Retiring here doesn’t have to be a complicated process – if you have the right partner.
All foreigners who wish to stay in Thailand long-term are required by Thai immigration law to initially enter the country on a visa. Those issued by Thai embassies and consulates include:
- Tourist (TR) Visa, which as the name implies is issued for purposes of tourism and allows a stay of up to 60 days with an extension available for another 30 days with business or employment prohibited.
- Business (B) Visa, for conducting business in Thailand if employed or sponsored by a Thai company, which allows a stay of up to 90 days for single or one year for multiple entries.
- Education (ED) Visa for study in Thailand, which also allows a stay of up to 90 days for single or one year for multiple entries.
- Retirement or Marriage (O) Visa for retirement or marriage, which requires that the retiree be 50 years or older or married to a Thai National and similarly allows a stay of up to 90 days for single or one year for multiple entries.
A retiree must also meet the financial requirements for a retirement visa, which were explained in a story in September in U.S. News & World Report: “It used to be possible to stay indefinitely in the country with a tourist visa, making visa runs to a neighboring country every month or so. However, the relevant laws were changed a few years ago. Now a foreigner who wants to live in Thailand long term needs a visa. Thailand offers several residency visa options. Retirees typically want the non-immigrant “O-A” (long-stay) visa. To qualify, you must be age 50 or older at the time of application, have completed a satisfactory police records check, obtain a medical examination, present a certificate of health and deposit 800,000 baht (about $24,800) in a Thai bank for at least two months prior to making your application or be able to prove that you receive a pension of at least 65,000 baht (about $2,000) per month”.
At AD ASIA Consulting, we have found over the 15 years that we’ve been assisting retirees with their immigration matters here that most people are looking for the same thing: a place in the sun that’s friendly with plenty of leisure activities, but even more important to many is affordable international-standard medical care and for them retiring in Thailand is the sensible choice: the country is widely regarded to be the global leader in medical tourism, and thousands of Americans and Europeans have been traveling to Thailand for decades for treatment and a week on the beach, while the country’s huge expatriate community has been availing itself of the numerous private hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment, first-class facilities, and teams of physicians with advanced medical degrees and board certifications from the US and Europe.
As U.S. News & World Report said “A visit to the doctor costs less than $20 throughout most of the region, and the care you receive is likely to exceed your expectations. English-speaking doctors educated in Europe, Australia and North America are the norm. They work in hygienic offices with modern equipment and can be affiliated with modern internationally accredited hospitals. Thailand and Malaysia are among the top five countries in the world for medical tourism”.
Indeed, a big part of the appeal for foreign retirees is the cost of living. “Your money goes much further in this part of the world than in the United States or any other Western country,” said U.S. News, “but that does not mean that the standard of living is necessarily lower. It is possible to stretch your retirement nest egg to enjoy a better lifestyle in Southeast Asia than you could afford anywhere else in the world”.
A piece in the Huffington Post in November entitled Where To Retire If You Want To Live ‘The Good Life’ noted that “Paris costs roughly double the west coast of the United States. The United States in turn costs roughly double Bangkok or Chiang Mai in Thailand. For example, a small, plain cheese pizza for one person costs 12 euro in Paris, 6 euro in Seattle ($8.50), and 3 euro in Thailand. A small espresso in a Paris bar costs $4, about double that of Starbucks in Portland. A monthly bus pass costs $100 in Paris, $50 in Los Angeles. A hamburger in a bar costs $20 in Paris, $10 in Portland, and $5 in Bangkok. A light bulb cost 4 euro in Paris, 2 in Los Angeles, 1 in Bangkok. So given that Paris costs double Los Angeles and Los Angeles costs double Bangkok, other things being equal, you’d choose Bangkok, right?”
Having been burdened by the increased cost of living in the west for years, many people are waking up to the fact that they can sell their properties in their home countries and buy a far more luxurious property in Thailand – with enough cash left over to sustain a far more enjoyable upscale lifestyle with services and amenities they never dreamed of, from drivers and maids to live-in nannies – all in the warm tropical sunshine.
As U.S. News put it, “Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world, lush mountains and jungles, a laid-back, welcoming culture and a foreigner-friendly infrastructure. Thailand also has one of the world’s lowest costs of living. For these reasons, thousands of foreigners have settled in this country in world-renowned resorts such as Koh Samui, Koh Lanta and Phuket, in cities including Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and in the smaller towns of Hua Hin, Cha-am and Pai. It’s rare to find a town in Thailand that doesn’t have at least a few foreign residents”.
At AD ASIA Consulting, we provide the full range of consultation services to suit your retirement plan, and are expert in developing real estate to suit a broad spectrum of individual preferences and requirements and turning your dream of a secure tropical lifestyle into reality, whether your stay in Thailand will be long-term or short. Please take a look at the Retirement in Thailand section of our website, then contact us to talk about selecting the perfect location for your lifestyle and budget.