If you’re a retiree or an old age pensioner, as the British say, or close to it and considering retiring to Thailand, this article is for you. As a long-time resident of Thailand, I can absolutely confirm that Thailand is one of the best countries to retire to, and here’s why.
Thailand is Very Safe – One thing many retirees worry about when they consider retiring to another country is safety. If you retire to Thailand, I can guarantee you, you’ll end up living in one of the safest countries in the world as there’s very little violent crime. I’ve lived in Thailand for six years and never once felt unsafe. Children and teenagers in Thailand are very polite (unlike countries like the UK, where you feel positively unsafe around a group of teens), women can travel alone with no problems, and older people are taken care of. It’s safe to travel alone in taxis, to walk down streets at night, and to talk to the locals. Of course, there are occasional bag snatchings, but that’s the case in any country in the world and I’ve actually yet to meet anyone who’s had that happen to them. Overall, Thailand is a very safe country especially for the elderly.
Thai People Love Westerners and Help the Elderly – Thais love westerners and, in Thai culture, it’s also expected that the elderly will be taken care of. So, if you’re a retiree living in Thailand, you’ll find that Thai people will take care of you – take you places, help you on and off buses, go shopping for you if needs be, introduce you to their families and a lot more. As a western woman in my 40s, so many people help me in my daily life. At work, people junior to me bring me food, do some of my shopping and even carry my bags if I’m out shopping with them. As a very able-bodied woman, it’s a little disconcerting at first but, for someone who’s retired and not in such healthy shape it could be a godsend.
Cost of Living in Thailand is Very Cheap – One reason why many retirees retire to Thailand is for the cheap cost of living. Living on a pension in Europe and the US can be very difficult. In Thailand though, a pension of only $1,200 a month gets you a nice apartment, three meals a day in restaurants, taxi transportation everywhere, cheap medications and doctors’ visits, holidays by the beach, cheap groceries and even an inexpensive pint of beer now and again. Life in Thailand is so much cheaper than in many other countries in the world. Retirees living here don’t worry about paying bills like they do in other countries.
Property in Thailand is Cheap – If you retire to Thailand and decide to buy or rent, either way the cost will be low. You can get a nice 1-2 bedroom apartment in Bangkok for around $200 to $300 a month in a building with all the conveniences (gym, small shop, swimming pool and often maid service). If you decide to run a good sized condo or apartment can be bought for less than $100,000 (much cheaper than this outside Bangkok) and, again, the building will have all the amenities.
Medical Costs Are Very Cheap in Thailand – The cost of medications and doctor’s visits in Thailand are very inexpensive. I recently had a chest x-ray, blood tests for diabetes, thyroid and sundry other ills, an EKG and two doctor’s visits. The grand total? Less than $60 for everything and this at one of the top hospitals in Bangkok. Medication is inexpensive and much of it is available over the counter without a doctor’s prescription, which cuts costs even more. Doctors too usually speak excellent English. The healthcare in most of Thailand too is as good, if not better, than in the west as many of the doctors here are western-educated and trained. As they get older, many retirees worry about burgeoning health costs – something that’s not even a minor concern in Thailand.
Public Transportation in Thailand is Excellent – Many elderly people in Europe and the US worry about losing their freedom as they get older and cannot drive. In Thailand, this isn’t even a question as public transportation is everywhere and it’s cheap. Bangkok has the sky train, underground, taxis, buses, tuk-tuks, and vans. Outside Bangkok, you’ll still have buses, taxis, vans and tuk-tuks or, if you’re adventurous, a motorbike or elephant thrown in for good measure.
Weather in Thailand is Good All Year Round – Thailand is incredibly hot, all year round. However, it never snows or gets extremely cold so retirees don’t have to worry about getting around in bad weather. Sure, it rains a lot during rainy season, but only for an hour or so a day, then it goes back to nice sunny weather until the next day’s rain. And, as a retiree, most of the time you don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time so you can wait out the rain and venture out when it’s fined up.
Easy to Get a Retirement Visa in Thailand – It’s very easy to get a retirement visa in Thailand. You just have to be over 55 years of age, show that you have 800,000 baht (around $22,500) in a Thai bank account and show proof of income of at least $1,200 per month. If you can do this, you will be granted a retirement visa, which is renewable at Thai immigration every year.
Every year, as the west gets more expensive to retire in, more and more retirees are moving to Thailand. You’ll meet retirees from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore as well as from most countries in Europe and the US. There are less American retirees than any other nationality, something which I don’t understand as the lifestyle in Thailand for retirees is much better than in the US.
If you do decide to try retiring to Thailand though, be warned, you’ll probably love it so much you’ll never leave again.