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How easy is it to retire in Thailand?

How to obtain Thailand retirement visa for us citizens?

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With its warm and tropical climate, affordable cost of living, and mind-blowing landscapes, it is quite easy to see why Thailand is one of the most popular retirement destinations across the globe.

Thailand is actually among the top-10 countries to retire abroad according to International Living‘s Annual Global Retirement Index.

So, after you have worked hard, and are finally ready to enjoy your retirement, you should consider moving to Thailand. In today’s post, we are going to talk in detail about retirement in Thailand, and what challenges and benefits it could bring. If you have ever wondered about the 90 days rule of retirement visa for US citizens, then read on.

And in case you did not know, unlike Thailand, Cambodia can be as easy to retire for US citizens as well. Click here on the post we made on retirement in Cambodia.

retire in Thailand pros and cons

Pros and Cons of Retirement in Thailand

There is certainly a reason why Thailand is among the most popular retirement destinations in the world. From spectacular sceneries, and affordable living, to having some of the friendliest people on earth, living in Thailand has its benefits however, like any other destination, there are some drawbacks as well.

Travelers and people choosing Thailand as their retirement destination need to be aware of these pros and cons. Therefore, here are some of the main focus areas that need to be considered before moving to Thailand.

Accommodation

Incredible variety in housing
  • High variety of housing options from a traditional home to a high-end beachfront condominium
Can be expensive
  • Slightly more expensive than other Southeast Asian countries
  • Language can be a barrier when negotiating rent

From large cities like Phuket and Bangkok to more intimate towns and villages, it is very easy to find a wide range of housing options in Thailand. From traditional houses to modern villas or lofts or apartments, finding accommodation that suits your preferences is not that hard.

When compared to other Southeast Asian countries, accommodation in the major cities of Thailand can be a little expensive. Still, it is not that much when you compare it to the US or western countries.

Furthermore, if you don’t speak Thai, finding affordable accommodation can become even more challenging. Most landlords will try to charge extra when dealing with an English speaker, and it can be challenging to negotiate with them if you don’t know the local language.

To avoid this, you should consider hiring the services of a local, who can help you bargain and get the best offer.

Lifestyle and culture

A multicultural population
  • You will see people from different cultures
  • Easy to meet English speaking expats
  • Amazing culture festival such as Loy Krathong and Songkran
Language barrier
  • In smaller towns, can be difficult to communicate if you do not speak Thai

Thailand is a very popular tourist destination, and over the last couple of decades, it has drawn a lot of expats as well. For instance, Karabi is filled with people of different cultures from all over the world.

Photo by Rachael Annabelle on Unsplash

Therefore if you choose to retire in Thailand, it is easy to find other English-speaking people, and you get to meet new and exciting people as well.

Though most people in the Urban areas can speak some English, they aren’t very good at it. The language barrier in Thailand largely depends on your location, in major cities like Bangkok and Phuket, it can be easy to communicate; however, in other, smaller towns, the language barrier can cause problems.

Furthermore, government departments all over Thailand deal in their own language, and not being to communicate properly can cause a lot of frustration.

Thailand has an amazing culture, and if you move there, you will get an opportunity to enjoy some of the most lively cultural festivals in the world.

Every year, thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Thailand to take part in unique festivals and ceremonies that the country has to offer. You shouldn’t miss out on Loy Krathong and Songkran, which are two of Thailand’s most spectacular local festivals.

Thailand's Weather

Gorgeous summers
  • Summers in this tropical paradise can be exceptional. The ocean is beautiful and warm, and the sun shines bright all day, making the perfect environment for exciting activities.
Can go uncomfortable extremes
  • The weather can easily go to its extremes and become very uncomfortable: rain!

The summers are also the peak tourist season in Thailand; therefore, most beaches and sights are crowded.

Though the summers are incredible in Thailand, the rainy season, often starting around the end of April can last for a long time, makes it very difficult to plan any activities.

However, that can be expected in any tropical area, and the spring and early summer seasons are worth going through the rain.

Healthcare in Thailand

Affordable treatment
  • People from many neighboring countries travel to Thailand for medical treatments
  • High availability of pharmacies around the Country
Public hospital may lack resources
  • Public hospitals are usually understaffed
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Healthcare in Thailand is quite impressive. Though it probably isn’t as good as western countries, people from many neighboring countries travel to Thailand for medical treatments. Furthermore, if you have a work permit in Thailand, and you pay social security, you can get free healthcare in public hospitals.

