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Retirement in Thailand

Retirement in Thailand

Popular Retirement Destinations

Bangkok

Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is a busy sprawling city of more than 6 million people that never sleeps. The city certainly isn’t every retiree’s cup-of-tea, but its diversity is mainly considered. Not only home to traffic jams and air pollution, Bangkok houses some of the world’s finest examples of Buddhist temples.

Embassies: Most of the world’s major countries have an embassy in Bangkok.

Phuket

The island now ranks as the second wealthiest place in Thailand after Bangkok and the cost of living has risen alongside its economical growth. In July 2005, Phuket was voted one of the World’s Top 5 retirement destinations by the acclaimed Fortune Magazine.

Pattaya

Pattaya, a seaside resort located not far from the capital city, has been getting foreigners in hoards since the first Amercian GIs arrived during the Vietnam War. This destination may not have the finest beaches but it makes up for it with its array of shopping malls and sizzling nightlife. Once rather infamous for its seedy nature, Pattaya has now turned itself into a family destination.

Chiang Mai

This mountainous northern province with its cooler temperature and morning mist is popular with retirees who wish to get away from it all and enjoy a relaxing, hassle-free life. The province is renowned for its traditional way of life spurring from the Lanna era, soft spoken language, delicious cuisine, Inthanon and Suthep mountains, delightful climate and beautiful flowers.

Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is often the destination for retirees who have become tired of the touristy scene of Chiang Mai province and really want to get away from it all, perhaps living a quiet life with their family.

Hua Hin

This location, situated just 3 hours south of Bangkok, was the original tourist destination of Thailand, made popular by former (and present) Thai kings. Hua Hin is still popular with Thailand’s high society and the King and Queen still reside there from time to time.

Nong Khai

This small provincial town has somehow, quite amazingly, developed into a new destination for lots of retirees over the past decade. In fact, this border town with Laos was recently voted as the 7th best place in the world for retirees by America’s Modern Maturity magazine.

Type of Retirement in Thailand

Independent Living

Independent living simply means being able to live on ones own without any custodial or medical attention.

Nursing Care

Most of the hospitals in Thailand resemble five star hotels. Treatment costs are usually reasonable.

Domestic Assistance / Support in home

Major hospitals in Thailand do offer domestic assistance and home support. They are:

  • House keeping and cleaning.
  • Laundry and ironing.
  • Shopping assistance and errands.
  • Meal preparation.
  • Socialization and companion care.
  • Support to medical, dental and specialist appointment.
  • Transportation arrangement.
  • Medication pick up.
  • Personal fitness trainer.

Personal Care Major hospitals in Thailand also have personal care facility, such as:

  • Showering and Bathing
  • Oral hygiene and Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Skin care
  • Mobility and Transferring
  • Medication reminder
  • Daily routines

Retirement Visa & Application

Applying for Thai retirement visa

Step 1: Requirements for retirees getting a Non-Immigrant “O” Visa from outside Thailand at a Thai embassy:

  1. 50 years old of age or older
  2. Passport (at least 1 year remaining before expiration)
  3. Holding the nationality or permanent residence of country of application
  4. Police records check
  5. Certificate of Health
  6. Proof of meeting financial requirement *
  7. Bank letter showing funds or pension statement

STEP 2 : Documents required for One-year retirement visa in Thailand.

  1. Passport - copies of every page. Each copy must be signed by applicant.
  2. Non-Immigrant Visa
  3. Departure Card TM.6
  4. Proof of meeting financial requirement *
  5. Thailand Bank book (original)
  6. Letter from applicant’s Thai Bank
  7. Medical Certificate (health exam administered by doctor at first class hospital)
  8. Three up-to-date neat photos, 4x5cm
  9. Financial requirement (as of 1st January 2008)
  10. A bank account with at least 800,000 baht
  11. A monthly income of at least 65,000 baht
  12. Combination of both bank and income of at least 800,000
  13. Signing for new Retirement Visa

When the visa is approved, only the passport holder can pick it up in person. Even though this visa is valid for one year, the visa holder must report to immigration every 90 days to verify his address. This can also be done by mail.

STEP 3 : Bringing household items to Thailand

Household items must be brought into Thailand within the first 6 months of issuance of the visa. Visa-holders are not taxed. In the event of unforeseen circumstances the items are due to arrive in Thailand after that time, it is advised to explain the matter with an officer-in-charge.

