Some Very Good Reasons Why You Should Not Retire To Thailand!

When considering retiring in Thailand, perhaps you have heard glowing accounts of the terrific lifestyle available at little cost. While some of those who retire Thailand can sometimes have a positive experience, there are many reasons that you might want to reconsider retiring in Thailand.

Political Unrest

Those who are considering retiring in Thailand need to take the current political situation into consideration. Currently governed by the highly revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, there is great concern lurking about the political unrest that is anticipated after his death. Now at age 82, and not in good health, there is concern about who will take over the throne after his death.

In 2006, a power struggle erupted between the Thai political parties. The “red shirts” and the “yellow shirts” are in bitter disagreement about the country’s future. Accusations of corruption have inspired physical confrontation between the two sides.

This unrest continued in 2008 leading to the closing of the Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Airport in November of that year and the severe violence in Bangkok in April 2010, which was when Iwent out to thailand to pay for the land. (Details of the warnings I was given when planning that particular trip to Thailand are on the Foreign Office and TAT Thailand Travel Advice page where I also briefly try to answer the question Is Now Really A Good Time To Thinking About Retiring In Thailand?

Political uncertainty could affect your future life in Thailand. It only takes a change in the laws in Thailand to make it a completely different place. Suppose they made the requirements for Thai visas more stringent, so that you found it difficult or impossible to get your non immigrant Thai visa? You could lose the right to live in Thailand and with it your retiring in Thailand plan.

The Thai Language

If you are going to retire to Thailand you should be prepared to become integrated into the Thai society. That means you will have to learn the Thai language and that is something notoriously difficult to do. I know that from first had experience because I have been learning to speak Thai for more than ten years and I still find it difficult to understand whet Thai people are saying and to get myself understood by Thai people.

Sure, I can get by in Bangkok and order a beer or tell the taxi driver where I want to go but go into rural Thailand where they speak dialects and I’m lost. Even my wife, who is Thai, struggles to understand the Thai spoken in the deep South or far North.

Lack Of Free Medical Care

Medical care in Thailand is of good quality and inexpensive compared to the West. In fact Thailand has become renowned as a world center of medical excellence and is the country of choice for hundreds of thousands of “medical tourists” a year.

However medical care in Thailand is not Free. If you live in Europe you probably enjoy free medical care, but you will lose that benefit when you retire to Thailand.

Visa Restrictions

There is no such thing as a “get it and forget it” visa for retiring Thailand. While Thai retirement visas are available, there are still restrictions, and you will have to report to the immigration office in Thailand periodically.

The Thai forums are thick with questions from foreigners asking about Thai visa laws or restrictions or reporting problems they have faced. I am one of those people because although I once obtained a multiple journey one-year Non Immigrant Category “O” visa for Thailand within a few minutes at the Royal Thai Consulate in Birmingham, U.K. I was later refused the same kind of Thai visa with exactly the same paperwork at the Royal Thai Embassy in London!

As a generalism, it seems that different offices and officials issuing Thai visas around the world all have different interpretations of the qualifications to be granted a Thai visa.

For foreigners wanting a Thai retirement visa, they must be over 50 years old and satisfy the financial requirements of a bank account with at least 800,000 THB, or a monthly income of 65,000 THB.

High Taxation On Imported Goods

Those who have a visa to live in Thailand for greater than a year can also move household items to the country, but if the visa is granted for less, you must also take into account the import duty taxes and value added tax. These total 27% of the value of your items, not including the shipping costs.

In theory, some entrants to Thailand are permitted to bring houshold effects into Thailand free of duty, but it doesn’t work like that in practice as my Thai wife found out when she tried to do it. Again, the Thai forums are filled with people who, according to Thai regulations were supposed to be able to import personal effects tax-free, still ended up paying a lot to the customs officers!

