10 Reasons Why NOT to Retire to Thailand

February 1, 2013

I love living here in Thailand. I love the culture, the people, the weather, and the language. It’s not perfect but it is the right place for me at this time. But it isn’t the right place for everyone. Only a Pollyanna, or a travel agent, would call Thailand a paradise. Although I write a blog called Retire 2 Thailand I am not trying to convince anyone that this is the place for you. I just try to convey as much information I can to help you make an informed decision about whether Thailand is a good retirement destination.  I’ll let you make that decision.

So I got to thinking about what might cause a person to NOT to want to live here. Below I have listed my top ten. (Be sure to read the Post Script though)

1. Visas

If you are older than 50 and have $27,000 to lay down in a Thai bank account (twice that if you and your non-Thai spouse want to retire here), or have a pension of about $2,200 per month (each), then you can get a one year retirement visa to stay in Thailand – but you better not try working or even volunteering here. For that you need a work permit, something that those on retirement visas are not eligible for.

If you are married to a Thai or have children who are part Thai then you can stay for about half of the above on a spousal support visa.

And whatever visa you are lucky to get you will still have to report to Immigration every 90 days. You don’t do it, then you will be invited to leave the country.

Under 50 and not married to a Thai, or maybe you don’t have a big chunk of change to lock up in a Thai bank? Then you can do like lots of Expats in the same boat; they stay here for 30 – 90 days at a time and then have to travel to a border, cross over and turn around, and walk back in. And a couple months later, get up and do it again. This is referred to as a “visa run”.

Other countries, even here in SE Asia, are happy to welcome retirees without these draconian visa rules.

2. Weather

The weather is great for about 3 months a year. That means that 9 months a year can be not so great. December, January, and February are usually wonderful. Then comes the hot season. A few years ago, when I was still counting, I noted that the temperature on my back deck was over 40˚C (about 104°F) every day for 6 weeks in a row, with no break. They don’t call it the hot season for nothing. It isn’t that bad every year, but who knows what will happen in the future given the global climate change situation.

The rainy season, although not as hot, can be humid and enervating and can make traveling anywhere in country a real experience. For the last few years the central, south, and Bangkok areas have been hit with “100 year floods”. Seems like 100 years isn’t what it used to be. Thai Buddhist monks are supposed to sit tight in their temples, do no travel, but meditate and study during the long rainy season. We do the same, and stay at home, safe and dry.

3. Nature

There are creepy crawlies everywhere in Thailand; some are just sickening, and some will make you really sick. Here is a list of just some of the animals I have found in and around our garden.

  • Cobras (Indian, Spitting, and King)
  • Banded krait and various tree vipers (not all snakes are poisonous but lots are)
  • Pythons (10’ plus is common)
  • Monitor lizards (can administer a nasty, easily infected bite)
  • Mongooses (chickens and ducks beware)
  • Bamboo rat (can weigh up to 4 kilos)
  • Scorpions (the large black kind and the small more dangerous red kind)
  • Centipedes  (painful and poisonous bite)
  • Red weaver ants (very irritating bite)
  • Small red fire ants (tiny, but they swarm, and their bites are excruciating)
  • Cockroaches (the huge flying kind, love to get stuck in your hair)
  • Swarming flying termites (millions come out on a rainy season evening)
  • Stinging Caterpillars (just a brush by one of these feels like a blow torch hit you)

And that’s just my house.

It’s the tropics here so of course there are lots and lots of insects.  As an example, there are more than 3,000 different species of ants that live just in bamboo. And we have lots of bamboo. And they all seem to want to build their nests in my kitchen cabinets. And termites just feast on any wood inside and outside our house. And let’s not forget the mosquitoes that buzz in your ears keeping you awake all night. They also bring us such fun offerings as dengue fever, encephalitis, and malaria. Luckily we have house geckos that crawl all over our walls and help keep the mosquito population controlled a bit. And then there are the mites and ticks and other biting insects that give us scabies and other fun stuff that make scratching a seemingly continuous occupation.

4. Real Estate

You cannot own land here. You can buy a condo though, and many people do. Others get around the land buying restrictions by putting it in the name of a Thai (friend, wife, girlfriend, lawyer), which is often a really bad idea. Just close your eyes and imagine. I bet you will come up with 10 things that could go wrong with that system.

Here is one of the big mistakes those thinking to invest in Thai real estate make. They think that real estate follows some basic laws of economics – you buy today, the prices rise, and you then sell for a profit. In Thailand it doesn’t work that way. First, Thais look at a house that has already been lived in as a “used house”. And just like it is with used cars, Thais would rather buy new. And second, there is such a boom in home and condo building that you can easily buy a new home as cheaply as a “used” one.

I have always recommended renting and keeping your money liquid. But if you plan to buy a house or condo, plan to live in it forever – unless you can convince a new Expat to take it off your hands.

5. Politics

Since the 1932 revolution that created a new government, there have been at least 18 coups (depending on how you count coups). And there have been 17 different versions of a constitution. Couple the instability of the central government with the unrest in the south, and you have a pretty volatile political situation.

6. Money

Your foreign money is worth less every day. When we first started coming here about 10 years ago the exchange rate was more than 40 baht to the dollar. As of today it is 29.4 baht to the dollar. That means that we need to spend, in terms of the dollar, more than a 25% more today than before. And that doesn’t count regular inflation.

A bowl of noodles was 20 baht then. Now it is 35 or more. And just about everything else is more expensive. Gasoline was 17 baht per liter. Now it is around 37 baht (currently about $4.75 U.S./gallon or 78 British pence/liter.) That means that with the change in exchange rate plus the inflation rate, where we used to be able to buy 2.75 liters of gasoline for every $1 we brought here, we now get about  .8 liter for every $1. And things don’t look like they are going to get better soon.

7. Culture

Thai culture and western culture are about 180° distant from each other.  Making a cultural faux pas in Thailand is about as easy as eating soup (not too loudly), or pointing to something (don’t do it with your foot), or talking about the new socks you just bought (apologize before speaking of anything about the feet), or calling someone by their name (honorifics, the equivalents of Sir, Auntie, Professor, Little Sister, etc., are always used before a person’s name). We are lucky though as Thais will usually just laugh at our ignorance.

8. Love

Coming here to look for that life companion? Lots of luck. You may be doing what the old country song says, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”. For lots of people, Thailand can definitely be the wrong place.

I can’t seem to go for even a couple of days before hearing about another male foreigner, often one well into retirement age, who has known a young girl for a few weeks, someone he may have met at a bar, or who waited on him at a restaurant, and has fallen head over heels in love. He buys her a car and a house. He maybe even begets a child or two. She then sells the house and drives off into the sunset with the children in her new car with her husband she neglected to tell him about. If it didn’t happen so often you would think I was making this stuff up.

It doesn’t always end badly. For better luck you might want to find a companion the old fashion way and avoid bar pick-ups (BTW, these are usually prostitutes and not just fun-loving ladies.) And choosing a mate that is closer to your own age than your granddaughter’s is always a good idea. So is being able to speak each other’s language. I myself have been married to the same Thai wife for over 40 years. We argue in both English and Thai.  And she hasn’t sold the house from under me yet, I still have my car, and the kids still call me Dad.

9. Language

The level of English spoken in Thailand is one of the lowest in SE Asia. Even though Thai students study English from the time they are in the first grade all the way up through college, most will never have made a complete English sentence in their lives. Except for the truly educated, a few Bangkokians, those who cater to the Expat crowd, and some upcountry tour guides, you won’t find many English speakers.

So all you have to do is learn Thai, right? Thai isn’t the hardest language in the world to learn but it sure ain’t easy. The Thai alphabet has 44 consonants and 32 vowels, and about half of the alphabet is unpronounceable for us westerners.  And because the Lords of Language didn’t want to make it too easy on us they added 5 tones. So you not only have to say tongue twisting sounds, you have to basically sing them too. And if you get the pronunciation or tone just a little bit wrong, no one will understand you.

