Is Retiring In Thailand As Wonderful As They Say? My Impression After A Few Days Trying It

Post Added Saturday 3rd August 2013

Note to people already living in Thailand.

Some of these observations will seem trivial to you. Later on I’m sure they will to me two. But catching and recording first impressions is important and you only have one chance to do it.

After I have been living in Thaland for a while and get used to the place I dare say there will be less commonplace things to write about. So let me put it all down in the beginning for posterity’s sake.

Proof I’m Actually Retired In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand

Before we get into the story here let me first prove that I am actually in Thailand and at our retirement home inPakchong (Pak Chong). And what better way to do than than with a photo:-

Photo of Alan In Pakchong On His First Day Of Retireent In Thailand

Alan In Pakchong On His First Day Of Retireent In Thailand

Now On To The Retiring In Thailand Story

It’s 0415 on Saturday morning and I’m wide a wake again. So nothing better to do than to write about the few days I have been here since my inaugural retirement flight to Thailand. on Monday 29th August, 2013.

In fact it will do me good to get everything off my chest that I have been doing, thinking about and noting down over the last few days. I wake up every morning with a new Post to write in my head and it just gets worse if i don’t write it.

So here goes…

Day One Of Retiring In Thailand – Tuesday 30 July 2013

Collected at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi aiport by Kanyah at about 1545 – with a driver in tow, her nephew called Peng. She doesn’t like driving long distances and always finds someone to drive for her.

1605 on the road to Pakchong (Pak Chong) and arrived in Pakchong (Pak Chong) at around 1630 after a smoking break for Kanyah.

Arriving towards our house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), I bought few cold beers from the local shop. Leo beer not too strong and 50 Baht a bottle. (About £1.05 or $1.60)

A few minutes unwinding at the house where Kanyah introduced my to her ‘gardener’ who had cut the lawn for her the day before, a guy called “On” also from Prong Sai – a tiny wizened character with half his teeth missing which didn’t stop him grinning from ear to ear and sporting a goaty black beard. I noted the temperature – a cool 28 deg C outside and 25 deg C in the house, this being the rainy season.

Kanyah made me give 1,000 Baht each to On and Peng for their help. I thought that was a bit steep but there’s another more important point here. Since (apart from my pension) my income has stopped we can’t afford to live the way we did before. Kanyah never did anything herself around the house – she always employed the locals to do it.

Well we have now got to start to do things ourselves.

Then it was all four of us of to a local ‘restaurant’ for a meal. I took care to make a note of the name of the restaurant and the cost of the food, as I’ll explain next.

The meal including three beers cost 520 Baht. Take out the beers and it’s 340 Baht or 85 baht/person. (About £1.80 or $2.7)

Cost Of Living In Thailand

Of all the questions I get this is the most frequent “Can I live on $1,250 a month in Thailand?”. The amount varies but it’s always around $1,200 a month.

Well in order to answer the question accurately and also for my own information since I’m on a fixed pension, I started to take note of all our expenditures.

I’ll put all the details on a separate page for everyone to pour over – or not as the case may be.

Day 2 Of Retiring In Thailand – Wednesday 31 July 2013

This was the day I wrote the Retirement Flight To Bangkok, Thailand Post starting at 3AM!

Pottered around in the model engineering workshop and unpacked my bags, then we went to the Tesco Lotus supermarket – a visit quickly abandoned. Since Kanyah claimed to have no money I tried the ATMs but kept getting my UK Bank Debit card rejected.

I had some cash from my last visit so tried to buy an Internet SIM card for my AIS dongle. The normal shop “Telewiz” was closed and none of the other mobile phone shops could help. Then at about 1005 the Telewiz shop opened and bought the SIM card. Unlimited access for a month and a maximum of 5 GB data for 850 Bhat.

Next I tried to buy a case of Leo beer. But they told me (via Kanyah and in Thai) that until 1600 they couldn’t serve alcohol. Kind of. It seems that I could buy 16 bottles of Leo beer. (A case of 12 plus 4 loose ones) Very strange I thought.

Update Added on my next trip to Tesco

Next time I went to Tesco I saw this sign in Thai and English:-

Liquor Selling Time

1100-1400, 1700-2400

 No time restriction for purchases more than 10 litres at a time.


An attempt to reduce unsocial  behavior? I guess the idea is that people buying 10 litres are likely to be taking them home and not drinking them in the streets?

