The Perfect Lifestyle – Retiring In Thailand?

I have been here in Thailand pretending to retire for just over 6 months now and it is beginning to appeal to me, much to Kanyah’s relief.

On a previous holiday visit to Thailand, before I came to Thailand to “retire” (quotes because I haven’t really “retired” at all) I had a list of severe reservations about retiring in Thailand. I even listed them and wrote about then on the “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post.

When I first came here to retire permanently in July I wanted to go back to the UK. I hated it here.

Gradually, over the months that list of concerns on the “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post have been either overcome or are in the process of being overcome.

Now, after being here just over six months I don’t want to leave.

I have a great – if simple – lifestyle.

I get up around 0630 (when it starts to get light) and go to the computer maybe continue designing my steam models or workshop tools or update my two websites (RetiringInThailand.net and ModelEngineeringInThailand.com) or correspond with my friends here in Thailand.

Then I go to the model engineering workshop and work at building my model steam engines or making tools for the workshop.

I don’t have to drive to work. I don’t have to get on trains. No suit, no tie. Shorts, sandals and T shirt cuts it out here.

And I just know that it’s going to be warm and sunny today. It’s warm and sunny every day.

In fact it’s getting warmer every day now after the ‘cold’ winter where the temperature struggled to top 20 deg C in the daytime and dropped to a shivering 15 deg C at night. Now instead of sleeping under a blanket we sleep with the fan on and yesterday it reached a comfortable 32 deg C in the afternoon.

Photo of the Sunrise Today Over Our Pakchong Retirement Home Garden

Sunrise Today Over Our Pakchong Retirement Home Garden

How Those Reservations About Retiring In Thailand Are Turning Out

Now I’m going to go through all the reservations I had about retiring in Thailand as listed on the  “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post and explain where we stand today.

In Thailand I’m Completely Dependent On My Wife

Kanyah is slowly releasing her total control over my life as I gradually take control myself. I should explain that she doesn’t and never did intend to ‘control’ me; it’s just that unless and until I am able to take control I will always be dependant upon Kanyah. The details are below.

Knowing Thailand And The Thai Language.

I am getting to know Thailand and the Thai people better as you expect after six months living in the country. We have travelled quite a bit including Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) ,Pattayah, Bangkok and even one trip to Cambodia.

But learning the Thai language is a different matter. I feel like I knew more Thai before I came here than I do now!

I have been learning Thai now for more than 30 years. I have dozens of books on the subject and at least three or four courses including audio courses and CDs. I have completed (for example) the “Thai for Beginners” and “Thai for Intermediate Learners” by Benjawan Poomsan Becker, and the Linguaphone course, for example.  I know thousands of Thai words.

But when I come here to Pakchong it’s like they’re talking a foreign language!

Some of it is down to the local dialect, some of it down to me being ‘tone deaf’ and mostly because since I came here I have not studied the Thai language like I used to when I lived in the UK. Just too busy ‘retiring’.

When you go to live in a completely different county halfway round the world there are many things to adjust to, many things needing your attention. To name just one I still have my house in the UK which needs attention and administration to do with silly things like the central heating, the garden, the Utility bills and the mail, to name just a few.

Taking two hours out a day to sit down and learn the Thai language is something I haven’t got round to yet, but I realise that I must do it before too long.

Security Of My Investment In The Property

I have long been well aware that my huge investment in the land, house and even the car here is at risk since none of it belongs to me and there isn’t a reliable ‘heir’ to pass it on to should anything happen to Kanyah.

Not only that, Kanyah has at times reminded me very well that all this belongs to her and not to me. I’m dependant upon her good will to be able to continue to live here. Not very secure at all.

That is changing on two fronts.

Firstly, after a lot of hard work, our son Alex has obtained his Thai Nationality. He is officially Thai and his name is on the house papers. He now has a Thai Birth Certificate. Alex is in the process of obtaining his Thai Passport and ID card from the Thai Embassy in London.

So Alex could now inherit the property.

