What are the benefits of retiring in Thailand?

As we start approaching a certain age, our thoughts tend to shift to retirement. Naturally, we all want to be financially secure, remain in good health and perhaps travel. While some people wish to stay close to their roots, others want to broaden their horizons and spread their wings. Over the last two decades, we have seen an increasing trend of retiring abroad, and over that time period, a country that has consistently ranked well for retirees has been Thailand.

With a retirement visa in Thailand relatively easy to obtain if you meet the criteria, you can start to explore the other reasons why this beautiful country may be a fantastic place to spend your twilight years. The Kingdom is steeped in heritage, and the capital Bangkok is a fine example of East meeting West. The local culture is very much in evidence, and it is certainly becoming more westernised in a positive manner while retaining its charm. So, here are ten benefits of retiring in Thailand.

Land of Smiles

The Thai people are naturally friendly and welcoming to outsiders, and it is one of the few countries in the region that has never been colonised. The Royal Family are still revered, and the people love the constitutional monarchy. 95% of the country’s population are Buddhists, a religion that practices goodwill, compassion and serenity, making the Kingdom a relaxing and unthreatening place to live – ideal for retirement!

The rich history includes the ancient capital Ayutthaya to the north of Bangkok and the stunning temples of Chiang Mai. Thailand is renowned for its many festivals such as Songkran, Loy Krathong and Chinese New Year, each of which allows you to experience something new.

Strong Expat Communities

Thailand has a large expat presence with well-established expat communities in most major cities. It is an important factor for many as it makes settling in and making new friends far easier. There are plenty of formal clubs such as Expats Clubs available. However, for those who want something a little more relaxed, you will find golf societies, informal luncheon clubs as well as many people casually meeting for a coffee or beer.

The way of life in Thailand is generally slow and relaxed, and it is a theme that continues throughout the expat strongholds. Thai traditions are embraced, but the expats are always on hand to help and remind you of home. Don’t worry; all your favourite foods are available too!

Cost of Living

Across the internet, you will find endless articles regarding how much you need to retire in Thailand. In reality, it will depend very much on the retirement that you want to lead, but the cost of living is undoubtedly cheaper than in the west. The climate lends itself perfectly to an outdoor lifestyle which can help to save money on utility bills. Fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are inexpensive, especially when purchased at local markets. Thai food restaurants provide cheap, tasty and nutritious meals, although imported foods are naturally more expensive.

Early Retirement

The lower cost of living perhaps facilitates the possibility of early retirement. Again, this is a personal matter, but if you require less to live on each month, the maths soon add up. There are also tax incentives for those approaching retirement age, such as the UK’s QROPS. However, it would be advisable to seek professional advice from a respected advisor as you should exercise caution.  

Healthcare Provision

There is no escaping the fact that healthcare provision around the world is getting more expensive. However, if you have the correct medical insurance, usually a policy designed for expatriates, you will have access to world-class healthcare if required. For minor complications, local clinics are excellent as well as being cheap. Regular medication can be easily obtained from larger pharmacies and is generally cheaper than in Europe, the US and Australia. Dentistry is also considerably more affordable, and the quality of the work is outstanding.

Support in Old Age

In recent years, there has been a growing trend for developers to build “Aged Care” developments for both Thai and foreign nationals. There will typically be an onsite doctor and nursing available 24-hours a day, with residents having the independence of living in their own homes. As an alternative, you could consider hiring a private, fully-qualified nurse to visit as frequently as required or use an agency that offers 24-hour private nursing at home. The cost for this kind of care is surprisingly low.

Travel Opportunities

Of course, retirement shouldn’t be about worrying about healthcare; it should be about having fun and doing the things you always wanted to do. Travel within Thailand is straightforward and cheap, with excellent road links. You can get to other destinations by road, plane or rail; all of which give you the chance to experience something new. Also, Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is a superb travel hub, so getting to other destinations in Southeast Asia is incredibly easy. Fancy a long weekend in The Maldives? It is possible from Thailand!


Thai food has become one of the most popular international cuisines around the world. With all the spices and ingredients grown in Thailand, you know that everything will be fresh and delicious. Most meals contain plenty of vegetables and protein, typically in the form of chicken, pork, seafood or soya. Thai food, especially Thai street food, is cheap, cooked fresh and tempting, with many people noting that the change in diet has been beneficial to their waistlines and overall health.

The Weather

Thailand has a superb year-round climate with temperatures consistently above 25 degrees throughout. The north, such as in cities like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, experiences seasons, and in December and January, you may need a jacket in the evenings. The hot season, especially in March and April, can get extremely hot, but all modern buildings are designed to keep you cool. For those living close to the coast, the refreshing sea breezes are very welcome.

Retirement Visa Thailand

A Thai Retirement Visa can be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate before you travel. However, many prefer to convert their Thai Tourist Visa into a Non-Immigrant O-A Retirement Visa once in the Kingdom. Both are straightforward if you meet the relatively affordable financial requirements. It is recommended that you use the services of a professional company if completing the application in Thailand to avoid any language barriers and smooth the process.

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