Book Review “Retiring in Thailand”

February 9, 2010

Visitors to my website often drop me an email requesting more information.  My usual response is for them to pick up the very informative book below.  I have reprinted my review.

Retiring in Thailand (Live in Paradise for Pennies on the Dollar)

Phillip Bryce – an Englishman living in Thailand

Sunisa Wongdee Terlecky – a Thai living in California and Bangkok

Paiboon Publishing, 2006, 263 pages

I approached this book with jaded curiosity and the arrogance of one currently retired here thinking I already knew all the answers.  I looked to find all the things that the authors got wrong or left out.  I was quite disappointed.  Retiring in Thailand is an excellent guide and source book for anyone considering making Thailand their home.

What questions are foremost in the minds of prospective retirees?  Any good guide would tell me all I would want to know about obtaining visas, and the kinds of housing available, and the food, and the weather?  Medical and dental care is a big question.  How good will communications be?  And maybe most important of all, how much will retiring to Thailand cost and do I have enough to retire yet?  With this list in mind I went to the book ready to do some research.

Visa worries when living abroad can at best be a headache and at worst a nightmare.  For 30 pages or so the authors help ease the pain by giving us all we ever wanted to know and more about whatever visa you might be interested in (tourist, retirement, spousal support visas and work permits, etc.) as well as details on how to make visa runs to the borders.

Finding a comfortable and affordable place to live out our days is a difficult thing to do in a new and confusing country.  The book does a good job explaining the complicated issues surrounding foreigners owning property in Thailand and covers the different options and costs one has in choosing a place to live.  A very nice feature is a complete chapter on the different retirement locations in Thailand.  There are good descriptions of what life is like in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket, the northeast, and the gulf islands.  The testimonials of foreigners living in each location bring the descriptions to life.

Medical and dental care is well covered from chiropractors to cosmetic surgeons.  A list of insurance companies and another of hospitals that cater to foreigners are  included as well as two charts giving medical and dental costs in Thailand compared to the US and UK.   The section on making out wills and Dying in Thailand kept everything in prospective.

I found the charts on expected retirement incomes at various ages very helpful in the chapter “Planning Your Retirement”.  They would be a big help in determining whether we have enough to retire yet.  The section on, “How Much Money Do I Need to Retire in Thailand?” is maybe the place I would go to first.  The authors give us a very useful list of the cost of common items in Thailand from hair cuts to nose jobs.

Questions on communications are answered by giving us the low down on cell phones, and dial up, DSL and satellite internet.  But they unfortunately leave out cable TV access.  Don’t they think retirees want to watch football (American or otherwise)?  But lots of helpful websites and telephone numbers are included.

Retiring in Thailand packs a lot of information into its 263 pages but here is a wish list for the authors to include in the 2nd edition:  Besides just the few references to how the weather in Thailand can become “insufferably hot”  I would like to have seen a section on what to expect in the different seasons here and comparing the differences in the weather in the different parts of the country.  The section on health care could include something on prevention and care of typical health concerns found in Thailand including the ubiquitous gastro-intestinal problems, infections, fungus, insect bites, STDs, and HIV.  I was hoping for a discussion on Thai food and the availability of western foods in country.  Although a small glossary is included it could easily be expanded.

It took a lot of hit or miss and a lot of time for me to learn even part of the information that Retiring in Thailand gives us all in one place.  It would be a great start to anyone’s retirement planning.

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