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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Chiang Mai, Thailand

An expat who retired in Chiang Mai Thailand offers some detailed insight into what it means to live abroad there. Health care in Chiang Mai, crime, cost of living and more are covered.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Chiang Mai

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

Better quality of life for less money.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

All year.

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

Thailand is a beautiful country with a peaceful culture, great food and friendly people. And housing is very inexpensive.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

Only for a short period when I was a college student.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

Nearly four years.

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How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

Only one.

What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

Adjusting to the different culture, language and climate. Being away from friends and loved-ones in the US.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

The low-stress atmosphere in Thailand. Never afraid of being robbed, mugged, or confronted. The friendly people, great amenities for expats, beautiful surroundings, great selection of food, nice movie theaters.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Probably I would take some better quality clothing with me, as it difficult to find here.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

Very active expat community, with many groups and get-togethers. Lot's of places for exercise, swimming, hiking, cycling. Not a great nightlife town, but at 68, that's ok with me.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

Not difficult to turn a tourist visa into a Retirement Extension, but must be over 50 years old with sufficient money in Thai bank or proof of income from US Consulate. Not difficult but immigration office in Chiang Mai can be extremely busy. Also need to show rental contract.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

Rent. I had a number of rental agents show me many places before I settled one that satisfied me.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

The exchange rate from US dollars to Thai baht has been improving in the time I've been here, so that's a plus. But the cost of living has been rising as well.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

You must satisfy the financial requirements for the visa extension, so you need enough money in the Thai bank or a regular pension (Social Security for example) from the US. You must think about insurance also.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

I think one person can live comfortably in Chiang Mai for between $1000-2000/month.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

Many excellent hospitals in Chiang Mai ranging from cheap to moderately expensive. Many inexpensive street clinics everywhere you can just walk into for less complicated problems.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

Very, very little crime here. You can leave your groceries in your motorbike basket, go do more shopping and when you return, everything will still be there!

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

Very little regular public transportation in area that I live. You need a motorbike or a car to get around. But if you live in the center of town, you can walk everywhere.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Yes. Very good, too. Unless there is a disruption in service, from time-to-time.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

I'm very happy about retiring abroad. The US was just too expensive for me on my retirement income.

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