10. Safety

One needs to protect yourself no matter where you live in the world. There are some special cases while living in Thailand though. First there is your health, then your personal safety, then there is protecting your assets.

Your health: Thailand has some endemic health problems that you should be aware of. Gastro-intestinal troubles are widespread and although much of the water is now treated you can still get some nice bugs if you are not careful. Here is a list of some nasties that many Expats are faced with. Diarrhea, dysentery, dengue fever, malaria, encephalitis, critter bites, various and sundry fungi, bacterial infections, and lots and lots of parasites are waiting to visit you. We are luckily that there are really good hospitals here that are well experienced in diagnosing and treating most of the stuff you can catch here.

Personal safety: Thailand is a fairly safe place to live but in some of the tourist areas there are people who prey on the unwary. Although not as bad as places like Rome, there are some pretty good pickpockets and purse snatch artists here. And if you want to avoid the occasional street violence then it is best not to be walking around drunk in the AM when most of these occur. You might want to avoid any bar fights too. A lot of violence is perpetrated by one Expat on another.

But the biggest threat to your safety is the roads in Thailand. As a pedestrian, no one will stop for you to let you cross the road. And if you try someone might just run you down. Pedestrians have no right of way here.

Riding a motorcycle can be really dangerous but the danger can be mitigated by wearing a helmet and driving very slowly. Almost all the accidents I hear about are caused by the motorcycle rider himself, going too fast, driving drunk, in the AM, and without a helmet. Once I even saw a tourist driving helmetless and shoeless. Emergency room: we have another visitor.

You want to be safe on the roads here, always look six ways before entering traffic, always let the other guy go first, drive really slowly and carefully, never drink and drive, but figure that everyone else has ignored the above suggestions.

Protecting your assets: Just like anywhere, there are scam artist just waiting for you to give them your money. These scam artists sometimes come in the guise of the younger woman who is “in love” with you, a trusted business partner, your honest looking landlord, the jovial Tuk Tuk driver, or the friendly Jet Ski rental guy. Most scammers work on the premise that you are greedy or just plain stupid. You may be silly enough to believe that the nubile young thing really loves you for your good looks and personality, or that putting all your business assets into a partner’s name to get a big return on your investment is a good idea, or that your landlord would never sue you for damage to his property that you never made, or that funny Tuk Tuk driver would never overcharge you, or that even though you have heard that all jet ski rental guys will try to rip you off by claiming thousands of dollars in damage to their property, that this one time it will be different.

I don’t think that Thais are any more dishonest than anyone else in the world. But to be sure (and this goes for all aspects of safety) you might want to follow the same instructions that the referee tells the boxers before a boxing match, “Protect yourself at all times.”

Post Script

But you know what? After not too long, if your incentive to live here is high enough, you’ll be able to negotiate the convoluted visa system, acclimatize to the weather, learn to love the diverse Nature here, find a wonderful place to live, learn to ignore local politics, find enough money to live on, adapt to and learn to love the culture, find suitable companions, learn to get by in the language, and keep safe. The challenge of adapting won’t be easy. It definitely won’t be boring though. Hundreds of thousands (and the number is growing daily) of transplanted Expats are already doing it. I have, although I still have trouble getting used to those giant flying roaches.

And if Thailand is the right place for your retirement, you’ll find a way too.

102 Responses to “10 Reasons Why NOT to Retire to Thailand”

  1. Ki said

    An excellent piece of writing.

  2. Danny said

    The fun is in the challenge. Thanks for another excellent posting Hugh.

  3. Paul Hancock said

    Excellent post which should be read by all applicants for longstay (O-A Retirement) visas.

    Just one possible correction concerning the amount needed for a longstay visa – if one partner satisfies the over 50, etc criteria (including the $27k/800k Baht), then that partner’s spouse (must have a marriage cert) can get an O Non-immigrant visa without requiring another $27k.

  4. Michel said

    Great post!
    A) The Thai currency is not going up so much..but the US$, due to the hudge dept of the US, is losing a lot a value. So against currencies not linked with the US$ the rate of exchange of the Thai Bath is quiet stable.
    B) 66 consonants? Isn’t it 44?

    • Opps! 44 it is. Changes will be made in the post. Thanks. The problem with blogging is I don’t have an editor anymore to catch these mistakes.

      • Re The Baht:

        The last few days there has been lots of talk about whether the Thai government should intervene and bring down the baht. It would make exports cheaper and tourist dollars go further. The consensus seems to be to let it all ride out naturally. You are right though in that it seems to be a dollar (and a pound) problem as the Australian currency exchange rate doesn’t seemed to have moved much lately. Problem for me is I get my money from U.S. Social Security, dollars.

  5. Eric said

    Another interesting read! For people who have been going to Thailand frequently, they should know never to look for a soulmate at a pub or any other nightlife entertainment facilities.
    Another method to distinguish between a good and bad Thai girl, majority of the good decent girl will never had a tattoo nor smoke.
    Above are based on my observations staying in Hatyai.

    • Agree big time about the tattoo (I’m a big fan of unadulterated skin) and the smoking (What’s that line from the movies: “Lips that touch cigarettes will never touch mine.”)

      • What a huge generalisation. My wife was an indie chick at uni; has a tattoo. She works harder than I do, has her own business and is the kindest, most genuine person I have ever met. Guess all foreigners who come to Thailand are pedophiles too…oh and all muslims are terrorists. I don’t like tattoos but I despise Ignorance far more.

      • Re Tattoos on Thai women:

        I am sure there are good, hard working people who own their own businesses, who are kind and genuine, and who have tattoos. Formerly in Thai society though, tattoos, especially on women, were completely unacceptable and considered a sign of ignorance and low class (class being a big deal for Thais), or superstition – tattoos sometimes are believed to have magic powers (e.g. to protect you from bullets). The comment from a reader about avoiding women from bars, and who have tattoos, and who smoke, is probably based on the classic Thai thinking that “good girls” just don’t do these things.

        There has been a change in attitude, especially with the younger generation, and lots of them are getting tattoos, to the chagrin of the older generation who still hold to a tattoo taboo. This attitude change could be just another one of those western values that are accepted without question by younger Thais – like Thai Rap Music.

        My son is a U.S. Marine, a group noted for getting lots of tattoos. His mother, a Thai woman of the previous generation, told him that she would never accept his getting inked. To this day, to the relief of Mama, he is ink-free.

        However you think about people with tattoos, it doesn’t mean that I have to think they look good. My main problem with them is that they take so called artwork, sometimes not so good artwork, and use it to cover up the beautiful artwork of Nature, the human skin. Would you use an ink drawing to cover up the Mona Lisa?

        And here is something you might do to clarify things. Ask your wife’s parents what they think of her tattoo. Feel free to get back to us with your answer. I would be quite interested. Thanks for your comment although I am not sure what pedophiles and terrorists have to do with this post.

        BTW, what is an “indie chick”?

    • Eric said

      Hey Guys, I myself had tattoos and i don’t mean all Thai girls with tattoo/ smoke are non-decent girls. If you refer back to my earlier post, I wrote “majority of Thai girls”..

      My apologies if I had offended you, thethailandlife.

      Anyway Hugh, my neck is growing longer and longer waiting for the next amazing article from you! 🙂


  6. tom macbeth said

    Hugh, I hope this article is not a bad omen for me! I just retired on Wednedsday and will be leaving for Bangkok next week to live.
    Of your ten points only the weather and the language are a concern for me. I have a 3 1/2 year relationship with my wonderful Thai girlfriend who works at a five star hotel, so finding love is not an issue. I come from Brooklyn,NY and have been inculcated with street-smarts, so personal safety is not a real worry. My health insurance covers me in Thailand.The rest I will take in stride as my adventure unfolds.I am excited to begin my journey!
    Thanks for your great work on this blog. I look forward to reading it every month.

    • Tom,

      I grew up in Manhattan but lived in Brooklyn too, Bay Ridge. I went to Long Island University, Brooklyn Center down on Faltbush Ave. I am also old enough to have seen the Dodgers play at Ebbits Field. So Welcome to another Brooklynite and lots of luck on your retirement. A good woman makes a big difference, no matter where you live.

