-speaking staff.

In Laos, Pharmaceuticals are imported from many different countries, including Switzerland, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. Preferably, you should opt for Swiss medicine; however, Thai pharmaceutical companies are also decent.

Very laidback village life in Laos – Photo by Simon Berger from Pexels

What are the requirements to retire in Laos?

The quiet, and somewhat forgotten Southeast Asian Country, Laos is one of the most visually stunning destinations in the region.

However, unlike other countries in the region, like Thailand and Cambodia, Laos doesn’t offer any kind of retirement visa for non-citizens. However, visitors can apply for a thirty-day visa on arrival, which can be extended to ninety days from the immigration offices inside the country.

You can apply for these visas back to back, and this is how many expats live in Laos. after every three months, you’ll have to exit and reenter the country, and get a tourist visa that you can extend to ninety days from within the country. Getting a tourist visa may cost you around $35, whereas, the three-month extension can cost around $90.

If you are aiming to invest in Laos, applying for a business visa is also quite easy, and you can get a visa with relatively low capital requirements. You can say that the business scene in Laos is somewhat informal, which has allowed many people to receive business visas without any large investment in the country.

A long-term business visa can extend up to 12 months, and it gives you investment and ownership options that aren’t available to tourists. An expat with a business visa can own and drive a vehicle in the country; however, they can not buy land.

Formally, you need to invest in or own a small business in Laos to get a business visa.

How easy is it to retire in Laos?

Moving to a foreign country, and setting up a new life for yourself can be a little challenging; however, as far as visas and travel are concerned, retiring to Laos is very easy. Though the country doesn’t offer an official retirement visa, getting a simple tourist visa is as simple as arriving in Laos.

The entire application process is very smooth and easy; however, the language barrier can be an issue sometimes.

Moreover, when it comes to accommodation, and daily expenditures, Laos is also quite easy. Being in one of the most affordable destinations in Southeast Asia, you don’t need to worry about your budget or pension. Even $1,000 to $1,500 a month can be more than enough to live comfortably in Laos.

So if you want to get away from your busy and hectic everyday routine, and want to retire in a slow-paced, mellow, and comfortable country, Laos is an excellent option.

Final Thoughts:

Southeast Asia is becoming a popular tourist destination, and many people are also considering moving to these countries permanently. There are many incredible countries in this destination; however, one of the most neglected ones in Laos.

When talking about Southeast Asia, many people think about Thailand and Vietnam; however, the landlocked country of Laos is not a place you would want to miss out on either.

From breathtaking natural beauty to an incredible and welcoming general population, Laos is an incredible destination for every kind of traveler. The Landscape of the country is absolutely stunning, and all of its beauty feels pure and untouched.

If you didn’t know much about Laos, I hope this post answered your burning questions and gave you all the guidance you need to decide on your retirement destination.

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