American Retirees Finding Cost of Living Less Affordable in Thailand in 2013


American retirees in Thailand


American retirees finding cost of living less affordable in Thailand

While Thailand can still be an inexpensive place to retire to, some American retirees are finding the cost of living less affordable in Thailand in 2013. It’s not that the cost of basic things in Thailand has gone up drastically per se, although things have gone up quite a bit in the last couple of years, what’s killing the purchasing power of American retirees in Thailand is the increasingly strong baht and the weak dollar.

Think about it. If you are an American retiree in Thailand who lives on $1,500 a month, only three years ago that would buy you around 49,650 baht a month — a quite comfortable sum to live on for a retiree, even in Bangkok.

Exchange rates make cost of living less affordable in Thailand for retirees

In 2013, the Thai baht has become so strong and the dollar continued to falter, that same $1,500 you had only a few years ago now only gets you 43,950 baht a month — almost 6.000 baht less than three years ago.

That 6,000 baht, in early 2010 exchange rates was worth about $200. Two hundred bucks more to spend back then than you’d have with the same American retirement income in 2013.

Then, factor in the cost of living increases for things like food, transportation and miscellaneous items (no luxuries included here) in the last three years, and your average monthly costs for a retiree in Thailand are likely 7-10 percent higher than in 2010. A higher cost of living and a worse exchange rate — American retirees in Thailand are certainly feeling the pinch.

Is Thailand still a cheap place to retire to?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Thailand is still a relatively inexpensive place for an American to retire to, particularly compared to the United States itself. All I’m reminding you about is, if you do intend to be an American retiree in Thailand, make sure you have a retirement income that not only covers all your projected living expenses in Bangkok or whichever other city in Thailand you intend to live in, but also allows at least a 10-20 percent cushion, should the baht continue to rise or something catastrophic happen to the dollar.

As it stands now, the Thai baht is expected to keep on strengthening over the next couple of years and the dollar will likely keep falling. With a retirement income cushion, however, you’ll more easily weather it.

If you are planning on retiring to Thailand, don’t forget you’ll also need a retirement visa. Our article How to Apply for and Get a Retirement Visa (non-immigrant O) for Thailand will help you do just that.