  7. Alexander Duncancan said

    Thank you very much for your blog and post. Im wondering about living in condos and critters, since you mention you have a garden. How is living higher up? Is it a little less infested? Also, what city are you in? I am hoping to retire to Thaland in 6 years. I was surprised by your comments about the baht. I did a study of the relationshop between the inflation rate and the exchange rate over the past ten years, and then seem to be in synch, with a modest inflation rate of 3% on average. Finally, what is your opinion of living on 48,000 baht per year in Chiang Mai. That will be my entire retirement income, compliments of the Canadian government. Im assuming that is enough to retire in Chiang Mai? According to the International Cost of Living Index, the cost of living in Thailand is about a third of living in Toronto. Does that make sense? thanks again

    • Alexander,

      About living higher up – I just heard from a friend who lives on the 12th floor of a condo and she said that her place was infested with termites. They were eating her furniture. Who would of thunk it?

      I have said before that I know of people living on 10,000 baht per month and others who have a hard time at 500,000 baht a month. It all depend. If you are single then the amount you have is more than I spend per month. I live simply, but entertain often (just had 30 people to dinner last week). I live in Chiang Mai which for cost is about half way between Bangkok and upcountry.

      The best you can do is to test out the waters here and you will see how much you will need depending on your lifestyle. But in 6 years – who knows what will happen? I will wake up tomorrow and decide if all is going well. And then do it again the next day. Lots of luck with your plans.

  8. SAMMY LEE said

    Thanks for the wonderful article. Currently I live in Seattle and when I retire, I really love to move to Thailand.
    I am just curious, is there big Korean community in Thailand? I was born in Korea and move to US when I was 15. Got married with my Thai wife (I met her at the Seattle U) and we have to wonderul boys. I try to take my family to Thailand once a year, but never seen many Koreans in Bangkok… Any input will be help. Thanks.

    • Sammy,

      I am not that sure about Korean retirees. There are lots of Korean Christian missionaries here in Chiang Mai and especially during the winter months a very big group of Koreans who come to play golf here. I believe that their stays are only a few weeks at a time.

  9. ivan1949 said

    Great Blog Hugh,

    I worked in Singapore for 5 years, while there I met and subsequently married this past year in the states through the K1 visa , now we have been in New Hampshire just over a year, as i am working and she is going through the US citizenship process, driving license process, as well as trying to secure a job that is not in a Thai resteraunt, so all is well and moving along swimmingly well. I will probably return to Singapore this year and work for another 2 years till retirement. My wife already owns a house in Chonburi as well as the family sugar cane farm in Nokan Sawan, i would rather live south of Pattaya, closer to the Ocean, she is amenable to the idea. My problem is that sweetheart would like to work , while I leisure away my afternoons? Originally I thought a small business, but based on your comments and my intuition, seems like a bad idea. Like many Thais she seems to be able to do anything, but her background is Farming, which she does well at , even in Cow Hampshire! So we will have time on our side before we have to decide, but any suggestions will be appreciated

    • Ivan,

      Congratulations and lots of luck.

      To paraphrase one of my favorite people Joseph Campbell, your wife should “Follow her bliss.” She should do what she loves. I have seen so many Expat men here set their wives and girlfriends up in a business to “keep them busy”, which is probably a euphemism for “keeping them out of trouble.” You know the kind I mean. It just don’t work, sorry to say. If my wife wanted to work then she would choose what she wants to do and I would support her. As for you, I would try not to “leisure” away anything. Being retire means that you are free, no boss, no time clock, no deadlines. It is a time when you can follow your own bliss. If the latest demographic statistics are right we will have about 20 more years to fine it. Good luck with all that.

  10. David said

    Would it be a gay friendly destination to retire to part time?

  11. Cyndee said

    My husband and I old love to retire in thailand. My husband lived there for 4 years, 40 years ago. I would like to ask 2 questions. I am African American and my husband is Caucasian. We would like to live in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. Is there a racial problem with African Americans living there? My 2nd question, I am scared of spiders.

    • Hi Cyndee,

      I myself am Asian American and I can tell you that Asians are probably the most racist people on the planet. But their racism is in the form of “We are the top. Everyone is below us.” It is more in the form of believing that they have a superior culture – and nothing to do with skin color. The Thais, because they really don’t know much about the outside world, believe that the Thai culture is superior to all others.

      The problem with Black people here is that there are so few of them. You may be the first black person they have ever seen (except for TV or the movies). In the last 5 years I have met 2 African Americans here. Another thing is that dark skin is considered not as attractive as light skin; the whiter the better. A recent winner of Miss Thai Universe was considered unattractive by Thais because she had dark (sort of a light tan colored) skin. But that is true all over Asia and ironically even in Africa.

      So now with that out of the way, I don’t think that the Thais would ever show any outward racism to anyone. Once they get to know you you would be just another American to them. The fact that you and your husband are a mixed race couple would probably not even enter into anyone’s mind here.

      But, you really need to come and see for yourself. Come for an extended time before deciding to move here. I would suggest that to anyone.

      As for spiders. I am afraid of high places. That is why I took up mountain climbing (joined the Mountaineers Club in Seattle) and have rock climbed hanging off a cliff with a 1,000 foot drop. Was I scared? Didn’t pee my pants but came close. Unfounded fears are a waste of time. There are huge spiders here and I like having them in my house. They eat those huge flying roaches that make my skin crawl. Come here and in a few weeks your fear of spiders will vanish.

      I wish you guys all the luck with your retirement plans.

      • Cyndee said


        Thanks for the quick response.

        Don’t know if I can get pass the flying roaches or the large spiders. At my age, I don’t know if my heart could take it. I may try an extended stay first and see if I feel the same way. The first thing I would like to do is find where the nearest hospital would be…just in case the old ticker gives out after viewing the spiders and flying roaches.

        I am use to most races believing they superior even in the black race, so that will not be a problem. I would be in their country and to me they would be superior.

        One more question Hugh, we have an adorable French Bulldog, that we would love to bring. I was reading your blog in dogs and cats. She does have a respiratory problem. Do you think bringing her would be a problem? Do other retirees bring there pooches?

        Thanks very much.


      • Cyndee,

        Our next door neighbor here brought their dog from Northern Ireland. They said that it was pretty simple with no quarantine. You might need to check with the Thai embassy to find out all the papers you will need.

        One thing to be aware of is the safety of your pet. Our Irish neighbor’s dog was attacked and badly bitten by some street dogs here. And then very sadly while they were walking their dog, unleashed, a car backed out of a driveway and killed the poor thing. They now have adopted some abandoned dogs here. There are many many dogs available for adoption here.

        Hope it all works out for you.

        By the Way, you may want to read my post about the insects, etc. here. Do a search on “Creepy Crawlies”. It will help prepare you. Have fun.

  12. Jason Yuen said

    hi Hugh

    I’m Jason aged 42, from Singapore. I’m planning to retire another 3 more years at the aged of 45 to Chiangmai.

    I’m a single parent with a 15 years old son (Junior). 3 years time junior will be serving the amry in Singapore while I retire in Chinagmai. I also have a french bull named ‘Rugby”, he will be coming with me.

    I read all your blog and it really help me to prepare for my retirement. thank you very much.

    I guess the next thing is to visit Chinagmai more offen to get to know the place and culture better.

    Best Regards
    Jason Yuen

    • Jason,

      Lots of luck with your retirement. Being from Singapore you probably know this but other prospective retirees may not. The season (3 of them) can be quite different from each other and if you have only come here for the nice comfortable cool season then maybe you should visit during the rainy season (our little stream came to within 2 ft of overflowing yesterday and it has rained hard for the last few days and I think I am beginning to grow gills. And then there is the hot season. There were recent reports from China about the intense heat wave there – Shanghai was 39 degrees. And the people were suffering. In Chiang Mai it can be 39 degrees or more every day for 6 weeks in a row, and then it can get really hot. So I advise finding out if you can handle the hot and the rainy seasons here.