On the other front, Kanyah has agreed to sign what is called a Usufruct and I’m having that drawn up by a solicitor as I write this. A Usufruct is a legal and binding document that will give me the right to use the land and house as if it was my own. I can’t be kicked out and Kanyah can’t sell it (without my permission). When that (the Usufruct) is signed I’ll feel much more secure.

 Driving In Thailand

I have now passed the Thai Driving Test and have a Thai driving license.

What a story that was, passing the Thai Driving Test.

Anyway now I can drive anywhere (not only in Thailand but anywhere in the world) and that is a whole life-changer itself.

 Getting A Thai Bank Account

This was another concern of mine, I didn’t have a Thai bank account.

As it turns out this was one of the easier things to do and how I did it is all explained on the “I Open A Bank Account In Thailand” Post.

Thai Visa’s And Thai Retirement Visa In Particular

This has turned out to be a real winner after a disastrous mistake by Thai immigration at the Cambodian Poipet border crossing.

I’ll not go into the details here because the story about “My Retiring In Thailand Project Changed Dramatically Yesterday When The Visa Issue Suddenly Disappeared And Now I Can Stay Here Forever” has a full Post in it’s own right but the outcome is actually better than I could ever imagine.

I came here to Thailand with a one year multiple entry visa I obtained in the UK. It allows me to stay here in Thailand and to come and go as I please but it has the restriction that I must leave and re-enter at least every three months. (Hence the trip to Cambodia).

But it was only valid for one year. My plan was to return to UK after the one year and renew it. I would have to do that perpetually because I didn’t qualify to obtain a Retirement Visa in the UK. (And still don’t.)

After the mess up by Thai immigration at the Cambodian Poipet border crossing I had to find an answer to the mess they had put me in and (missing out all the details that are revealed in that “Retiring In Thailand Retirement Visa” Post) I ended up with a Thai Retirement Visa!

This means that:-

  • I don’t have to go to the UK (or anywhere else) every year to get a new visa – I can renew this in Thailand
  • I don’t have to prove that I am married to a Thai in order to renew the visa – the visa is completely independant of Kanyah
  • I also have a multiple entry visa so I can come and go in and out of Thailand as I wish.

Another life-changer!

Healthcare In Thailand

This was another big concern of mine and whilst a couple of recent incidents have diminished my concern about minor illnesses it is still an issue for the unknow ‘big problems’.

But lets look quickly at those recent incidents that are a tribute to the Thai healthcare system and the thai people themselves.

Alex’s ‘Fever’

When our son Alex came to visit us last October to claim his Thai Nationality he developed a fever. Hot, shaking and very ill.

We took him to the local Pakchong Nanah Hospital in the evening around 1900 hrs. He went straight in to see a doctor – no waiting or asking questions – and was diagnosed with food poisoning. They gave us a prescription and  few minutes later were on our way home.

We had to pay for the prescription (antibiotics plus a few others) which only cost around 300 Baht and Alex was much better the next day and fine in a couple of days.

My Painful Leg Joints

I had been suffering from terrible pains in my right knee joint and my right hip. And I mean terrible pain.

I had been a bit silly at the turn of the New Year jumping up and down and generally prancing around with the Thai kids from next door inspired by the loud CCR music we had on for good party spirit.

A few days later the painful joints surfaced. I wondered if I had done the cartilages some damage.

As is my way – to avoid doctors and hospitals like the plague – I suffered the pain for a month hoping it would go away. It didn’t. in fact it got worse.

So it was off to the local Pakchong Nanah Hospital again to face the medicine.

There was a wait to see a doctor – the place was packed and very busy – but they asked no questions relating to me not being Thai (like how would I pay for the visit) – in fact before I could see a doctor I had to register. I now have a Thai Medical Card!

Image showing Alan's Thai Medical Card

Alan’s Thai Medical Card

Above is a scan of my Thai Medical card I received when I registered at the pakchong Nanah hospital at Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand. My name printed on it in black Thai typeface.

