How to Retire in Thailand

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Contributor, Benzinga
April 19, 2021

Thailand has all the amenities for a great retirement destination. The rich culture, warm climate and low cost of living attract a wide variety of expats. Pleasure seekers can enjoy the native cuisine, scenic beaches and seaside resorts. You can explore the temples and the lures of Bangkok. Do you want to learn more? Here’s what you need to know about how to retire in Thailand. 

Cost to Retire in Thailand

When it comes to comfortable living on a limited budget, Thailand is hard to beat. The cost of living in this country is about 33% lower than living in the U.S. Rent on average is almost 60% lower. Realistically, you could live well on a monthly budget of $1,500. With a monthly budget of $3,000 to $5,000 you could live extravagantly.

The table shows how you could live on a $1,500 per month budget in Thailand.

ExpensesCost per Month
3-bedroom apartment$635
Utilities                                                                                                                               $103
Health insurance$127
Full-time maid service$50
Transportation  (Local Transport)$40

Throughout Thailand, rent can vary widely. Prices are typically higher in the cities than on the outskirts. Beachfront apartments are more costly than inland units. If you don’t need much living space, you could find a nice 1-bedroom apartment for around $300. 

Retiring in Thailand with only your Social Security income is possible. But conditions could turn Spartan in the event of an emergency; your budget would be too tight. Besides, you want your retirement years to be as enjoyable as possible. This is the reason you could retire well in Thailand with a savings of $250,000.

Requirements to Retire in Thailand 

Retiring in Thailand depends on your ability to obtain a 1-year Thai retirement visa. Before you can apply, you must get a nonimmigrant visa from a consulate in your home country. To successfully apply for a 1-year retirement visa, the Thai government requires you to:

  • Be 50 years old or older
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Possess a valid passport that is good for a least 1 year
  • Place a security deposit of at least $24,500 in a Thai bank 2 months before applying or show a minimum monthly income or pension of $2,000

You can show proof of your security deposit by providing an updated bank book. Or, you can present an official bank statement verifying the funds came from an overseas source at least 2 months prior. 

To verify your income, you can submit an annual bank statement detailing monthly deposits of $2,000 or more from an overseas source. If you choose this option, you don’t need to have a current bank balance of $24,500.

How to Get a Visa to Live in Thailand

You can apply for a 1-year Thai retirement visa at the immigration office in Bangkok. You must apply in person. As a condition of approval, the Thai government requires you to report to the Immigration police every 90 days. 

You must renew your visa annually. After renewing your Thai retirement visa, you can apply for permanent residency. 

Does Thailand Have Retirement Benefits for Foreigners?

As a foreigner, you can become eligible for Thailand pension benefits in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. If you’re an expatriate employee, you can become eligible by enrolling in your company’s pension scheme or Provident Fund. Your pension benefit will result from 3% of your contribution, 3% of your employer’s pay-in and 1% government subsidy. Before you can start collecting your pension benefit at age 55, you must contribute to the fund for at least 15 years. Plus, your contributions are tax-deductible and your pension benefits are tax exempt.
  2. You can enroll in a non-occupational Provident Fund by investing in a retirement mutual fund (RMF) at your Thai bank. It has similar tax advantages as an IRA. All capital gains within the fund are tax-free. To collect your pension at 55, you must contribute for a minimum of 5 years.

Thailand has no public health insurance for expats. Many people purchase traveler’s insurance from their home countries. But, medical costs are very cheap. A good financial advisor can help you with the amount of coverage you should have.

Places to Retire in Thailand 

Thailand has many exciting cities and dreamy beach areas to choose from. But, there are a few locations that make great places to retire. Benzinga recommends these Thai locations to consider.

Chiang Mai

If you like the wild outdoors, the northern city of Chiang Mai is worth investigating. It sits among the country’s highest mountain ranges. Adventurous types from all over the world come to explore the jungle, kayak the river rapids and mountain bike the trails. 

Chiang Mai complements its rural appeal with vibrant city life. You can sample the nightlife, visit museums, tour 300 Buddhist temples and eat at international restaurants. Many retired expats live in Chiang Mai. Among a diverse population of 40,000 people, they have established a large community with several social venues and interest groups.


Pattaya has the appeal of a tropical island getaway with a built-in cheat. Bangkok is only a 2-hour drive away. Locals can enjoy the beautiful beaches and seaside attractions without sacrificing the conveniences of city life. Almost everything you may need is close by. You can enjoy a wide variety of restaurants, bars and golf courses. 

Expat retirees love this city’s high standard of living at an affordable cost. Its abundance of available condos and villas keeps housing costs low. 

Hue Hin

Are you looking for a wonderful place away from the tourist grid? Hue Hin may be your place to retire in Thailand. Like Pattaya, it’s only a short drive from Bangkok. But, this seaside town is more of a local retreat than a vacation destination. The peaceful atmosphere attracts a small and affluent expat community.

Hue Hin is a golfer’s paradise. Some of Thailand’s best golf courses wind along the scenic coastal landscape. You can take in breathtaking views of the beaches and mountains. Also, the town has its share of fine restaurants, bars and shopping centers. 

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How to Save for Retirement Now 

International living ranks Thailand in the top 10 of the best foreign countries to retire. But, how do you realize your dream of retiring in Thailand with a starting savings balance of $0?  It doesn’t matter whether you have 20 or 15 working years left. You can reach your Thailand retirement investment goal of $250,000 by choosing a good investment vehicle. 

A 401(k) retirement plan is a good way to grow your retirement contributions. It is a savings plan many employers provide for their employees to invest a portion of their paychecks before taxes. The employee pays no taxes on the saving amount until they withdraw it. This table shows how you can accumulate $250,000 in a 401(k) in a 15- or 20-year cycle.

Percentage of Contribution10.5%17.8%
Annual Salary$50,000 $50,000
Monthly $ Amount$437.50$741.66
Current Age4550
Age of Retirement6565
Current 401(k) Balance00
Annual Rate of Return8%8%
Total Employee Contribution$105,000$133,500
End 401(k) Balance$255,539$252,003

Saving $741.66 per month can be a burden for some people. If 50-year-olds delay retirement for 5 years, they can reach the $255,539 mark with a 10.5% contribution. Both age groups can almost double their saving totals by putting off retirement for 5 years. An individual retirement account (IRA) can yield similar results for you. There are several IRA versions you can choose from. Find out more by reading the best investments for retirees.

The stock market provides a more aggressive path to making money to retire in Thailand. You can potentially get a return from 10% to 12%. But the stock market is not kind to novices. Consult a reputable online broker. You can help your retirement saving efforts by learning as much as you can about retiring in Thailand. 

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the costs of retiring in Thailand?


You need to have $2,000 a month in income and $25,000 in savings at a Thai bank.


When does a Thai retirement visa expire?


You can stay in Thailand on a retirement visa for 12 months and you must renew it every year.