      • Jason yuen said

        Hi Hugh,

        I’m not worry about the hot weather.. In Singapore we have 3 season “hot, hotter and hottest” ha ha ha.. And I love raining season.. I’m more afraid of cold weather like in Europe.

        I will sure tale your advise to visit Chiangmai during the raining session.. Hang around in the room do nothing..

        I might need some advises from you.. Hope you don’t mind I bother you in future.


  13. I guess the post is of value to idiots coming over here. I believe that with a little brain power all this cab be overcome though.

    1. Visa conditions are to stop people living off welfare. I think they should make it tougher.

    2. Weather in Chiang Mai is lovely except 3 months of the year. Of course if you live down south too bad. The rain is nice and refreshing by the way. Just cover up. We are not made of sugar.

    3. Animals: again just install screens on doors and window and impose draconian closure rules. We have nothing in the house. Snakes can be whacked with a 12ft bamboo pole and disposed of if they wander in the garden (once every 6 months). Again if you are stupid stay home, don’t come here.

    4. Real Estate. My company owns land. I have 2 properties and I am about to get another, all legally, for legal purposes. The rules are there to stop foreigners taking land from Thai people. You have 3 good ways to legally own land. If you have 40m baht, you can just go and buy it. If you own a business and contribute to the local economy like I do, you can buy through your company. If you have child with a Thai woman, you can own through the child. Any other way and you are throwing away your money for sure.

    5. Politics. At home we have terrorism and war. Here occedasionally they have a quick violence for a change of regime. Just stay home 2 weeks.

    6. Money. Earn it in Thailand. Layabout are never welcome anywhere. If you have a pension, make sure it is big enough or stay home..

    7. Thai culture is fascinating. As they say: If you don’t like America, stay home.

    8. Love. All of my friends are happily married to educated Thai ladies. Divorce is unheard of here. All the horror stories are about people married to whores. What do you expect? Quite literally, you get what you pay for. Tell me, if you marry a hooker in UK or US what would your marriage be like. Well, it’s just the same here.

    9. Language. Just marry a helpful Thai girl. I don’t need much Thai. If you are kind, polite, soft spoken and well mannered they adore you here.

    10.Health: Hospitals are best in the world and very cheap. I used many.

    Safety: Hardly any crime here at all. My best friend is a Thai police murder detective; she has so much free time she can teach as well. Of course if you live in Phuket and Pattaya its like Chicago in the 1930s. Living there with your whore, you get what you deserve.

    Assets: Use a good lawyer of course before you do anything. In the US it’s the same. Of course use a prenupt if you marry. What happens back home in a divorce? Why should you expect it to be different here?

    To conclude, if you are stupid, want to marry a hooker, cannot learn to appreciate and love Thailand, or have no money, then by all means stay home. Otherwise, join all the happy people living in paradise with wives and Thai friends who will welcome and care for you.

    To and Panida

    • Anthony,

      Thanks for the comment, a little harsh at times, but mostly right on.

      Just a couple of things: Love: I have known men here that have been taken by women of all levels of society – but…I can say the same thing about America; Language: The more you know the more fun Thailand is; Real Estate: If you are married to a Thai, and you are pretty sure the relationship will last (I have been married for 42 years to mine) then land in her name is a good bet. Otherwise, not so good. Animals: I try never to kill anything bigger than a cockroach. I love snakes and just chase them away. One of the first newspaper articles I wrote, for the Bangkok Post in the ’80s, was about how I had to kill 2 cobras who had taken over my garden, even coiling around my maid’s ankle at one point. To this day I continue to make merit in an attempt to wipe my karma clean of such a dastardly act.

      Thanks again for the good points you made.

      • Steve said

        I’ve been here in Chiang Mai for almost three years, retired, and live with my Thai girlfriend, now wife.. Basically, she is a smart, clever to the point of devious, good natured and charming person.. Be aware that women like this still have a agenda.. Initially, I paid off a big debt she had incurred, after taking me to meet her family ( I knew what that meant!)
        Then basically living with me until she hit on the idea of her own business, that she had me bankroll for her… Her rationale was that she wanted to be able to have the money to take care of me when I got older, and provide for her family.. I’ve done all that and her business is coming together, though I don’t expect to see any of the money I gave her..
        Now, we had a barney the past few days after I had a repayment schedule drawn up at a lawyers and she signed off on it… She said she wasn’t going to pay me anyway if we split, but we’d stay together if I bought her a new, and has to be white, car.. Even though she doesn’t drive.. Or give her 30,000 a month salary…
        So, even the nice girls can be true evil geniuses, you really need to set guidelines and budgets then stay with them, sleep in the other room if she continues to pester or more than likely, cry about it..
        And this was a woman who told me for ages she wanted nothing from me.. Guess who’s the sucker.. They can love you, fall all over you but inside there’s still a heart of stone …

      • Steve,

        I wish you all the luck and hope things work out for you.

        One of the problems in a relationship is when one party has money and the other doesn’t (not like some people say, when one is much older than the other). It is like when one lends a friend money. Sooner or later he will or will not pay you back. In either case there will be hard feelings on one if not both parts. It is not an even relationship.

        My Thai wife and I met when I was 23 and she 21. My net worth was $40 exactly. Hers was $0. We both had college degrees and liked to do the same things, mostly, caused by necessity, inexpensive stuff like hiking and bird watching. We fought for our survival together and raised a family, and now are retired. Sounds like a regular relationship that one might have with someone from their own country. Like every couple we have had our differences but solvable ones. We have now been married for 45 years.

        I know of a half dozen Thai/Farang couples who had similar experiences, meeting young when no one had anything, and all remained married and raised families and are growing old together. The “together” is the important word here.

        Good luck to all those with an “uneven” relationship when it comes to money. If both parties understand and accept the situation then it can work out. When one or both begin to become resentful then problems will arise that sometimes cannot be solved.

  14. Marshall Nicholson said

    I truly enjoyed reading this blog. quite informative. I live in HK, ex USA and thinking @ retirment in Thailand. Maybe this is stupid question but it there real differences between Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hua Hin when it comes to all those snakes, rats and insects? My current preference for retirement is Phuket.


    • John,

      Thanks for the kind words. If you don’t like the creepy crawlies then nowhere in Thailand is safe. You’ll just have to get used to them if you want to be comfortable here. Yesterday I came across an 8″ millipede (huge but not dangerous) and a very beautiful yellow hairy caterpillar (quite painful if you brush against one of the hairs). Just another day.

      I will be writing a post next on “Our Comfort Zone” which will talk about knowing what we are comfortable with and choosing places that fit our comfort zones. Thailand may or may not be the place for everyone.

      Good luck on your retirement plans.

  15. Very good article. I like it. How about Thai ladies? Thai ladies are stunning and appealing. Thai women are the most stunning women on this planet. There are no ugly Thai women, you know? I mean, Thai women are thin and small. OK, some Western guys complain about too skinny Thai ladies but they are beautiful. What else do you need from a girl?
    You know what? I recommend that people retired in thailand. It is cheap.

  16. jimmy said

    Best way to do visa runs

    have lived and worked in thailand for 3 decades with the usual work permit. But now that i am retired on a small pension and have no thai wife or kids————i am doing the visa runs. yes they are a pain. I feel the govt does this to make money.

    but i have found the easiest way for me as an American is to get a triple entry visa before i leave the states. about 130 bucks. So you come into thailand and get 2 months. then you go to cnx immigration and get a one month extension for 1900 baht. Then you take a day trip to chiang rai and mae sai and walk across come back and use your second visa. do same for 3rd visa.

    So this is a total of 9 months time in thailand with only 2 trips to chiang rai and 3 trips to chiang mai immigration. total cost 130 + 180 or 330 bucks. beats goin to laos or cambodia and spending alot on travel and visas.

    beats spending 30000 on education visa………….or jumping through all the hoops for a retirement visa, or dumping alot of money in the bank.

    • The Thai retirement visa requires very few hoops to jump through and takes about 2 or 3 hours a year of hanging out at the immigration office.

