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Retirement for Expats in Thailand

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: August 2014

Thailand has long been regarded as a popular retirement destination for people all over the world, especially for retirees from western countries. There are many reasons for them to retire to Thailand, for example; lower living costs, warm weather, and delicious Thai foods.  As there are many expatriates living in Thailand, you can easily find foreign restaurants, although they will be more expensive than similar local Thai restaurants.

However, if you want to spend your golden age in Thailand, you need to make sure to have a visa to settle in Thailand permanently.

Thailand provides a retirement visa for foreigners over 50 years old. The retirement visa lasts for a year and you can renew it without leaving the country.  To qualify, you should have at least THB800,000 in your bank account, or a combination of your deposits and annual income over THB800,000.  You need to report to the immigration police every 90 days while staying in Thailand.  You should also note that you need to apply for a re-entry permit if you want to leave Thailand and return before your retirement visa expires.

You can also enter Thailand with a tourist visa. Citizens of certain countries or jurisdictions may not need a tourist visa for stays up to 15, 30 or 90 days. You can check the country list here: https://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/123/15396-Tourist-Visa-Exemption.html

Health care is a major consideration as medical services are not free for expatriates in Thailand. However, the cost of health care can be much cheaper than some home countries, such as the US. There are generally two types of healthcare services; public hospitals and private hospitals. Public hospitals can be found in most major cities and they provide good services. Private hospitals are also very good, especially in Bangkok. However, you may experience language difficulties in public hospitals as staff there mainly speak Thai. Many expatriates tend to seek medical treatments in private hospitals. It is recommended that appropriate health insurance should be well prepared. 

An individual is considered a resident if they have physically been in Thailand for 180 days within a 12 month period.  Resident individuals are liable to pay tax on their incomes derived from Thailand or brought into Thailand in the same year derived. You may arrange for your pension income to be paid directly into your bank account in Thailand. This can trigger income tax if you become a tax resident in Thailand, although this may be reduced if there is a double tax treaty between your home country and Thailand. It is always recommended that you consider the tax consequences before you retire to Thailand as a long term resident.   

The cost of living in Thailand may be lower than that of your home country but that depends on your living style. For example; budget accommodation can be as low as THB2,000 per month, while some luxury town homes with swimming pools can cost you THB30,000 per month. Some large condos and apartments in Bangkok even cost THB90,000 per month. If you want a general idea about the cost of living in Thailand, you can check here: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/prices_by_country.jsp.

Most people would like to keep their living standard similar to before their retirement. However, many studies show that people are highly likely to find their savings finishing much earlier than expected. It is therefore recommended you should establish a detailed retirement plan and start saving now, regardless of your age. A retirement plan should include your expected retirement age, the lifestyle you would like to have during retirement, the cost of living you would expect, sources of your income, the level of risk from your source of income and strategy to meet your goals.



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