Retire to Thailand?

My wife and I spent the past week in Thailand escaping the cold in China. We loved every minute of our trip and it was tough for us to leave.

There were several things that really hit us while we were in Thailand:

  • English is very pervasive
  • everything is so much more inexpensive when converted to USD,
  • the food was unbelievably good compared to what’s available to us in China,
  • there were so many US and Europeans retirees living there.

Bacon tasted like real bacon and we ate super cheap but fabulous ice cream sundaes every night (you might have to live in China for awhile to appreciate, but decent ice cream is ~ $10/quart and bacon is non existent for us)! I could really go on and on about how good the food was, but the net was there were an abundance of places serving delicious yet super cheap food.

As for the buying power of the USD, I have to say Thailand is the first country where I have ever registered a significant reduction in the cost of things. There are many countries were the USD has stronger buying power, but the difference is lost when you visit due to being in a new/foreign environment.

For instance if you visit Mexico, sure maybe some things are slightly cheaper, you end up spend more money due to A) lack of knowledge about where the best deals are, and B)compensating because you are in a different place.

China is another great example of this where some things are cheaper, but to adjust to the differences you end up spending similar amount of money on things such as hotels/housing to feel comfortable and food is more expensive just to get a comparable meal available in US, etc. That said you could live a lot cheaper here if you didn't adjust for differences.

However Thailand is different, we could spend significantly less and still get significantly more to compensate for differences so we came out ahead.

It really got my wife and I talking about living in Thailand and what a great option it could be someday. It was clear by the sheer number of US and European retirees living there that we weren't the first to recognize this.

I have done some basic research and there is a wealth of information from folks living in Thailand:

Not that my wife and I are going to suddenly quit our jobs and move to Thailand, but when we start planning retirement this is certainly something we are going to revisit.

Related in General:

Save Money on Overhead Garage Storage (Aug 28, 2012) With the upcoming expansion of our family, my wife and I have been discussing the space in our home. While we have a good size home (~2,600 sq ft), its currently laid out with 3 bedrooms and 1 bonus room...

When is a SmartPhone the Right Financial Decision? (May 14, 2012) I last purchased a typical cell phone back in October 2008 with a 2 year contract when we returned from China. My old cell phone broke while we were on assignment in China and I needed something once we...

Black Friday Shopping Highlights (Nov 27, 2011) I have little interest in going out and standing in long lines to pick up a few deals on Black Friday. However we did pick up a few deals over the weekend mostly online: $159 GE Front Loading Washer @...

Comments (5)

Happy to hear that you enjoyed your time in Thailand! My wife and I also love Thailand and have visited Bangkok about 10 times. (Why so many times? Well our flights from the US to other countries- Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Sinapore always go thru Bangkok.)

I agree with you that Thailand is a bargain! We especially love eating at the upscale hotel buffets - number 1 in our eyes is "Lord Jim's" at The Oriental.

My wife always says that she wants to retire to Chang Mai. We love Bangkok but it is very hot and humid and thus Chang Mai seems like a better place to live.

I have a soft spot for Thailand. The weather is great, the food is excellent and the cost of living is quite good. The downside is the traffic, the pollution (not as bad as Hong Kong), disease and hygine issues and difficulties in owning certain assets. I've had conflicting reports about the health service (my only personal experience in Phuket a few years ago was negative).

As much as I like the place to visit, I suspect I would have serious issues adjusting to living there year round.

I found Thailand very interesting in my couple of visits there, and yes it is very cheap. But I couldn't stand the weather there (remember it is winter now). Though a lot of people understand basic English I felt at a disadvantage of not having any clue about the Thai language. I don't think it is easy to learn. I've got pretty strong language skills. I wouldn't want to live in a country where I felt I was in a linguistic minority/outsider to that extent (and I grew up as an ethnic minority in England and have lived in 4 countries). That's my perspective. Think carefully about it and probably would be a good idea for a longer stay of a few months before moving there permanently.

Thailand is lovely, and definitely far cheaper. If you have they money now, you could move there. The danger in planning to retire to somewhere like Thailand though is that its economy is booming and there's a billion people in China who are getting richer, too, not to mention the rest of Far East Asia. I think if you want to retire there in say 20 years, you really need to put down a marker ASAP and buy a property there.

That said, Moom's comment is right. I don't think I've ever been on holiday anywhere and not day-dreamed about living there. :)

Sweet! That looks cheaper and better even than India. Have you checked the requirements to obtain a citizenship already? ;)

Post a comment

(Comment moderation enabled.)


A personal finance weblog of my journey to reach my goal of $2 million + the value of my primary residence.
Current Net Worth: $1,938,393


New Personal Finance Articles

PF Blogs