Why Thailand is a popular retirement destination

Thailand is one of the premier retirement destinations for expats in Southeast Asia.

One of the main reasons for this is the low cost of living. Your money will probably go much further here than it does in your home country. This is particularly important if you are moving into retirement and are on a fixed income. Your quality of life is much higher as a result.

Many people choose to come to Thailand to have medical procedures done. The quality of care is high but the cost is much lower than it is in most western countries. Dental work is also a lot cheaper.

Many retirees like to spend their golden years in warmer climates, and Thailand ticks that box. Sure, it can get humid, but if humidity is not a problem for you then the chances are you will love Thailand’s weather.

There’s a large community of expats and retirees in Thailand. And with that comes a great social life. You can have a very enjoyable social life well into older age here in Thailand. Life is lived out on the street, in the markets, the restaurants and the bars. People of all ages are having fun and no one judges.

For those entering their twilight years, Thailand has a culture that fosters a deep respect for elders. Families here will take care of their grandparents in a way that is becoming rare in many western countries. Expats who choose to retire here can expect to be treated well by people in general, and to receive top quality care in retirement homes if they choose to stay here into their later years.

Thailand has one of the best retirement visas in Southeast Asia. And the best bit is that you don’t have to wait until you are “old” to be eligible.

Thai Retirement Visa Overview

When you apply for a Thai retirement visa you are usually applying for an extension on the Non-Immigrant O-A visa. The extension of the visa lasts for one year and can be renewed each year without having to leave the country. The 1 year O-A visa is open to all nationalities.

Thailand also has a 5 year retirement visa called the Non-Immigrant O-X visa but this is only open to certain nationalities.

Generally it is the 1 year O-A renewable visa that is being referred to when the Thai retirement visa is being discussed. This visa is more common and has a lower eligibility hurdle. And it allows for an indefinite stay provided the eligibility criteria is maintained.

Eligibility for the Non-Immigrant O-A visa

  • Must be at least 50 years of age
  • Meet any of the below criteria:
    • Deposit THB 800,000 into a Thai bank account (approximately USD $24,000)
    • Monthly income of at least THB 65,000
    • Combination of bank account plus annual income equal to THB 800,000

The following points are usually only required when applying from outside Thailand:

  • Clean criminal record
  • Medical certificate
  • Health insurance with THB 40,000 outpatient coverage and THB 400,000 inpatient coverage

Once your visa has been approved you will need to report to immigration every 90 days.

If you want to leave and return to Thailand during the visa period you will need to apply for re-entry permit before leaving.

Non-Immigrant O-A visa holders are not allowed to work in Thailand. You are allowed to earn foreign sourced income such as a pension or dividends. The foreign sourced income won’t be taxed in Thailand.

To extend the visa you need to have THB 800,000 available to transfer over into a bank account. You can take the money out once the renewal is approved. But you need to prove you have the money sitting in the account for at least 3 months leading up to the renewal application.

Thai Non-immigrant visa

Can I bring my spouse with me on a Thai Retirement visa?

If your spouse is over 50 years of age, they will need to submit a separate application and prove their financial eligibility separately. Therefore an additional THB 800,000 deposit will be required.

If your spouse is under 50 years of age they can apply for a dependent O visa.

These rules apply only if your spouse is not a Thai national.

Are there other options for retirement visas in Southeast Asia?

To be eligible for the 5 year Non-Immigrant O-X visa, you need to have THB 3 million in the bank or a combination of THB 1.8 million in the bank plus an annual income of THB 1.2 million.

The Philippines has a popular retirement visa called the SRRV. This used to be an excellent choice for early retirees who were over 35 years of age but under 50. However, the SRRV is currently only open for the over 50’s.

The Malaysian MM2H My Second Home Visa is open to people aged 35 and over but requires a monthly income of around $9,500 and liquid assets of around $350,000.

Who is the Thai retirement visa good for?

The Thai retirement visa is well suited to people who are at least 50 years of age who may have a low net worth, and are therefore looking for a visa option with a relatively low eligibility hurdle.

It is also great for early retirees who have done well in life and now want to kick back in their 50’s and live off their investments.

The low cost of living in Thailand is a big drawcard for people on limited incomes such as pensions, dividends and rental income. You can live a great life in places like Chiang Mai for as little as $1,000 a month where rent is as cheap as chips. Compare that to the lifestyle that a pension will buy you in the UK, America or Australia. I know what I’d be doing.

If you would like any assistance or have any questions about retiring or moving out to Thailand, feel free to reach out.

Thanks for reading.

Want to move to Thailand?

If you’re interested in moving to Thailand but are unsure about a few things – visas, banking, safety, scams, dating, accommodation and more.

Check out our comprehensive Thailand guide: The Need to Know of Moving to Thailand

Get the guide