Thailand is a Southeast Asian country with a population of approximately 69 million people. Endowed with some of the most beautiful tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, and an inexpensive cost of living, it is easy to understand why just about anyone can be excited about retiring here. However, retiring in Thailand is not as simple as packing up and leaving; you’ll need to plan.
So how do you retire in Thailand? To ensure you enjoy your retirement in Thailand, consider doing the following:
- Learn more about the country.
- Research the best places to retire.
- Understand the cost of settling and living in Thailand.
- Know the visa requirements and apply for one.
- Make your move!
Transitioning into retirement is one thing; moving abroad to retire is another. To avoid running into any problems, read on to learn more about what you should do so you can spend your retirement in Thailand in peace.
5 Things to Do to Retire in Thailand
Deciding to retire in Thailand can be a life-changing experience, which is why it is important for you to know exactly how to make the move. Here are five things you should do to ensure success:
1. Learn More About Thailand
One of the best ways to learn about a country is to organize a trip to go and spend some time there. While you’re in the country, immerse yourself into the culture as much as possible. Why? Learning about the culture is an excellent way to ensure that you do not get a culture shock when you finally transition there.
The following are some quick tips of things you should consider when you first visit to get to know the country you’ll soon be living in:
- Try and interact with a few locals. Learn about their mannerisms and how they communicate with one another. It will also benefit you to start learning Thai, Thailand’s official language.
- Taste some of the most popular dishes they have to offer. This will also help you determine the foods you do and don’t like and if you would be comfortable eating their food full-time.
- Partake in a few activities you can do around Thailand. This could be a sport, hobby, or even a hiking trail. Try to find a few things you know you would enjoy doing, even in retirement.
- Get acquainted with the country’s dominant religions. As with any other country, religion is an important part of a nation’s culture. Make sure you are aware of the different beliefs practiced in Thailand.
- Understand the laws. Since you’ll be living there, you will need to know the laws governing Thailand and how they may affect you.
Other than experiencing the culture in-person, you can also learn about Thailand through various articles and blogs that talk about their lifestyle and culture.
2. Consider the Best Places to Retire
Before you make your move to Thailand, it is wise for you to consider some of the best places for you to settle first. After all, you’ll need a place to live!
- If you are a person that generally enjoys nature, it may be a good idea for you to check out various places within Chiang Mai. This region is located among the highest mountain ranges and boasts of beautiful jungles and rivers for you to go kayaking. Its mountain trails are a hit with both local and foreign tourists in the country.
- If, on the other hand, you enjoy the cool breeze and peaceful atmosphere of beaches, you may want to consider the Pattaya region. It has some of the most outstanding golf courses, restaurants, and bars. What’s more, it is only a few hours away from Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok.
- For anyone that just wants to get away from the tourist-centered regions and the city, it may be wise to settle in the rural region of Hue Hin.
There are clearly many regions with varying environments and settings, meaning you can be sure to find a place that will tickle your fancy.
3. Understand the Cost of Living in Thailand
While the cost of living in Thailand is significantly lower than the cost of living in the U.S. or Europe, the truth is that you should be aware of some of the general details to ensure that you sound financial decisions.
To begin with, you should be aware of the approximate amount of money you are likely to pay for acquiring or renting a property in the country; this cost varies from one region to another.
Some apartments or houses for rent may go for as little as $190 (USD) per month, while others may go for as much as $318 (USD) per month. Most of these rental properties are already furnished, but you will have to settle the utility costs on your own.
As a foreigner in Thailand, you are not allowed to buy land in the country. However, you can have ownership of a building or a 40% ownership of a condominium.
Below are some examples of estimates of the amount you may have to spend on utilities and other costs of living:
- Rent and internet may cost $230/month
- Electricity and water may cost $30/month
- A live-in housekeeper may cost approximately $200/month
- Food and groceries may cost $200/month
- A scooter and gas may cost you $100/month
- An evening out may cost you approximately $70/outing
When calculating the cost of living, it may also be wise to factor in the amount you will need to secure a visa plus the cost of traveling from your origin nation to Thailand. With these figures in mind, you should be able to set aside enough money to get set up in the country.
4. Know the Requirements for Retiring and Apply
Learning about the requirements necessary to move to Thailand is key to ensuring a smooth transition. Note that before retiring, you must obtain a non-immigrant visa from a consulate in your country and then apply for a one-year retirement visa. To obtain the said visa, you should meet the following requirements:
- Go through a criminal background check successfully
- Own a valid passport that does not expire for at least the next year
- Be at least 50 years of age
- Deposit at least $24,500 in a Thai-based bank account two months before applying for the visa. Alternatively, you can show proof of a minimum monthly income or pension of at least $2000. You can verify your monthly income by providing an annual bank statement. You can also show proof of your security deposit by producing an up to date bank book.
Having met all these requirements, you can go ahead and apply for the 1-year retirement visa. Applications must be made in person; therefore, it is advisable that you visit the Thai immigration office in Bangkok. However, you are free to seek the services of an immigration attorney to help you through the process as well.
Once you secure the visa, you are supposed to pay a visit to a specified Thai immigration office every 90 days. The visa must also be renewed every year for a specified period, after which you will be allowed to apply for permanent residency. (To be eligible for permanent residency, you must have been a non-immigrant visa holder for at least three years.)
5. Make Your Move!
Having fulfilled all legal requirements to retire in Thailand, it is time for you to set a date and make your trip down to your new home away from home. Of course, you can make this country a full-time or part-time retirement home—it all depends on your preferences.
The culture of Thailand is significantly different from that of North America and Europe. That is why it is important for you to, first, do some due diligence in understanding how life may change for you when you move from your native home to Thailand.
Nonetheless, few retirement destinations can compare to the possibilities you stand to enjoy when you move to Thailand. The health system in the country is good, cost of living is affordable, and there are many beautiful and safe places for you to settle.