By the way, the Leo beer was 249 Baht a case. That’s 41.25 Baht/bottle (£0.88 or $1.33). That’s about half price of cheap beer in UK from an economy supermarket like Lidle or Aldi.

Why Leo Beer?

Well, it doesn’t seem too strong and it doesn’t give me the hangover that I invariably get if I drink Chang or Singha. I hate strong beers. Except for some English beers of course – particularly stouts and porters.

Thai beers are typically  well over 5% plus and Chang is 6 % or over.

I can’t actually see the strength of the beer on a Leo bottle. Perhaps it’s too weak they don’t want to admit it? A quick internet search reports it to be 5% but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. (Note, since then I have found the alcoholic strength of the Leo bear. It us printed on the bottle and it’s 5%)

Anyway, back to the plot, after the aborted Tesco trip we went home to get on the Internet and try to get my card authorised for use in Thailand. Couldn’t do that at Tesco because Kanyah had left her phone at home.

About two hours of messing trying to get in touch with the Bank none of the phone numbers worked neither on Skype nor on Kanyah’s phone – and finally got through on Skype using a number saved from my last trip. OK the card is now cleared for use in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia – all places we intend visiting although Kanyah doesn’t know about that yet!

Back To Tesco For More Upset

Back at Tesco the card worked and I had the cash to do some shopping.

What a miserable disappointment that turned out to be.

I Hate Tesco Lotus in Thailand.

In Thailand Tesco is a culture killer. It is pushing all these convenience and Western style products and packaging on the Thais instead of selling really fresh local produce in loose form.

I wanted to make (and I did later – kind of) a favourite dish of mine a simply tomato curry.

But in Tesco they…

  • only had one kind of fresh tomatoes and these were cherry tomatoes in a tiny plastic carton
  • had no large onions. (Spanish type). They only had red onion.
  • did not have any large “fresh” dried prawns only tiny “hard” dried prawns.
  • had no dried or desiccated coconut or any kind of coconut come to that.

All the above I can buy in the UK.

It’s shameful that such common ingredients aren’t available from Tesco Lotus in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

On the way home I had lunch at the local roadside shack – Thai noodle soup (Quiteo) 25 Baht (£0.85 or $0.80) and a Leo beer at 50 Baht.

At home I spent an hour with Kanyah trying to work out the price of the things we bought from the Tesco receipt. We got most of it I think, but Kanyah really struggled to understand the Tesco receipt.

For what it’s worth I’ll put the receipt and the English translation on the Cost of Living in Thailand Page.

Then it was time to make the tomato curry (with the wrong or missing ingredients).

Quick Time Check and Why This Is Important

It’s now 0645, the sun is shining, it’s light and bright and a comfortable 22 deg C.

I’ve been typing here for 2 1/2 hours and still have a tone more to write about and movies and photos to upload.

I should now be in the model engineering workshop making my model steam engine and that’s what I’ll do in a minute.

The point I’m making is that I could spend all day on this blog writing and recording with photos and movies what life is like retiring in Thailand.

But that wouldn’t get my steam models built. So I’ll give it a rest now and come back later.

Saturday 3rd August

Today we went to the Market in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Normally, I wouldn’t make any point of this or bother to write about it. After all, I have been to Thai markets so many times and probably so have you.

So what’s different this time?

A lot! All previous visits to Thai markets have been on a ‘need something’ basis. Need it – find it as fast as possible – and leave.

Not this time. This time our visit was recreational. Since I have now ‘retired’ in Thailand I can afford some recreation time and what better than to wander through the market with no time pressure and take movies and photos of things that you would normally just pass by?

I took loads of photos and movies – far too many to post here.

I marveled at the stalls selling every part on an animal’s anatomy, pigs heads, pigs ears, stomachs, intestines and you name it if it’s from an animal it’s for sale here. The only thing I can’t be sure of is which animal it’s from!

There were live animals too. Live eels and fish. Live turtles and frogs.

All presumably destined for the cooking pot.

So many photos also many videos I’ll put them all on a new page separate from this Post. Just as a taster I’ll show this photo:-

Image Showing Pakchong Market Thailand Pigs Heads Stall

Pakchong Market Thailand Pigs Heads Stall

Apart from the market stuff we went to some other shops to buy things for my workshop:-

  • Steel Blanks for the lathe
  • Electrical test meter to fix the gate lights
  • Locks to replacethe broken ones on the workshop windows
  • New watch batteries for my measuring instruments
  • Screwdriver set

Not a glamorous list at all but it just demonstrates that I’m busy and not just sitting back ‘waiting for the next crossword’ as Alex put it in his email on the “Here To Stay” Post.

