Have you ever wondered what it would be like to retire to a tropical paradise?
Has escaping the bitter cold of winter ever appealed to you?
Have you ever thought about retiring somewhere cheaper to make your money last longer?
If so, retiring in Thailand could be perfect for you!
There are many reasons Thailand is a great retirement destination:
- Tropical climate
- Modern infrastructure
- State-of-the-art hospitals
- Exotic food
- Laid back lifestyle
- Low cost of living
- Low crime
A typical day could include laying on a white-sand beach, shopping in a brand new mall, golfing 18 holes on a spectacular course, watching monks make merit at the local temple, and enjoying a delicious dinner by candlelight. Thailand is an easy country to live in and it’s no surprise the number of expats is growing every day. Expat communities can be found in every major center and there are plenty of activities to keep even the most demanding retiree busy.
We already talked about why Thailand is the best country in the world for FIRE and how to apply the 4% rule to your portfolio. Now, let’s look at what it’s like to retire in Thailand once you have reached your FIRE goals.
Life in Thailand
Living in Thailand can be a nice change of pace from the rat race back home. While Thailand is materialistic, many expats don’t feel the same pressure to keep up with the Joneses they did back home. When you’re retired, it’s easy to adapt to the laid-back lifestyle and easy-going nature of Thai people.
Some people may find the temperature and humidity uncomfortable during the hot summer season from April to June, but the rest of the year is quite nice. The cool season from October to December is my favorite time of year, and that’s also when tourist numbers are the highest.
Delicious Thai food at reasonable prices can be found everywhere. Most of Bangkok’s street food has moved to large markets, so you will have to look a bit harder if you’re used to finding cheap food on the street. Some famous Thai dishes include: pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles), massaman curry (curry with meat, potatoes, and cinnamon), tom yam goong (hot and sour soup with shrimp), along with Isaan food such as larb (a type of meat salad), and sticky rice.
Modern hospitals with English speaking doctors can be found all over the country. Make sure you have health insurance and read your policy carefully to understand exactly what is covered and what isn’t.
Transportation in the main cities is easy to find and relatively cheap, so many expats don’t have their own car. The Skytrain and subway systems are great ways to avoid the traffic in Bangkok. Regular taxis and Grab Taxi can take you where the Skytrain and subway can’t, and car services with a driver are available for longer trips. Songthaews (pick-up trucks that carry passengers) are convenient ways to get around in the smaller cities like Pattaya and Chiang Mai.
I try to avoid motorcycle taxis whenever possible. If I have to take one, it will only be on a small, quiet street, and never on a main road. Some foreigners ride their own motorcycle, but doing that in one of the most dangerous countries in the world for motorcycle deaths is too risky for me. If you do choose to ride your own motorcycle, make sure you have proper training and years of experience in your home country, and double check your health insurance plan (many plans have reduced benefits for motorcycle accidents or nothing at all).
Thailand is a relatively safe country, especially when you consider its high level of inequality. I feel a lot more comfortable walking around at night in Bangkok than I do in many Western cities. Crime and street scams do happen, but violent crime is rarely directed towards foreigners. It’s better to walk away than to confront a Thai person or make a Thai lose face. Don’t make yourself a target by wearing expensive jewelry or getting involved in crime yourself. Use common sense and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in your own country and you will be fine.
Thai culture makes living here laid back and enjoyable, but it can also be difficult to understand at times. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Buddhism and the basics of Thai culture before you arrive.
As much as I love living in Thailand, in a perfect world, I would spend six months back home and six months in Thailand per year. That way, I could enjoy the best weather in each country while getting a regular change of scenery and culture. If I find myself getting frustrated with the way things are in one place, changing countries for a few months completely rejuvenates me. Thailand and the West are so different from each other it’s like a living a new life each time you step out of the airport.
It’s important to have a backup plan in case you find living in Thailand full-time isn’t for you. Don’t plan on retiring here on just the minimum only to find out you want to leave. Some expats become bitter because they want to leave Thailand but don’t have the financial resources to go back home. Always have plan B.