      “I feel the govt does this to make money” (immigration restrictions)

      There is a bit more to it than that. Thousand of foreigners are in country illegally. That includes many homeless, begging westerners, and any number of those fleeing the law in their home countries as well as lots and lots of illegal workers. Immigration restrictions is at least one way for the country to control this. You wouldn’t believe the number of westerners who get sick or injured, get treated at a Thai hospital, and wind up leaving the bill unpaid.

      BTW, the 800,000 baht required to be held in the bank is not an arbitrary amount. It is the amount that the government has figured out one needs to live for a year in Thailand, so you don’t become one of those begging homeless. There is a method in this madness.

      If you think the restrictions put on foreigners trying to live here are rough, try immigrating to the U.S. or a European country. Here it is a piece of cake.

      Lots of luck on your visa runs and be safe on those long trips to the border.

  17. harry said


    thank you so much for your article, you are a wise man, plus informative, thank you so much for your objectivity and what I see as balance. Plenty of cowboys there.

    Also good to hear from the ppl answering, great stuff! Thank you responders!!

    I am over the 70 y. o. a. and most of my money went to a physically attractive Russian woman. MMmmm..

    Yes, it ‘d be nice for me to retire without too much worry also.
    I was so lucky to have been in Sth. America, which I loved, nice ppl, nice fruit, and Spanish is no too hard to learn. Yes, good prices in Sth. America; nice nature, nice weather, I got by on about
    $ 130 AUD. = Aussie dollars/ week, in Sth Am.. Australia is a VERY expensive country, good, but expensive.

    Internet ACCOUNTS there, were a pain, (Sth .Am.)

    So…. yes i am looking to settle down, better do that at my age , hey?
    It would be nice to touch a bit of soft skin, for company, which may be easier in Thailand than in Sth Am., but I am not a predator. It is not good for a man to be alone, God said.

    Keep up your good work, sir, God bless, and congrats on your 40 years of marriage!!! You must have done some things right…

  18. One big thing you forgot to mention is the noise level you have to deal with here in Thailand. For example where I live here in Thailand which is not a big city, for the past 3 days they have been blaring terrible music from 6:30 am in the music to late into the night and why? To celebrate someone becoming a Monk what this has to do with Buddhism I have no idea and probably the Thais do no know either, I think it is just an excuse to have a very loud party for 3 days straight. These type of things can happen all the time here so be forewarned!

    • It all depends where you choose to live. If you choose to live outside a gated community then you would be subject to all the noises of village life for sure, including morning sermons and announcements, and music over the ubiquitous loud speakers. Where we live the biggest noise levels come from the myriad of bird life in the mornings and the insects and tree frogs at night. Sometimes these are louder than the loud speakers, although I have no complaints.

  19. Hugh Mason said

    h Whats your experience of western couples retiring in Thailand. I am thinking of Phuket, pattaya or Chang Mai.

    • My son, who lived in Phuket for 6 years, was sitting by my side when we opened up your comment. Here is what he said (after seeing lots of stuff in Phuket): “If you want to stay married don’t move to either Phuket or Pattaya.”

      I can’t tell you how many “old farts” leave their long suffering wives here in Thailand for some nubile sprouting phrases like “You handsome man. I love you very much.” And, I am being serious now, these guys believe it.

      But you know yourselves I hope (a good quality to have if you are going to be happy) so I will let you decide what you can deal with. Please be aware though that Phuket and Pattaya are cesspools – and if you don’t take my word for it, just ask around. I myself won’t even visit there let alone consider living there.

      Good luck with your retirement

      • Tony and Panida Very Happy in CM said

        I totally agree. Crime is very high there, opposite of CM where we have had only 1 murder in 6 months – about the daily rate over there

  20. Trey said

    This is applies to Caucasians it is totally different way of life.The way you accustom to or culturally wise yes.As Asian,(Filipino) with Thai wife..retiring to Thailand is no difference if i settle down in the Philippines.

  21. sue said

    I would just like to mention that the inks used in all tattoos are
    EXTREMELY HIGHLY TOXIC…My daughter is a tattoo artist in B.C.
    No one likes to talk about this as about 40% of Americans between 19yrs.+40yrs now have tattoos.OMG! and you better belief that YES! it gets into your body,NOT just under your skin.
    Go ahead and Goggle away, I did,and it freaked me OUT!!!
    Some of the colours are so toxic you’d die if you licked it!!!
    I am so upset about this I start to cry. My daughter wanted to tattoo her toddler but all my research put an end to that idea FAST!!!!!! OMG WAKE up people, why do you all not refuse to check out THE FACTS regarding what you are allowing to be INJECTED into your own PRECIOUS BODY.
    Grandma Susan

  22. […] or a Pollyanna. I have written about many of the negative aspects of retiring here (Floods , Reasons not to retire here , The climate , The perils of starting a business here , and others. I don’t write about politics […]

  23. Kamran said

    There goes my Thailand Retirement.
    snakes why it had to be snakes !! I’ll take your advise and stay here in Toronto, Canada.

    • I love snakes. They are perfectly designed. Our innate fear of snakes is probably evolutionary from both side. We stay away from them, but if we do see them we run. I know most of which are poisonous and which are not so I know which ones to run from, always have a homemade snake stick handy and never try to catch them with my hands and usually just leave them alone. Don’t let the fear of anything stop you from achieving your goals. Good luck in whatever you decide.

    • Chokphiphat Chaikitkosi said

      If you live in a good neighbourhood like an established village or in the city. You might not even see snake, just ‘might’. I live in suburb of BKK and it was ages when I last time saw a snake. It is not a big deal, the have serum to cure and keep the number of local squad near you so you can call someone to catch the snake.

      If you happen to move to CM just talk with local like staff at noodle shop or place you visit about how they deal with it.

      • Tony & Bambi said

        Never seen a snake here. I have lived in a private estate for 6 years. Where are they? In the zoo?

      • Tony, Bambi, and Pat,

        I believe that some people see snakes and others don’t. I happen to be one who sees them often. It could be because I really like snakes and consider them at the top of their evolutionary line.

        It is the rainy season now and lots of critters are out and about. We just lost one of our ducks, probably to a very large python. Haven’t seen it yet but after about a week or two, the time it takes to digest a duck, it will probably come back. They are slow and I am hoping to capture it.

        We have been losing our eggs from our sitting hens. So we knew that there was an egg eating snake (the kind that swallow eggs whole and then regurgitates the shell) around somewhere. Just the other day my wife Pikun was getting something from a draw in our shed and saw a large black snake in there. I knew that it was an egg eating snake. I wanted to capture it and not kill it but boy was it fast. It jumped out of the draw, landed at my feet, went through my legs and out into the yard. It did about 20 meters in about 1 second. It found our canal and got away.

        We have a canal on one side of our house and a stream on another. So frogs, and tree frogs, and toads, and birds and their eggs, all stuff that snakes like to eat, all hang out right next to us. So of course we have snakes.

        But like Tony & Bambi said, most people never even see a snake, and I have never heard of an Expat being bitten by one. And I have never met anyone who sees as many as I do. And I have no idea why.

  24. Kamran said

    Thanks for the reply Hugh,
    But how epidemic is the problem with snakes, I have CM in my radar as retirement destination, lets say if living in a condo or an apt will I ran one in my bathroom or kitchen as I have been reading some horror stories on other blogs?? I don’t mind seeing them in daylight and from distance because I can adjust my reaction and precaution, but in my Pad my guard is totally down.

  25. Most people have never seen a snake here, or maybe one or two in the whole time being here. I see a lot because I look for them and love them. If you decide to live in the country then you might see a few, in the city, maybe never. Even I have never seen one in my house, and I live in the country. Last snake I saw, about a year ago, on the side of the road. In all my time in Thailand, 45 years, I have never met anyone who had been bitten by a snake – dogs, another matter.

