Moving to Thailand
Because of its low cost of living, diverse culture, and beautiful natural scenery, Thailand is a popular destination for Westerners looking to relocate or retire. The country provides a high standard of living for a fraction of the cost of living in many Western countries.
Expats and retirees can live comfortably while having access to affordable healthcare, delectable food, and a variety of outdoor activities.
Thailand also has a wide range of housing options, from high-end condos to beachfront bungalows, making it simple for visitors to find a home that fits their budget and lifestyle.
Furthermore, Thailand has a sizable expat community, making it simple for Westerners to find help and make connections. Thailand is an excellent choice for Westerners looking for a new home, with its beautiful beaches, lush mountains and temples, and vibrant cities.
Benefits of living in Thailand
The following are the primary advantages of relocating to Thailand for retirees and expats:
Thailand provides a high standard of living at a fraction of the cost of many Western countries, making it an affordable option for retirees and expats.
Healthcare that is both affordable and accessible to expats and retirees: Thailand has a well-developed healthcare system that is both affordable and accessible to expats and retirees.
Thailand is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine, which ranges from traditional Thai dishes to international cuisine.
Thailand has beautiful beaches, lush mountains, and vibrant cities that offer a variety of outdoor activities and attractions.
Thailand has a sizable expat community, making it easy for retirees and expats to find support and make connections.
Diverse housing options: Thailand provides a diverse range of housing options, ranging from high-end condos to beachfront bungalows, making it simple for people to find a place that fits their budget and lifestyle.
Thailand has a well-developed transportation system, including buses, trains, and flights, making it simple to travel throughout the country.
Thai people are known for their friendly and welcoming culture, which makes it easy for retirees and expats to feel at ease in the country.
Recreation: Thailand has a diverse range of activities and entertainment options, ranging from the nightlife scene to cultural and historical sites, to adventure and sports.
Climate: Thailand’s tropical climate is another advantage, with warm weather all year, allowing you to enjoy outdoor activities all year.
According to Numbeo, the cost of housing in Thailand for expats is relatively low when compared to other countries. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around $300 per month on average, while a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city center costs around $180 per month. A three-bedroom apartment in the city center costs about $550 per month, while a three-bedroom apartment outside of the city center costs about $350 per month. Expats may report slightly higher rents, particularly in touristy or upscale areas.
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Expats and retirees in Thailand have a variety of housing options, including:
Apartments are available for rent or purchase in both high-rise and low-rise buildings. These can range from simple studios to luxurious apartments with amenities like swimming pools and gyms.
Houses: Detached and semi-detached houses can also be rented, but buying detached houses in Thailand is prohibited for non-Thais. Traditional Thai-style homes to modern western-style homes are available to rent just as condos and services apartments.
Villas: Some retirees and expats prefer to rent or buy villas in gated communities, golf courses, or on the beach.
Condos: Condos are another popular choice for expats and retirees, and they are available for rent or purchase in most major Thai cities. Yes, foriegners can buy condos with some restictions in Thailand.
Serviced apartments: Fully furnished and offering amenities such as housekeeping and laundry services, serviced apartments are another option for expats and retirees.
While the cost of housing in Thailand is relatively low, it can vary depending on factors such as location, condition of the property, and amenities provided. It is recommended to visit the area and look at various options before making a decision, as well as to consider the length of stay, as some options, such as purchasing a property, may not be appropriate if the stay is only temporary.
Thailand has several popular locations for westerners looking to relocate or retire. Some of the best places to visit are:
Bangkok is the capital and largest city of Thailand. It is a bustling metropolis known for its vibrant street life, ancient temples, and delicious street food. The city is a melting pot of different cultures, with a mix of traditional and modern influences. Bangkok is also a popular tourist destination, known for its shopping, nightlife, and cultural attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha).
Bangkok is also known for its famous street food, which is available at street vendors, night markets, and food courts. The city is also famous for its street markets, such as the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is the largest market in Thailand.
However, it is important to note that Bangkok can be rather chaotic, with considerable traffic and pollution. It is also slightly more expensive than other parts of Thailand, and it is not always possible to locate reasonable housing, particularly in the city center. Despite this, due to its rich culture and dynamic lifestyle, it remains a popular location for retirees and expats wishing to relocate to Thailand.
Chiang Mai is a city located in northern Thailand, known for its rich culture, history and natural beauty. It is a charming city that offers a more relaxed and laid-back lifestyle than Bangkok. It is well-known for its thriving arts and culture scene, as well as its proximity to stunning natural landscapes.
It is the largest city in the region and serves as the economic, cultural, and transportation hub of northern Thailand. The city is surrounded by mountains, which provides a picturesque backdrop and it’s known for its more laid-back atmosphere compared to Bangkok.
