How to retire in Thailand?

Thailand is a popular place to retire for people from all over the world. The cost to retire in Thailand is affordable compare to many Western countries or large Asia cities, and many locations have a way of life that is ideal for people who are looking for an easy life.

Below is a guide that explain how to retire in Thailand with information about the best places to retire, the retirement visa as well as information to buy a property in the “Land of Smiles”.

Why retiring in Thailand?

Thailand is often referred to as the “Land of Smiles”. This is because the Thai people offer such a warm and friendly welcome that visitors find it easy to feel at home. Many cities in Thailand also have a large expatriate community which will also help make it a lot easier for foreigners to settle in and enjoy their lives here.

Another draw is the weather. Thailand is often hot and sunny which is exactly what a lot of people want to experience after a life of hard work. There are some cooler months, but these can also be very pleasant. There will be heavy rains during the rainy season but not enough to ruin your stay overall.

The cost to retire in Thailand is also a lot more affordable than a lot of other locations, and around 30-40% less expensive than the United States for example. Many people will be able to afford a property that is at the very least comfortable. Utility bills are also lower than you are probably used to and, eating and drinking is not too hard on your wallet.

People who retire in Thailand will often find themselves in a wonderful environment. From idyllic cities to breathtakingly beautiful islands there is no better place in the world when it comes to spending your retirement relaxing and enjoying life.

Also, from Thailand you have relatively easy access to other countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia, to name a few. This means that when you retire in Thailand you can have your own home from which you can explore the other wonders that South East Asia has to offer.

What are the best places to retire in Thailand?

People who choose to retire in Bangkok will find themselves in a modern city that is just oozing in culture. There is always something to do and the city has all you need with excellent medical facilities, lower to top end shopping, and all the restaurants and drinking holes you could imagine. The downsides of Bangkok are that the city is crowded, polluted, and the traffic can be difficult to cope with.

One of the most popular place to retire in Thailand for a lot of people is Pattaya, which is a compromise between living in a bustling city like Bangkok, and a tropical island. The city has all you could need but is less hectic than Bangkok. It also has its own beaches, and it is easy to travel to nearby islands. Prices in Pattaya are also rather a lot more affordable than in Bangkok. While Pattaya does have its own beaches, they will probably not live up to what you were hoping for. When weighing up the retiring in Thailand pros and cons, a lot of people would prefer somewhere more aesthetically pleasing.

The islands are the best places to retire in Thailand and foreign retirees in the country are spoilt for choice. Koh Samui is still the favourite for many. Koh Samui is just as beautiful as any other Thai island, or any other island in the world. The beaches are beautiful, and the verdant green hilly background helps make the island even more exquisite.

There is also the way of life, which is relaxed, but also vibrant. There is an eclectic mix of nationalities and cuisines which come together to create a community that has something for everybody. Koh Samui also has schools, shopping malls, and hospitals along with numerous other amenities that help make life safe, happy, and comfortable.

If you are looking for the best places to retire in Thailand, then Koh Samui should be at the top of your list, both for the lifestyle as well as for the property investment potential, as Koh Samui offers interesting opportunities to buy a villa, a house, a condo or a land.

How to get a retirement visa in Thailand?

As with any other country, foreigners in Thailand will need to be granted a visa in order to be allowed to stay in the country. Thailand is quite foreigner-friendly when compared to many other nations with visa requirements that are fairly easy to meet for a lot of people.

An obvious choice is the retirement visa for Thailand, of which there are two types.

“O-A” Retirement Visa

This visa is valid for 1 year and it can be renewed annually. The requirements to qualify for this visa include:

  • At least 50 years old.
  • No criminal record.
  • Not excluding diseases.
  • Must have Thai health insurance of 40,000 baht ($1,300) for inpatient treatment and 400,000 baht ($13,000) for outpatient treatment.
  • An income of 65,000/month ($2,000).
  • At least 800,000 baht ($25,500) in a Thai bank.

“O-X” Retirement Visa

This visa gives holders permission to stay in the country for 10 years.

It is available to residents of 14 nations, which are (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States), and there are additional requirements to retire in Thailand on this Visa include:

  • Must have Thai health insurance of 40,000 baht ($1,300) for inpatient treatment and 400,000 baht ($13,000) for outpatient treatment
  • Not excluding diseases
  • At least 1.2 million baht ($38,500) /year in income
  • At least 3 million baht ($96,000) in a Thai bank account.
  • Must report to Thai immigration every year to demonstrate you still meet the requirements

The other types of visa for foreigners

If you do not meet the requirements for the retirement visa, you have three possibilities to get a legit visa in Thailand.

Marriage Visa

Being married to a Thai national will grant a Non-O (marriage) visa which will be valid for 3 months and it must be applied for in a Thai consulate outside of Thailand. The visa can be extended to 1 year provided the foreigner has at least 400,000 ($13,000) baht in a Thai bank account.

Investment Visa

An investment visa will give a foreigner permission to stay in the country for 1 year. In order to qualify, they must invest at least 10 million baht in the country. The investment must be placed in a fixed deposit account in a Thai bank, used to buy a condo in a new development, or used to buy enterprise or government bonds. Immediate family members of investment visa holders will also be eligible to apply for the visa.

Elite Visa

The elite visa allows foreigners to stay in Thailand for between 5 and 20 years. It also gives the visa holder other privileges like airport transport, access to airport lounges, discounts on services, memberships to golf clubs, and not having to wait in immigration queues. The minimum application fee for the visa is (about $16,000). Holders of the Thai elite visa are not allowed to work in the country.

How to find a property in Thailand?

If you are planning to retire in Thailand, then you will need a place to stay. The good news is that finding a property in the country is a rather straightforward process. Just like everywhere else, you can try looking for property through private adverts. However, the process becomes much more efficient and effective if you find a local real estate agent to help you.

Real estate agents are quite easy to find in Thailand and many of them will speak English, and other languages. Generally speaking, they know the property market well and can also advise you on other information such as the cost to retire in Thailand.

If you are looking for a real estate agent in Thailand, here are a few tips on how to find an agent you can trust.

  1. Ask other people of their experiences with the agent. There are several expat forums you can use to ask.
  2. Ask the agent for references.
  3. Ask how long the agent has been in business for.
  4. Question the agent on their experience and knowledge of the local market.