Thailand has become one of the premier destinations for those looking to relocate to another part of the world. Especially for ex-pats who have just gone into retirement and are looking to spend their sunset years in paradise. There are many reasons Thailand is a top consideration.
The kingdom offers a convenient retirement visa option that many retirees have taken advantage of. Once granted, it allows the holder to remain in the kingdom indefinitely. You do not need to leave the country to renew it as long as you can still meet the stipulated conditions.
The people have a welcoming culture that makes it easy for newcomers to join the community and feel a part of the society. Even for those that prefer an atmosphere closer to what they had at home, there are many ex-pat communities where they can find others from their home countries and a social scene that lets them easily mingle.
The warm weather, beautiful natural scenery, and cultural attractions also provide a conducive environment for rest and exploration. Those that prefer to indulge in a more fast-paced excitement will also easily find this in larger towns and cities where festivals and nightclubs are a normal part of life. So however relaxed or exciting a lifestyle you want to lead, there is sure to be several destinations you can find to be your ideal.
And finally, there is the cost of living factor. This is often the most important consideration for those that opt to settle here. After all, you cannot live in a place you cannot afford. For many retirees, the end of their work-life means they now need to rely on their pension and other investments to get by. Many prefer to cut back on their expenses when they move from the west to Thailand and find that this is possible, without having to compromise on their standard of living.
Overall, the cost of living tends to be low in Thailand as most of the major expenses, like food and housing, are cheaper here than in many other parts of the world. Many couples can live well on less than $2,000 a month in Thailand. Let us look at the most vital contributors to cost of living expenses to see what to expect.
This is probably going to be the biggest contributor to your expenses. The amount you would spend on housing will largely depend on where you choose to live. Living in more rural areas like Chiang Mai is likely to be more affordable than in bigger cities like Bangkok. The style and quality of housing will also matter. Sophisticated and westernised hi-rise condos with tons of amenities will certainly cost more than a simple Thai-style abode.
Rent can range anywhere from $200 to $1,800, depending on what kind of accommodation you want and where it is located. Most retirees that rent will opt for studio units to two-bedroom housing. If money is tight, it makes sense to opt for a more rural location and simpler housing. Mind you, you are still likely to find thriving ex-pat communities in even rural areas. So living away from bustling city environments does not mean you will miss out on much.
It is also worth noting that those retirees that do not intend to travel back to their home countries frequently do opt to buy. Foreigners are not allowed to buy landed property, so most end up with condo units. Even when buying a condo, you will find there is a wide price disparity depending on the type of condo, amenities offered, and location.
Health insurance is a mandatory requirement for non-Thai passport holders. That means that before you travel to Thailand, you must make arrangements to take up a medical insurance policy of not less than $20,000, which includes Covid-19 cover. This should cover you for the duration of your stay.
There are multiple ways you can get such cover, including using an offshore insurer or a local private insurer. If you are on a short stay visa, like a tourist visa, your travel insurance should meet this condition. For those that are permitted to work in the kingdom, you may likely qualify for social security. You can secure medical insurance through social security which is typically deducted at no more than THB 750 a month.
Health insurance premiums for seniors can widely vary depending on multiple factors like pre-existing conditions, age, and level of coverage. It can also be more expensive to take up health insurance later in life for the first time. The higher the limits you opt for, the higher the premiums you will pay.
It is not possible to estimate how much you will spend on healthcare here due to the many variables and options when it comes to insurers. It is however advisable to engage a broker to find out what your best options are. The quality of healthcare in Thailand is good so you will get great value for money here as compared to when seeking medical care in most other parts of Asia.
Food prices in Thailand are quite affordable. More so when you adapt your palate to the local cuisine. Street food is abundant across the country and you can easily find a great variety of options. Even if you prefer to eat out for most meals, you can find yourself spending less than $5 a meal, with drinks. More sophisticated restaurants with international cuisine can also about $10 a person for meals.
If you prefer to cook at home, then the abundance of markets also makes it easy to find fresh groceries at rock-bottom prices. On average, a single person that does a mix of street food, the occasional international cuisine and cooking at home can probably spend anywhere between $300 to $1800 on food, a month. For the thriftier types that prefer to do all their cooking at home, take $200 to be your baseline for food expenses.
There are many ways to get around when in Thailand. Cities like Bangkok have 3 rapid rail transit systems. There is also an extensive public bus service. The road network is also impressive, with the roads typically being in good repair. Regular use of public transport should not cost you more than about $40 a month.
If you love to have the freedom to get around easily, your best bet is hiring or buying a motorbike or scooter. Renting a bike should cost no more than $30 a month, excluding fuel, insurance, and maintenance costs.
Electricity, water, and gas costs are relatively moderate at about $80 for most ex-pat households. The less use you make of appliances like air conditioners, the lower your utility costs will be. This may however be unavoidable in the hotter months if you want to be comfortable.
Internet costs will typically range from about $10 to $30 a month. The strength and stability of your internet connection may however fluctuate through the day, with service waning towards the evening when more people get online. Those that work remotely may need to factor in the expense of hiring a co-working space to make up for this challenge.