Categories > Guides and Tips

The Essential Guide to Retiring in Thailand

The Essential Guide to Retiring in Thailand

Retirement is a big step for anyone but more so if you’re going to retire in another location other than your home country. The good news is that Thailand is one of the best places in the world to retire with its tropical paradise feel and amazing culture.

We’re here to make the prospect of retiring in Thailand easier for you as our guide l tell you why, where, and how you can stay here in the country as a retiree. Read on to find out more!

Why You Should Retire in Thailand

Reasonable Cost of Living

One of the main draws of retiring in Thailand is the reasonable cost of living, especially for expats. In fact, if you talk to most retirees, you’ll find out that they decided to stay in the country for this very reason.

Still, we highly recommend that you carefully evaluate how much you’ll need to live in Thailand comfortably as most couples do okay spending around 75,000 THB (or 2,100 USD) per month. Of course, this will still all depend on what kind of lifestyle you want.

It’s also important that you have enough funds saved up– around 930,000 THB (26,000 USD) should be enough– in case of emergencies and other similar cases. 

We also recommend that you check with your home country regarding the effects of retiring in Thailand in terms of your pension and taxation– just to play it safe!

Doable Retirement Visa

Another great reason to retire here in Thailand is that you can easily acquire a retirement visa as long as you meet certain criteria. 

These include having a Thai Bank account with at least 80,000 THB (24,000 USD) in it or at least monthly income amounting to around 2,000 USD or 65,000 THB. You’ll also be eligible for this retirement visa once you reach the age of 50 or older. 

Aside from these requirements, you’ll also need to prepare your passport which is still valid for at least one year from your date of visa application and a criminal background check. You can get more information on this by coordinating with your local Thai Embassy.

Available Health Insurance Options

One more important factor to consider before retiring here is the healthcare services you will need.  Thailand has a great healthcare system with universal healthcare covering Thai nationals and locals which means you can also get health services here.

Plus, Thailand has some of the best doctors and medical professionals across the globe. Hence, you can be confident that you’ll get the best care you deserve if ever you need a health issue addressed.

However, as a retiree, you may need to complement this with the necessary insurance policy that can cover your health requirements. We recommend going for the most comprehensive one that you can afford from a reputable insurance company.

This will give you the peace of mind that you and your loved ones will be covered in case health emergencies do arise.

The Best Places to Retire in Thailand


If you’re into the urban lifestyle and you love living in large cities, Bangkok is an absolute blast to retire in! It has everything an expat and a retiree could ever want or need such as flights, health care, accommodation, entertainment, and local food.

Plus, your projected cost of living here will be pretty reasonable considering that the amount you’ll need will only be around a third of what you used to shell out if you’re from  Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US.

One major selling point of why you should retire in Bangkok is that you’ll have access to almost everything from this city. This means no boring days for you during your retirement while in this big urban playground.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the most budget-friendly places you can retire here in Thailand. Just like Bangkok, it has everything you need within reach but with a more rural vibe compared to the country’s capital.

You’ll most likely fall in love with the province too as the locals are amiable and warm and the food scene is simply phenomenal. There are also a couple of malls you can visit if you want to do some shopping or just hang out with family and friends.

Lastly, the flights from Chiang Mai are some of the cheapest you’ll ever see. You can basically make Chiang Mai your HQ if you want to travel around the world with cheap direct flights.

Phuket City

If you’re a beach-going person but still want the convenience of living near the city, then Phuket City is the ideal location for your Thailand retirement. 

The city itself is just 30 minutes away from some of the most stunning beaches of the country making it easy for you to stretch out and relax if you feel like doing some water activities. You’ll spot a lot of expats here too, giving you the chance to network.

There’s also a great food scene, welcoming locals, and great shopping options which means you won’t be bored while staying in Phuket. 

Plus, if you choose accommodation inland, you’ll get better rates and get the most bang for your buck for your retirement funds. 


Single retired men or those just looking for a good time might find Pattaya for their retirement. The beaches are filled with bars with ladies looking to entertain you and even keep you company to make your days as a retiree much more enjoyable.

The cost of living is also generally affordable compared to other Western countries. Just like in Chiang Mai, you only have to spend around a third of your daily needs here compared to the US and the UK.

Aside from the bars, Pattaya also has some great beachfront restaurants and modern shopping malls. You can enjoy your retirement while feasting on some delicious local cuisine, soak up the sun and take in the views, and enjoy mall hopping while you’re here.

Koh Samui

You may want something more laid-back and relaxing for your retirement. If that’s the case, then check out what retiring in Koh Samui gives you.

It has a calm and island way of life that only gets busy during peak seasons. Most expats choose to live away from these touristy spots but you can always check them out if you want to meet global friends and expand your network of acquaintances.

There are also other enjoyable activities you can do here as you spend your days relaxing for your retirement. You can enjoy the local food scene and experience the joy of learning a foreign language through the different language schools of Koh Samui.

How to Retire in Thailand

To enjoy a long and happy retirement in Thailand, you need to acquire the right visa, choose the right accommodation, know the cost of food, know your options for transportation, and choose the right health insurance as a retiree.

Finally, you need to know what you want to do once you retire in this beautiful tropical country – you wouldn’t want to be bored as a retiree here now, would you?

We’ve listed below the steps you need to take for you to enjoy your retirement in Thailand.