  26. Ken said

    Hi hugh;
    I lived in Thailand for 8 grueling months Sept 14 to May 15. It took 5 years off my life. Thai lady took $25,000 Candollars (700,000 Baht) from me as well she turned out to be a sociopath. Thai values are so different tha North Amercia. My gal lied & lied then when caught in a lie she lied again.
    Don’t forget the dirt & garbage in most communities. The lack of even basic uniform side walks, so if you are in a wheelchair you’ll have big problems getting around.
    The huge football sized bill boards promoting the King & Queen as well as millions of smaller ones every where selling things..
    The hundreds & hundreds of gold plated Temples while people are poor baffled me.
    Then there is the lack of environmental regulations.
    I found Thailand to be boring been to aTemples…boring, been to very crowded night markets one is enough, same old crap at all of them.
    I never want to return to Thailand a very sick country.

    • You are not the first to be taken by a Thai paramore. One must remember “caveat emptor”. Would you have lost $25,000 to a Canadian lady? You probably would have been a bit more discerning. Foreigners should bring that same “self-preservation” attitude here. But many see the smiles, the easy opportunities for relationships, sexual and otherwise, and leave their self-defenses at the border.

      I don’t know if this was your case or not but foreigners can be easy marks for the Thai con man or woman. If something sounds too good to be true it usually is. Example: Twentyish beauty telling a foreign retiree how handsome he is and how much she loves him, and how good he is in bed. Yeh, right! Would that work in a Canadian bar? Probably not. So why would it work here?

      I am so sorry that you were taken. Thanks for telling us your story. It may save someone else the same heartache.

      I agree with just about all your criticisms of Thailand, yet I have elected to stay here. My own country has lots of negatives too. As I have said before, the good here outweighs the bad (for me).

      • Tony said

        Actually, it is sometimes the opposite situation. I have 2 friends who live off a Thai lady. The guy get money, a house, a business from the girl. There are less household with equal contributors here.

  27. Ken said

    Hi Hugh;
    My lady was 47 who I was introduced to my my buddy’s Thai girlfriend. She told me that my lady was honest a good woman. She was neither. We talked on skype for 5 month prior to me going to Thailand. Turned out what she said was mostly just to hook me. Her being a sociopath added to the problems.
    I was so naive even though my friends warned me. I never had to give money to women who I was involved with in Canada, all had jobs hence their oewn income.
    In Thailand I learned later that I was payiny not only for my girlfriend but her 2 daughters. Lies & lies. Don’t give Thai women your money stay in your own apartment remain safe.

  28. […] most popular post continues to be 10 Reasons Why Not to Retire to Thailand. Way in second place is Why and How We Built a House in Thailand. Funny that these two seemingly […]

  29. Mike said

    My own observations regarding health. Private hospital costs are rising and could be probitive if you can’t get health insurance. Thailand is far too lax with over the counter antibiotics which are often not taken properly – this may lead to an untreatable epidemic with the current spread of MCR-1 (and this takes no account of non specific urinary infections already resistant to antibiotic treatments). Finally,a silent killer stalks – asbestosis – because of the widespread use of this in construction materials with a total lack of preventive health safety when demolishing or altering buildings or when sawing or disposing of such material which you are most likely to see piled up on waste ground or roadsides where the debris and dust blows everywhere!

    • Mike,

      Didn’t know about the asbestos here. So I looked it up and yes there are still some unscrupulous builders using it (not widespread any more as you indicate). I have built 4 houses here and never ran into the problem. Upon some research I found that in the last 50 years or so there have been only 54 case of asbestos cancer or mesothelioma reported here (zero would be better). so, yes it is here, but it isn’t going to hit you in the air you breathe.

      Yes, private hospital costs are rising. Thailand has become a medical tourist hub and with that supply and demand is causing prices to go higher. But, without insurance covering the cost, compare to U.S. prices and it is much better here. But the hospitals that cater to westerners are becoming expensive.

      And regarding the misuse of antibiotics, that does occur, here as well as just about everywhere else in the world I have been. If a doctor prescribes antibiotics for something non-bacterial, you don’t have to take it. I personally have never been prescribed antibiotics for something that didn’t require it.

      Good to be cautious, but not to be afraid.

      • Mike said

        Re. Asbestosis I am fairly confident that the typical Thailand mindset would be to downplay public risks and to attribute the condition to other causes. There are vested interests in diluting the data, for example giant corporation Siam Cement who incorporate the material in their products; but because the untreatable illness has a long gestation period the reality is that it is more likely to be the young and not the grey retirees who will eventually succumb to the after effects. Re. Antibiotics I accept that medical prescription is controlled, but any Joe can walk in off the street and buy a wide range of antibiotics over the counter in Thailand over which the only control is a pharmacist running a business for profit – although I have found them to be generally knowlegeable and helpful without being particularly restricted in what they can sell.

  30. Bruce Davis said

    I am a diabetic and use insulin. Is the availability of insulin and needles there. Also if you know do you need a doctor script or OTC. If you happen to know the approximate cost. Thanks for your time and trouble

    • Bruce,

      Lots of diabetics here too so all you need would be available (maybe under different brand names). Do a Google search on “cost of insulin in Thailand” to see about your other questions. Good luck.

    • Bob Denver said

      It’s impossible to get proper insulin pen needles in Thailand. They even stopped my needless from a US Amazon shipment. Local needles are 7 or 8mm, and painful! But insulin is cheap there, and easy to get.

  31. Sheela Grant said

    This is a great article. I’ve heard people say great things about living in Thailand as an expat. I considered it, but I can’t take living with spiders, especially big ones, snakes & other critters. Anything that big needs to pay rent. Thanks for the post!

    • Steve Sturges said

      Living here is nothing compared to living in Queensland where I used to live…. There, every snake ( almost) is poisonous and there’s heaps of them, plenty of big spiders that will either make you crook or can kill you, the ocean’s full of sharks and various marine stingers, esp the box jelly and the irikandji, both guaranteed killers, then the blue ring octopus and stonefish… That’s if you don’t drown in the rough surf.. or the saltwater crocs don’t get you…Geez, even some caterpillars there can make you sick by touching them.. and a tree or two also….
      Hardly see a snake here, the locals eat them, and running into any in the wild isn’t all that common.. The real pests are centipedes and scorpions, plus some stinging caterpillars..
      I have far more fear driving around here in Chiang Mai than I do about anything non human roaming around…

  32. Me said

    “negotiate the convoluted visa system..” After 14 years in Thailand I have had enough.

  33. Mike said

    I have a good income
    I am worried I will be vulnerable
    I love Thailand like a high standard of living and don’t know how i can live well without attracting the wrong kind

    • Mike,

      Think with your big head, not with your little head (if you get my meaning) and you will be fine.

      • Michael said

        Dont do it i have tied and you wont be happy here no matter how much money you have, a lot of Thais think that all foreigners are idiots with a lot of money, if you havent done it yet stay where are

  34. Just reading about the snakes put me off. Stay in the UK. At least we only have the good old British Adder to live with.

  35. JaiyenMark said

    Although some of this info is relevant, I would just like to add a word of caution when reading blogs. Each individual will have his/her own experience based on their own experience and will tell you ‘how it is here’, ‘how to do such and such’ and the famous ‘This is Thailand’. I have worked and lived in Thailand on and off for 16 years, the number of nightmare stories I have heard is beyond counting. I have been married to a Thai for 14 years and have one son, I have an exceptional relationship with her family and feel Thailand more of a home than my own country. I have no problems with visas, O,B or tourist. One piece of advice, if you want to live in Thailand, learn to speak Thai, understanding and speaking the language breaks down a lot of these preconceived ideas. A lot of it will come down to your attitude towards Thais and their culture and their view of YOU. Thais are amazing people, but not perfect. If your going to live in Thailand embrace it for what it is with your eyes wide open and be POLITE, understand it is their country and you are a guest and you wont go far wrong, find out all info yourself, and you will learn it is not as hard as some say.
    NB: As far as I am aware there are more dangerous creepy crawlies in Australia than Thailand, like everything, it is a matter of perception.

  36. Recent government infrastructure development spending and attempt to attract tech startups is pushing prices significantly up. If one ants to retire in this beautiful country why not get your own place while prices are still affordable and a fraction of what similar properties cost in Sydney, London or San Francisco today?

