Sitting with Jennie and Paul on the terrace overlooking their pool in Koh Samui, Thailand, one can quickly see why they chose to retire where they did. Near the end of a four-month tour of Asia, they happened to hop off on Koh Samui, an Island located about one hour by air south of Bangkok, and decided this was the place to discuss, “whether or not to retire.”
Paul is in his mid 50's and Jennie in her late 40's. Both of them were at their peak earning power. Paul as an independent business owner in Canada, and Jennie working in investment banking. They decided it was time to live the life they wanted, went back to Canada, packed up, sold their house, and moved home to Koh Samui.
Jennie said, "it came down to what was affordable, the quality of life we could have, and being able to enjoy our lives while our health was in top condition.”
The weather is perfect, compared to the winters they faced back home, and Paul added, “there was an instantaneous drop of the stress in life. We just decided this was right for us.”
Home in Koh Samui is a beautiful 2,200 square foot Villa, on a fully landscaped 9,000 square foot lot, with a 15 foot by 30-foot swimming pool. The home has three large bedrooms, all with air-conditioning and ceiling fans, a large American style kitchen, and a large dining and living room that opens directly onto a shadowed terrace.
It is located in a gated community, 10 minutes from Fishermen’s Wharf in Bohput, and Jennie said, “I like the security and the convenience that our little community of 30 homes gives us.” Jennie also said, “having other Expats around us has made it easier for us to get involved and there are activities that can keep us more than busy each and every day.”
Paul said, “there is not a day that goes by that we do not have the opportunity to participate in an activity that we enjoy, whether it is playing cards, volunteering, participating in a walking group, playing badminton, snorkeling and boating or just walking the many beaches. There is a warm, welcoming Expat community on the island that made our transition to Koh Samui very easy.”
With all they have available to do, Paul said “we still take the time to relax and enjoy our pool two to three times per day. And, if we get bored, we can take a flight on Air Asia like we did the other week for $250 each to Penang, Malaysia for three days, including hotel.”
Then we got onto the topic of what this lifestyle costs. Paul and Jennie both chuckled and almost said together, “we don’t think about it. Our new home is beyond our wildest dreams and about 20% of the cost of a similar house in Canada, with our overall ongoing costs about 50% of what we were spending.” Jennie said, “our move has given us a quality of life that will extend our lives by years, and has allowed us to do the things we dreamed about.”
Paul outlined some of their costs. Internet and satellite television costs $150.00 per month, water and electricity $250.00, with all the air conditioners going, food costs $400 per month, and they spend $600 per month for 6-day per week pool and yard maintenance, garbage collection, and security.
Expat Insurance costs are $500 per month, but Jennie said they have been thinking about the need for it. There are excellent hospitals on Koh Samui, a Doctor’s visit costs $10, and there is no waiting three months to get an appointment to visit a specialist. The doctors speak English and Jennie continued, “for those who may think that they have to suffer with lower quality medical treatments as an Expat, I would suggest the quality here is as good or better than what we had in Canada.” Paul said, “we now have friends here from all around the world, and the story about the medical here is similar. Everyone is happy with what we have.”
Parked in the garage is a used Toyota, which Paul said “was more expensive than if we had bought a similar car in Canada,” and gas adds $50 per month to their costs. Jennie said, “it is a small price to pay to go to the store and come out with bags of groceries at only a fraction of the cost back in Canada. And, we like the surprise specials when we go shopping and get a couple of dozen free eggs because they say we spent so much.”
Looking at the pool, Paul said, “let’s go for a dip.” Oh, so relaxing, so soothing in the warm water, the birds chirping, and with the palm trees swaying gently in the constant breeze, it is easy to feel and see why Paul and Jennie now call this their home. It is the middle of winter in Canada, where other people are shoveling snow, while I get the opportunity, for a few days, enjoying Paul and Jennie’s quality of life as an Expat from Canada in Bohput, Koh Samui, Thailand.
What Makes Koh Samui So Great?
Language is not an issue in Bohput, as English is widely spoken by the Expat community. The fun is learning to speak a little of the local language and provides all the locals with a good laugh. The locals are very friendly, and with hand signals, a translator on their telephone, both Paul and Jennie make out just fine. Jennie said, “it is part of the international experience that makes our life so enjoyable.”
Koh Samui is not Bangkok, but it has a large enough population to be able to support a number of excellent medical facilities, shopping, and enjoyable things to do. Medication can be purchased at the local pharmacies, at prices, at least, a quarter of the cost in Canada, and add to that the beaches that circle the whole Island, and it is easy to see why Koh Samui provides Expats a wonderful quality of life.
Who can complain about the weather? Tropical temperatures that stay between 70 degrees and 80 degrees for most of the year, which the light breeze and air conditioning in the homes takes care of.
The cost of living is about 50% of the cost in Canada. Beautiful homes are available in gated communities for as little as $200,000, which includes a swimming pool. But if someone wants to pay more, the sky is the limit, and rents for a home are about $1,800 per month, with condominiums and apartments being much less expensive.
The benefit of Koh Samui is, options are available to fit anyone’s budget. Paul concluded, “we sold our home and invested here, with savings left over. But even at about $2,000 per month for ongoing costs, we realize Koh Samui is a little more expensive than some other locations, however, we just love it.” Jennie said, “everyone who becomes an Expat has to follow their heart and decide where they want to live. For us, Koh Samui is living our dream.”