As someone who will be retiring in the next 20 years or so, I’ve often thought about aging in Thailand. Is it a good place for an older person to live, particularly a western older person? Or, as you age, would it be better to move back to your own country or to somewhere more developed? In fact, you may be surprised at how easy aging in Thailand is in some respects — far easier than in some western countries, and definitely easier than in America.
In Thailand, for instance, public transportation is everywhere. Taxis, tuk-tuks, buses, boats, sky train, underground and motorcycle taxis. There is so much public transportation and at such inexpensive prices, it’s incredibly easy for an older person to get around.
Unlike in America where, in most cities or towns, if you can’t drive you eventually become house-bound as there is no way to leave, in Thailand there’s public transportation going past just about every window in a Thai city or town. That means you’ll never be stuck inside unable to get to a doctor’s appointment, go shopping, visit friends, enjoy a meal in a neighborhood restaurant or see a movie.
Thais too are far more caring about retired people than many westerners seem to be. I know several retired westerners in Bangkok who say their Thai neighbors drive them places, pick up food at the local market, invite them to go on day trips with their family and, in some instances, even send their maid over so daily house cleaning is no problem.
Compare that to the west where, in many western countries, putting older people in a retirement home and forgetting they exist is preferable.
Hospitals too in many Thai cities, and particularly in Bangkok, are run with as high standards as western hospitals but at a fraction of the cost.
In America, there’s an aging population that can’t afford to visit a doctor or make a trip to the hospital. In Thailand, if money truly is a problem, that doctor’s visit will only cost you 30 baht ($1) at a public hospital and, even at a private hospital, you can see a doctor, get a myriad of tests done and various treatments prescribed for less than $100.
Aging in Thailand? While the Thai government is obviously concerned that the soon-to-be larger elderly population in Thailand is not forgotten (they estimate over 17 million elderly will be living in Thailand in the next few decades — see video below), in my mind Thailand already offers many positives for retirees that other countries simply do not. Particularly if you have a pension from your own country to support you.
As Thai authorities are already making preparations to be able to manage an even larger elderly population, if they succeed, it’s likely to only get better.
So, if you are thinking aging in Thailand might be a bad thing. Think again. It just may not be.