Sunday 4th August

Another trip to Tesco Lotus at Pakchong (Pak Chong).

There are some useful stalls outside Tesco Lotus (on their site)

I bought a pair of shorts two inches too big for me! Cost 100 Baht for those interested in the cost of living in Thailand. The lady searched for at least twenty minutes looking for my size amongst a great big pile of clothes and then she dived under the stall to open a huge bundle of other clothes ‘just come in’. I felt obliged to buy something.

Heh, they’re fine for the workshop and generally messing around in.

Monday 5th August

I don’t have any notes for that day except that we spent 90 Baht on dinner.

Model Engineering Workshop

Every day I am in the workshop working on my  models and making tools to make the models.

I take videos and photos of everything I do with a view to putting them on the other website Model Engineering Thailand. (Nothing there yet – just an empty website)

So Is Retiring In Thailand Bliss Or Not?

Not Bliss. But if I work at it maybe I can get used to it.

I know I would enjoy retiring in UK – if I could afford to. I’m missing the usual list of things I like about the UK.

So what is here in Thailand that I can’t enjoy in England?

Is it the weather – often cited as a reason to go to Thailand? Not really. When I left the UK it was a hot summer with temperatures up to 28 deg C.

Here it’s about the same but more consistent and more humid.

It’s the rainy season so it’s a bit cooler than normal about 30 deg C in the day time dropping to about 26 deg C at night. I must say this is the best weather I have experienced in Thailand. Despite being the rainy season it doesn’t rain every day. We have just had a week with no rain.

And when it does rain it’s not for long and it’s still warm.

No, it’s definitely not the weather.

So what is it then that’s better here than in the U.K.?

My Top Five Reasons To Enjoy Retiring In Thailand

Here’s a list of bullet points:-

  • Bullet Point No. 1
  • Bullet Point No. 2
  • Bullet Point No. 3
  • Bullet Point No. 4

I couldn’t even think of bullet point No. 5!

I’ll come back and fill those in if I can think of anything.

PS Don’t Misunderstand Me

Please don’t leave this page thinking that I’m a miserable old Geezer!

I am definitely enjoying my retirement in Thailand.

Stuff working (i.e. as in going to work to earn a living) – this is far better.

It’s just that I’d be just as happy retiring in the U.K.


Perhaps the main difference between here and the U.K. is that Kanyah is here. It’s really nice for her to have me beside her and she wouldn’t be happy in the U.K. on a long-term basis.

So lets not think about is Thailand a better place for me to retire to from my perspective.

From Kanyah’s perspective it’s a 1000 times better. I know because she told me.


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13 Responses to “Retirement “Bliss” in Thailand – The First Few Days”

  • Len:

    Welcome !  Regardless if you retired I the UK or Thailand I suspect you would have good days and boring days but most will be a little of everything.

    A few things that I have found- I don’t know how close you are to others – for me I am right in the middle of our village.

    The most important thing to remember is not to make a Thai lose face (typical Asian rule) You can make an enemy for life.

    I don’t speak fluent Thai – I know many words but that is different from trying to understand them (they speak fast) but at least I can usually get my point somewhat across and I find they appreciate that – as with your shorts most Thais will go way out of their way to help you (always think big – I wear L in USA and usually XXX here -clothes are made for a 5’6″ 140 lb guy- I choose and almost always get “No fit”. Smile a lot and your smile will be returned even if you can’t always understand each other.

    When I was here in 1972-3 a visit to this village resulted in many a child crying or running in fear (they had never seen a foreigner) so I now try to smile and say hello to the little kids – I don’t want them to be afraid of me – usually the mothers will often bring the child over to me – in the beginning they are usually shy and afraid but often after a while they will start to smile and that is a good thing. I find in my case most of the village accepts me – they all refer to me as Pa Yai Len and not as Farang.

    My problem is when I go to the temple people scramble to find me a chair or couch and make certain a fan is directed at me – too much work so I normally just go for special occasions but its nice to walk with the villagers as they dance their way through the village – I guess the point is to enjoy your neighbors they can help to make
    it fun or dull.