Chiang Mai is a popular destination for retirees and expats looking for a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle. The city offers a lower cost of living compared to Bangkok and other major cities in Thailand, and the housing costs are quite affordable. The city has a good selection of properties that are suitable for retirees and expats, with a mix of traditional and modern housing options.
Chiang Mai is also known for its rich culture and history, it’s home to many temples and historic sites, such as Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Chiang Man. The city is also known for its vibrant street food scene, night markets and traditional festivals. The city is also a popular destination for digital nomads and expats who want to experience the traditional Thai culture while still enjoying the conveniences of a modern city.
Additionally, the weather in Chiang Mai can be quite hot and humid during the summer months, and the city is also known for its “burning season” which is a period between March and April when farmers burn their fields, which can cause heavy smoke and poor air quality.
Phuket is a large island located in the Andaman Sea, in southern Thailand. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. The island is also known for its diverse range of activities, from water sports such as snorkeling, diving, and parasailing to cultural experiences such as visiting temples and traditional markets.
Phuket is also known for its delicious seafood and international cuisine, as well as its high-end resorts and spas. The island is also a popular destination for retirees and expats looking for a comfortable lifestyle, with a mix of relaxation and entertainment.
Phuket offers a variety of housing options, from luxury villas and condos to more affordable apartments. Property prices are higher than in other parts of Thailand, but it’s still considered more affordable than other major tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.
It’s a very popular tourist destination known for its fantastic beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lively nightlife. During peak season, the island can get quite lively and busy, but it’s infrastructure can still accommodate the crowds. It’s important to be aware that crime can occur in some tourist areas and natural hazards such as floods and landslides can happen during the rainy season.
Hua Hin: Hua Hin is a popular coastal resort town about 200 kilometers south of Bangkok. It is a seaside resort town located in the southern part of Thailand, on the Gulf of Thailand. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters and laid-back atmosphere. The town is known for its royal heritage, as it was once a favorite vacation spot for the Thai royal family and many members of the royal family continue to visit the area.
Hua Hin is also known for its vibrant street food scene, night markets and traditional festivals. The town is also a popular destination for retirees and expats looking for a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle. The town offers a lower cost of living compared to other parts of Thailand, and the housing costs are quite affordable. The town has a good selection of properties that are suitable for retirees and expats, with a mix of traditional and modern housing options.
The town is also popular for its golf courses, with several international standard golf courses in and around the town. Hua Hin is also a popular destination for water sports such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, and wakeboarding.
Pattaya is a city located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Bangkok. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and diverse range of activities. Pattaya offers a wide range of water sports such as jet-skiing, parasailing, and snorkeling. The city is also famous for its shopping, with several large shopping centers, street markets, and night markets. The city also has an array of international cuisine, with a wide range of restaurants and street food vendors.
Pattaya is also a popular destination for retirees and expats looking for a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle. The city offers a lower cost of living compared to other parts of Thailand, and the housing costs are quite affordable. The city has a good selection of properties that are suitable for retirees and expats, with a mix of traditional and modern housing options.
Pattaya is also known for its lively nightlife, with a wide range of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. The city is also known for its many festivals and events, such as the Pattaya Music Festival and the Pattaya International Fireworks Festival.
Koh Samui is a tropical island located in the Gulf of Thailand, known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush vegetation. The island is a popular tourist destination known for its natural beauty and diverse range of activities, from water sports such as snorkeling, diving, and kayaking to cultural experiences such as visiting temples and traditional markets.
Koh Samui is also known for its delicious seafood and international cuisine, as well as its high-end resorts and spas. The island is also a popular destination for retirees and expats looking for a comfortable lifestyle, with a mix of relaxation and entertainment.
Koh Samui offers a variety of housing options, from luxury villas and condos to more affordable apartments. Property prices are considered more affordable than other major tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. The island is also popular for its nightlife, with many bars and clubs to enjoy.
It’s important to remember that each location has a unique lifestyle and set of amenities, so it’s best to visit the area and look at different options before making a decision.
Westerners who want to visit or relocate to Thailand have several visa options, but these options change often. Thailand has very rapidly changing offerings and you should check for the latest visa information before planning your move.
Tourist Visa: This is the most common type of visa for tourists visiting Thailand. It is valid for 60 days and can be extended for another 30 days by visiting a Thai immigration office.
Non-Immigrant Visa: This visa is for westerners who want to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time, usually for work, study, or retirement. It is valid for one year and can be extended for another year.
Retirement Visa: This visa is intended for westerners over the age of 50 who wish to retire in Thailand. It is valid for one year and can be renewed on an annual basis. This visa requires a monthly income of at least 65,000 baht or a deposit of 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account.
Marriage Visa: Westerners who are married to Thai nationals may apply for a one-year marriage visa, which can be renewed annually.
