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Retirement in Thailand [2]

continued from Retirement in Thailand[1]  

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  2.  Why Choose Thailand?

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 Quality of Life

Standard of Living
For those retirees coming from a country where people are blue in the face due to the rain and cold, then Thailand and its warm tropical climate is a mighty great change. If you retire in the Land of Smiles you will be able to throw away those Wellington boots, anoraks, thick jumpers and ski-style jackets and bet out your flip-flops, t-shirts, shorts and sunglasses.

Thailand has everything for everyone’s taste, whether it be peace & quiet / quiet & family / family & nightlife / nightlife & fun / fun & friends – at the beach, in the mountains, in the countryside or in the town – take your pick!

Safety: Thailand is a relatively safe country where crime against foreigners is quite rare.

Communications: Thailand now has a communications system on par with the West. The international code for Thailand is 66 and competitive international rates are slashing the price of international phone calls these days in Thailand. Internet connection can be had at every touristy place and town. Even villages now have Internet cafes around.

Medical and Dental: Many hospitals in Thailand offer a high quality of service, again at a fraction of the cost of which is the norm in the West. Every province has at least one major hospital but of course the best care can only be offered in the main urban cities. In the central region that is Bangkok, in the north Chiang Mai, in the north-east Khon Kaen and in the south Hat Yai and Phuket. Some of these hospitals also have excellent dental facilities, otherwise for dental treatment specialized clinics can be found in every town. 

In Bangkok excellent service is offered at:430 Phitsanulok Road (02) 281-1422
     Bangkok Christian Hospital 124 Silom Road (02) 233-6981-9
     Bumrungrad Hospital 33 Soi 3 Sukhumvit Road (02) 253-0250
     Samitivej Hospital 133 Soi 49 Sukhumvit Road (02) 392-0010-9 
     Siam Dental Clinic 412/11-2 Soi 6 Siam Square (02) 251-6315

     Bangkok Adventist Mission Hospital

Costs: Even if ones retirement pay isn’t that much in regards to that of other retirees, one can enjoy a high standard of living in Thailand at a low cost. And that is made even cheaper when a retiree gets out of tourists havens such as Bangkok, Phuket and Ko Samui. 

Facilites / Accommodation: Thailand has a variety of different accommodation at cost-effective prices. Most apartments, condominiums and houses outside of Bangkok and other well-trodden tourist areas do not have air-conditioning. One would have to have a good look around. House owners do of course allow their tenants to put in their own air-conditioning if they so wish. All the four and five hotels have just the same kind of facilities as in the Western world.

Transportation: One can travel around easily cheaply without the need of a private car. Public transport is relatively decent in Thailand, there are Tuk-Tuks (motorized rickshaws), Songthaews (look like pick-ups) normal buses and motorbike taxis. In Bangkok, there is also the sky-train, underground train and express boats, canal boats and taxis. To travel long distances, there are air-conditioned over-night buses and trains. Internal flights around Thailand are led by the national carrier Thai Airways followed by budget airlines such as Air Asia, Nok Air, One2Go, etc.

Shopping: Shopping is the one the great things about Thailand. Bangkok plays host to some of the best and largest shopping malls in Asia. Most everyday Thais prefer their traditional markets where lots of bargains can be had if one knows the art of bartering.

Nightlife: In the tourist resorts there are an abundance of discos, pubs and beer bars. Thais though, prefer karaoke lounges, live folk music pubs and all night open-air restaurants. Only Thai youngsters are interested in discotheques

 3.  Type of Retirement and Facilities in Thailand 

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Independent Living

Independent living simply means being able to live on ones own without any custodial or medical attention.

Nursing Care

It is no joke that some of Thailand’s well-to-do hospitals look no different from five star hotels. Treatment costs are usually far cheaper than anything heard of in say the US.

Domestic Assistance / Support in your home

Thailand’s leading hospitals are able to offer domestic assistance and home support. They are:

     – House keeping and cleaning.
     – Laundry and ironing.
     – Shopping assistance and errands.
     – Meal preparation.
     – Socialization and companion care.
     – Support to medical, dental and specialist appointment.
     – Transportation arrangement.
     – Medication pick up.
     – Personal fitness trainer.

