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Thinking about Thai retirement

Discussion forum for expats moving to or living in Thailand.

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Thinking about Thai retirement

Post Posted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:29 am

Hello Everybody,

This looks like a good forum and hopefully will prove to be a valuable resource for me.

I plan on retiring in less than 5 years and I am looking seriously at Thailand as an option. I have some contacts in Udon Thani and will make a trip over there next year.

My retirement income won't be much by US standards ($1500 - $2000/month, USD), but hopefully will prove adequate by Thai standards. I'm researching what it will take to make the move, the visa process, fees, etc.

So, a few questions:

How much does it cost to live in Thailand? I don't expect to live in Bangkok, but in a smaller town or city; perhaps Udon, or Chang Mai. I'm single, my needs are few, I don't need a luxury condo, or even a car, but may want to buy a scooter for short trips. I may be naive, but I would like to live as much like a Thai native as is possible for a farang: eat the food, shop in the markets, check out the night life, etc.

Any tips for learning the language? I'm trying to find a Thai tutor or take classes. At my age (53) my ability to learn a new language is limited, I'm sure. But my understanding is, if you make the effort to learn and speak Thai, people will try that much harder to communicate.

I'm sure it will be lonely being there at the beginning, so is there a solid community of expats that I can meet and get to know? I imagine that will depend on the area I wind up settling in...

Has anyone lived in/visited Koh Samui? I visited a site with a bunch of pictures the other day and it looks like paradise. Is it realistic to try and live there or some place just like it? I assume it's touristy and/or expensive.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read all this rambling...I look forward to hearing from you all.

John Laughing

 

jrmyers53
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Re: Thinking about Thai retirement

Post Posted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:08 am

Hi John,
a lot of questions..........
$ 1,500-$ 2,000 is enough to live from. If you really want to live a 'Thai life' than it is more than enough.
Cost of living is about 50% of what a Western life cost, but being an expat, cost you around 10% more than the average Thai.

In order to get a retirement visa your monthly income should be at least THB 65,000 or you should at least have a THB 400,000 bank account. (single person).

Living in the 'outback' can be a joy, but also a bit lonely. Of course you'll learn Thai/E-San pretty quick. The bigger cities: Bangkok, Udon Thani, Korat, Ubon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and of course all tourist resorts have smaller or bigger expat communities.

Koh Samui is like paradise, sure, but it is also pretty expensive, compared with the rest of Thailand.

 

busgen
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Re: Thinking about Thai retirement

Post Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:26 am

Hi Busgen,
Thanks for your reply. Your remark about the cost of living being 50% less than the West was exactly what I was looking for...I can't tell you the number of web sites I've poured through looking for a simple comparison like that.

I understand the Thai government will require a more or less permanent deposit of about $10,000 USD, which is fine. I'm still researching the intricacies of a Thai Visa...I've read something about making a "border run", or a "visa run" somewhere out of the country periodically to renew visa status.

What is E-san? A Thai dialect?

I watch the local weather page in the paper and have been noticing the temps in Bangkok ranging from 85 to 95 Fahrenheit. Is the North cooler? I am tentatively planning a trip to Thailand next spring, say March or April. Is that part of the cool season? I don't suppose it matters much as I will only have a certain window of time to make the trip....

Is it expensive and/or difficult to find and hire a housekeeper/cook?

Again, thanks for your input....
John

 

jrmyers53
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Re: Thinking about Thai retirement

Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:48 am

Songkran,

Thanks for the info. The house forum was fascinating. I hadn't thought of building a house, because I don't know anything about property ownership rights for farang. The price is certainly right.

I had heard that Udon Thani has experienced a rise in crime, with people putting bars over windows, etc. That was on another forum. It's interesting to me the variety of information on Thailand I get from perusing the web. I think I won't really know what the place is like until I visit there.

Again, thanks for your reply.
John

 

jrmyers53
Newbie
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Re: Thinking about Thai retirement

Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:07 pm

- Songkran

if you believe the Lonley Planet guidebook, for example, you would be totally put off from going anywhere near Thailand - and it's a guide Book dammit!



I second that comment from Songkran about LP.
And a warning to others.

