Thanks to its sunny climate, rapidly growing economy, and modest cost of living, Thailand has grown into one of Asia’s most popular destinations for retirees. With constant sunshine, a large range of different settings, and a vibrant mix of Eastern fun and Western comforts, this dynamic country is attracting thousands of Western retirees every year looking for a better lifestyle.
Located in Southeast Asia, Thailand spans several different climate zones. The country’s capital, Bangkok, is the largest city in the region, with over twelve million residents in its vibrant tropical area. Southern beach cities, located firmly in the tropical belt, attract retirees seeking the sun and warmth that’s often difficult to find in North America, Europe, and Australasia.
However, while the most common image of Thailand may be that of beautiful beaches and extreme heat, the country offers a great deal more than most people expect. Thailand’s northern cities, such as Chiang Mai and Udon Thani, offer a more modest temperature and some of the most remarkable natural surroundings in Southeast Asia.
This wide range of different climates, different settings, and different lifestyle opportunities has made Thailand such a great retirement destination for people of all different tastes, budgets, and expectations. Whether you’re seeking fun and sun or big city living and urban surroundings, every type of setting – and every type of lifestyle – is catered to in Thailand.
Thailand is a developing country with a vibrant, growing economy. Just thirty years ago, much of the country lived below the poverty line, working menial jobs for relatively low salaries. Thanks to rapid industrialization and mass investment, however, Thailand is now home to a sizable economy that is involved in everything from manufacturing to advanced online services.
As such, the country is relatively stable and suitable for retirees looking to invest their money in a local bank or property. Thailand’s Retirement Visa system has been designed to help retirees above fifty years of age to do this with relative ease. Banks like Kasikorn Bank and Bangkok Bank offer a range of retail banking services for non-Thai residents, particularly those living in Thailand as part of a retirement plan.
Thailand’s banking system is transparent and easy to use, and transferring money from banks in the United States or United Kingdom to Thailand is relatively simple. Taxes for residents living in the country on a retirement visa are minimal, aside from light GST on purchases. By most standards, Thailand offers a very easy system for retirees looking to easily manage their finances.
Not that they’d need to, of course. With one of the lowest costs of living in the world for a country of its development level, Thailand is an incredibly affordable place to live. Residents intending on living in Bangkok – the country’s capital and by far its largest city – can rent a large two-bedroom apartment for under 30,000THB per month – around $1,000USD at the current exchange rate.
In tourism centers such as Phuket, the price of living can increase slightly. However, outside of the major population centers such as Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand can become an unbelievably cheap place to live. From inexpensive property to cheap food and clothing, Thailand’s manufacturing base and large labor market means that domestic products are affordable for anyone, on any income.
Thailand is home to a large population of English speakers, although the standards of English that are spoken can be mixed. Retirees planning to live in Bangkok, Phuket, or other popular areas with foreign visitors will have no trouble communicating with Thai people in conversational English. In smaller towns, particularly in the north and east of the country, English is less widely spoken.
This English usage extends to banking, services, and food service, with everyone from waiters to bank tellers speaking a reasonable level of English. Despite Thai’s reputation as a difficult language to learn, the country has gone out of its way to make sure that communications are never a problem for visitors. From trains to street signs, everything is written down in both English and Thai.
Thailand’s medical community is one of the world’s most respected, with international hospitals all over the country serving both local residents and foreign visitors. Thanks to the reputation of high-end hospitals such asBumrungrad International and BNH Hospital, Thailand has grown into one of the world’s most popular medical tourism destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year intending on staying in the Kingdom for surgery, whether elective or essential.
As such, high quality, reliable healthcare is available at a fraction of the price of Western countries. With both domestic insurers and international insurers offering coverage at many of Thailand’s top hospitals, care is immediately accessible for expatriates. Likewise, Thailand’s large and efficient public hospital system offers a reliable backup option for those without health insurance.
Internet and communications in Thailand are reliable and easy to access, with broadband internet available in even the most remote parts of the country. Cell phone service is available in all of the country’s major cities, as well as limited pockets of countryside. All three major cell operators are now offering 3G mobile internet services for a nominal monthly fee.
With one of the world’s busiest international airports located in its capital, Thailand is certainly not inaccessible. Direct flights linking Thailand with Europe, North America, Australasia, and a large range of other cities in East Asia depart several times daily from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, allowing for easy and inexpensive access to the country from elsewhere in the world.
Due to its excellent combination of remarkable nature, fantastic weather, great food, kind people, and inexpensive living, Thailand is one of Asia’s most popular retirement destinations for a huge range of reasons. Whether you’re planning to retire here for the weather or the affordability, there’s no doubt that you’ll have an immensely enjoyable time living in Thailand.