Retiring in Thailand: a complete guide
Thailand is a popular option for retirees. If you’re considering spending your retirement in Thailand, look at our handy guide covering everything from the best locations to the cost of healthcare.
What can a retiree expect from their Thai lifestyle? Sitting in the top ten of International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index, it’s widely considered one of the most attractive options for a dream retirement move.
It’s easy to see why. Thailand boasts a great healthcare system, an incredibly low cost of living, natural beauty, and exciting city living.
The warm climate is also a draw. The stunning natural landscape elevates this, so for the more adventurous retiree, there is plenty of scope for exploration into the forests and along the coast. Thailand also boasts a wonderfully unique and colorful culture for US retirees to impress themselves into.
What is the average cost to retire in Thailand?
A huge benefit of moving to Thailand for your retirement lies in the low cost of living you’ll find there. According to Numbeo, living in Thailand costs around 36 percent less than in the US. With that in mind, you can live fairly comfortably there for approximately $1,500 per month.
The cost difference will depend on where in Thailand you choose to live. Like anywhere, the price of housing, food, and other lifestyle outgoings will vary. Plus, the lifestyle you want to lead will also influence how much you’ll be spending each month. But with a monthly budget of $2,000, you can expect to live comfortably anywhere in Thailand.
It's important to remember that you’ll need to support your own lifestyle financially; however you choose to live. There are several things to consider when picturing how your financial situation to shape up once you are no longer working, including retirement age and withdrawing your retirement savings early.
What visas do I need to retire in Thailand?
Ensuring your visa requirements are all in order is essential when relocating anywhere, and Thailand is no different.
If the plan for you is to retire in Thailand, you’ll need to start by getting a Non-Immigrant Long Stay Visa – also known as a retirement visa – which entitles you to a one-year stay in Thailand. You’ll be eligible for this visa if you are over 50, have a valid passport, and pass a criminal background check. There are also financial requirements needed for your visa to be accepted. These can be one of the following:
You have a Thai bank account holding 800,000 baht (approx. $24,500) or more.
You have a monthly income or pension of 65,000 baht (approx. $2,000) or more.
You can combine the above options to bring your total funds to 800,000 baht or more.
Your retirement visa does come with stipulations. You must report to a Thai immigration office once every 90 days and aren’t allowed to work with this visa. It also doesn’t allow you to leave and re-enter the country, so if you plan on doing so, you’ll need to apply for a re-entry permit.
If you plan to stay in Thailand past the first year, you must apply for a visa extension. Obtaining a five-year retirement visa is possible, but you’ll need to undergo a more rigorous process, and the financial thresholds will be significantly higher.
Where are the best locations in Thailand to retire?
Everyone has different hopes and expectations for their retirement. You might want to spend your days on a beach beside Thailand’s famously glassy waters. Or in among the hustle and bustle of its exciting cities.
Whatever you want from your retirement move, Thailand has plenty of options. With charm, beauty, and a uniquely vibrant atmosphere, some of the most highly recommended spots for retirees to move to are:
Of course, you’ll want to investigate to see which spots in Thailand match your ideal retirement.
What are my healthcare options in Thailand?
The good news is that the health system in Thailand is regarded as one of the best in the world, ranking as one of the top five countries thanks to its number of JCI-accredited healthcare facilities.
The cost is also lower than in the States, but the downside is that there’s no public health insurance for expats. So, you’ll need to purchase private health insurance to ensure you’re covered.
Understanding the housing market in Thailand
The housing cost in Thailand depends on where you want to move.
It’s true that across the country, the amount you’ll be paying is a lot less than in the US. For example, a one-bedroom apartment in Bangkok will cost about $600–$700 per month, with rent and utilities included. Compare that to the same living situation in New York or other large American cities, where you’d pay five to seven times the price.
Affordable housing is one of the biggest draws for retirees moving to Thailand. Though a place on the beachfront in the coastal US may be a pipe dream, it’s well within reach for many in Thailand.
What happens to my retirement benefits if I retire in Thailand?
Retirement savings and benefits are fundamental to financing your lifestyle as a retiree in Thailand.
While abroad, you’ll still be eligible to receive your Social Security payments from the US government – provided that you’d been eligible while living there.
But on the other side of the coin, you’ll also be taxed on your worldwide income, so you will need to ensure you still file your tax returns as you would if you were retired in the US.
The cost of living in Thailand is just a fraction of what many retirees pay in the US. Tie that in with warm weather all year round, stunning scenery, and friendly locals, and this could be an ideal location to spend your post-work days. But moving is a huge lifestyle decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Do your research, calculate whether it’s financially viable, and try to consult an expert on whether it’s the right move for you. A financial advisor can help you plan and realize your dream retirement.
Senior Content Writer
Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.