    • Remember: Foreigners can own condos but cannot own land without going through many legal hoops. I have seen too many Expats fall through those hoops and end up owning nothing but the shirts on their backs, if they are lucky. Prices are low for a reason. Resale is quite difficult if not impossible. Just this morning saw a beautiful house, 3 beds, 3 baths, nice garden, in a gated community, for 12,000 baht/month. Might be the better way to go. Good luck.

  37. Michael said

    l have been travelling to Thailand with my Thai wife & then later with our daughter since 2003 and fell in love with everything: the food , culture, people, easy going lifestyle,landscape the lot and the potential to live here one day. . l met my wife in Australasia when she was studying in Sydney at university, we became friends and much later we got married [in Australia] My wife fell in love with Australia and is part of my very close family and also has citizenship. We lived happily in Sydney with a lot of friends and close family and always worked hard in the same jobs, and were blessed with a beautiful daughter. As living in Sydney became more and more expensive the idea of selling up and coming to live in Thailand became a certainty for us plans to start a business, buy or build a house and have our daughter educated here. We left a lot behind in Sydney and sacrificed a lot to live here but always thought that living here in my wife’s hometown that it would be worth it… and came here with money, good intentions and open hearts…………..well we have been here since October last year and are now already making plans to move back to Sydney, there are some very complex issues here too many to explain but l will try.
    Our experience of coming to live in Thailand was a bad one…..in the region of Thailand where we are there is nothing for kids to do except school, [growing up here as a child would be boring and dangerous], no family structure, support or foundation for us at all most importantly our daughter. As far as starting up a business here as a foreigner l wouldn’t trust anyone and the system here its all for Thais. Buying or building a house GOOD LUCK same applies to above. Driving here is very dangerous in this region there are no road rules at all, no laws at all, and there are too many inconsiderate selfish people on the roads as well.
    Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of good, genuine and friendly people here in Thailand and a amazing nation…..but my advice is come as a traveler only don’t think you can escape the so called rat race and move here for a happy and uncomplicated life it wont happen.
    If i can stop one person or family from making the same mistake as we l will be happy.

  38. TD said

    I am an 54 Yr old American who retired and moved to Chiang Mai 2 years ago.. I actually love living here. Yes there are some cultural differences.. Yes there are some language problems at times.. I do have an adequate retirement and health insurance that covers me here.. I also have a Thai girlfriend who I have been with for over a year.. My GF is from Isan (northern Thailand) and thanks to me owns a restaurant but also has a nursing degree.. We live in an all Thai community between Chiang Mai and Mai Rim.. I speak limited Thai but have found that most Thai’s respect the fact that I try to speak Thai.. I own 3 motorbikes, scooters, and a truck.. Although I rarely drive the truck, traffic in Chiang Mai is horrible so being able to zip through traffic on a bike is a godsend.. I recommend several things before retiring to Thailand.. Learn to drive a motorbike.. Learn to smile (never show anger here).. show respect.. learn a few Thai words (thank you and hello to start off).. learn to be an adventurous eater.. critters are around (in 2 years I have seen 3 snakes, all green tree snakes, one of which decided to take residence in my motorbike, mosquitoes, and quite a few squashed centipedes).. Visa check ins are a pain but necessary.. Thailand is a great place to live but always remember situational awareness . On the plus side.. I have rent a 2 bedroom home on a large plot of land for 5000 Baht a month (at the time of writing this that’s $142 a month), my electric and water are 800 Baht a month ($22 a month total for both), and internet is 600 Baht a month ($17 a month).. As for heat, well you have to look at it in a decent way.. Yes it can be hot.. I live at the foot of the mountains so even when it’s crazy hot during the day at night it cools off nicely.. I do have A/C but I rarely run it.. If you can’t stand hot weather this isn’t a place for you. Travel, enjoy, and have a great life!!

  39. Robert Uranium Foreal said

    Me said
    April 16, 2016 at 5:56 am

    “negotiate the convoluted visa system..” After 14 years in Thailand I have had enough.
    Mike said
    May 29, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I have a good income
    I am worried I will be vulnerable
    I love Thailand like a high standard of living and don’t know how i can live well without attracting the wrong kind

    retire2thailand said
    May 29, 2016 at 9:04 pm


    Think with your big head, not with your little head (if you get my meaning) and you will be fine.
    Michael said
    February 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Dont do it i have tied and you wont be happy here no matter how much money you have, a lot of Thais think that all foreigners are idiots with a lot of money, if you havent done it yet stay where are.

    I tried the same. After 3 years I’m sick of being a walking ATM target. I won’t come back, ever.

  40. Flemming said

    I plan on retiring to Thailand in ten years from now.

    I am now 46, married to Thai lady for almost 5 years. She is living with me in Denmark and working hard for her own money.

    She owns land, property and car in Thailand and never asks for anything to sponsor her family in Thailand.

    Within the last 20 years, I have spent well over 2 years in Thailand – travelling to almost any part of Thailand, but not Pattaya or Phuket. I have seen and experienced most of those things that expats are often telling about.

    So far, I can only say that if you are a decent person, respect others, treat them nicely, drive safely etc etc – you will have no problem living in Thailand.
    I drive (on the wrong side) every time I visit Thailand – and my Thai family are telling me how great I drive, but also that they are a little scared, because I drive fast in small countryside roads.

    When we (my wife and I) retire to Thailand, she will only be 45 and wants to start her own business. I have no doubt that she will have saved some 2.000.000 Baht to open her own business at that time.

    I will have around 15M Baht in cash and plenty in my pension fund, so we do not really have to work, but my wife wants to and I guess I will be tired of doing nothing after 6 months. If thats the case, I will invest in my wife’s business and get involved myself or start another business for myself.

    Thailand is a magnificient country, but like anywhere else, you must provide for yourself, take necessary measures to protect your wealth and well-being and make sure, you are not conned. Also, like elsewhere, obide by any rules.

    I can’t wait to retire to Thailand – and by the way – I have never ever seen anything creepy crawly other than some small bugs!

    Cheers from Denmark!

    • Flemming,

      Good luck with your retirement plans. One small bit of advice. You will be retired. That means that you don’t have to rush anywhere. No appointments. They can wait for you. Please drive slowly. Just this last week I lost 2 acquaintances to traffic accidents, one to alcohol use, the other just dumb luck. Live long and prosper.

  41. Vipapan said

    Where do American retirees get health care in Thailand. I understand that Medicare not cover for the citizens overseas.

  42. Mark said

    I was there for 3 years, at the end I got sick of it all , the visa was not to much of a problem but the corruption is pandemic. And you better don’t get sick they will milk you to the max . Most insurance will not settle your bill .
    And you can never never NEVER trust any of them.
    The dual pricing is a other problem you will pay 2 to 4 time more then the Thai and for medical 5 to 20 time more ,
    Example my blood test 1800 bath for my girl friend 300 .
    One day hospital for me 25000 Thai bath my girl 4000 . I can give you a lot of examples but the list will be to long .
    At the end I though living in a dumb was not for me any more . Move back to oz

    • Mark,

      I approved this comment because it was your experience. But I myself have never experienced this. It would have been good if you had mentioned where you lived (not necessarily the specific hospital but maybe a hint or two), and whether your girlfriend had gone to the same hospital and was treated for the same condition. I just had a battery of blood tests, EKG, ABI, met with a doctor, for my annual checkup – 3,400 baht, exactly the same for my Thai wife. Saw a specialist, orthopedist, 595 baht. I go for blood and urin tests every 6 months and see a specialist,urologist, 1,500 baht.

      I don’t have insurance. I pay cash for everything. I’ve done the math. At my age (71) insurance is not a good financial investment. But I have enough savings and pension income to cover most stuff.

      Please check my latest blog as I relate the whole checkup experience.

      “And you can never never NEVER trust any of them.” I assume that the “them” you are talking about are Thais. I have friends here of more than 40 years and have no problem with trust. I do know that a lot of Thais who do not trust foreigners. They refer to them as “them” too.

