Retiring To Thailand. Searching for Overwhelming Reasons Why.

Reflections On The Retirement Trip To Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand

(Typed in the Thai Royal Silk Upper Deck of a 747-400 on Flight TG916 bound for London. Sunday 15 April, 2012)

  • Am I ready to retire to Thailand?
  • Why should I retire to Thailand?
  • What is it that wants to make me to retire to Thailand? (If, in fact, that’s what I really want to do)

These are the questions that I went to Thailand on this discovery trip to try to answer.

I guess the key question is:-

Why Should I Retire To Thailand? Is there something special about Thailand that would make it, for me, a better place to retire to than the U.K.?

Yes, there is. But there are also special things about the U.K. that would make it a better place for me to retire to.

After spending two weeks in Thailand pondering the subject as I run a test trial of retiring in Thailand, I have come up with some basic answers.

Firstly, did I come across any single outstanding feature that stood out in big bold capital letters and said “I MUST RETIRE IN THAILAND BECAUSE ….“.

The answer to that is. No.

There was nothing spectacular about my trip that made retiring to Thailand a MUST for me.

Model Engineering In Thailand

Well, now I reflect on that there is one. It’s my model engineering workshop, and the size of the garden and land upon which to play with my steam engines. (When I have built them)

All that could be corrected, though, if I had enough money to buy the same sized house and land in the U.K. Which at the moment I don’t.

So that just comes down to one thing. Money.

Gradually, in Thailand, I am finding the shops and outlets that can supply me with the tools and materials I need for my model engineering hobby. But the scope of what is available is far, far, short of what I can buy in the U.K. Of course, I could order what I wanted from the online shops based in the U.K. from Thailand and pay for the shipping. There would be a time delay while the items were shipped and of course the shipping charges. Again, basically, it comes down to money.

Is The Weather In Thailand A Reason To Retire There?

The weather? Hot and humid, with frequent torrential rain. 32 + deg C in the daytime dropping to 26 ~ 20 deg C in the night. Always “close” until a thunderstorm comes along and clears the air. That’s fine – reduces the temperature – but there’s not much you can do in a tropical thunderstorm in Thailand except to sit and wait it out. That can take hours or days. See the movie I took during one of the hurricanes we had that blasted a ‘mini Tsunami’ wave of water through our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Except before a rainstorm, very little wind. Often zero breeze to take away the overpowering heat.

In short, whether it was raining or not, it was mostly uncomfortable at best. The heat made me tired and lethargic. Could be down to loss of salts from the body. My legs in particular always felt tired. That is a phenomenon I recall from my ‘pioneering youth’ when I worked in Lagos, Nigeria. In those days I was tired and lethargic until I discovered the magic of salt tablets.

Weather not conducive to smart thinking whilst designing and making steam engines in my model engineering workshop. Do a bit, take a rest was the order of the day. I was wondering if I would become acclimatised over time and discussed that with Kanyah. It turn’s out that she (along with all the local Thais) suffer in the same way. It’s definitely the weather and not just me.

Weather in the U.K. In the winter not very nice I agree. But if I’m retired why the need to go outside? If that is necessary, I have a car so it’s not so bad.

My model engineering workshop in the U.K. is indoors and centrally heated, so no problem there.

Thailand – A Low-Cost Place To Retire To

The only problem really is that central heating in the U.K. is expensive and getting more so.

In Thailand heating is not needed and we don’t have air conditioning (yet) so fuel bills are absolutely zero.

So the U.K. will be considerably more expensive a place to retire to just because of the heating bills. Again it’s money that matters.

Thai Food. Is The Thai Food A Reason For Retiring In Thailand Or One Of The Reasons Why Not To?

Thai Food. Is it worth basing a decision on which country to retire to on the basis of what kind of food is available? Not in the case of Thailand. It used to be difficult a few years ago to find anything but local Thai food in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, but with the opening of the Tesco Lotus Supermarket and having our own house, all that has changed. Now I can have virtually any western style food I want if I get fed up of the Thai food. Apart from the occasional egg and bacon breakfast (with mugs of tea) I managed quite comfortably on the Thai food.

In the U.K. There are plenty of Thai food supermarkets and Kanyah has lived in the U.K. before for about 2 years and can eat most of the Thai food she is used too.

One big ‘food’ issue for me is beer. I love my English beer or “Real Ale” as it has become popularly called these days. Lager (and particularly Thai larger) I find hard to get on with. Too strong and lacking taste and absolutely disgusting if not absolutely icy cold. Worth making a retirement issue over? Carries a lot of weight for me.

Steam Traction Engine Rallies

What? What on earth has “traction engine rallies” have to do with retiring in Thailand and what the hell are they anyway?

Quintessentially British (probably English, actually), traction engine rallies are where weird eccentric Englishmen bring their old steam traction engines for a week-end’s play time. Steam fairs, steam organs and all things steam dating back to the glorious days when England was the power house of the Industrial Revolution that changed the world.

