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Phrom Thep Cape in Phuket, Thailand

Retire in Thailand

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Retirees share their experiences living in Thailand. What are the challenges and rewards of retiring in Thailand?

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William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

What is it like to retire in Thailand?

"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," said another retiree in Chiang Mai.

"Chiang Mai has a very active expat world. Very alternative, organic food, vegetarian restaurants, art, culture. Bars, restaurants," commented one retiree living in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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What advice do overseas retirees have for others considering retiring abroad?

"I'm very happy about retiring abroad. The US was just too expensive for me on my retirement income," remarked another retiree in Chiang Mai.

"I have lived abroad for so long, going back to America would be extremely stressful for me," said a retiree who moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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What are the most challenging aspects of retiring in Thailand?

"Adjusting to the different culture, language and climate. Being away from friends and loved-ones in the US," said a retiree who moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

"Cultual Shock, Language skill problems, Lack of law enforcement. Smog, unfriendly people, always getting ripped off by the taxi drivers, having to pay a different price [than] the Thai's. Freedom of Speech," said another retiree in Nonthaburi.

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What are the most rewarding aspects of retiring in Thailand?

"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," explained one retiree living in Chiang Mai.

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What are healthcare services like in Thailand?

We asked retirees if they have access to good medical care in Thailand. They wrote:

"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," explained one retiree living in Chiang Mai.

"We purchased medical insurance, called Thai Life, we have hospital stays only, as we are both healthy don't take any kind of meds. And we feel that it is very cheap for doctor visit, teeth cleaning, etc. We can pay out of pocket," said another retiree in living in Nonthaburi, Thailand.

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How do I meet people in Thailand?

When we asked people living in Thailand about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Most people start by getting introduced through the expats in Krabi Facebook page. The is really only one expat group called Skal, that has any formal meetups. And I use the word 'formal" loosely as nothing in this area of Thailand is formal. A lot of expats meet through Yoga and Muayi Thai. Of course families tend to meet through the private schools and after school Kumon classes," commented one retiree living in Ao Nang (Krabi), Thailand.

"There is a myriad of groups in Hua Hin to join, including a ladies group, foodies, Trash heroes, BikerBoys and others. Best way to find them and join is on Facebook," explained one retiree living in Hua Hin.

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What is life like in Thailand?

When we asked people living in Thailand what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Live here is sooo laid back. For the expat, the majority are retirees. Life does not revolve around work, it revolves around play. Many expats - the younger ones- tend to get jobs related to beach activities - snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding.... Where to eat is usually the top priority for most expats," remarked another retiree in Ao Nang (Krabi).

"For western expats, Hua Hin is mostly a retirement and second home city. There are a few who have moved here and opened up businesses, usually bars and restaurants, but most are either on winter vacation or permanent vacation. Their priorities, therefore, are socializing, the beach, visiting nearby sites, restaurants. For the Thais who live in Hua Hin, the city is mostly service oriented for the expat and tourist communities. Hua Hin also draws many Thais as a beach vacation location, as well as many Chinese tourists," said a retiree who moved to Hua Hin, Thailand.

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Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

What do I need to know before retiring in Thailand?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Thailand, they said:

"I think the best advise is to make sure you have a way of earning money that does not involve having to find work here - unless you are an English teacher. If you can find an opportunity to work remotely, that is best. If you are from the US, there is a 12 hour time difference. This actually works to your advantage because you can answer emails in the morning and then again at night. This allows you to respond promptly to clients and also allows you to enjoy the entire day without distractions (as everyone in the US is sleeping). A new law is requiring all expat to enroll in an insurance plan. I would have advised that anyway, but it is now mandatory. I would also say, bring less clothes than you think you need and bring more of your favorite cosmetics and linens. There are many knock-offs in Thailand in the cosmetic offerings and more likely than not, you will be buying an inferior product. It is also hard to find good quality sheets and towels and even pillows, so I recommend bringing your own. Good quality water shoes and practical shoes are also hard to find and when you do, quite expensive," said a retiree who moved to Ao Nang (Krabi), Thailand.

"First, you need to have an independent source of income. To secure a one-year visa here you need to have about $23,000 held in a Thai bank or show proof of at least $1,800 in monthly income. Second, Hua Hin is somewhat difficult to get to, as you have to fly into Bangkok and then take a bus for 3 hours to Hua Hin. As to what to bring, Hua Hin has most, if not all, of what you will need. Western-style housing, food, clothes, appliances, etc., are all available. And while Hua Hin has some party areas, the town is pretty quiet, as you would expect from a primarily retirement community," said another retiree in Hua Hin.

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What type of recreational activities are there in Thailand?

"Bangkok has too many choices to list, there are many large public parks and 5 National parks close to here," explained one member in Bangkok.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Thailand?

"I am lucky enough to have both a Tesco Lotus and a Big C right by me, with several fresh markets also. If you must have your expensive food imports from home, there is Villa market on Sukhumwit. 7/11 stores are everywhere with many heat and eat foods available," explained one retiree living in Bangkok.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Phrom Thep Cape in Phuket, Thailand

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