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Retiring in Thailand

The end of a person’s work life brings with it the desire to enjoy one’s sunset years. Preferably in a tropical paradise surrounded by friendly people and all the makings of a relaxing lifestyle. Thailand is one of those retirement destinations that ticks every box. It therefore should not come as a surprise that even the nation’s government has seized this opportunity to create a special retirement visa specifically targeting retirees from all over the world. 

It has become one of the most sought after retirement destinations thanks to many of the same reasons that make it a top Asiatic tourism hub. Let’s delve a little deeper into the many benefits retirees enjoy by making this their home in their golden years. 

Why Choose Thailand

Warm Tropical Climate

The weather in Thailand is fairly consistent given that it is situated within the tropics. Though there are a few weeks during which it can get extra hot, this climate often works well for seniors with conditions like arthritis and other nerve disorders. The warm climate also means the kingdom hosts a wide range of tropical flora, fauna and wildlife. This kind of unspoiled natural environment is a boon for nature lovers who have spent many years amid concrete jungles. 

Friendly People

The welcoming culture of Thais can be a big change for many retirees from the west. They are raised to respect their elders, making it a very accommodating society for retirees. It can be a bit of a culture shock to take the drastic step of relocating to a new country. It certainly helps when the people around you are eager to be helpful and allow you to create your own community within their communities. 

Low Cost of Living

Thailand is known for having a low cost of living. From food to housing, it is easy to find consistently affordable options across the country. Not to mention that the major cities have excellent public transport that is also quite cheap. Getting by from day to day is easy enough even if you have a moderate amount of pension or other income to rely on. 

Quality Healthcare

Thailand is a major medical tourism hub in Asia. The doctors here are well-trained, the hospitals are equipped with modern equipment and the cost of healthcare is much more affordable than what you would get in the west. You will need to take up medical insurance, but the benefits and costs are better than what you would likely pay back home. 

Amazing Scenery

Thailand has thousands of miles of pristine coastline along which you can find some retirement communities. They make for stunning beaches and excellent starting points for scuba and deep-sea diving excursions. Most destinations also feature awe-inspiring temples that are often the focal point of festivals. Dense jungles are easily found more inland, with the cities often peppered with beautifully landscaped parks. Whatever direction you look, you will be glad you made the move. 

What You Need to Qualify

If all these benefits are to your liking, then you will probably want to know if you qualify for Thailand’s retirement visa. It is also referred to as a Non-immigrant Long Stay Visa. It can be applied for while in Thailand or from the Thai embassy or consulate in your country. Not all Thai embassies or consulates can process retirement visa applications so be sure to enquire first. The requirements to apply include:

  • Being over the age of 50 years
  • Have a valid passport with at least a year remaining to expiry
  • Pass a criminal background check 
  • Provide a medical certificate
  • Meet the financial requirements to be proven by statement and letter from a Thai bank confirming that you:
  • have a Thai bank account with savings of at least 800,000 baht, or
  • have a monthly pension or income of at least 65,000 baht, or
  • have a combination of savings and income that amount to at least 800,000 baht

The retirement visa you will be granted is valid for one year and must be renewed annually for your continued stay. There is no limit on the number of times you can renew your retirement visa. It does not however allow you to work in Thailand. If you want to work, you will require a work visa. 

When renewing your visa, you will need to provide much of the same documentation as you did the first time you applied, alongside a completed TM7 form and renewal fee. You will also be required to undertake 90-day reporting. This means you should report to the immigration office on your current address, every 90 days. You can do this by sending evidence to the immigration office by mail, going in person, or authorising an agent with power of attorney to act on your behalf.

Also, remember to obtain a re-entry permit from the immigration office or airport if intending to travel out of Thailand. Without this, you risk having your retirement visa cancelled when attempting re-entry. 

Top Retirement Communities to Consider

There are many retirement communities to choose from in Thailand. While you are free to live anywhere, many retirees enjoy the comforts of being around other expats who share a common background. Here is where you will find them. 

Bangkok – The city has a bustling international community with expats from many parts of the world. It is a thriving metropolis with fantastic restaurants, glorious temples, skyscrapers, parks, sky trains, and much more. There are many developments targeted specifically at retirees looking for a tropical paradise close to the heart of the city. 

Chiang Mai – Located to the north, this relaxing retirement hub is popular with European retirees. It is culturally rich with many resplendent temples and excellent markets. It is also dotted with many entertainment spots and is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. 

Phuket – Lying to the south, this region is famous for its beautiful beaches and jungle scenery. If you enjoy water activities like scuba diving, surfing, and boating from island to island, this is a great place to explore and have fun. Not forgetting the excellent seafood cuisine and great nightlife. 

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