Personal Care

Thailand’s leading hospitals are able to offer personal care, such as:

     – Showering and Bathing
     – Oral hygiene and Grooming
     – Toiletinเ
     – Skin care
     – Mobility and Transferring
     – Medication reminder
     – Daily routines

4.  Retirement Visa & Application

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Applying for Thai retirement visa 

Requirements for retirees getting a Non-Immigrant “O” Visa from outside Thailand at a Thai embassy:

        1. 50 years old of age or older
        2. Passport (at least 1 year remaining before expiration)
        3. Holding the nationality or permanent residence of country of application.
        4. Police records check
        5. Certificate of Health
        6. Proof of meeting financial requirement
        7. Bank letter showing funds or pension statement

2 : Documents required for One-year retirement visa in Thailand.

        1. Passport – copies of every page. Each copy must be signed by applicant.
        2. Non-Immigrant Visa
        3. Departure Card TM.6
        4. Proof of meeting financial requirement
        5. Thailand Bank book (original)
        6. Letter from applicant’s Thai Bank
        7. Medical Certificate (health exam administered by doctor at first class hospital)
        8. Three up-to-date neat photos, 4x5cm

* Financial requirement
1. A bank account with at least 800,000 baht
2. A monthly income of at least 65,000 baht
3. Combination of both bank and income of at least 800,000

Signing for new Retirement Visa
When the visa is approved, only the passport holder can pick it up in person. Even though this visa is valid for one year, the visa holder must report to immigration every 90 days to verify his address. This can also be done by mail.

3 : Bringing household items to Thailand

Household items must be brought into Thailand within the first 6 months of issuance of the visa. Visa-holders are not taxed. In the event of unforeseen circumstances the items are due to arrive in Thailand after that time, it is advised to explain the matter with an officer-in-charge.

4 : Getting a re-entry permit

The retirement visa is only valid for a single stay in Thailand. If the visa-holder wishes to leave and return to the Kingdom within the one year, he must obtain a re-entry permit, either a single re-entry or a multiple. This can easily be acquired, for a fee, at the immigration office where the visa was issued. In event the visa-holder does not obtain this, his retirement visa will become invalid.

5: Renewing the retirement visa

Just before the visa and valid entry stay (same date) expires, the visa-holder is required to apply for a new visa. He just has to follow the steps as in the first process. New visas though, are usually less time consuming.

Reporting to immigration every 90 days

This is usually done at the same immigration office as where the visa was issued. The visa-holder simply has to arrive at the office and sign a piece of paper which reads something like “I still reside at the same address”. If the visa-holder changes address in the meantime, he must inform immigration as soon as possible. This can also be done via post, but the visa-holder must ask his immigration officer beforehand.


5.  Cost of Living in Thailand


The cost of accommodation in Thailand varies enormously depending on location, and especially in Bangkok.

Most accommodation in downtown Bangkok for example is fully furnished and serviced, a condo or apartment like this costs 1,700USD+ a month. On the other hand however, a non air-con basically furnished apartment, condo or even house on the outskirts of Bangkok costs in the region of 100 – 200USD a month – a huge difference.

The cost of accommodation there has shot up quite a bit over the past decade, however there is very little in the way of the astronomical prices seen in downtown Bangkok. Near the sea, most of the long-term accommodation and situated away from the beach and so the prices aren’t so high. A decent enough house or basically furnished apartment can be got for around 300USD a month.

For all other destinations in Thailand including Pattaya and Krabi etc. the cost is about half than that of Phuket’s.

Food & Beverage

Besides up-market restaurants and hotels, the cost of eating and drinking in Thailand is real cheap. A plentiful meal for two, including non-alcoholic beverages at say an open-air food market costs between 2 – 10USD depending on what is ordered. A Western or Chinese meal for two at a posh restaurant in Bangkok or another tourist area costs around 50 – 100USD – another huge difference. From a local convenience store, soft drinks and water are around 30 cents per bottle and a large bottle of locally made beer is about 1.50USD. At an upcountry restaurant and bar the prices aren’t too different to the convenience store.

A Night on the town

For a night out in Bangkok or another tourist destination, the cost is far more than upcountry, but it is still not too much. Excluding buying drinks for friends or company, the cost of a decent night out should be around 50USD.



Cars & Bikes:

The cost of buying a new car in Thailand is on a par with that of the EU, but the cost of second-hand automobiles is more expensive. Car rental is around 50USD per day or $1,000 per month. As for motorcycles, a standard brand new 100cc small bike costs about 1,500USD, for rental at tourist resorts they are about 6USD per day.

Buses & Trains:
Bus and train travel in Thailand is cheap. An air-con bus in Bangkok itself is no more than 60 cents while an overnight bus upcountry is about 18USD. A train ticket with a 1st class air-con sleeper to the likes of Chiang Mai from Bangkok is a reasonable 25USD.