The Weather

Those who retire Thailand quickly discover that the wet season is very, very, wet. While the weather in Thailand can sometimes be almost temperate, once the rainy season starts, it stays wet for a very long time. It is a good idea to visit Thailand during the rainy season to see how well you handle the weather before making a committed decision to retiring Thailand.

Thailand Is Not Cheap Anymore

When I started to travel to thailand some 35 years ago Thialand was a cheap place to live. Thailand is still cheaper than the U.K. but is not the low-cost destination it used to be.

Thailand has developed since those days and the value of the baht has appreceiated recently as the Pound (GBP, £) and the dollar (USD, $) have weakened making Thailand’s low living cost less eattractive.

Indeed according the 2011 cost of living survey of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the Economist Magazine, the capital of Thailand is rated second as the city with the highest living costs in ASEAN.

A Foreigner Cannot Own Land In Thailand

If your retirement plans include owning your own house in Thailand you had better understand that foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand. One way to combat this problem is to marry a Thai resident, and the spouse then has Thai land ownership rights.

Consider, though, what could happen if the Thai partner dies ahead of the retiree. You must consider the possibilities and research the legality of continuing to reside in the home owned by the spouse, as well as what exit strategy there will be if you decide to leave Thailand and you want to sell-up and repatriate your investment back to your home country.

High Rate Of Thai/Foreigner Marriages Breakdowns

I have seen it reported that 50% of foreigner/Thai marriages break down. If this happens to you the effects could be disastrous if your long-term plan is to retire to Thailand with your spouse. Without your Thai spouse it could well be very difficult or at least unpleasant for you to remain in Thailand.

High Cost Of Maintaining Your Home

If you keep your current home in your own country, there are huge expenses with maintaining two homes, one in Thailand and the other far away across the ocean. When renting out your home in your own country, you run the risk of damage, non-paying tenants and having to hire an agency that will keep your property up. It is a good idea to keep your original home in case you ever go back home, so that you can have a familiar place to get home to, or your retiring in Thailand plan fails for any reason.

Rural Downfalls

Many of the places to retire Thailand are not in main cities. These rural areas lack the hometown convenience and comforts many Westerners are accustomed to. Whatever your own particular favourite ‘comforts’ are, in rural Thailand you probably aren’t going to find them. Just by way of example, I will list a few things that you may well have to go without. Your own list will, of course be different.

Some home comforts you may have to forgo if you retire to rural Thailand:-

  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Steak Houses
  • Fish and Chip Shop
  • T bone, fillet or rump steak
  • English Beer
  • Broadband Internet
  • Local Pub
  • Cinema
  • People from your own country
  • Buying clothes that fit you

Culture Shock

It is one thing to have a great time in Thailand on holiday but living there permanently is completely different.

While it may seem easy to adjust to the Thai culture, residents retiring in Thailand have to commit to setting aside long standing habits and it can be tiring. Unravelling a country’s long standing culture can be a bit tedious for foreigners in the country.

Crime, Corruption, Violence And Robbery

Crime, robbery and violence against foreigners in Thailand is rife. In the last week alone I have seen the following reports on Thai websites:-