Step 1: Acquire your visa 

A lot of people dream of retiring in this beautiful country and if you want to enjoy your retirement here, you need to first acquire the right kind of visa (Thailand tourist visas) for this purpose. 

There are visas being offered by the Thai government specifically for retired foreign nationals. If you want to know more about how to get them, you can check our article about retiree visas

Step 2: Know what kind of accommodation you need

Thailand has a ton of housing options for you as a retired foreign national. Luxury options can cost around 80,000 THB while high-range and mid-range ones cost around 60,000 THB and 20,000 THB respectively.

If you’ve chosen Thailand as your retirement haven, you may want to consider purchasing a condo here just like most expats do. It’s ideal for those working around a certain budget due to the different variables to consider such as locations and sizes.

This is also ideal in your case since foreigners aren’t allowed to own land in the country and buying a property like a condo will give you a sense of being a property owner. 

In addition, you get other amenities like a swimming pool, security, and fitness centres, greatly enhancing your experience here as a retiree. We also recommend that in choosing a condo, you consider factors such as proximity to essential services. 

Step 3: Determine the cost of food

You can expect to spend up to 20,000 THB each month if you eat mostly imported food but only 6,000 THB per month if you decide to go mostly local.

These prices are highly dependent on what restaurants or food stalls you frequent.

Your food expenses per month can vary depending on your preference and your choice of food options. If you choose to eat mostly local Thai cuisine, then you’re in luck as most local eateries offer great value for money, fresh ingredients, and amazing flavour.

On the other hand, if you choose to eat international cuisine or imported food, then expect to pay significantly higher due to transportation costs and taxes. 

For example, there are some Michelin-star restaurants that charge up to 12,000 THB per person per meal while food from a  street food vendor will only cost you around 30 to 60 THB per order. The price difference, as you can see, is quite significant.

There are also a ton of food delivery apps you can check out when in Thailand (such as Grab Food and Food Panda) if you don’t feel like eating out. The delivery fee is relatively cheap at just 10 THB and might be an option if you just want to relax at home.

Step 4: Check your transportation options

Public Transportation

If you choose to stay within a large city like Bangkok, you’ll mostly rely on public transportation (around 15 to 160 THB per journey), taxis (around 60 to 200 THB each ride), and motorbike taxis (around 15 to 100 THB each journey).

Car Rentals

You can also rent your own car if you’re comfortable enough driving around these metropolitan areas and can set you back around 700 to 3,000 THB per day or rental. However, we recommend long-distance taxis if you’re to embark on a lengthier trip.

Car Ownership

On the other hand, if you decide to retire and live in a more rural area of the country, owning your own motor vehicle might be the best option. Keep in mind that your choice of vehicle will have a great impact on your finances here.

An imported luxury vehicle will cost more in terms of upfront cost and maintenance due to tax and importation. The good news is that there’s a great local auto industry in Thailand and buying locally assembled vehicles will cost you much less.

Buying a second-hand locally made auto (such as Honda and Toyota) will cost around 300,000 to 500,000 THB while a brand new one will set you back around 1 million to 3 million THB.

Auto Insurance

You also have to consider the cost of auto insurance if and when you decide to own one. Basic insurance will usually cost around 650 THB annually but if you prefer a more comprehensive coverage, prepare to shell out around 1,500 to 30,000 THB annually.

Scooter Ownership

If you’re an adventurous (and budget-conscious) retiree, you can also purchase your own scooter. A new one will only cost around 40,000 THB while used scooters will only range from around 15,000 to 20,000 THB.

Step 5: Get information on available healthcare

As we mentioned earlier in the article, Thailand has an impressive healthcare system that you can take advantage of once you retire in the “Land of Smiles”. It has some of the best medical facilities and the most skilled healthcare workers you’ll ever see.

However, you need to make sure that you get health insurance that can cover your medical needs without having to go back to your home country because you don’t have coverage. Instead, we recommend getting a comprehensive policy that fits your budget.

Besides, insurance is a mandatory requirement if you plan to retire here as a foreign national so why not get the best coverage your money can afford? You can actually get comprehensive insurance for an annual premium of just 145,000 THB.

Step 6: Know what you want to do during retirement

After successfully retiring in Thailand, what’s next? Well, you can do certain things to further enrich your retirement and we’ve listed some ideas below:

Do volunteer work

After retirement, you’ll have a lot of free time on your hands along with some great skills you’ve acquired while working. Why not put that to good use and volunteer?

You can join local community service organisations that aim to make the lives of people in the community a little brighter such as helping local kids in school or doing community projects like tree planting and clean-up drives.

Join workshops and craft courses

You can immerse yourself more in the local culture if you join any of the craft classes offered in the country. They’re not only an interesting and boredom-fighting way to spend your days but they’re here to offer you a slice of what local life tastes like!

Some of the courses you can check out include Thai pottery-making courses, classical Thai dance lessons, local cooking sessions, and even silk-weaving lessons, among others. There are a ton of things for you to learn here, especially as a retiree!

Pick a hobby

Lastly, you can engage in more physical activities when in Thailand as the country has some of the most ideal locations for you to try them out. If you’re interested in golf, you can visit any of the golf courses around your area.

Learning Muay Thai is also an option as it not only teaches you how to fight and defend yourself but more importantly, it can promote good health and wellness, two things you need to focus on as a retired foreign national.

Related topics