Taxis, Tuk-Tuks & Songthaews:
The minimum charge for a taxi in the capital is currently 1.20USD. A taxi ride to the airport, which is approximately 25km from downtown Bangkok, costs around 10USD. Thailand also has motorbike-taxis and these cost roughly the same price as a taxi or tuk-tuk. Tuk-Tuks (motorized rickshaws) are common both in Bangkok and the provinces for short journeys, a ride costs between 1 – 2USD depending on the distance. Songthaews as they say in Thailand are passenger pick-up vehicles (they are called Baht Buses in Pattaya). They are the most common mode of in-town transportation in Thailand and cost very little. To find out what one looks like, one only needs to ask any local Thai to point one out.

Health Care

At Thailand’s top hospitals, one can expect to find only the very best standard of practice, one on a par with that in the West – or even better in some instances. Medical fees are usually incredibly low with that of say the United States. Even at one of Bangkok’s top hospitals, the fee for doctor consultation and basic medication should come to no more that 30USD. As for dentistry, that too is extremely inexpensive in Thailand – for example, in the provinces a tooth extraction at a private clinic costs around 15USD.

Medical Insurance can be obtained in Thailand. There is AIA and several other Thai insurance companies.


Dial-up connection in Thailand is getting rarer as people are turning to ADSL. Typical monthly charges including the telephone line are around 20USD+. Thailand also has more than its fair share of Internet cafes, the hourly charge is about 1USD. For those residing in rural areas, hooking up to the Internet can be done via broadband satellite.

Cable TV

Most foreigners living in Thailand soon get fed up with Thai language TV and yearn for something in the English language. Western TV is available on UBC with all the usual channels such as BBC, CNN, MTV and Star Sports etc. The monthly charge for the full package is around 50USD+.

Common Utilities
for a 2 bedroom house / apartment (costs are only average)

     – Electricity: 30 – 150USD per month depending on air-con usage
     – Water: 3 – 15USD per month
     – Rubbish collection: 2USD per month
     – Gardening / Painting: 10USD per day
     – House cleaning: 10USD per day or 200USD per month

Price examples for food and beverage etc….

     – Chicken fried rice from a street hawker – 1USD
     – Meal for two with drinks in a nice restaurant – 12USD
     – Meal for two in a top Western restaurant in Bangkok 50 – 100USD
     – Short taxi ride in Bangkok – 3USD
     – Can of soft drink – 50 cents
     – Kilo of uncooked jasmine rice – 1.50USD
     – Loaf of bread – 1USD
     – A whole roasted chicken in the market – 4USD
     – Large bottle of local beer in a normal non air-con restaurant – 2USD
     – Small bottle of beer at a bar at a tourist resort – 3USD
     – Packet of cigarettes – 2USD


Travel Within the country

Traveling in Thailand is convenient and cost-effective. One can travel by virtually any mode of transport from long-tail boat to airplane, the latter of which can be taken to nearly all the tourist destinations in Thailand. There is the national airline carrier Thai Airways and also the choice of budget airlines. In the event of driving in Thailand, an international driver’s license is needed (or a Thai one). Thailand’s roads are pretty decent and Thais drive on the left.


Thailand certainly comes out tops for entertainment, there are museums, theaters, musicals, bowling alleys and cinemas etc., in fact, basically everything you can find in the West. Kinds of entertainment typically Thai-Thai include Thai boxing bouts, Thai dance shows and Thai-style karaoke.

As most people know, Thailand’s nightlife is legendary, but these days the laws governing time restrictions are enforced and most bars, discos and pubs etc. close at 1 – 2am. There are quiet all night restaurants though which are allowed to sell alcohol.


Thailand is a haven for shopping. Shoppers can visit local markets, car boot sales, night bazaars and shopping malls. Original designer clothes are a bargain in Thailand, a typical Lacoste or Ralph Lauren short-sleeve shirt can be had for the likes of 30USD. Traditionally, tourists come to Thailand to purchase jewelry, silk, cottons, wood carvings, paintings, silverware, bronze ware, ceramics and handicrafts.

Visitors to Thailand who purchase highly valued goods can get a VAT refund at the airport or sometimes in the actual shop.


Education/ Schools

All children of Thai nationality are entitled to a free government education up to Grade 9, but a lot of Thais with some spare cash prefer to send their children to private schools. The types of private schools consist of:

Thai language private school:
This type of private school follows more or the less the normal Thai educational curriculum. English language is taught around four hours a week, the same as in government schools, but since however the class sizes are much smaller (typically 25 instead of 50) the overall standard is better. Costs are around 1,000USD per year.

