In the last few decades, Thailand has seen a record number of retirees from all over the world deciding to retire here. With a cost of living a fraction of the cost of countries like America, England and Japan, seniors can afford to retire to Thailand and still have a standard of living they could only dream of back home. With so many places in Thailand to retire too though, how do you choose the best area for you and what factors should you look at before deciding?
City Versus Beach or Country – Your first decision about retiring to Thailand should be what type of place you like to live in. Could you handle retiring in Bangkok with its 13 million people and bustling lifestyle (many retirees do love it here)? Do you prefer to live in a calmer country or mountain region like Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai? Or does living by a Thai beach appeal to you, and Pattaya or Phuket is calling your name?
Decide first what pace of life you’re looking for in retirement, and that will narrow down your search a little bit.
Visit Several Places Before Deciding – Don’t just pack up your belongings and retire to Thailand as, for most people, Thailand is a huge culture shock, myself included, and what you may have loved on a holiday, you may hate once you’re actually living here.
Instead, choose two or three places you’re interested in retiring to and spend a couple of weeks in each. Check out apartments, houses, hospitals, restaurants, shopping malls, entertainment and grocery stores. Find out if the public transportation is good? Do people speak English? Can you get good health care? Once you’ve narrowed down what you like and what you don’t, you can make a more educated decision as to which will be the best place, for you, to retire to.
Are You Renting or Buying? – Your next decision should be if you want to retire to Thailand and rent a house or apartment or do you want to put down deeper roots and buy a place?
Renting or buying will go a long way in making your decision to move to the right area a lot easier for you. For instance, renting in Bangkok is still affordable with a typical one or two-bedroom rental apartment
going for around 9,000 to 15,000 baht ($300-$450) a month. Or you can rent a small townhouse for less than 10,000 baht a month ($330). Renting outside Bangkok, in most towns, is even cheaper.
But….if you decide to buy a property, Bangkok is pricing itself out of many retirees’ price ranges, with an average new one-bedroom apartment in a convenient location in Bangkok now 5 million baht ($166,700) and up and these apartments are tiny!
In cities like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai however, you can still buy a beautiful and much larger apartment for between 2.5 million and 4 million baht ($83,400 to $130,000), and it will come with more amenities too.
Do You Want to Learn Thai? – Depending on how good your language-learning skills are should also be factored into your decision to find the best retirement place in Thailand for you.
Living in a city like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai or Pattaya, you’ll have no problem communicating in English as people speak enough to be able to help you with much of what you’ll need. But, if you’re considering a smaller town like Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Khon Kaen, Petchaburi, Nakhon Sawan, or Nong Khai, you’ll find less people who can speak English and learning Thai will suddenly become a must.
That’s why, if you have no inclination to learn Thai, consider retiring to Bangkok or to tourist destinations like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Koh Samui.
Do You Want Traditional or Modern Thailand? – Some retirees want to retire to Thailand and surround themselves with traditional Thai culture. They want to learn Thai, eat only Thai food, pray at Buddhist temples, spend Sundays at a Muay Thai kickboxing game and on and on. For those retirees, retiring to a more traditional Thai town like Surat Thani or Kanchanaburi is a great decision.
If however you’re the type of person who likes access to Western-style shopping malls, large entertainment venues, food from all over the world, world-class art museums and more, modern Thailand may be more of a fit for you and Bangkok, Pattaya or Chiang Mai the ideal retirement location.
Will Your Needs Change as You Age? – Remember too, you may be retiring at 60 or 65 (or even younger) but what will your needs be by the time you’re 75 or 90 years old? If you’re going to retire to Thailand permanently, make sure you’re in a place where your changing needs will be met – good public transportation, world-class hospitals, easy access to grocery stores and markets, not too far from restaurants, entertainment facilities and, for many, bars or pubs if you want to socialize.
Don’t move into a house on the outskirts of a small Thai town then figure out a couple of years later you’ll barely be able to leave it by the time you reach 80 as the only public transportation is a motorcycle taxi and you don’t want to ride one.
Retiring to Thailand is just like retiring anywhere else in the world. Use some common sense when you make such a big decision, instead of falling in love with the romance and exoticness of it all.
Thailand is one of the best places in the world to retire to. It’s full of lovely people, beautiful places, and so many things to do you’ll never manage to do them all. Just make sure you pick the right place to retire to, and your golden years will be wonderful.
Photo – Ayuttayah – a beautiful place to retire to in Thailand – copyright Russ Bowling, Creative Commons