Life in Thailand is easy. The healthcare is world class, the internet fast, you can catch English-language films in air-conditioned shopping centres, and pick up delicious, tasty meals for just a couple of bucks. A move to Thailand means you can ditch the expense and stress of life back home and embrace the excitement of an exotic locale—without sacrificing your creature comforts.
Having spent time in Thailand on holiday over the years, Vivien and I knew “The Land of Smiles” was somewhere special. And, having sold up and taken early retirement, the only question left was, “Where to?”
For us, the answer was Hua Hin. Just three hours south of Bangkok and perched on the Gulf of Thailand, this charming beach town is the holiday spot of choice for many Thais as well as the royal family. It’s a laidback place blessed with long wide sandy beaches and a year-round tropical climate.
But, when it comes to expat havens, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice in Thailand. Jungle retreats, beach-fringed islands, bustling cities… Thailand has so much to offer it’s not hard to understand why so many expats are choosing to settle in “The Land of Smiles”. Here’s the top five reasons why we did just that…
1. Cost of Living
This was key to our decision-making. We live well here in Hua Hin for 70% less than we did back home. We bought a very comfortable two-bedroom, two-bathroom villa with a pool, spa, and small tropical garden for a very reasonable $110,000.
Our utilities for the month are $78, our monthly food and grocery shopping comes in at $390 and we budget around $270 for eating out. This can go a long way when you can get tasty, fresh Thai meals for around $3 in local eateries. In more traditional cafes and restaurants main course dishes won’t cost more than $7. Eating out several times a week isn’t unusual for us these days—and all for less than one meal back home.
2. Safety & Stability
We’ve always felt very safe here in Thailand and despite some political unrest from time to time we find the government is focused on stability, economic growth, tourism, and other elements that are pushing the country and the overall well-being of the Thai people forward.
Access to affordable, quality healthcare was non-negotiable for us. We knew we’d have no problems in this regard here. Hua Hin is home to two international standard hospitals offering excellent medical services and we’ve also discovered visits to local medical clinics to be extremely cost-effective. Seeing an English-speaking doctor for a consultation and receiving any required medication before you leave the clinic has typically set me back no more than $15. At the dentist, a six-month check-up and teeth clean runs us $30 each. Medical insurance, which we believe is essential, is equivalent to what we were paying back home.
4. Easy Visa
Thailand’s Non-immigrant ‘O-A’ (retirement) Visa gives us multi-entry for 12 months and is renewable annually. The visa gives us certainty for 12 months providing we complete the 90-day checks. These are just a matter of visiting our local immigration office to check-in—a very simple process which takes around 15 minutes. Annual renewals can also be done at our local immigration office.
5. Getting Settled
There were a few things we knew we’d need to feel comfortable in any overseas destination. A local population that was used to dealing with foreigners, had no issue with their presence, and a good level of English-speakers was key for us. We were also on the lookout for an expat community that was welcoming and supportive. On all fronts, we have had no issues here in Thailand.
The expat community have been exceptionally open-hearted and played a key role in helping us find our way around and get settled. We have also found the locals to be extremely welcoming, especially when they realise that you are happily making their beautiful country your new home. Making an effort to fit in and learning a little bit of the language and culture also goes a long way.
Today, after two years living here in Thailand, Vivien and I have no regrets whatsoever. In fact, our new life in Thailand is better than we had ever hoped for.