After visiting Thailand my first time, I was preparing to return, so I bought several guidebooks to learn as much as I could.
LP among them.

On that first visit, I had spent two weeks in Pattaya/Jomtien, the destination of many retired expats.
But, in the LP guidebook Pattaya was not even mentioned: No hotels, no restaurants, no attractions, NOTHING!
Pattaya did not even appear on their map for that section of the country.

It was as if Pattaya, one of the largest cities in Thailand, did not exist.
Wishful thinking from the editors of Lonely Planet.
Thank you, but I prefer facts.
I returned the book and got a full refund.

What I learned is that all the information I needed for my next trip to Thailand was available on the web.

 

Peter4
Regular Poster
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Re: Thinking about Thai retirement

Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:53 pm

- jrmyers53

My retirement income won't be much by US standards ($1500 - $2000/month, USD), ...[snip] How much does it cost to live in Thailand?



You'll be living very comfortably here on that amount, especially as you described your simple life style.
Outside of Bangkok, you'll be living exceptionally well -- if you could even manage to spend that much each month.

- jrmyers53

I may be naive, but I would like to live as much like a Thai native as is possible for a farang: eat the food, shop in the markets, check out the night life, etc.



You are naive.
Come here first, stay a few months, look at how most Thais live, then we'll talk about living like "a Thai native".
I don't think you'll have much interest.

- jrmyers53

Any tips for learning the language? I'm trying to find a Thai tutor or take classes.



Yes, most, important, if you are a man, learn from a man.
Women speak very differently: different word choice, different inflections, different tones.
Many expats I encounter here have learned Thai from girl friends, wives.
They sound like women, but with a deep voice.

- jrmyers53

I'm sure it will be lonely being there at the beginning, so is there a solid community of expats that I can meet and get to know?



There is no solid community of expats at all, but, from reading on Thaivisa and similar web forums, you'd get the impression of one.
Now and then there is a "meeting" at some bar or other.
There is no expat club of any kind in Bangkok, other than what you might encounter in the bars.
There are two expat clubs in Pattaya that meet weekly.
One for Brits, the other for Americans.
I've attended both.
There are some casual expat meetings elsewhere up-country, with potential for getting acquainted, but they are hardly "solid" communities.
You'll be lucky to find a few other expat men as friends.
Drinking buddies, sure, lots of those, but solid friends are few to be found.

Here in Bangkok, I've found it exceptionally difficult.
Expats here, most of them, simply avoid eye contact with others of like kind.
Among the few men I've met here, it's almost a standing joke: Once here, no expats want to meet any other expats.
Except, in the bars, that is, where anyone new who will listen to the old stories, is always welcome.

- jrmyers53

I am tentatively planning a trip to Thailand next spring, say March or April. Is that part of the cool season?



March-April-May are the height of the hotest season of the year.
But, I say, do come then.
See how you like it.
If you can endure March and April, you'd want to know that before you made any decisions about living here long time.

- jrmyers53

Is it expensive and/or difficult to find and hire a housekeeper/cook?



Cheap and easy.
Lots of Thai women eager to keep house and cook for you.
Finding an honest one will be a bit of a challenge, but it can be done.

However, better advice:
When you first arrive, stay in a serviced apartment and eat in local restaurants.
Don't get tied down with a long term rental or hiring personal staff.
Learn your way around first.

I've been here over two years and still live in a hotel.
It's not cheap -- some would say I spend far too much -- but everything is taken care of.
I did not have to worry about getting a telephone, paying a water bill, hiring a maid.
All I did was arrive with my suitcase.
Even have a bellboy here to carry the suitcase to the room.
Didn't need any furniture, any towels, not even drinking glasses, plates or utensils.
The hotel brought in a brand new microwave for me, a small fridge, and an electric kettle.
I could have a room with a full-kitchen here, but I don't need that.
Restaurant in the lobby, open 24 hours.
Serves excellent Western food, including hamburgers, tacos, spaghetti with meat sauce, and lamb chops with mint sauce.
For breakfast, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, waffles, fresh-baked croissants, and oatmeal with brown sugar and cream.
It's no hardship.
And just outside, an easy walk along the same street, many other restaurants: Thai, of course, and some Western, also Japanese, Chinese, Korean BBQ, British pubs, Italian pasta and pizza.
(Of cocurse, this is in Bangkok, not up-country.)

