Travel, Teach, Live in Thailand
Married to a Thai and longing to retire in Thailand for the spicy hot delicious food, white tropical beaches, sunshine and smiles? Before you rush in headlong, take a long look at these reasons for not retiring in Thailand.
1. Political Unrest In Thailand
Those who are considering retiring in Thailand need to take the current dire political situation into consideration. 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. The current political protests in Thailand are funded and guided from overseas by Thaksin, a former police officer who built up a telecoms empire before turning to politics and becoming prime minister in 2001.
Currently governed by the highly revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, there is great concern lurking about the further great 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. The law that forbids anyone talking ill of the royal family and thereby protecting the dignity of a reigning sovereign King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand did not stop former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra speaking of a "shining" new age once the King's reign comes to an end. That does not bode well for the future of Thailand.
This 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.
2. The Difficulty Of Learning The Thai Language
On holiday in Thailand you maybe picked up a few Thai words and generally got by with very little knowledge of the Thai language. Of course, provided you stick to the main holiday areas and resorts, you don't need to know Thai because the Thai people you deal with will speak enough English for you to be able to get what you want.
But in retirement you maybe are not going to be living in the holiday resort areas - which are not only very expensive for everyday living but which are becoming increasingly dangerous. Instead, like us and many people like us, you may be retiring 'up country' in predominantly Thai populated areas. In these circumstances you may be buying fresh food at the local Thai market, eating out at the roadside stalls, jumping on the back of the local motorcycle taxis, and generally interacting with the indigenous Thais who are unlikely to speak English. This is where, without a good knowledge of the Thai language, life could be difficult or just uneasy for you.
3. You Will Have To Pay For Any Medical Care That You May Need
If you enjoy free medical care in your home country, remember that you will lose this privilege when you retire to Thailand and you will end up paying your own medical bills in future. Perhaps you may think that you are in good health and take the chance on that but think about the increasing treatments you may need as you get older or if you become seriously ill. As you become older your needs for medical care dramatically increase and whereas perhaps at present you are entitled to medical care paid for by the State in your homeland, when you retire to Thailand the costs will come from your own pocket.
4. 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. Some people have reported being refused a visa for spurious reasons when all their paperwork was in perfect order. Consider what you would do if you were refused entry to the country where your retirement home and wife was!
5. 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 household effects into Thailand free of duty, but it doesn't work like that in practice even though I am Thai as I found out found out I 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!
6. 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.
7. 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.
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.
Retiring to Thailand is the dream of the writer, Kanyah and her British husband, Alan, and they have bought land in Thailand and are building a retirement house in Pakchong. Alan is recording all their decisions and everything they do on his website where you can follow their progress step by step http://retiringinthailand.net/concrete-posts-complete.