The time came to see the doctor and we told him the story. I also mentioned that previously in the UK I had suffered from Sciatica in my left leg.

(Sciatica results from injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve in the spine cause by the spinal discs being out of position. The sciatic nerve tells the brain that there is pain in the leg(s) even though the leg(s) is (are) healthy. The pain can be – and was- horrific. Sitting down or lying down makes little difference.)

Anyway I want to know if I had damaged the ligaments or if it was sciatica again.

I was sent off for some Xrays. No queue. No need to make an appointment and come back another day as Kanyah had too at Saraburi hospital. No straight in and at least 6 xrays taken of my joints and spine. No waiting for films to be developed. the xrays went straight into the central computer where they could be accessed by any doctor in the hospital on his PC.

Back to the doctor again and I was diagnosed with Degenerative Spondylolisthesis which causes sciatica pain. Apparently my spinal discs are out of position. the doctor said I might need an operation to pin them back in place but he would make an appointment for me to see the orthopedic doctor tomorrow.

He gave me a prescription that included some painkillers amongst other goodies. Total cost? Just over 1,000 baht (about £20).

The following day I duly visited the orthopedic doctor who after looking at the xrays and doing some physical checks on my legs and back proclaimed my condition was mild and not serious.

He gave me another prescription that would help me sleep better.

It’s only two weeks later now and I’m fine. No pain at all.

All in all I have great faith in the Thai health care system. The doctors (and nurses) all speak English, they are very compassionate and they know what they are doing.

I’m truly impressed.

So although I would probably have to return to the UK if a big problem surfaced I know that for the occasional ailment I can rely on the Thai health service.

Good Food And English Beer In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

I previously bemoaned the lack of decent places too eat in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Since then I have found a few places to get good food in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

One of them is called E.A.T. and they do English food and English beer as reported on the “EAT Paradise in Pak Chong” Post.

Of course they do other types of food also and also have a vast range of beers from all round the world. buy my treat is to be able to enjoy a little bit of England. Lamb chops, mashed potato and Fullers ESB Beer.

New! English Beer By Mail Order In Thailand

And if I’m too lazy to go down to E.A.T. in Pakchong (Pak Chong) to buy some English Beer I can now order it online and have it delivered to my house!

Here are just some of the beers available:-

  • Fuller’s ESB
  • Fuller’s Imperial Stout
  • Fuller’s London India Pale Ale
  • Fuller’s London Porter
  • Fuller’s London Pride
  • Wells Bombardier NRB
  • Wychwood Ginger Bread
  • Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
  • Young’s Special London Ale

I have just picked out my favourites, there are many more available, plus this is just from the english Craft Beer range. thhey also have similar ranges form other countries, like America, Australian, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, English, German, Italian , Apanese, New Zealand, Norwegian, Scottish, Singaporean, Spanish, Sri Lankan.

And there are also sections on the website for Fruit Beers, Cider, Mead , Beer Club, Discovery Cases, Mixed Sets.

Here is the website:- http://www.wishbeer.com

Stuck In Pakchong (Pak Chong) And Enjoying It

On that  “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post I complained about feeling ‘stuck’ in Pakchong (Pak Chong), but now I really am getting used to just staying at home and can understand why Kanyah doesn’t want to go out.

I have got into a little routine of doing a bit of work (like writing this Post) on the computer interspersed with building my steam engine in the model engineer’s workshop. I have also started another blog called ModelEngineeringInThailand.com so if you want to know in more detail what I’m doing as a ‘retiree’ in Pakchong (Pak Chong) then hop over to the ModelEngineeringInThailand.com website.

Sometime soon we have to make a visit to the UK – to bring the rest of our personal belongings over (my model engineering workshop mainly) and to get the house ready for renting out – and I’m not looking forward to it.

When I first came here to Thailand on my retirement trip I would have jumped at an excuse like that to go back to UK. Now I’d rather just stay here. Strange isn’t it?

That’s all for now – I just wanted to update you with how our retiring in Thailand project is going and  to report on those reservations I had previously.