STEP 4 : Getting a re-entry permit

The retirement visa is only valid for a single stay in Thailand. If the visa-holder wishes to leave and return to the Kingdom within the one year, he must obtain a re-entry permit, either a single re-entry or a multiple. This can easily be acquired, for a fee, at the immigration office where the visa was issued. In event the visa-holder does not obtain this, his retirement visa will become invalid.

STEP 5: Renewing the retirement visa

Just before the visa and valid entry stay (same date) expires, the visa-holder is required to apply for a new visa. He just has to follow the steps as in the first process. New visas though, are usually less time consuming.

  • Reporting to immigration every 90 days

This is usually done at the same immigration office as where the visa was issued. The visa-holder simply has to arrive at the office and sign a piece of paper which reads something like “I still reside at the same address”. If the visa-holder changes address in the meantime, he must inform immigration as soon as possible. This can also be done via post, but the visa-holder must ask his immigration officer beforehand.

Living in Thailand

Accommodation

Bangkok: Most accommodation in regards to condominiums in downtown Bangkok is fully furnished and serviced.

Phuket & Pattaya: Decent houses or basically furnished apartments can be found a kilometer or so away from the beach.

Rest of Thailand: In the provincial towns and town districts, unfurnished houses and apartments can be rented. In the countryside, a retiree builds his own house if he doesn’t like to live ‘Thai-style’.

Food

Thai food is one of the world spiciest and now ranks amongst the world’s top delicious national cuisine. Some popular Thai dishes are in fact foreign, originating in Vietnam, Laos, China and Malaysia. For example, in the list below number 8 is Malay. The top ten most popular Thai dishes with retirees are:

  1. Hot and sour soup with shrimp (Tom Yum Kung)
  2. Green curry with chicken (Kaeng Khiow Wan Kai)
  3. Thai-style fried noodles (Phat Thai)
  4. Pork fried in basil (Phat kraphao moo)
  5. Red curry with roast duck (Phat Phrik Kaeng Pet)
  6. Coconut soup with chicken (Tom Kha Kai)
  7. Thai style salad with beef (Yum Neua)
  8. Satay pork (Moo satay)
  9. Fried chicken with cashew (Kai phat met ma-muang)
  10. Panang curry with beef

The south, north and north-east of Thailand have their own distinct cuisines but also eat standard Thai food. North Asian food like Chinese, Japanese and Korean is also popular, especially in Bangkok. Western food is also popular with the middle-class as well as retirees who prefer to avoid spicy food three meals a day.

Retired Life in Thailand

Family in Thailand

Thai Women

Generally, Thai women are non-confrontational, timid and subservient to men – but, time is changing. Unfortunately, a lot of foreigners never do get to meet any proper Thai women and end up believing that all Thai women are like some bar girls they have met who are only after money. They then go on to express their whims to other foreigners by putting all Thai women in the same boat. Fortunately however, times are changing and more and foreign men have realized with the help of the Internet that most Thai women are sincere, honest and genuine.

Thai Laws do not restrict foreigners to marry a Thai woman.

Having Children in Thailand

All children born to legal foreigners in Thailand have the right to Thai citizenship.

Divorce

Unfortunately, since a lot of foreign men jump into a marriage without carefully considering it first, the marriage very soon or eventually breaks down. If the break up is mutual consent, then a divorce can be simply applied for at a district office. In the event the divorce is contested, then what happens next depends on a judge’s decision.

Will and Estate planning

This is only completed at a district office in front of witnesses. No land may be left to foreigners.

Personal Requirements

Car Insurance

It is mandatory in Thailand to have car insurance. It can be got from a car insurance company. The foreigner though, must first have the correct Non-Immigration visa.

Bring Pets to Thailand

Anyone wishing to bring a pet to Thailand must first do all the correct paperwork via the airport.

Financial Matters and Investments

Banking

It is perfectly legal for retirees on a retirement / non-immigrant visa to open a bank account in Thailand. As all the banks in Thailand are international, money from abroad can be sent. It is possible to import any amount of money; however, in concerns to export, there are restrictions on the amount. All banks offer a decent interest rate.

Offshore Internet Business

Even though retirees do not have a Work Permit, retirement / non-immigrant visas allow for offshore Internet business.

Investment

There are a lot of restrictions on investment for foreigners in Thailand, they can not for example own land in Thailand. Foreigners are allowed however, to own condominiums. The Thai government also allows foreigners to trade in stocks and shares (SET).
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