Bi-lingual private school:
This type of school emphasizes the learning of English and usually half the subjects are taught in English often by a native English teacher. The syllabus taught though is again very similar to the one set by the Ministry of Education. Depending on the location and actual quality, school fees vary from 1,000 – 5,000USD per annum.

International schools:
Thailand now has an abundance of International schools, but the quality and standards vary dramatically. Depending on choice the parents can choose from a variety of syllabus such as the American and British ones, so enabling their children to study abroad in the future. English is the major language at these schools and all the lessons are taught in the language. Some Thai language is also taught. Fees for International schools vary considerably, depending on standard, boarding or non boarding and kindergarten, primary or high school. Costs are around 3 – 25,000USD per annum.

Here are some of the top private schools in Bangkok (unless stated)

     American School of Bangkok (ASB) Kindergarten to Grade 12 – American syllabus
     Bangkok Patana School: British curriculum
     Charter International School: British curriculum
     Chiang Mai International School: Christian school in Chiang Mai
     Dulwich International College: Boarding school, British curriculum. Located on Phuket Island
     Global English School: Instruction from kindergarten to Grade 6
     Harrow International School: Boarding school
     International School of Bangkok (ISB) American curriculum.
     International School of the Regents: British curriculum. Campuses in Bangkok and Pattaya
     Kesinee International School: Nursery to Grade 6
     Melodies International Kindergarten: Nursery and kindergarten
     Montessori Children’s Center International:Prem Tinsulanonda Center for International Education (Prem Center) Boarding school. Kindergarten to Grade 12
     Rose Marie Academy: American curriculum. Kidergarten to Grade 12
     Ruamrudee International School: 50 year old Christian school. Amercian curriculum
     St. Andrews International Schools: Bangkok and Rayong
     St.Michael International School: British curriculum
     Topsy Turvy International School: Nursery to Grade 2
     Universal International School: British curriculum. Grade 1 to Grade 12Located in Pattaya

6.  Retired Life in Thailand

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How and What to PrepareBefore retiring in Thailand it is essential to have considered it properly and realized the probable consequences of the decision:


     – Never completely trust a stranger’s advice
     – Only socialize with respectable expatriates in Thailand and listen to what they have to say; not some guy who sits on a barstool all day.
     – Do not believe all the things written on the Internet about Thailand
     – Try and get all the relevant information
     – Get the correct visa
     – Find out all the pros and cons of different locations
     – Get the finances in order

Learn Thai

Some expatriates come to Thailand, live here for 20 years and never learn Thai. That means that they never see or know the real Thailand. It is advisable to learn some Thai to really get to know decent Thai people from all walks of life. Thais always appreciate foreigners who take the effort to learn the language.

One can learn Thai the official way by attending a private tutorial school, while others just simply buy a book and learn as they go. Some Thais like to have a laugh with male retirees and advise they find themselves a girlfriend who doesn’t speak much English! The length of time needed to speak reasonable Thai really depends on the person, effort and natural ability.

Arrange all the proper documentationGetting the right visa isn’t straight forward, but it is made much easier if all the documents are there as required.


Where to livePopular places for retires to live include:



     – Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok
     – Patong Beach in Phuket
     – Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui
     – Loi Kroh Road in Chiang Mai
     – Beach Road in Pattaya or Jomtien

It really depends on the person about a reasonable amount of money to live on in Thailand. Some foreigners who live in a village Thai-style may argue that 500USD is more than enough per month, while others who live it up partying every night and staying in a top of the range condo in Bangkok may quote 5,000USD.

Rent or BuyForeigners can never own land in Thailand, so it may be fruitless to buy a house. A lot of retirees have however, bought a house and land in the name of a friend or Thai family (often wife). In this incidence, it is advised to be extremely careful. An uncountable amount of foreigners have ended up with nothing, after they have realized that their fond ones were nothing more than money grabbers. It is advised to simply rent a house, and in the long run it is also cheaper. Houses can be rented from anywhere between 100USD in an upcountry town to 10,000USD in downtown Bangkok.


Foreigners can however, own condominiums.

Finding a place to rent

Most of the English language classifieds on the Internet and in newspapers (Bangkok Post and others) are only for 4-5 star quality accommodation, mostly in Bangkok. In Thailand it is best to ask a Thai or expatriate friend to recommend an area to live. Next, go there and look around for a place. Most folk find their place by word of mouth.

 [to be continued]

Source of content and photographs  : Tourismthailand.org   &  Wikipedia.org



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