  • English Resident And His Thai Wife Seriously Assaulted In South Pattaya House Robbery
  • Pattaya A-Go-Go Staff Beat Up Foreign And Hi-So Customers
  • Chiang Mai court sentenced Akha hill tribe man to life for murder of British composer David Crisp
  • Pattaya Jet Ski Scammers Emboldened – Using new tactics to avoid police involvement
  • Ukrainian men reportedly held hostage by Thai employer for 14 years
  • Swedish expat stabbed to death at luxury villa in Phuket
  • A woman, had her head bashed in by 2 cockroaches who stole her bag, visa, phone etc. Excessive violence – really excessive – they used the hand gun butt to bash her head and face
  • Thailand’s Irresistible Attraction for Fugitives
  • Australian Teacher Lucky To Be Alive After Being Shot In The Head In Chiang Mai
  • The sister of a Briton, who was declared drowned in a shallow lake on Koh Samui, has expressed disappointment that a second post mortem has concluded her brother drowned and police will NOT now be continuing with a murder investigation.
  • PATTAYA: — The Staff of an a-go-go bar reveal themselves as a would-be mafia, with a group of 20 punching a group of customers consisting of foreign models and Thai Hi-So’s.
  • Kent Melmblom, 52, got heart problems when he was in Thailand and was hospitalized so long that his tourist visa in Thailand run out. When he went to the police for advice he was thrown in a filthy jail for 12 days and had to pay bribes total ling 33,800 Baht ($1,127) before he was sent directly back to Sweden.
  • Phuket taxi mob beats driver in broad daylight.
  • British man, wife murdered in Thai resort
    A worker at the resort in Thap Sakae district of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, 280 kilometres (180 miles) south of Bangkok, found the badly beaten bodies of Michael Raymond, 68 and Suchada Baokhamdee, 52, Tuesday afternoon in their beach front bungalow.

Phucket Tuk-Tuk Mob Rule

The attack today comes just days after the Austrian Ambassador to Thailand laid bare a caution for Phuket authorities to start taking serious steps to resolve the continual, brutal antics of lawless drivers on the island.

If the renegade drivers could not be controlled, European embassies might be forced to issue a travel advisory warning tourists not to use tuk-tuks in Phuket, Ambassador Johannes Peterlik said.

That warning followed the beating of a German man, who days ago regained consciousness from a coma, and the recent beating of two Dutch tourists, who both received hospital treatment, in Patong.

Other Dangers

More headlines from Thailand where foreigners are killed travelling or just eating out and Pucket’s tuk-tuk drivers beat up passengers:-

  • Bangkok-Surat express train hits truck in Ratchaburi, 42 Thais and foreigners injured
  • Three British teenagers killed in Thai bus crash
  • Bangkok – A 10-wheel truck smashed into a bus for factory workers near Bangkok Monday, killing seven and injuring 65, police said.
  • The Public Health Ministry is investigating the death of a 66-year-old British man at a hotel in the northeastern province of Udon Thani after developing severe diarrhoea for two days.
  • PHUKET: Five tourists returning home from a holiday in Phuket were killed yesterday morning when their minivan slammed into the back of an 18-wheel truck on a highway in Cha-am District, Petchaburi province.
  • Fourteen teachers were killed and 18 other injured when their bus plunged into a roadside ravine in Nan’s Song Kwae district Monday, police said. The 32 teachers were traveling from Ban Dai School in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district on an education trip Thung Chang district
  • Thai police are investigating the deaths of a retired British couple found dead in their room at the DownTown Inn, who were on holiday in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.
  • German Man Still In ICU After after he was beaten by a mob of Phuket tuk-tuk drivers for refusing to pay a fare of 100 baht (approx US$3.35).
  • Dutch Honorary Consul Seven Smulders said two young Dutchman were similarly beaten by Patong tuk-tuk drivers recently over a what, he said, was a “minor issue”.
  • Envoy warns of EU advisory against tourists using Phuket tuk-tuks “… we will be forced to specifically highlight Phuket as a destination in Thailand where it is not advised to use a tuk-tuk, one of the symbols of Thailand, as a means of transportation,”

Erosion Of The Legendary Thai Freedom

The Thais love freedom and Thailand is legendary for it’s laid-back attitude and tolerence.

More and more, these freedoms are being taken away by Police and new laws. Here are some recent news pieces that illustrate some of the freedoms that are being curtailed:-

Bangkok to have alcohol free zones – Selling, drinking and advertising alcohol will be prohibited in these places. Alcoholic drinks can only be sold in a shop or a club. The legal age to drink alcohol is 20 years and over. Sales of alcohol will be limited to two periods. From 11.00 hrs – 14.00 hrs and from 17.00 hrs – 24.00 hrs.