Though the public hospitals in Thailand are very affordable, they are usually understaffed and lack resources. However, in the private sector, there are many reliable hospitals, especially in the main cities of Thailand.

Some private hospitals can charge extortionate prices, especially when they are treating foreigners. Though the charges are still affordable, you should be careful, and clear the charges before having any treatments.

After a certain age, almost everyone has to take some sort of medication to deal with one issue or the other. This can be one of the biggest concerns for retirees since they need to be able to get their medication prescriptions refilled regularly.

There are several pharmacies in the major cities of Thailand where you can easily find any medications that you are on, which makes retiring in Thailand much easier.

Cost of living in Thailand

Affordable local goods
  • The cost of living in Thailand is quite affordable, especially the local goods. Thai food, groceries, petrol, and other general items are quite inexpensive.
  • You can easily find high-quality local and imported products from any Supermarket
Costly imports
  • Imported products are equally expensive. Western-style food at restaurants, imported grocery items, and even foreign alcohol can be very expensive.

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

Retiring in Thailand is quite affordable, and depending on your lifestyle, your monthly budget can vary quite significantly.

Most locals in Thailand can live on less than $1,000 a month. Though it is possible, it obviously isn’t going to be an easy lifestyle. For a person who is retiring to Thailand, I would suggest a minimum budget of $1,700 per month.

how much you need to retire in thailand

If you are living in the northern part of Thailand, away from the major cities, $1700 can get you and your significant other a comfortable lifestyle. However, if you choose to live in the more popular and tourist-friendly locations like Phuket, Koh Samui, or Pattaya, you need to have a minimum budget of $2,200 per month.

This budget can help you rent a two-bedroom apartment, eat out a couple of times a week, buy groceries for the month, have your necessary medical visits, pay utilities, and even maintain a small vehicle.

Now, if you want to live a lavish life in Thailand, you should have a budget of about $5,000 a month. This kind of budget allows a couple to eat out regularly, travel, live in a beachfront condo, get the best medical attention, and even hire a maid to help you clean up.

All of these estimates are based on the assumption that you are renting your accommodation; however, if you own your home, living in Thailand can be even more affordable.

Best place to retire in Thailand

Over the years, Thailand has become one of the most popular retirement destinations in the world. However, when it comes to the best place to retire in Thailand, there isn’t a single one. Here is a list of some of the best retirement destinations in Thailand.

Chiang Mai:

chiang mai street
Photo by Cole Patrick on Unsplash

If you’re looking for someplace calm and cultured, Chiang Mai is one of the best retirement destinations in Thailand. Chiang Mai is one of the most cultured cities in Thailand, with its history dating back more than 700 years.

Chiang Mai is one of the more affordable destinations in Thailand. You can easily find a variety of apartments, condos, and Villas here, which are considerably more affordable than in other parts of Thailand.

Furthermore, it is easy to find all modern amenities in Chiang Mai. There are several incredible restaurants, movie theaters, markets, and malls in the city, and it even has a JCI-accredited hospital. Chiang Mai also has the most stunning countryside surroundings in Thailand, which is great if you are an outdoorsy person.

Phuket:

Photo by Vitaly Sacred on Unsplash

Phuket is the biggest island and one of the most popular retirement destinations in Thailand. This incredible island is surrounded by calm turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and lush green, jungle topped mountains.

In Phuket, you can get the best of both worlds. It has breathtaking natural sceneries, and the city also has a lot to offer. Besides that, Phuket also has some of the best healthcare facilities in Thailand.

Hua Hin:

Photo by sippakorn yamkasikorn on Unsplash

Hua Hin is a coastal fishing village located in the south of Bangkok. It used to be one of the most favorite hunting destinations for the Thai royal family, and now, many people from Bangkok, and other major cities of Thailand, visit Hua Hin on their vacations.

Apart from the exceptional natural beauty, Hua hin has all the amenities you need. From exciting bars, shopping malls, western-style restaurants, and some of the best golf courses in Thailand,

Furthermore, Hua Hin isn’t as crowded as some of the other holiday destinations like Phuket and Pattaya, so it is easy to find some much-needed peace and relaxation. Furthermore, you can easily travel to Bangkok for any medical treatment.

