Thursday, August 26, 2010

Retiring in Thailand

Thailand is an attractive location for many people when it comes to retirement, and understandably. Warm climate, excellent medical facilities, lower cost of living - all of these are key factors when considering where to be during those golden years.

There is a multitude of erroneous information online regarding retirement in Thailand, with many service providers seemingly more interested in receiving your retirement visa fees than actually serving your overall retirement needs.

Here is what you need to consider in order to make this big decision:

1. Your retirement visa(s)
First and foremost you require a retirement visa for each individual planning to retire in Thailand. The requirements to obtain this are actually very simple:

a) You must be at least 50 years old
b) You must have no prior criminal record in Thailand
c) You must pass medical requirements, specifically proving that you do not have leprocy, TB, drug or alcohol addiction, elephantiasis, syphilis stage 3).
d) Financial requirements must be met - in one of 3 ways with a supporting letter from your bank in Thailand:
i) You should have a bank balance, in Thailand, of Baht 800,000, with evidence that these funds have been in place for 3 months.
ii) You should have an original income statement proving that you have a monthly income (from a pension or similar) of Baht 65,000/month
iii) You should have a combination of the above two that total Baht 800,000/year

You will need to renew this visa every year and may be required to 'report' to Immigration every 90 days.

2. Medical facilities
Thailand is home to excellent medical facilities and hospitals, and most have good websites and international customer service teams that can advise you or provide more information if you require this. It is worthwhile doing some research if you have a specific condition that requires consistent care or attention.

3. Lifestyle
Your lifestyle in Thailand will depend very much on where you decide to live. Bangkok is busy and loud but home to excellent restaurants and activities. Chiang Mai is quiet, cooler and still has modern facilities. The southern islands offer the obvious beach and sea, but are also busy with tourists and often experience more crime. There are dozens of other options, and tens of thousands of foreigners choose to live in more remote, quieter areas of the country. The bottom line is that you can create any kind of lifestyle you want in Thailand.

4. Cost of living
The cost of living in Thailand is variable. It is not as cheap as many claim it is, as Bangkok boasts some of the worlds most expensive apartment space by square footage... but you CAN live very cheaply here. As a foreigner you cannot own a house in Chiang Mai unless it is purchased in a Thai name, but you can own an apartment. A modern, 3 bedroom house in Chiang Mai can be purchased for Baht 2.5 million, or rented for Baht 15,000/month, for example. A small 2 bedroom apartment in Bangkok will cost between Baht 15,000 and Baht 70,000/month depending on your standards.

5. Expat community
There is a thriving expat community in Thailand and it is very easy to make friends. Dozens of clubs, pubs and social groups can be visited or joined and the network of foreigners is very close here.

Retiring in Thailand is a viable option for you. Contact a professional advisor to assist with everything above, and you will make the transition very smoothly.

Written by Stuart Blott, General Manager, Sutlet Group Co., Ltd.

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