I hope that has not put you off the idea of retiring in Thailand. That was not my intention.

If you have any doubts about committing yourself to a life of retirement in Thailand I would suggest that you try an extended vacation in Thailand before you finally commit yourself.

If you are still willing to retire Thailand, then you will want to try an extended vacation. Try staying in the country for several months before deciding to set up shop permanently. It is better to do that than making the big mistake of retiring and then deciding it’s not for you.

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7 Responses to “Dont Retire To Thailand”

  • WOW ALAN !

    What happened ?, did you have a bad experience or is this some sort of waiver to protect you in case someone moves there and trys to sues you ??

    All quite true though as I know, I have been going back and forth for the last ten years an am well aware of all of the above… Thanks and Best Regards


    admin Reply:

    Hi Russ and thank you for your comment.

    Firstly let me say that despite all that I am still planning to retire to Thailand in the near future (one or two years maximum).

    But at the same time I am aware of the issues I will face, and as you say, they are all true. The biggest issue, though, is one I haven’t written about and that is having enough money to retire. I don’t mean not having any money in the bank, what I really mean is that if you have an income from a job or profession back ‘home’ then when you retire to Thailand you will lose that income. That steady income that you enjoy when you have a job will disappear forever when you retire to Thailand.

    So not having a million or two in the bank, timing my retirement is very important. Go too early and lose out on building up my savings, wait too long and be too old to really enjoy your retirement in the best of health.

    There are alternatives of course. One of which is to build up some kind of personal income through a business that you can operate in Thailand. An Internet-based business for example. I do have an Internet business and- for example I am an expert at building websites and getting them ranked at the top of the Search Engines, like this website is. Another alternative, which some expats do through their Thai wives is make money in the property market. Pakchong at the moment is booming of course.

    All the above applies not just to retiring to Thailand. Most of the above applies no matter where you retire – if indeed you ever do in these increasingly difficult times.

    But at least in Thailand you can retire in better comfort on less money than you can in the U.K.

    To answer your last question about protecting myself in case people try to sue me for encouraging them to retire to Thailand, not, that is not the reason I wrote the article. I write all kinds of articles about retiring in Thailand (and other subjects) and although I have concentrated on the first steps of the retirement plan, namely buying a car, buying land and designing and building a house in Thailand, it’s time now to move on to other topics. Like, how to earn an income in Thailand, for example. And about medical care. So you will see these kinds of articles appearing in future.

    In fact, if anyone has any particular topic they would like me to research and write about relating to retiring in Thailand then please let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

    So now we come to the essence of why I wrote the article. I want to inform and educate my readers. Not just to ‘sell’ them the dream of retiring in Thailand, but to point out the pitfalls also, so that they have a more balanced picture.

    Sorry for going on so long, but your comment deserved a proper reply and i hope I have given that.

    Here’s looking forward to our retirement to Thailand.

    Best Regards



  • steve:

    Bloody hell you just changed my future daydreams
    Nowt like a bit of a reality check !
    Wish you bon voyage alan


  • Hi, I may be able to help your readers out. If you know any Brits out here, I can help them stop paying UK taxes on their pension. I can also pay commissions for introductions. They can also use their pension to purchase property. Our office is in Thailand. For pension advice, please have a look at <a href=”>QROPS Advice</a>. Thanks, Richard



    it is best to list dates when noting crime events.


  • Tom peters:

    stay out of pattaya and phuket. avoid all touristy places if you can as they draw the criminals like bees to honey.


    Brian Parsons Reply:

    Really tom peters stay out of Pattaya and Phuket how many times have you been  ! I have never had any trouble in Pattaya and other touristy places . Sure if you walk up dark alleys at night when you are drunk you are asking for trouble but that is the same anywhere , if you use common sense you will have no trouble at all. Pattaya is a lot safer than the UK or the US, and you are more likely to get mugged in Benidorm than Pattaya. I really do not know which criminals you are on about.


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