Before retiring to Thailand, many retirees have concern and questions they need answers to before making a permanent move. Not sure if they could handle the drastically different lifestyle, the heat and the food, people thinking about retiring in Thailand are a little nervous, but they really shouldn’t be. If the thought of spending your retirement years in Thailand has crossed your mind too, read the answers to the top questions about retirement we often get asked and put your mind at rest.
Is Air Conditioning Available? – For westerners who’ve never been to Thailand, I think they imagine us living in bamboo huts with no running water and elephants carrying us into town. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bangkok is a modern city with all the mod cons of any western city. Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phuket are also large places, offering all the mod cons. Even the smaller towns have much of what you’d have in the west and, yes, we do have air conditioning (seriously, Thailand is so hot, I wouldn’t have lasted two days if we didn’t).
In Bangkok, most places you go are air conditioned. With world-class shopping malls, movie theatres, restaurants, supermarkets, office buildings etc., it’s just about possible to never leave the air conditioning. In fact, on the hottest days, I often go from my air conditioned apartment to an air conditioned taxi, to the air conditioned sky train, to an air conditioned mall and an air conditioned coffee shop.
Even in smaller towns, you’ll find almost every apartment is air conditioned (and if your apartment isn’t, you can buy an air conditioning unit and get it installed for around $250), many restaurants and cafes are, and a lot of the shops. If you absolutely must be 100% in air conditioning though, I’d recommend Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai or Phuket as great places to retire.
Do I Need To Speak Thai? – No, absolutely not. While it’s fun to learn, most retirees can’t say more than “Hello”, “Thank you” and “How much is that?” Thais overall don’t speak much English, especially in the smaller towns, but it’s amazing what they can figure out with a lot of pointing and smiling.
Of course, you can take Thai classes, a lot of retirees do. It’s a great way to meet people and keeps your brain active. But, you don’t have to.
How Cheap is Thailand? – Living in Bangkok is about 20% more expensive than many other Thai cities, although I think Chiang Mai and Phuket are about the same price.
For most retirees though, anywhere in Thailand, you can live in a western-standard apartment, take taxis everywhere, eat out three meals a day, shop at western-style supermarkets, have a few alcoholic drinks a week, a doctor’s visit now and again, do a bit of shopping for books, DVDs etc. and still have money left over from $1,500 a month. On $2,000-plus a month, you’ll have a very nice lifestyle.
Can I Buy Western Food and Western Products in Thailand? – Retirees worry about eating spicy Thai food if they retire to Thailand. There’s no need to worry, or to eat it if you don’t want to.
Western restaurants are everywhere (and yes, unfortunately, we have McDonald’s, Burger King, Sizzler, KFC too), as well as western food available at every large supermarket. In smaller towns, you might find you have to take a taxi to the next town to get your weekly western food shopping, but at an average of $1.50 a trip, it’s no big deal.
Western products are also available everywhere with, of course, Bangkok having the largest choices but even Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phuket have everything you could ever possibly need.
Are Thai People Friendly and Is Thailand Safe? – Thailand is just about the safest country in the world, particularly for foreigners.
As a woman in Thailand, I’ve traveled everywhere alone and never had a problem. I walk around in Bangkok late at night with no worries, most apartment buildings have good security and security guards, I ake taxis alone everywhere and would never consider Thailand dangerous. In fact, all the retirees I’ve met in Thailand say they feel much safer here than they did back in the US or Europe.
Thais are also just about the friendliest people in the world. If you make friends with Thais when you retire to Thailand, you’ll find they’ll drive you places, show you around, bring you food, include you in all their family activities, rush to your aid if you have any problems large or small and, in general, just take care of you.
I’m only in my 40s and, if I have any minor problems or need help with anything, I have at least 30 Thai friends I could ask and they’d be on my doorstep ready to help in just a few minutes. I can only imagine what they’ll do for me when I’m in my 60s.
Retiring to Thailand for many retirees is the best decision they ever made. With warm weather all year round, excellent and cheap public transportation, cheap, delicious and healthy food, inexpensive medication and hospitals at western-standard, friendly and helpful people and a beautiful country to explore, what more could you want?
Retiring to Thailand is not only an adventure, it will probably be the best thing you’ll ever do. After all, who wants to continue to live in the west, with expensive costs of living, high crime rates, miserable weather, bad public transportation and neighbors who barely know you’re alive. Why would you when you can have all Thailand has to offer?