Koh Samui:

Photo by Caleb Ekeroth on Unsplash

Besides Phuket, Koh Samui is known as the best retirement destination in Thailand. It offers the perfect laid-back and beach lifestyle that many retirees want. That combined with the super affordable living costs, makes Koh Samui one of the most sought-after retirement destinations in the world.

As far as healthcare is concerned, there are some reliable facilities in Koh Samui; however, for more serious treatments, you can always travel to Bangkok, which is only a 30-minute flight away.

Eldercare for retirees in Thailand:

When choosing a retirement destination, one of the most important things to consider is healthcare. As we get older, medical attention becomes more and more important, and you can’t retire to a country where you won’t be able to get the medical resources that your body needs.

As far as health care and eldercare are concerned, Thailand is significantly better than many of its neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Though it might not be as good as the US, or some European countries, you can still get any kind of treatment your body needs.

The public sector hospitals can be crowded, and understaffed, especially in major cities; however, there are several incredible private hospitals and clinics in cities like Bangkok, and Phuket, which offer high-end medical treatment.

It is also easy to get your medications in Thailand, as there are many pharmacies where you can even get your western medical prescriptions refilled.

Thailand easily has some of the best medical facilities in Southeast Asia, as many people from the neighboring countries travel to Thailand for their serious medical treatments.

Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash

What are the requirements to retire in Thailand?

Citizens of the US and most European countries don’t need a visa to visit Thailand. You just need to have a valid passport, and a return trip scheduled before you enter the country.

However, if you intend to extend your visit, and retire in Thailand indefinitely, you will need to apply for a retirement visa, which is also known as a Non-Immigrant O-A Long Stay Visa. You can go to Thailand on a visit, and apply for a retirement visa from there, or you can also apply from the Thai consulate in your country.

The entire process is quite straightforward; however, it can take some time in certain cases, depending on how you intend to spend your retirement.

Here is a list of requirements that you need to satisfy to apply for a retirement visa to Thailand:

  • You have to be at least 50 years old
  • You need to pass a criminal background check
  • You need a valid passport that doesn’t expire for at least one year
  • You need to have at least 800,000 baht (around $26,200) in a Thai bank account or have a retirement fund, or a monthly income of at least 65,000 baht (around $2,100)

You should also keep in mind that if you choose the first option, you will need to have your money in a Thai bank account at least two months before applying for a retirement visa, and you will need a letter from your bank to show the proof of deposits.

Now, getting a retirement visa for Thailand is simple enough, but it isn’t the end of the story. Depending on the lifestyle you choose, you may need to apply for some additional permits or a different kind of visa.

Here are some things you need to consider after you have gotten your visa:

  • A standard retirement visa is valid for one year, and you have to report to Immigration every 90 days.
  • A retirement visa does not allow you to work in Thailand; therefore, if you intend to do a job, or maybe run a small business in Thailand, you need to apply for a work permit.
  • The retirement visa also doesn’t allow you to leave and re-enter the country; during your first year of residence, if you plan to leave the country, you will need to apply for a re-entry permit. This is a fairly simple process, so there isn’t much to worry about. You just need to fill a form, attach a picture, and photocopies of certain parts of your passport.

Though the standard retirement visa lasts for a year, people from the US and certain other countries can apply for five-year retirement visas as well. However, the financial requirements for such a visa are more difficult. Instead of the standard 800,000 Bhats, you need to have a minimum of 3,000,000 (around $98,200) Bhat in a Thai Bank account, which needs to be deposited at least one year in advance of your application.

Photo by Sidney Pearce on Unsplash

How easy is it to retire in Thailand?

Thailand is an incredible destination to retire to. The landscape is incredible, the cost of living is low, there are reliable medical facilities, the people are amazing, and there are loads of incredible activities to pass your post-retirement time.

Furthermore, retiring to Thailand is quite easy, especially for people from the US. The application process is easy and straightforward, and you can have everything sorted out in a couple of months.

Final Thoughts

After working hard for a long time, and going through the tough years of your life, you should get to spend your golden retirement years in a place that is relaxing and fun. Thailand is an excellent option, and after reading this post, I’m quite sure that you would agree with me.

So, if you are considering moving to Thailand after your retirement, I hope that this post helps you out. That’s all and stay blessed.

benefit of retire in thailand

How to Retire in Thailand and Double Your Income: Your Financial Planning Guide to Retirement in Thailand (Thailand Retirement Book 1)

$9.95  in stock
Amazon.com
as of October 1, 2021 10:46 pm

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