More and more people seem to be taking an interest in retiring to Thailand, specifically Phuket. Whether it is due to the dollar or Euro stretching more here, or the impeccable weather, people of all ages are looking to retire to this gorgeous tropical island and emailing me with their questions. Although our family hasn’t retired, many of our friends have and say that retiring here is the best decision they have made and that both excellent hospital and medical care of all varieties ( including stair lifts for the elderly and live in nurses) are available.
Frank has been living in Phuket for nearly a decade. He initially visited the island on holiday and continued coming back until he retired here and remarried. He rents a large three story townhouse for around 8,ooo baht per month ( a total steal!!) which he plans on buying in the near future. He owns his own car and also purchased life and health insurance from a local bank. His main income is his pension from his former employer in Holland, and his wife runs a small convenient store in the bottom level. The couple have two nieces that live with them, as well as his wife’s two children that visit during the school breaks. Their large accomodation makes it easy to have both a small business that caters to Thai locals as well as extended family that come and visit, and it’s a fraction of the cost that Frank would pay back in Amsterdam. To him, it’s a dream come true .Now that he is over 50 he qualifies for the retirement visa, which means no more visa runs. Instead he merely heads over to immigration in Phuket Town to get his passport stamped every three months.
Frank is not alone in wanting to retire to Phuket and live large on a small budget or pension. However, many individuals choose more rural parts of the country to be based as it helps their pension stretch further; living off 500USD a month is much easier to do in say Pai than here in Phuket, where accomodation can cost between 200 and 800USD depending on what part of the island you live. Phuket Town and Thalang are the areas I recommend to those on a strict budget and that want a more authentic, less touristy living experience. Chalong has now become totally overrun with expats and travelers, as has Nai Harn and Rawai, but in reality you can still find quiet sois if you spend a few days looking for the right place for your needs.
What Frank and other expats have mentioned is that there isn’t really a tight knit community here of farang. Unless one belongs to a church or temple, or has some sort of volunteer group that one is a part of, there is a lack of social connectivity for those who move here without friends. Our family has experienced this. To give you an example, out of the two years we lived in Chalong, we were only invited out to eat with someone once. Therefor, I suggest that anyone looking to retire to Thailand seriously consider taking up Thai lessons, however daunting they may seem. On top of that, location makes a huge difference on this island; we’ve made more friends since leaving Chalong for Phuket Town.
Retiring near or in Phuket is an excellent choice for those who love the tropical climate and delicious, healthy cuisine. Phang Nga as well as Krabi are also fantastic options and close enough to the island for those who prefer the hospitals or supermarkets here. We also highly recommend considering Ranong which is serene and much less expensive than Phuket and has affordable daily flights to Bangkok via Nok Air.
Are you considering moving to Phuket? Leave some of your questions below or check out our Live in Phuket guide