Retirement in thailand

Thailand enjoys great attention as a retirement country – and for good reason. The cost of living is low, which means that you can stretch your retirement savings further. The country has a rich culture with delicious cuisine and friendly people. The weather is sunny and hot, and there are plenty of beaches to relax on. Active retirees can visit beautiful temples or go hiking. Interested? It is good to get an expert opinion from a financial advisor, but this guide will help you answer everything you need to know about living in Thailand.

How much does it cost to retire in Thailand??

Many people consider retiring to Thailand because it costs relatively little to live there comfortably. According to estimates, the cost of living in Thailand is generally between 30 % and 40 % lower than in the U.S.A. According to Numbeo, a website that collects data on the cost of living around the world, the average cost of living in Thailand is about 34% lower than the average cost of living in the United States. Rents are on average 63% lower.

How do these costs affect your monthly budget? You should have a budget for living in Thailand of at least 1.Budget $500 per month, where 2.000 dollars is a more reasonable benchmark. You can live comfortably without breaking the bank. You could also live much cheaper, so under 1.000 dollars per month, but this would probably be difficult. If you can afford it, with a budget of 5.000 dollars a month to live, you can expect a pretty luxurious life.

Living and eating

A one-bedroom apartment in the center of Thailand's capital Bangkok will cost you about $650 a month in rent. When ancillary costs are included, these costs amount to more than $700. Other monthly costs are likely to be $600 to $700 per month. If you live outside the downtown area, you can cut your rent almost in half to about $340 per month.

For comparison, a one-bedroom apartment in downtown New York costs less than 3.100 dollars a month in rent, which is almost five times as much as in Bangkok. And consumer prices in the Big Apple are almost 91% higher, not counting rent. However, if you compare a U.S. city popular with retirees like Sarasota, Florida, consumer prices there are 52% higher than in Bangkok, not including rent. And a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Sarasota costs about 1.$600 rent per month, almost 2.5 times more than in Bangkok.

In general, you can save the most by living and eating like a local. For example, international food often costs significantly more than local products or a meal in a small, local restaurant. Alcohol costs can also add up quickly.

Apply for a retirement visa in Thailand

First, it's worth noting that citizens of the U.S. and much of Europe do not need a visa to visit Thailand. All you need is a valid passport and a return trip planned before you enter the country.

If you want to retire in Thailand, you will need to apply for a retirement visa, also known as a long-term visa for non-immigrants. You can do this in Thailand or at a consulate in your home country. The process for applying for a retirement visa is relatively simple, but can be quite lengthy depending on exactly how you plan to spend your retirement (more on this in the next section).

To get one, you must be at least 50 years old and pass a criminal background check. You must also have a valid passport with at least one year left on it. Finally, you must meet certain financial requirements. There are several ways to meet these requirements:

  • Do you have a Thai bank account with at least 800.000 Baht (approx. 24.500 $)
  • have a monthly income or pension of at least 65.000 Baht (approx. 2.000 $)
  • Have a combination of the previous options if your total amount is at least 800.000 Baht (24.500 $)

If you choose the first option in the list above, you must have the money in a Thai account at least two months before you apply for a visa. You must provide a letter from the bank stating that the money has been deposited in the account.

Next steps for your visa

Getting a retirement visa is easy, but it's not the end of the story. There are many reasons why you may need additional permits or other visas.

Your retirement visa is valid for one year, but you still have to report to the immigration office every 90 days. If you do not do this, your visa may become invalid. The retirement visa also does not entitle you to work in the country. You need a work visa for this. If you try to work or even volunteer on a retirement visa, your visa may be invalidated.

The retirement visa also does not allow you to leave and re-enter the country. If you are planning a trip, even if it is just a visit to your home country, in the first year of your stay, you must apply for a re-entry permit. Applying for the permit is relatively easy. In addition to the application form, you will need a photo of yourself and various extracts from your passport.

If your retirement visa is about to expire, you will need to apply for a visa extension. This application is similar to the initial application with some additional requirements. For example, you will need to provide proof of address, copies of a bank statement and photographs of each page of your passport.

Citizens of the U.S. and some other countries can actually apply for a five-year retirement visa, although the requirements are more stringent. Instead of 800.000 you need at least 3 million baht in a Thai bank account, and at least 12 months prior to application.

Health care in Thailand

Healthcare is an important factor in your budget. In Thailand, there is no public health insurance for expatriates. You have to take out private insurance. The average cost of health care is still lower than in the U.S., but the cost can add up if you need regular medication or medical attention. For some people it is best to take out travel health insurance from their home country. It may make sense if you plan to travel a lot or return home frequently.

Taxes in Thailand

If you live in Thailand for six months, you have to pay income taxes. This applies to all domestic and international income. You have to pay taxes even if you don't have a work visa.

It's best to work with an accountant to file your taxes. Even if you can file the taxes yourself, everything is in Thai. Thailand also has agreements with a number of other countries to ensure you don't pay taxes on your income twice.

Reasons why you should not retire in Thailand

Those moving to Thailand from the U.S. may experience a little culture shock. The language (Thai) is particularly difficult to learn for people from Western countries. Thai culture is also very different from U.S. culture. People are generally friendly and understand that it's a new culture for retirees, but it's easy to make a faux pas.

Weather that is nice for a few months of the year may be too hot for the rest of the year. During the hot season, temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks at a time. Since Thailand is located in a tropical area, the wildlife is very diverse. There are many types of insects, including mosquitoes, many types of ants and cockroaches (which can fly). There are also snakes, monitor lizards and mongooses. If you don't feel comfortable around these animals, check out Thailand before you move.

Remember that there are other affordable, international destinations where you can spend your retirement years. For example, you can retire in Argentina with a similar budget.

Bottom Line

There are many reasons why you might want to retire in Thailand. The cost of living is low, as are health care costs. There's plenty to see and do in the country. You must apply for a retirement visa, which is easy, but still requires regular immigration checks. You also need a separate visa or permit if you want to work, volunteer or leave the country. If you are considering a move, you should also inform yourself about the Thai culture. It is not very similar to U.S. culture. Those unfamiliar with it could suffer culture shock.

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