 


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10 Responses to “Settling Down To Retiring In Thailand”

  • Dudley Carelse:

    Hi Allan, I really like reading your posts.  I learn a lot from them. I’ve been living in Thailand Phimai for the past 18months and came close to returning to Australia and not coming back.But after about a year of sticking it out the situation slowly changed and now I love it here. Very similar to you. But I’d really like to know more about that  property owner ship thing you spoke of. ( usurfruct ) I wonder if you could give us more information about that? Thanks Allan, I eagerly await your next post.  Dudley.
     

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Hi Dudley and many thanks for your comment and kind words.

    It’s good when people say they appreciate my Posts because its so time consuming to write them and I sometimes wonder why I’m doing it and if it’s worth the bother. That last Post “My Security Assured As Usufruct Is Legalised On The Chanote” for example took a whole day – about 10 hours. Even smaller Posts take the same amount of time if there are lots of photos or videos.

    Anyway it’s interesting to hear of your experience of living here and how you changed your mind about leaving or staying.

    In the past I have worked and lived overseas for around twenty years so I’m used to being out of my comfort zone – but it gets more difficult as you get older.

    As to the usufruct did my last Post “My Security Assured As Usufruct Is Legalised On The Chanote” answer your questions?

    Best Regards

    Alan

    [Reply]

  • PAUL:

    Good to hear it is all working out for you… interested to hear more on how Alex got his Thai residency I have been told extremely difficult to do… learn Thai, sponsor, history of working here or retired here already….
    Cheers
    Paul 

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Hi PAUL and thanks for the question.

    About Alex and his Thai Nationality (not residency) let me make one thing clear. Alex is our son and being the son of a Thai mother (my wife) he is naturally a Thai National. All we have been doing is getting him registered as such.

    You are referring to Residency and from what you say in your question is seems that you are referring to a non-Thai (a farang) applying for Thai Residency which as you say is difficult and needs all those things you mention.

    I haven’t tried to apply for Thai Residency and don’t know much about it. It is a totally different thing to what we have done for Alex.

    I hope that clarifies things but If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Alan

    [Reply]

  • bill salas:

    Thanks as I get closer to retire next year I will need more information I will be retiring at 57 I will have a small pension with my 401k I will try to build a house my wife has her own graphic design business that I help start with her it is doing very well now after a 2 year struggle now she needs me here in Khon Kaen to help her.thanks for any advice you might have…bill 

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Hi Bill and thanks for the comment.

    Without having much details about your situation it’s hard to give advice but here are two lessons I have learned:-

    1. Just Do It

    Yes, I know it’s a Nike phrase but out here in thailand there are so many reasons that pop up that stop you doing things – if you let them. In my case it’s often my wife kanyah, who doesn’t want me to be bold and adventurous. But your wife sounds like she is a self-starter with some ambition so that should help.

    When you come to buy land and build a house you will need her support and a good deal of faith in yourself also.

    2. Don’t Worry About The Cost of Living in Thailand

    Many people looking to retire to Thailand always ask “how much does it cost to live here?” I can answer that one simply. Next to nothing. Our daily spend on accommodation, electricity, car, water and food can be as low as 100 Baht/day.

    The expense comes from other sources not everyday living. Costs like visas, air fares, hospital, family, holiday travel and capital expenditure like computers, gardening stuff, and hobbies. All these far outweigh everyday expenditure and of course are all discretionary.

    Hope that helps but If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Best Regards

    Alan

    [Reply]

  • Len:

    Glad to hear that things are really working out. I had a feeling it would.

    I can relate to most of your problems. For 40 years I took care of everything but now I am somewhat dependent on my wife also. She wasn’t happy either having to make the calls or arraignment for things that had to be done but we have worked out our problems and she is getting a little more independent which is good in the event something should happen to me.

    Six months after I got here I had a mild heart attack. Didn’t know what to expect but found that they had great doctors and state-of-the-art equipment. The operation cost $8,000 with a large suite hospital room.

