The Perfect Laidback Lifestyle in Hua Hin, Thailand: $800 a Month

“The last time I went exploring by motorbike through the jungle, I saw an elephant just walking down the road. An elephant!” says Michael Brown, 53, who lives in the Thai resort city of Hua Hin.

“I have the time to enjoy my life…and there is truly so much to enjoy here.”

In his spare time, Michael plays tennis, is starting pickleball (think badminton, tennis and table tennis rolled into one), and runs on the white-sand beach 10 minutes from his apartment…all things he never found time to do back home.

In Hua Hin, his monthly budget of $800 includes a weekly massage for $10, health insurance and a round of golf. It also covers eating out at least twice a day. He has plenty of restaurants to choose from: Greek, Spanish, Indian. But the cheapest and most delicious places are Thai. A Pad Thai with shrimp can be found all over town for $3.

When Michael decided to move overseas, his basic requirements included lovely beaches and good weather (in Hua Hin, temperatures average 26 C to 30 C year-round).

He’d travelled through Thailand before and enjoyed it. And since he couldn’t travel the world seeking the perfect place—at least not in 2013, when he first retired—he did his research and opted for Hua Hin…sight unseen.

He took the train there from Bangkok, got off at one of the oldest and most historic train stations in Thailand…and fell in love. He had no Plan B. Luckily, Hua Hin had everything he wanted. “Hua Hin is a big enough town that you can find anything you want, but still small enough to feel laidback,” he says.

He first rented an apartment in the heart of town, within 10-minutes’ walk of the beach, bars, restaurants and grocery stores. After renting for a year, he bought his modern studio apartment, in the same building, for about $60,000. The yearly apartment fees are $650. These include access to a pool, parking, security, a convenience store and a gym. “Its location is perfect,” he says. “It’s in the centre of Hua Hin and close to everything. I can amble home from the bars and restaurants after meeting the guys for a night out on the town.”

Last year Michael got a bad case of bronchitis and went to the Bangkok Hospital. It is accredited by the Joint Commission International and is probably the most expensive hospital in Hua Hin. His visit took about 45 minutes from start to finish, and the total cost was $52, including three different prescriptions and all the doctor’s fees. “I felt totally comfortable from the minute I walked in,” he says. “They all spoke English perfectly and explained everything step by step.”

When asked what he loves most about living in Hua Hin, Michael replies without skipping a beat, “The laidback lifestyle. I can live out my dream retirement here…and it’s easy.”

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