      Corruption exists here, as it does in all countries. I don’t find it worse than other places.

      Sorry about your negative experiences and hope you are happy in Oz.

      • Tony & Bambi said

        Depends on the hospital. For example the farangs who chose BH or the Ram in Chiang Mai pay 10x. It is their choice. I paid 1500 last visit this week for ultrasound, doctor and medication. Same price as the Thais. As for corruption, there is more in the west than in Thailand, just it is less visible unless you start questioning the price you pay for things back home.

      • I have been going to Chiang Mai Ram hospital for all my health care for the past 10 years. I have never, Never, paid more than the going rate. I have gone to the ER there, had minor surgery, all my checkups, and see a specialist regularly (and seen a dermatologist, cardiologist, orthopedist, urologist, and neurologist along the way – usually noted on these pages). And may I reiterate, I have never been charged more than the going rate.

        I am not an apologist for anyone but I don’t want unsubstantiated claims about cheating and gouging to appear here. If it really happened then okay. But we should get the truth.

        “For example the farangs who chose BH or the Ram in Chiang Mai pay 10x.” Pay 10x what? BH (Bangkok Hospital) and Chiang Mai Ram are modern facilities, up-to-date equipment, clean, service is quick, and you can communicate in English if you don’t speak Thai. And they charge more than the government hospitals. Not 10x more than the government hospitals though, and I have never been charged more than a local counterpart. Can I say that again, Never. I have mentioned that on these pages previously.

        If anyone thinks they have been charged 10x the going rate please contact me and I will look into it personally. I will go down to the hospital with you and will talk to their PR department – and I will report back on these pages. It would make for a good post.

        BTW, some confusion may occur if we compare prices at the new modern private hospitals with the government hospitals where often the charge is the basic 30 baht for the poorer patients plus various other costs – sometimes free. Apples vs oranges; private rooms vs open wards; nurses offering services vs family members; wait times of minutes vs many hours and sometimes days. The government hospitals give good care to their patients but as they say in New York, “You gets what you pay for.”

        Hospitals and dentists here have lists of their prices. Get the list before you make a decision. In Thailand there is no problem asking what something costs. Here is an example: At St Peter’s Eye Hospital in Chiang Mai I asked what cataract surgery would cost. 65,000 – 95,000 baht per eye depending what quality of lens is used (3 kinds to chose from). The highest quality are imported. At the government hospital here the procedure costs 45,000 – 65,000 (2 kinds to choose from). They do not use the higher quality imported lenses. Waiting time at St Peter’s, the same day as the checkup visit, recovery 4 hours in a private suite with air, TV, and snacks). At the government hospital it can vary greatly, recovery in a ward. So the decision is yours.

        I once had a friend who complained bitterly that when he asked for a note from the doctor he was charged 500 baht whereas his wife was only charged 100 baht. Here is what really happened. He wanted the note in English so it had to be translated, thus the extra cost. There was a sign right at the counter where he got the doctor’s note saying that the cost of a translated note was 500 baht. Problem was that the sign was in Thai. No gouging, they just wrote the sign in their own language. Moral to the story, ask for the price first or learn how to read Thai.

        Stay healthy.

  43. Mike said

    Great blog I have been traveling to Thailand for 35 years mainly holiday and occasionally business and planning to retire there next year. I have found everything from medical care to Thai hospitality to be excellent and never felt ripped off even in places like Phuket or Bangkok. I guess it’s personal choice and having lived and travelled in Africa for the past 20 years a little bit of corruption and bureaucracy is hardly going to be a challenge. I have always found that tolerance and cultural awareness goes a long way to helping us farang settle in foreign lands – my wife and I can’t wait – keep flying the flag for Thailand cheers from South Africa

  44. Steve said

    As of July 2017, I’ll have been in Chiang Mai 3 1/2 years, and to be frank, I’m thinking of moving on. It’s been pretty good at times, and downright depressing and boring at others, despite having a pretty decent Thai wife and family.. why,
    1/ the burning…. last year it started in November and went through to Songkran and beyond, and the air quality borderliined on toxic some days…. the authorities seem not at all interested in doing anything about, despite many banners with high Govt officials in front of it in full uniforms, they love the photo ops, shows their getting stuff done…
    2/ the knowledge that in reality, all farang are only just visiting, we can never intergrate into the community or the resident population, I hear it when I go to the markets, they talk about me in mixed opinions, from good to quite bad, in Thai of course, but they don’t know I can understand it..
    3/ Money, it is getting more and more expensive here, in CM especially… it’s turning into a go ahead place, new roads, airport coming and plenty of new buildings. Farang are starting to get gouged more and more. The baht has been getting propped up by the General, much to the detriment of the country, Cambodia and Myanmar are going leaps and bounds, Thailand going backwards..
    4/ House and land, you’ve mentioned that already, and the price of land is skyrocketing… 30 lease is not a option
    5/ immigration, it sucks… as I write this, I am out of the country.. when I come back, within 24 hours, I have to report to immigration and they will stamp my TM30, pure beauracracy, and failure to do so nets you a 1200 baht fine for you and strangely your landlord..
    90 day reporting is and always be, a absurd requirement… and move to control farang. In theory, a immigration agent told me, every night I spend travelling within Thailand should be reported…
    6/ Thai farang relationship… as I said, I’m married to a pretty decent family, I’m fortunate they have never asked me openly for anything, but there is a lot of subtle pressure.. my wife has two boys in university and she complains they they treat me like their father but I won’t pay for them to be in uni…. her father pays 15000 a month for his truck, why won’t I help out…. I bankrolled her for her business, she signed the contract to pay me back, a year ago, and have yet to see a baht, it’s always coming… it’s frustrating… especially when a long time expat told me years ago to never lend the Thai any money, period, as you’ll never see it again. The Thai are lovely people who will come by your house and give you mangos from her tree, when they don’t know you, but lend them a 1000 baht and you may as well say, goodbye you can have that..
    I always get the feeling that the next day might be the last one with my wife, very edgy at times, and yup, all about money and why I won’t give her any when she’s supposedly making plenty with her business… it’s because all the money she makes goes to her family, mother, father, brothers, You name it… on the totem pole of significance a farang husband is on the bottom, because, remember, all farang are rich….
    I can see myself liquidating the few assets in the next year and just going elsewhere, probably Portugal.
    The LOS has lost it’s gloss, and I think it’s time to go…

    • Steve,

      Sorry about your unhappiness. I do have some comments though.

      1. Burning lasted about 6 weeks last year. I counted. There are 52 weeks in a year so we had smog for about 12% of the year. We go down to Karbi for a week or so. But they have smog at times too. Might go to the Alps next year.
      2. We are all just sojourners on this earth no matter where we live – impermanance.
      3. Everything, everywhere, is more expensive.
      4. Everything, everywhere, is more expensive.
      5. Immigration sucks.
      6. Relationships are what they are. You say you have a “pretty decent Thai wife and family”. Strange turn of phrase but relationships are what they are. As for lending money (to anyone, anywhere), I don’t do it. If a friend (or family member) asks me for a loan and I want to help, I give them the money and never ask them for it back. As Polonius advised his son Laertes in Hamlet, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”. Works for me.

      Good luck on your future decisions.

      • Sorry, I should have completed the Shakespeare quote. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

  45. In your article, you list reasons not to retire in Thailand, and also mention that there are other SE Asian countries that may be better. Which are those?

    Also, thank you for the article. I enjoyed reading it, and especially the comments that followed.


    • Pat,

      I have heard good things about Malaysia. They have a very easy-to-get long term visa. Lots of people there speak English too. It’s a little more expensive than Thailand though. Cambodia seems to be getting popular although the poverty there would be difficult for me to deal with. Laos is very beautiful but also quite poor. And some people have good things to say about Vietnam – although others say the opposite.

      The best thing to do is spend a few weeks in each place you are considering. If that goes well then plan on spending a month or more. And try to go when then weather is challenging (hot season, rainy season). You’ll be looking at the food, health care, friendliness of the people, language, and housing available.

      Lots of luck.

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