The Elite Visa is a long-stay visa that allows westerners to stay in Thailand for up to 20 years and can be renewed every five years. To be eligible for this type of visa, the applicant must have deposited at least THB 10 million in a Thai bank account over a five-year period or have a monthly income of at least THB 250,000.
It’s important to note that visa requirements and conditions can change over time, so check with the Thai Embassy or Consulate for the most up-to-date information before making a decision.
See our recommended Visa for those over 50:
Non-Immigrant O Visa
More Visa Information
- Assist Thai Visa Services
- Retirement Visas
- Visa Guide / Thailand
- Atlys Visa Guide / Thailand
- Official Thailand Embassy
Thailand is well-known for its delectable and diverse culinary scene. Thailand’s cuisine combines sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. Thai cuisine is distinguished by the use of herbs, spices, and a delicate balance of flavors. Among the most popular dishes are:
Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish flavored with fish sauce, tamarind, and palm sugar and typically made with tofu, shrimp, or chicken.
Tom Kha Gai: A coconut milk-based soup flavored with chicken, mushrooms, and lemongrass.
Khao Soi: A rich and spicy curry noodle soup made with egg noodles, chicken or beef, and a blend of exotic spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander, garnished with lime and pickled mustard greens.
Massaman curry: A mild curry made with coconut milk, potatoes, peanuts, and various spices.
Som Tum (Papaya Salad): A traditional spicy salad made of shredded papaya, tomatoes, green beans, and peanuts in a spicy lime dressing.
Mango Sticky Rice: A traditional Thai dessert made of glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and served with ripe mango.
Khao Pad: A simple fried rice dish that can be prepared with a variety of meats, seafood, or vegetables.
Tom Yum Kung: A spicy and sour soup made with shrimp, mushrooms, and lemongrass.
Gai Tod: A popular snack made from marinated chicken that has been deep-fried until crispy.
Thailand has a diverse dining scene that includes street food, local markets, and high-end restaurants. Street food is particularly popular among both locals and tourists because it is relatively inexpensive and the vendors frequently specialize in a particular dish, allowing you to find some of the best examples of traditional Thai cuisine.
Overall, Thailand is regarded as a safe destination for expats and tourists; however, as with any foreign country, it is critical to be aware of potential hazards and take the necessary precautions. Although crime rates in Thailand are generally low, tourists and expats should exercise caution, particularly when it comes to petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft. It’s also important to be aware of the possibility of scams, especially in tourist areas. As a general rule, always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables secure. Furthermore, it is critical to be aware of the risk of natural disasters such as floods and storms, particularly during the monsoon season.
It is also critical to be aware of cultural differences and to follow local customs and laws. It’s important, for example, to dress modestly and avoid public displays of affection. Furthermore, it is illegal in Thailand to criticize or defame the monarchy, and visitors should be aware that this is taken very seriously.
It’s always a good idea to stay informed about the local security situation and to register with your country’s embassy or consulate so that they can contact you and provide you with information and assistance if an emergency situation arises.
Thailand’s official language is Thai, a tonal language with its own script and grammar. It can be difficult for westerners to learn and speak Thai fluently, but many locals, especially in tourist areas and major cities, speak at least some English. It is important to note, however, that English proficiency varies greatly, and you may find it difficult to communicate in rural or remote areas.
While not being able to communicate in Thai may not be a major issue for short-term visitors, it can be a problem for expats or retirees who plan to stay in the country for an extended period of time. It is essential to learn basic Thai in order to communicate with locals and navigate everyday situations. There are numerous language schools and online resources available to assist you in learning Thai. Furthermore, many expats participate in language exchange or conversation groups, where they can practice speaking Thai and meet other people who are also learning the language.
It’s also worth noting that many Thais are fluent in Chinese, Malay, or Indian, owing to strong historical, cultural, and commercial ties with these countries.
What Do People Say?
Expats and retirees in Thailand generally enjoy their time in the country. The low cost of living, friendly locals, and beautiful natural landscapes are some of the main advantages of living in Thailand, according to many. The warm tropical climate, delicious and diverse food, and a plethora of recreational activities and cultural experiences are also frequently mentioned as reasons why people enjoy living in Thailand.
Many expats and retirees in Thailand value the country’s well-developed infrastructure, which includes good healthcare facilities and modern transportation systems. Furthermore, the country provides a diverse range of housing options, ranging from high-end luxury apartments to more affordable housing options.
However, some expats and retirees in Thailand find the language barrier to be difficult, particularly in more rural or remote areas. Furthermore, the hot and humid climate, city noise and pollution, and heavy traffic can be difficult to adjust to. Some people find bureaucracy and red tape to be frustrating, and it can take a long time to get things done.
Overall, many expats and retirees in Thailand find that the positives outweigh the negatives and that the country provides a high quality of life at a reasonable cost.
> Moving to Thailand
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– Anthony Bourdain
– Seth Godin
“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
– Christopher McCandless
“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time. ”