The maid comes in every day, brings clean towels and sheets, makes the bed, empties the waste bin, wipes the windows and mirrors, dusts the cabinets and desk, vacuums and mops the teakwood floor.
If anything goes wrong, I simply pick up the phone and call the lobby.
The other day, a little water leak in the bathroom ceiling.
The engineer was knocking on my door within minutes of my call.
Even if a lightbulb goes out, they come to replace it.
I just signed a lease for another year here.
I'm in no hurry at all to move to a condo or apartment, and certainly not to have the headaches of building a house.
There's enough culture shock for a Westerner moving to Thailand as it is.
So, at first, make it easy on yourself.
Pay a bit more and start by staying in a hotel or serviced apartment.


- busgen

In order to get a retirement visa your monthly income should be at least THB 65,000 or you should at least have a THB 400,000 bank account. (single person).



I'm hardly a visa expert, but when every time I've renewed my retirement visa the requirements has been 65,000 THB monthly income or 800,000 THB in a bank account here.
All those funds must be proven to come from outside Thailand.


If you have specific questions, which you are hesitant to ask on a public forum, you are welcome to send me email or private message.

 

Last edited by Peter4 on Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:05 pm; edited 3 times in total

Peter4
Regular Poster
Regular Poster
 
 
  
Re: Thinking about Thai retirement

Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:29 pm

- Songkran

Joe Cummings did a brilliant job when he first authored the LP's first Thailand issue. But it was so long ago that Pattaya was still a fishing village on the coast. The problem with LP is that because of the way it is compiled and then updated every two years, the content of a new edition is anything up to four years out of date when it hits the bookstalls.



Songkran -

I agree with your comments here on so many things, but please allow me to disagree with you about the LP guide book ignoring Pattaya.
I am certain it is intentional.
Pattaya has been a vacation destination for men for almost 40 years!

- Songkran

The fact that Pattaya was missing from your edition was probably not such a badcidea - the place is best avoided. I was able to give it a very wide berth for years until last September, when educational events invited me to address a conference there.



I don't know a good word for this, so I will use the term "Left-Greens-Feminists".
LGF's for short.
If someone knows a better word for the concept, please improve on this.

The LGFs who write LP do not want to admit that Pattaya exists.
They certainly do not want expat men -- who can afford to travel and enjoy themselves there -- to know Pattaya exists.

Yet, in spite of LP's wishful "head-in-the-sand", hundreds of thousands of men go to Pattaya every year.
They come from the UK, from America, from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Scandinavia, even Russia, Brazil and India.
HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS.
Going to Pattaya every year.

Why would LP obliterate Pattaya from their guidebook to Thailand?
There must be a reason.

There is: Pattaya is, in the whole world, the most wide-open city for prostitution.
Cheap prostitution, with lovely, eager, Thai ladies.
The LGFs do not want men to know about that.
In their opinion, better if all men visiting Thailand spend all their days at the beach or climbing piles of rocks to take photos of decaying temples in the jungle.

On this thread topic of "Thinking about Thai retirement", there are many thousands of Western men who have retired to Pattaya, and live there full-time.
There are entire forums on the web, similar to this forum, but devoted entirely to Pattaya.
At least five such forums -- maybe more -- focused entirely on vacationing and retiring IN PATTAYA.

Yet LP doesn't even mention the place.
The name "Pattaya" did not even appear on their map of Southeastern Thailand, in the guidebook I bought, and later returned.
Although the nearby industrial town of Chonburi did appear on that map.
I've never met any foreign men who said anything about retiring in Chonburi.

LP is up to something when they so pointedly ignore Pattaya.
Like many LGFs in publishing, they don't want you to know what they don't want you to know.

I don't enjoy Pattaya and I don't live in Pattaya.
But prostitution is widespread at many levels of Thai society, whether the LGFs like it or not.
Anyone who is not comfortable with that fact about the culture, probably would not be comfortable retiring in Thailand.

 

Peter4
Regular Poster
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