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The Why and How of Retiring in Thailand

The Why and How of Retiring in Thailand

Retiring can mean living on a pretty steep budget, so many retirees from areas like North America and Europe choose to spend their retirement years abroad in exotic paradises that also come with a low cost of living. Sounds like a dream! Thailand hits a lot of points on the must-have list for expats looking for a great place to retire abroad!


Low Cost of Living

As with anywhere, the cost of living will be highly dependent on which city you choose as your home. You can choose Bangkok and live on much less than if you choose Chiang Mai. However, Chiang Mai would offer the more upscale living experience. It was included in TripAdvisor’s “25 Best Destinations in the World” for a reason. It offers Buddhist temples, museums, national parks, nightlife, international restaurants, and more. Cost of living in this city is around $1,500 to $2,000 per month. If you’d rather get by on a smaller budget, you can. The average Thai resident lives on less than $1,000 per month.

The secret to retiring abroad in Thailand is to live like a local. You can find smaller and inexpensive homes in the not-so-populated areas outside of the cities and purchase local produce. Eat at mom and pop restaurants and you’re well on your way.



Thailand is known for being a destination for medical tourism. It offers high quality at a low cost, so those who wish to retire abroad to this country will not have trouble receiving treatment. To see a specialist in a hospital in Chiang Mai, for example, you can spend as little as $25. That includes an examination and consultation, as well as prescriptions. Regular doctor office visits can cost between $15 and $20. Thailand, otherwise known as the “Land of Smiles,” is ranked among the world’s 50 best healthcare systems by the World Health Organization. This can be a huge factor for retirees, so it’s a definite pro to choosing Thailand for your expat retirement abroad.


Climate & Location

Thailand is a tropical country, and it’s hot year-round. Northern cities are at higher elevations than southern cities, so choose those if you want to try and avoid the hottest of the hot – but you’re still likely to see a lot of 100-degree days. Of course, if you’re looking to spend your retirement beachside, this shouldn’t be an issue. For what it lacks in temperature/climate diversity, this country has plenty of hiking, adventure, and relaxation to offer in return.

Additionally, Thailand is in a central travel location, so there are always discounted flights in and out of Thailand. It’s a great place to live if you love to travel. You can go to China, Japan, and Vietnam for much cheaper than you’d be able to in Europe or the United States.


Retirement Visa

You can apply for this retirement visa while in Thailand visiting, or you can apply from your home country. You’ll need to be 50 years of age or older, and you should have a valid passport, of course. You can stay in Thailand for one year and renew as needed. Your proof of financial requirements will need to match the following specifications. Either of the below can be met:

  • Deposit THB 800,000 into a Thai bank account. This amount must be sitting for 2 months prior to visa extension
  • THB 65,000 monthly pension
  • A combination of the first two qualifications that adds up to meet the correct amounts

Working while on this visa is strictly prohibited, and that’s including volunteer work. You should want to relax and enjoy, anyway! You’re retired and you’ve earned it. You can’t have a criminal record, so you will have to pass a background check from your country of origin. Finally, you will have a health screening to prove that you don’t have any serious illnesses, such as leprosy, tuberculosis, drug addiction, elephantiasis, or third-phase syphilis.

Aside from these qualifications, you’ll need the standard documentation when applying for your retirement visa. Those are: an application, passport photos, copy of your passport, bank statements or notarized affidavit as proof of income, or if you are married to a Thai national, you’ll be able to meet those requirements instead. They don’t demand as high of earnings.


Visa Extensions

Let’s be honest – you’re probably going to want to stay in the “Land of Smiles.” Who wouldn’t? If you want to extend your visa to retire long-term in Thailand, here’s what you need to do:

  • Submit a request for extension at the Office of Immigration Bureau
  • Apply before your visa has expired
  • Submit paperwork 30 – 45 days before expiration (differs by city)

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/phra-nang-thailand-tropical-2262912/

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