So what? Well, my single goal in life is to build myself a steam model traction engine and drive it on the road from our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, to the local “pub”. (Which would be a local roadside shack-type restaurant).

That’s fine as an ambition but what will I do with the thing the rest of the year? In the U.K. I can take it to the traction engine rallies and show it off to the public and other steam enthusiasts. But in Thailand? It will most likely be the only steam traction engine in the country and apart from George in Pattaya who has a model steam engine (locomotive) as far as I know it would be the only steam engine of any kind in the LOS.

Who to show it off to? Who to talk to about these lovely machines? A reason to retire to England rather than Thailand? Possibly. It carries weight. But wait a moment. I haven’t built the thing yet.

I don’t know the average time to build an engine of the size I am planning ( 1/3 full size i.e. 4″ scale) but the time is probably measured in decades rather then years. I plan to make it within three years, but if you read my piece about the model engineering workshop debacle on this trip you’ll probably be thinking in terms of three decades instead of three years.

Is Your Mental Health Likely To Improve If You Retire To Thailand?

What about mental well-being?

I must admit to an uncomfortable feeling when I was first in Thailand even on this trip. This I put down to a feeling of vulnerability and generally being away from familiar surroundings and people. Towards the end of the trip I became more comfortable as I assimilated into the country and started to talk more Thai with the locals.

Long term I don’t think that would be a problem for me. After all I have worked overseas for some 20 years and I know from experience that it takes a full year to adjust to living in a strange country.

But what about Kanyah? I know she is soon bored when living in the U.K. and that has lead to some severe problems we have had in the past.

Long-term living in the U.K. (i.e. as in retiring to the U.K.) would be a complete disaster for her. She simply couldn’t cope with it.

So there’s one good solid reason to retire to Thailand – the metal well-being of my Thai wife, Kanyah.

And as I have mentioned above several times, your money goes further in Thailand. That is another big reason for retiring there.

The other issues, the weather, the food, the beer (there is a way around the Beer/Lager issue but I’ll not mention it here), are all minor issues that probably balance each other out.

Has The Retireometer Swung Any Closer To The Yes Vote?

I’ve borrowed the electioneering concept of the swingometer (Steve from The Plough’s idea) and created the Retireometer to measure how comfortable I think i am about retiring to Thailand.

After this trip I feel the Retireometer has notched up a couple of percentage points towards the Yes vote.

But not for the reasons you’d expect.

Reading the above you may be thinking that there are plusses and minuses and you’d be right. In fact you might be thinking there are probably more minuses than plusses. And I guess you’d be right there, too.

The experience of this trip to test out my readiness to retire to Thailand logically cranks the Retireometer over to the No vote.

If I could go back a few years and plan my retirement a bit more carefully with the knowledge and money I have now which I did not have a few short years ago I would I would possibly be planning to retire to England.

England, the Home of Real Ale, Model Engineering and Steam Rallies.

But time has passed by. And I have invested more and more money into our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand. I am emotionally committed to delivering a Thailand-based retirement life to my dear wife, Kanyah.

My Get out Of Jail Card

But there’s a get-out clause in that last sentence if you read it carefully.

Can’t spot it? I’ll quote:-

a Thailand-based retirement life

To get all the benefits of retiring in Thailand (mainly low-cost) and to get all the benefits of retiring in England (Real Ales, Model Engineering and Steam rallies) all I need is….

More Money!

Now there’s an idea to think about.

Lets see how that works out over the next couple of years.


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3 Responses to “Overwhelming Reasons For Retiring In Thailand”

  • Steve P Brown:

    OUR GERT SAYS YOU’LL ALWAYS BE AN ENGLISHMAN LOVE ALE & MONEY YOU CAN’T DO BOTH LIFESTYLES YOU CAN HAVE YER CAKE 60% IN UK & 40% EATING IT IN THAILAND
    NOTTINGHAM ALE RULES OK

    [Reply]

  • Papamarty56:

    thanks again for your insight. for me personally, I want a new adventure and to be able to enjoy it while age and health permits.   If your a comfortable with your employment then you have plenty of time to amass the needed funds. 

    [Reply]

  • Dan:

    Alan,

    We have noticed that your blog links to our website concerning a bad experience you had with your landscapers whilst building your house.

    I wish to make it plain that this job was NOTHING to do with our company. We have never heard of your good self nor undertaken any job in Pakchong. We therefore ask that you remove the link to our website as this is laying blame at our door when it is totally unjustified.

    Indeed, may I ask who told you of our website? If one of the Thai contractors you had issue with pointed it out to you then he was lying to you about this as well.

    Our management is Thai / English. As a foreigner you would have had your requirements and job dealt with by an English national. If this did not occur then, I reiterate, IT WAS NOT OUR COMPANY.

    In fact, if you had approached us about the job in the first place I hope that you would now have a garden that you could be proud of.

    I hope this resolves the issue, please contact us if you wish to check what I am saying.

    [Reply]

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