    A little costly but a fraction for putting in 3 stents. Doctor visits cost 30 baht and most pills are only 1 baht each (non generics are more expensive) but I can’t complain.

    I don’t know thousands of words but I know hundreds – most learned in Bangkok years ago but this is Issan and that is almost another language.

    I guess a little like English – American-British-Australian or Canadian french and Parisian.

    You should have seen me trying to buy plumbing fixtures – it was a nightmare..

    Glad you got your ret. visa makes life much easier. I just did my 90 report – took 10 minutes.

    I don’t drink much beer but I have sadly found that most of the liquors that I like cost $40 + a bottle – glad I don’t drink that much but happy most of them are available.

    Good luck with your hobby – it really helps to make retirement enjoyable, and glad you are enjoying your new home.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Hi Len and many thanks for your valued comments.

    I have taken the time to respond as below. Rather a long reply really.

    Glad to hear that things are really working out. I had a feeling it would.

    (Alan’s comments)

    It’s working out but it’s hard work. Six months to get the main building blocks of retiring in Thailand in place is too long.

    To be honest it shouldn’t have taken so long – it’s my age I guess when I was younger I had the energy and inspiration to get things done very quickly. Now I’m slowing down. Not just physical things but making decisions take longer.

    (/comments)

    I can relate to most of your problems. For 40 years I took care of everything but now I am somewhat dependent on my wife also. She wasn’t happy either having to make the calls or arraignment for things that had to be done but we have worked out our problems and she is getting a little more independent which is good in the event something should happen to me.

    (Alan’s comments)

    Kanyah is good when the the time comes and she has to do things – like taking Alex and myself to the hospital when we needed it.

    (/comments)

    Six months after I got here I had a mild heart attack. Didn’t know what to expect but found that they had great doctors and state-of-the-art equipment. The operation cost $8,000 with a large suite hospital room.

    (Alan’s comments)

    Where was that, Len? Near where you live or did you have to go to Bangkok?

    (/comments)

    A little costly but a fraction for putting in 3 stents. Doctor visits cost 30 baht and most pills are only 1 baht each (non generics are more expensive) but I can’t complain.

    (Alan’s comments)

    Yes, medical treatment in Thailand is good and costs are low. If I need major stuff like an operation I would go back to UK where it’s free. But in the case of a heart attack of course there isn’t time for that.

    (/comments)

    I don’t know thousands of words but I know hundreds – most learned in Bangkok years ago but this is Issan and that is almost another language.

    (Alan’s comments)

    After I wrote that piece about not knowing Thai two things happened.

    I tried out a new Thai restaurant in Pakchong (by myself) and ended up having a chat for over an hour with the owner. That was a chat 95% in the Thai language and we covered a range of topics. the owners said she wanted me to teach English to her daughter.

    The second thing happened yesterday. I am trying to buy some big machine tools for my model engineering hobby and they need a three phase electrical power supply – our house like most is only single phase.

    So when Kanyah went to pay the electricity bill I arranged for the power company to visit our house to give us a quotation.

    They came yeatderday and I talked with them for an hour or more about the power supply, number and configuration or wires, changing the meter and so on.

    This was 100% Thai language and Kanyah wasn’t involved because it was technical stuff that she doesn’t understand.

    So i’ll come back to what i said before and pick up your point “this is Issan and that is almost another language.”.

    THAT’S IT, Len.

    When I explaind all the above to kanyah and complained that I couldn’t undertand the locals she sid that they speak Korat, not Bangkok Thai.

    We were watching a ‘sports’ programme on the TV a few nights ago and it was made in the South of Thailand. Kanyah complained that she could not understand what the commentators were saying because they were speaking a southern Thai dialect.

    So your Bangkok Thai “Aroy Mai?” becomes “Ceb Bo?” in Issan?

    No wonder we struggle with the langage.

    (/comments)

    I guess a little like English – American-British-Australian or Canadian french and Parisian.

