How much does it cost to retire in Thailand?
Anyone who has trawled online expat forums encounters the perennial question – what income do I need to enjoy a comfortable retirement in Thailand?
The question is, of course, a bit like ‘How long is a piece of string?’ but there are some ways to estimate how deep your pockets need to be.
For a start, the technical demand for holding a retirement visa is a monthly income of 65,000 baht ($1,960, €1,435 or £1,255) – although, this can be got around by having 800,000 baht ($24,104, €17,667 or £15,443) in a bank account.
In fact, 65,000 a month is not a bad place to start. This income, while not princely by international standards, is way above the average income in Thailand. The lifestyle it enables would certainly be extremely comfortable – especially outside Bangkok – if not exactly fabulous luxury.
This level of income definitely puts an expat within the top 10% of the country’s inhabitants, with ample resources to enjoy meals in restaurants and to follow leisure pursuits.
But expats who want to enjoy Western luxuries should expect to shell out quite a bit more, says Judy Blair of the Bangkok-based financial consultant Infinity.
‘If you want to retire in a cheap location, Thailand can be that place. I would guess some people can live comfortably on €1,000 a month,’ she says.
‘However, if you want to eat organic fruit and vegetables, dine on New Zealand lamb and Australian steaks, and eat imported cheeses and other specialty foods, this is all available too – at a price. Include a round of golf and some wine and Thailand isn’t so cheap. A good life with those luxuries would cost you €3,000-4,000 per month.’
For Peter Ton, a Dutch CEO who developed Hua Hin’s award-winning Baan Ing Phu development, the figure of 100-150,000 baht provides a baseline of luxury.
‘If you buy and use local products and local services, one can have a very comfortable life for about 100,000 to 150,000 baht. With that you can enjoy services that would be very hard to get in the West, like a full-time maid, private chef, private driver etc,’ he says.
But whatever your income level, Thailand can probably offer one of the best lifestyles to be found anywhere on the planet. For instance, according to the influential Mercer cost of living index, Bangkok is not only better value than European cities but also its neighbours such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh or Kuala Lumpur.
Cost of living in Thailand - How much I need?
To give an idea of the cost of living Thailand, here are some approximate everyday costs. To convert these prices into your currency, bear in mind the current exchange rate of $1= 32 baht, €1=44 baht and £1=49 baht.
Milk 1 litre 35 baht
Plain yoghurt 180 grams 15 baht
Cheese 500 grams 200 baht
Bread 1 kg 35 baht
Cornflakes 375 grams 100 baht
Mineral water 1 litre 15 baht
Orange juice 1 litre 100 baht
Bananas 1 kg 150 baht
Biscuits 200 grams 50 baht
Beer (can) 30 baht
Table wine 0.75 litre 850 baht
Laundry detergent 2.5 kg 120 baht
Dishwashing liquid 500 ml 100 baht
Soap bar 150 grams 40 baht
Toothpaste 120 grams 40 baht
Shampoo 200 ml 90 baht
Deodorant 50 ml 45 baht
Razors/blades (5 pack) 200 baht
Aspirin (100 tablets) 120 baht
Face cream 80 baht
Men's shampoo & haircut 100 baht
Mobile phone 4,000 baht
Electricity per month 2,000 baht for a 100 sq m apartment
Internet per month 800 baht
Water bill per month 300 baht
Three-course dinner in restaurant 200 baht
Fast-food meal 150 baht
Cup of coffee in bar 50 baht
Beer in bar 100 baht
Car hire for a day 900 baht
Fitness club annual fee 7,000 baht
Taxi, for a 15-minute journey 50 baht
1-hour Thai massage 250 baht
Round of golf 1,000 baht
Men's shoes 500 baht
Pair of jeans 800 baht
Men's suit 2,000 baht
Men's shirt 400 baht