Retiring in Thailand has never looked more appealing. The country is made up of pristine beaches, an exotic tropical climate, and a strong culture that features some of the best food in the world. Even better, the cost of living helps pensions go a long way, and the expat community is thriving there.
Exotic Asian countries such as Thailand have a lot to offer those looking for a new home in which to spend their retirement. Thailand itself has most of the features travelers are looking for, along with a very popular airport, making it a hub for travel to most other areas of the world. Here are a few things you should know about retiring in Thailand.
How to Make it Happen
In order to be approved for a retirement visa in this country, you have to prove that you bring in a consistent income of at least 65,000 Thai baht (THB) per month. That equates to about $2,000 USD. Alternatively, you could show that you have 800,000 THB saved up in a Thai bank account. Provide proof of these funds along with a valid passport to the Thai consulate to obtain a non-immigrant visa.
Upon receiving this visa, you can apply for the one-year retirement visa, for which you must be 50 or older to apply. You’ll need an extension of stay notice and re-entry permit so that you can come and go as you please, and finally you’ll need to check in every 90 days with the Immigration Police to verify your address.
Cost of Living
With the Thai currency’s exchange rate as it is, the American dollar can be stretched much further in Thailand than it can be in many other countries. Thailand does, however, have more expensive neighborhoods catered to the expat community. It all depends on where you choose to live. If you choose Bangkok and/or its surrounding areas, it’s safe to say these are the types of prices you can expect:
- 1-bedroom monthly rent in the city: $650
- 1-bedroom monthly rent outside of the city: $300
- Basic monthly utilities: $85
- Three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant for two: $30
Chiang Mai is a more popular destination for expats than Bangkok is, and it’s a bit cheaper, too. Chiang Mai is in the northern part of the country and offers a mountainous climate for outdoor activities like whitewater rafting and mountain biking. If you choose this northern city, here are the ballpark prices you can expect:
- 1-bedroom monthly rent in the city: $350
- 1-bedroom monthly rent outside of the city: $205
- Basic monthly utilities: $45
- Three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant for two: $20
Most expats find that they can relocate to Thailand and live a comfortable lifestyle on $2,000 per month. Some may even be able to make it work on $1,000. It just depends on how cushy you want your retirement lifestyle to be.
Most Popular Expat Communities for Retiring in Thailand
While Bangkok is a great city for tourism and shopping, it isn’t actually the most popular place to settle in Thailand. Bangkok is an appealing option for those who wish to live in a city where there is a mesh of other cultures and languages spoken. This could potentially make such an exotic move a little more comfortable.
Bangkok is one of the largest cities in the world, which means that’s where you’ll find modern amenities like high end shopping and excellent hospitals. There’s no shortage of people to meet and things to do, either, so it’s never a bad option.
More popular expat communities for those retiring in Thailand fall in the Chiang Mai and Hua Hin regions of the country. Chiang Mai has an active expat club and dozens of interest groups that meet regularly to keep the community fun and thriving for newcomers. Chiang Mai is a very affordable destination, but it is also a large city, known to be one of the safest in the country.
Hua Hin offers more of a laid back, small town feel for those seeking a slower lifestyle. It has the appeal of a small fishing village, but is just a tad pricier than Chiang Mai, with monthly rent for a one bedroom in the $450 range and utilities in the $90 range. This is a city where much of Bangkok’s elite choose to settle.
Other popular expat destinations include Chiang Rai, Phuket and Rayong, each with their own charms to offer.