    You should have seen me trying to buy plumbing fixtures – it was a nightmare..

    (Alan’s comments)

    Did you see my article on buying a hi-fi in Thailand? If your plumbing shopping was anything like that I can well believe you.

    http://retiringinthailand.net/buying-hi-fi-thailand/

    (/comments)

    Glad you got your ret. visa makes life much easier. I just did my 90 report – took 10 minutes.

    (Alan’s comments)

    Getting the retirment visa was another life-changer. As you say the 90 day reporting is dead easy and quick. My local immigration office is in Korat about an hours drive. Much better than that horrible crossing into Cambodia at the Aranyaprathet / Poipet Thai / Cambodian Border Crossing

    http://retiringinthailand.net/retiring-in-thailand-retirement-visa/

    (/comments)

    I don’t drink much beer but I have sadly found that most of the liquors that I like cost $40 + a bottle – glad I don’t drink that much but happy most of them are available.

    (Alan’s comments)

    I only drink beer and it’s mostly Leo. I love the english beers and like you it’s nice to know that they are available here in thailand. But at 150 ~ 260 Baht a bottle i they are for special occasions only not everyday quaffing.

    (/comments)

    Good luck with your hobby – it really helps to make retirement enjoyable, and glad you are enjoying your new home.

    (Alan’s comments)

    Len, although I’m ‘retired’ the reality is that I’ll never retire. Even without that model engineering hobby I still have plenty to do. Blogging, writing, running my websites and a host of other things. I’m never bored.

    (/comments)

    [Reply]

  • Len:

    Thanks for your reply. The Queen had a few heart hospitals built around the country – one in Khon Kean. It is unbelievable how many people have heart problems in Thailand.  KK like your Korat is about 1 hour away and is also the location of my immigration office (about 1 km from the hospital). Good on your usufruct – at the moment I cannot do that. The house is under my wife’s name but the land belongs to the whole family – something my wife plans on fixing but don’t want to make too many waves too fast. We sort of upset them a little but got them to agree to let me take down their father’s house and build mine. Mainly the oldest sister is the most upset. But – the family and I have very little problems so I am not really worried and I will get a usufruct when I can – just to be on the safe side. Continue to enjoy.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Hi Kevin and thanks for your comment which I most value.

    It’s been such a long time since you posted your comment and I have only just seen it! That’s because it was on a page 2 of comments listed on this system and I never knew there was a page 2. I only ever checked page 1.

    So there’s a good chance that you have forgotten about your comment and maybe got frustrated because you didn’t get a reply but nevertheless here is my response:-

    In view of the time lag between you posting your comment and this reply you may well be living back in Thailand at Phetchabun?

    As far as woodworking and metalworking machines and tools to buy in Thailand there is an excellent resource online that has a resource section giving details of where to find not just workshop equipment but also materials and other services.

    This is the ModelEngineeringInThailand.com website that I started a few months ago. It’s in it’s infancy but there are a quite a few fellow ‘machinist’ and model engineers in Thailand some of whom have contributed to the Resources section.

    This is THE definitive guide to sourcing home workshop tools, workshop and model engineering machinery and materials in Thailand and it’s growing all the time.

    As to the combination machine, it’s up for sale. I have just bought a massive milling machines and a huge lathe to make my next model, a half-size Savage’s little Samson steam traction engine.

    Also I am just about to import my existing model engineering workshop from the UK and that includes a bench milling machine and two other lathes.

    The combination lathe is a good all-rounder and soon I will have finished the Stuart Turner Victoria steam mill engine model on it so that will prove the capabilities.

    As to tooling I bought most of mine from the UK. You can find it here in Thailand please refer to the resource section of ModelEngineeringInThailand.com or if you need a specific item please feel free to email me.

    As to the place I bought the combination machine tool I have just purchased a tools and cutter grinder from them. Please refer to the write-up on the Resource section of ModelEngineeringInThailand.com for details of that company.

    Thanks again for the comment.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown

    [Reply]

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