Retirement can be tricky if you are living in a country as expensive as Singapore. I have been dealing with properties around the world as a real estate agent for quite a number of years and one of the reasons for some home buyers to buy a property in a foreign country is for retirement. Some buyers may purchase a retirement home for themselves or if they decide not to move to that country, to sell it off or to rent it out. Understanding the reasons why a destination is a suitable place for retirement may add an additional dimension to your investment decision whether to invest in a certain location. Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in the world to retire. In fact, in Asia, Thailand is 2nd behind Malaysia in terms of popularity as a retirement destination. Here are some of the reasons why you may consider Thailand as a good retirement destination.
1) Low cost of living
The cost of living in Thailand is much lower than the cost of living in Singapore and most developed countries. Property rents are relatively inexpensive at approximately SGD$800 for a one bedroom apartment in central Bangkok. Home ownership is possible too. Foreigners are allowed to purchase Thai condominiums. However, they are not allowed to own landed properties. Food and transport are both inexpensive and convenient. In general, the cost of living is over 40% lower than places like the US and more than 50% lower than places like Singapore and London.
2) Good food options
One important consideration for most retirees is the availability of food. Or namely, food which they find comfortable with. Thailand is a cosmopolitan city. The variety of food which is available is extremely wide. The variety may not be comparable to perhaps Singapore but it sure is wider than places like Europe. On top of that, European and western cuisine like pizza and burgers are easily found in Thailand.
3) Good medical facilities
Retirees need good medical facilities for obvious reasons. Thailand, namely Bangkok, has very good medical facilities. Medical tourism in Bangkok is extremely huge. Hospitals like Bumrungrad International Hospital provide state of the art medical facilities. Moreover, you can expect to pay a fraction of the price which you would normally pay for in cities like Singapore.
4) Thailand is centrally located on the global map
Thailand is a travel hub to the rest of Southeast Asia. It has direct flights to almost all of Asia. With air travel relatively inexpensive, flying to neighbouring countries for short holidays is a viable option.
5) Good climate
Despite the temperature changing throughout the year (unlike in Singapore where there is only one season, summer and more summer!), Thailand does not have extreme weather whereby it gets extremely hot or extremely cold whereby temperatures hit below 10 degrees Celcius. Monsoon season presents some inconveniences with regards to unpredictable rain patterns but that is perhaps the most inconvenient it can get. Westerners, especially those who live in temperate countries, tend to like tropical climates as it is generally sunny all year round.
6) High number of foreigners
The Thais are a generally ambivalent group of people. I mean this in an extremely positive light. They acknowledge the presence of a large group of foreigners in their country and they coexist harmoniously with foreigners. If you live within the reasonable boundaries of what is expected of you in accordance with Thai law, Thailand is a place whereby you can make yourself extremely comfortable.
7) Low language barrier
The Thais do converse well in basic English. Many of their contracts are translated into English for the purpose of allowing foreigners to understand them. Most shopping centres, road signs, maps are presented in English. This makes it easy for foreigners to retire in Thailand.
8) Retirement visas
Finally, the Thai government has a scheme to encourage foreigners to retire in Thailand. If you are a foreigner and are above 50 years old, you can apply for a retirement visa. These visas have a 12-month validity period and can be renewed without leaving the country. To qualify, a foreigner needs to show proof of either an income above USD$1,800 or have a bank account with USD$23,000 in funds or a combination of the two.