Holiday be damned… I’m going to live here!

by Robin Westley Martin

Medical care and treatments continue to improve in the world we live in, and our life expectancy continues to increase. As recently as the year 1900 the average world life expectancy was only 31 years of age, but now it’s 71.4. If you look specifically at Western, developed world countries, the average life expectancy reaches as high as 81.6 years of age. This means that as we reach the end of our working life we have a lot of time to enjoy our golden years. Over the last half century travel has become an important part of many people’s lives, and nowadays the speed and comfort of air travel means that nowhere on the globe is out of our reach.

Some countries have embraced this desire of people to travel, and Thailand is now one of the top tourist destinations in the world, welcoming upwards of 36 million annual tourist visitors. Thailand is also home to many international companies whose workforce comes here for varying amounts of time. The millions of tourists who return here for a holiday year after year combined with these expat workers who become enamoured of Thailand, has resulted in it becoming a first choice relocation destination for people from countries all around the world, when they reach retirement age. It’s easy to see why.

Thailand is a tropical country with warm weather all year round; it has stunning tropical beach resorts and islands; Thai people are laid back and welcoming; it’s not expensive compared to their own countries; it’s a safe environment in which to live, with little crime, even in the large cities like Bangkok; the food is delicious and cheap; transport is cheap; there are thousands of wonderful temples and other historic buildings to explore and marvel over; shopping and entertainment opportunities abound; and a Thai traditional massage will leave you feeling as if you could walk on air.

If your retirement dreams include a beautiful climate, fresh cultural experiences, access to affordable healthcare and a lower cost of living, you could do a lot worse than to choose Thailand. But do not do this without first doing your research and having a good look around. You will be making it your home and you do not want to be paying inflated tourist prices in your new retirement paradise. I have lived here for three decades and I know that a bit of focused research is the way to go, even for something as simple as a night out.

The best in entertainment and food is easy to find at a fraction of the price offered by the tour desks found in the hotels. A little manual footwork – or a Google search – will pay great dividends. As well as will talking to locals, friendly expats, or the Thais you will befriend. According to International Living, a publishing group that covers living and retiring overseas, Thailand has one of the lowest costs of living in the world, adding to its appeal as a top retirement destination. In the 2018 Annual Global Retirement Index, it is in a three way tie for sixth cheapest place for cost of living, along with Columbia and the Philippines.

What you need to know

To help you with your retirement plans I suggest the Thailand Longstay Company, which was established in 2001 with the endorsement of the Thai Government, in order to support long-stay tourism. And, helpfully, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is a major shareholder of, which means they are able to provide tailor made services to retired expatriates, and help to promote the quality of the long-stay tourism industry in the Kingdom. Several of my friends have used them, and I have been given to help you with your retirement plans I suggest the Thailand Longstay Company, which was established in 2001 with the endorsement of the Thai Government, in order to support long-stay tourism. And, helpfully, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is a major shareholder of, which means they are able to provide tailor made services to retired expatriates, and help to promote the quality of the long-stay tourism industry in the Kingdom. Several of my friends have used them, and I have been given glowing reports.

Since its founding it has signed MOU’s with government organisations such as the Immigration Bureau, the Tourist Police, and the Airports Authority of Thailand. They specialise in providing a one year retirement visa (renewable) for expatriates, and other matters related to the immigration procedure found in Thailand. Members of its Thailand long-stay programme do not need to go through the sometimes cumbersome Thai Immigration process by themselves, because the company will process and help with the gamut of procedures for you. With help on hand from the minute you arrive at the airport.

But if you are an independent type of guy, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The legal requirement for a retirement visa is an income of 65,000B (about 2,000 USD) a month or savings of 800,000B ($25,000) in a Thai bank account. As for a place to live, whether you want to buy or rent, it comes down to location; some places in Thailand are more affordable than others. A retired couple will have a higher quality lifestyle in Chiang Mai up in the North, than in Bangkok, for example, for the same monthly outlay.

The most popular beach resorts will also be more expensive. I myself think that with $1,500 to $2,000 per month income you could have a good lifestyle. Most people who retire in Thailand receive far more than that from their pension, though, and really live the life, employing a maid and living in their own condo or other property. Remember, though, that owning land is not an option for a non-Thai.

Many expat men have lost their property when putting it in the name of their Thai wives, who subsequently leave them with nothing and not a leg to stand on! Though $2,000 a month can give you a fairly decent living, it is possible to get by with a smaller budget. The average Thai resident lives on less than $1,000 per month, and if you choose to live in a small apartment, eat only local food, and travel rarely, then it is possible to do the same. But for most this is not what they are looking for in their retirement. They want to savour the fruits of their lifetime of work, and really enjoy themselves for twenty years or more. Thailand is the place to do it. Ching ching!

Contact advice for The Thailand Longstay Company, please quote “Expat Life” Ms Napassawan Neampradit Email: [email protected]

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