    You have a great advantage with your trains – if one is built and the kids can ride in it they will love you. Just got back from my 1 yr extension.  The guy questioned almost everything but got our extensions and he did our 90 day report.

    Remember when you do your yr extension it does not do your 90 days report after the first year.

    They are separate. Yesterday went to the bank for the letter of my monies in the bank.

    It is a form letter with 5 blanks – the date – my name – my account # – the date again and the amount in the account. Took 2 people almost 2 hours to do the form – it was okay except the second date was marked the 18th and not the 19th – took them another 20 minutes to make the 8 a 9. As I have said things are a little different here but I smiled through it all (not so much my wife) and I got my letter.

    The best thing about retirement is that you are usually not on a time schedule so you can enjoy your life at the same speed as the Thais live – a good match.

    Sorry I got a little carried away writing.

    Oh yea- your house is built, you have a car so $1200 + should be more than adequate – make certain you carry class A auto insurance and have some money put aside for medical expenses (although you are British and always fly home if it something very expensive.

    I had 3 heart stents put in 250,000bt + meds but a lot cheaper than in the US. But it can always come fast so best be prepared.

    Kanyah can usually get most medical very cheap so that is good. Food is very cheap as you have seen (except food from EU or US) but a little of Thai and EU mixed will level out costs.

    Utilities are reasonable – sounds like you are going to go without A/C – even with it it’s not too bad. Leaving your only other major expensive and at 50 baht – how much Leo can you drink???   Good luck


    admin Reply:

    Hi Len and welcome to the RetiringInThailand website again.

    I’m sorry I put off replying to your post but it was a lot longer then the others and I just had to read it all properly.

    Our house is in a Thai area, no farangs around here for miles.

    But our village is not a village as such – its just long rows of houses and shops along the road with a few lanes off here and there.

    I’m getting known – and getting to know the various shopkeepers and of course I know the nearby neighbours but the is no social life like you describe.

    A lot of Thais have shown interest in the workshop and want to ‘play’ in there. Not sure what exactly they want to do though.

    I might get a stationary steam engine finished this year and maybe even the small traction engine shortly after that but making the big child-pulling Traction Engine will take years – if ever I do it.

    Thai Visas

    Len, I was interested what you said about visas particularly the ’90 day report’ and the 1 year extension

    What is the 90 day report? I never heard of it before.

    And your one year extension, is that an extension for a one year multiple entry visa? Can you get that extension in Thailand – sounds like you can?

    Grateful for any more info on this subject.

    And what is that letter for?

    Cost of Living In Thailand

    I’m sure we can live on my income. But it’s the big ticket items that can’t come out of everyday spend. Like, as you mention, hospital bills and for me new machinery, tools and materials for building my models.

    It’s now time to start adding up what we have spent this month and posting it on the new “Cost of Living In Thailand” page. I know we have blown the budget but I think our everyday expenditure is well within.

    Cost of feed here is very low and as you say there is only so much Leo you can drink!

    Chok Dee
    Good Luck

    Alan and Kanyah Brown
    Surfin’ the World


  • Joe Van Wyck:

    Thanks for the info. Joe


  • Alan I completely agree with you, keeping the wife happy is very likely one of the better moves you will ever make; it’s one of the primary reasons that my wife and I will soon be joining you in Thailand.  I’ve very much enjoyed reading through your Thailand retirement journey; I hope you grow to fully enjoy your new home and adopted country, and hopefully we will have the opportunity to meet in the not too distant future.


    admin Reply:

    Hi Mike and thanks for the comments.

    So you’ll be coming to Thailand to keep your wife happy? Guess she’s Thai, then?

    Our retirement in Thailand journey is far from over Mike. In fact it’s only just began. Everything before was just preparation.

    I’m sure there’ll be plenty of twists and turns ahead.

    I was interested to read the web page you indicated about an Aluminum Bench Top Mill. Are you interested in machine tools and machining, Mike? Seems like if you are then you would also be interested in the forthcoming Model Engineering In Thailand website?

    Chok Dee
    Good Luck

    Alan and Kanyah Brown
    Surfin’ the World


  • Dudley Carelse:

    Hi Alan,
                  Really appreciate the time and effort you’re putting into the information  you’re giving us. Very comprehensive and enlightening as I myself have decided to retire in Chonburi and shall continue to glean all I can off you. Thanks, Dudley. 


    admin Reply:

    Hi Dudley and thanks for your comment.

