Living in Thailand

Living in Thailand

Many expatriates decide to make Thailand their retirement home as the cost of living is cheaper, medical assistance if first class and there are numerous private world class hospital in Thailand and all at a fraction of the cost compared to Spain or Costa Rica which is the normal retirement destination for Europeans and Americans. This is a brief overview of living in Thailand.

Any expat will tell you that Thailand is what you make it. Some take time to adjust to the lifestyle as it is very laid-back more so Chiang Mai which has a rural feel to it. Over the years many have called Thailand their home. The US Embassy has an office in Chiang Mai and those retired from the military can still get mail in Bangkok as there is a mail drop service for military and retired military personal in Thailand. There are a number of common issues which we will cover briefly about moving to Thailand.

Retirement in Chiang Mai

If you want to retire in Thailand then you need to be 50 years or older on the day of application. You need top apply for a Thai OA Visa or Retirement Visa at a Thai embassy before you enter Thailand. Once you enter you have 3 months or 90 days to apply and obtain your retirement visa in Bangkok or at Thai Immigration in Chiang Mai. The requirements for retirement do change but at present you need to show and income of at least 60,000 Baht per month in income or a deposit in a Thai bank account. Speak to the online assistance to get a full briefing on the requirements and the process as these rules do change often. You would need health checks, the financial requirements need to be met and you should have no criminal record. DUI is another issue. As stated speak to an operator or call our toll-free US and UK hotline for help from an English speaking adviser.

Retirement Reporting

Once you obtain your 1 year visa having been extended in Thailand you now need to report your address in Thailand to Thai immigration every 90 days. If you fail to do this they might not renew your visa the following year. It can be done in person, someone can do it for you and you can now also do it by mail. The 90 day reporting is very important.

Retirement Customs

Once you have your 1 year retirement visa you have 6 months to bring any of your goods still in your home country into thailand duty free. The lawyer doing your retirement visa will normally assist you with the customs issues and how best to get your goods into Thailand trouble free. Note that this is once off as shipping normally takes 30 to days and to clear customs. The clearing agent normally drops your goods off at your new home. Chiang Mai costs a bit more by sea as it needs to be trucked from clearance in Bangkok. Its well worth the time taken.

Cost of living

Many people want to know how much it costs to live in Thailand. The answer is always as much as what you have. You can live in Thailand reasonably well of U$1,000 per month without much issue if you are not into the nightlife and parties. Your food on average costs about U$1 per plate of food, rent depending on where you live can range from the low end of U$150 per month to as high as what you want. Medical help in Thailand is cheap as you can have all your filling done at a dentist for about U$100 and that is about 9 fillings and cleaning.  Medicine is mainly generic brands and cheap and hospitalization can cost you as little as U$70 per day. Always ensure that you have cash for the hospital as you have to settle the account before you leave and claim from your medical insurance if you have one. Failure to settle the account normally gets Thai immigration involved and that is not good!


Most expats rent before they buy as they might not know the are well. Always rent before you buy in the event you don’t like what you see later. We have a number of articles about rental agreements in thailand and also buying property. Normally lower end rentals are simple. You leave 1 months deposit and you work on a monthly bases. If you move out within 6 months they don’t give the deposit back so ensure you stay in the condo or unit for at least 6 months. These are unwritten rules which most Thai landlords operate on.

If you have any other questions – ask us and we will be more than happy to assist you with your retirement in Thailand. Our office in Chiang Mai will be able to solve all your legal issues in a cost effective manner. We have the best reputation with expats in Thailand and offices in all the major cities. Ask around – Law Firm in Thailand gets things done!


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