Many Americans struggle to save the retirement funds needed to comfortably live out their golden years. And with Social Security benefits on the decline, this issue is becoming even direr. Fortunately, the Southeast Asian nation of Thailand offers retirees a relaxing and tropical lifestyle, for a relative bargain.
Low Cost of Living
The cost of living in Thailand is 40% lower than that of the U.S. For example, it's possible to rent a one-bedroom apartment in a city center for about $370 per month, or to purchase a one-bedroom home for $234/per square foot. However, the latter can be complicated, because foreigners are technically forbidden from owning property in Thailand, although there are certain loopholes and exceptions.
Food, transportation, and entertainment are likewise cheaper in Thailand than they are in the U.S. And although U.S. the dollar hasn't been as strong against the Thai baht as it once was, inflation has remained low--barely increasing 1% since early 2017, which somewhat mitigates the impact of the weaker dollar.
Key Takeaways [PLEASE REFORMAT IN PROPER CALL OUT BOX]
--Although many Americans lack the retirement funds they need to sustain their retirement years, Thailand's low cost of living, and its tropical beauty makes this island nation a viable relocation destination.
--Housing costs are comparatively much lower than those in the U.S., where a one-bedroom apartment in city centers rent for about $370 per month, and one-bedroom homes may be purchased for $234/per square foot.
--Thailand offers retirement visas to foreigners who are at least 50 years old, as long as they can prove that they hold a certain threshold of assets in a Thai bank account.
Americans who haunt Thai food restaurants stateside are bound to fall hard for the cuisine in Thailand, which features native dishes unavailable in the U.S. Retirees in Thailand can even take affordable Thai cooking classes, to learn how to prepare such food for themselves. But Americans should be warned: Thai food in Thailand tends to be far spicier than the Thai food served in America.
Thailand also boasts a diverse selection of restaurants that serve up Japanese sushi, Indian curry, and other exotic dishes. And Americans looking for a taste of home can visit local stores that stock simple pleasures like cheese, American wine and peanut butter.
Tropical Climate and Exotic Setting
Comprising multiple islands, Thailand offers retirees endless tropical beaches to enjoy, although the humid climate may take some getting used to, and some beach destinations are prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, places like Phuket provide affordable alternatives to the costlier locales.
Central Travel Location
Thailand's centralized South Asian location makes it an ideal hub from which to easily access other vacation destinations. Retirees may take advantage of discount airline flights to and from places like China, Japan and Vietnam.
Availability of Retirement Visas
To foreigners aged 50 and older, Thailand offers retirement visas that are valid for a 12-months and may be conveniently renewed without leaving the country. To qualify, foreigners must first acquire a non-immigrant visa. They must then open a Thai bank account that contains at least THB 800,000 (just over $25,380) over a one-year period. Visa candidates can either deposit a lump sum amount, or they may make monthly deposits of THB 65,000 (just over $2,062).
High Number of Expats and Foreigners
According to its government, more than 35 million foreigners visited Thailand in 2017, which means retirees are highly likely to bump into other retirees, expats and tourists. Furthermore, Thai business owners are comfortable interacting with visitors from all lands. Many speak English well--especially in the southern part of the country, thus minimizing the language barrier.
Important: Thailand's growing population has caused heavy traffic, so retirees should consider living close to public transportation, specifically the BTS Skytrain or the MRT Subway.]