    I’m pleased that you appreciate the information. It’s a continuous and quite strenuous process to keep adding to the site. The photos and particularly videos take a lot of processing to upload them.

    I do my best to give out the truth about our retiring in Thailand story and sometimes (all too often) it’s not so rosy.

    Hope you come back to read more Posts.

    Chok Dee
    Good Luck

    Alan and Kanyah Brown
    Surfin’ the World


  • Roy:

    Alan: You have an interesting website and all your comments make me laugh. But your income stream per month for retirement is USD or UKL 1200.00 a month?
    Is that all your retirement income from UK Government and whatever (if at all) from your prior job of work (Retirement fund?)
    Regards Roy Stapleton -in NJ and visiting Thailand 2-3 times a year for past 10 years. I have friends in Ban Phe (Rayong) Ubon, Khon Kaen and Bangkok/Jomtien.
    My next visit 26th Sept – 17th October


    admin Reply:

    Hi Roy and thanks for the kind comment. There’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek about my Posts. I try to make them as informative as possible but also not boring to read with a bit of humour thrown in where I can.

    Pleased to see you visiting the website – please come back.

    I have personal pension from my previous employer. I’m not old enough yet for a State pension. I also have quite a bit of savings and other incomes which I plan on expanding.

    Seems like you travel around Thailand quite a bit – and taking your questions about retirement income into account – are you planing to retire to Thailand?

    Best Regards



    Roy Reply:

    Alan: I visit Thailand for 3-4 weeks x  2 trips a year.

    I do not plan to retire in Thailand. 8 weeks a year is enough ha ha.

    My mates live in Petchabun and Khon Kaen and love life there albeit they have to “work” at enjoying the special monk days and special holidays.

    I have been to Koh Samet/BanPhe (3.5 stars), Kanchanaburi (4 stars) Chiang Mai (4 stars) Chiang Rai (4.5 stars), Aranyapraphet (3.5 stars), Khon Kaen (4.5 star), Petchabum (3.5 stars), Phuket (3 star) Pattaya (-5 stars), Hua Hin (4.5 stars) Bangkok (4.5 stars)….

    ..Personally, I would have village home but keep a condo in Bangkok area or outskirts (rent is approx. 6000 baht pm for 2 bedroom/1.5 bathroom townhouse in nice sub soi neighborhood (Pak Kret). 


    admin Reply:

    Hi Roy and thanks for your comments.

    I have previously enjoyed visiting Thailand. That was always as a tourist staying in nice places and with a pocket full of money.

    This time, although we have a lovely house and garden, I’m not happy because we are ‘stuck’ here and there’s nowhere local nice to go.

    Today is Sunday and I always insist on going to a restaurant on Sundays but were both struggling to name one.

    It will be soon time to visit Cambodia for my visa run. That will be a little different.

    I have been to the main places on your list but not recently.

    I notice you put Pattayah at – 5 stars and I would put it + 10 stars ahead of Pak Chong.

    So where doesthat leave Pak Chong?

    Thanks for the info on house rental. Useful for many people.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


  • Talking about ATM cash in Thailand, I have found the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society GOLD CARD ACCOUNT excellent for a really good exchange rate (only about half a baht lower than the official Bloomberg/FT rate) and NO CHARGE FOR FOREIGN WITHDRAWALS!  You simply have to agree to transfer at least £500/month into the account.
    You will have to pay the Thai 150 Baht ATM charge.
    Oh, and an overdraft of £250 included. Max ATM withdrawal £250/day + £250/day card purchases.
    I’d be lost without it, as I don’t have a Thai Bank Account (and didn’t need one for a Retirement Visa!)


    admin Reply:

    Hi Mike and welcome to the RetiringInThailand website.

    As to saving money on transferring cash and withdrawing from ATM machines in Thailand tips like yours are always welcome.

    Lloyds TSB Bank charge me about £25 per transfer from UK to Thailand, but there is no ATM charge here when I withdraw via ATM from my Kasikorn bank account in Thailand.

    Lloyds TSB also offer a free international banking service but you have to deposit something like £20 ~ £30 K with them. It may be worthwhile looking into the and into your suggestion of the Peterborough Building Society GOLD CARD ACCOUNT when I have determined whether I am going to remain in Thailand for much longer.

    Thanks for the post and hope to see you on the website again.



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