Recent statistics revealed that about 1.4 American retirees receive their Social Security pensions abroad. Economic changes and political uncertainties could play a significant role in attracting retirees to move overseas as well as being able to stretch those pension paychecks a bit further.Meanwhile, a promise of ‘life in the sun’, discovering new hobbies, meeting new friends, enjoying cheap good food and just living in those golden years ahead can all be very alluring.
The lists of dream retirement locations change yearly. But one country that remains at the top of most lists and has continued to be a senior living heaven in the last decade or so is Thailand.
Why Retire in Thailand
Over the last decade, Thailand has marketed itself as one of the world’s best medical destinations. The government has allowed tax exemptions for investments into new health facilities. According to the latest research by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Thailand is ranked the fifth best country for inbound medical tourism.
You’re blessed with cheap healthcare in Thailand so therefore you can have as many checkups as you’d like. Never wait until there’s something wrong! You may be able to find an insurance while living out in Thailand. Check Luma Health’s Asia Care Plus plan for details. The plan isn’t cheap but it provides the peace of mind.
A yearly visa for retirees is reasonably easy to apply for if you’re over the age of 50. To prove that you can financially support yourself while living in Thailand, you either need savings of $25,000 in your bank account or a monthly income of $2,000, or a combination of both.
Thailand has a long list of choices when it comes to retirement. From the cosmopolitan Bangkok to the chilled Chiang Mai, but Phuket really stands out for many following reasons:
Phuket is more than just the ‘party’ Patong beach for the youngsters. Thailand’s biggest island consists of more than 30 beaches. Many palm-fringed, white-sanded beaches stretch many kilometers long.
Year-long Tropical Weather
Phuket is a picture-perfect tropical paradise with short outbursts of rain to cool it down a bit from time to time. In the Thai ‘cooler’ season, the temperature can drop to around 20 degrees.
More than 25,000 expats call Phuket their permanent home. On average, 100,000 foreigners spend more than four months out of the year here. So you’ll most likely meet like-minded friends who speak the same language.
What’s left to be said about Thai food? Its popularity has reached every corner of the world. Being part of southern Thailand, Phuket’s local cuisine is rich in flavors (they believe a fiery taste gives a ‘healthy burn’). If you’re getting a bit fed up with sweating your ‘sandals’ off at every meal, other cuisines like Italian, American, Japanese or Mexican can be easily found in Phuket.
It’s true that Thai people often refer to you as their brother, sister, uncle, aunty, grandad or grandma. Once you get to know them, they’ll treat you as one of their own.
Phuket has a handful of high-standard international hospitals at a relatively affordable price. Should you need treatment or urgent care, you’ll always find the most friendly staff who are fluent in different languages.
The Western World
International supermarkets, gleaming shopping malls, state-of-the-art cinemas (with English soundtracks) or the family-friendly aquarium are all (thankfully!) air-conditioned. There’s something for everyone in Phuket.
Phuket International Airport recently opened a second terminal. You can arrive on the island via an hour-long connecting flight from Bangkok, or Dubai is only six hours away on a direct flight.
Honoring the Heritage
The old town is packed with hip cafes and restaurants that honor the traits of Sino-Portuguese architecture. Owners and the local community try their best to preserve the history of the island. Old architecture is proudly shown alongside modern facilities. It’s increasingly becoming the most photographed area of the island.
Apart from sunbathing all day on the beach or by the pool (and why shouldn’t you?), Phuket also has eight golf courses, Thai cooking classes, an elephant sanctuary, Phuket Fantasea Show and Phuket Trickeye Museum. If you want to spend your free time helping good clauses, volunteer at Soi Dog Foundation – looking after stray dogs and cats, or The Gibbon Rehabilitation who take care of sick and unhealthy gibbons.
These perks may have got you interested in retiring in Phuket but maybe you’re worried about not being able to own a house in Thailand as the Thai law forbids foreigners from buying land. Listen up, we’ve got some even better options for both those on a budget and others who desire the finest things in life…
Stretching Your Budget
Luckily, developments have sprouted in Phuket in abundance in recent years. A cheaper, fuss-free option is to rent a house or a condominium. You can still be near the sea if that’s your preferred location. Prices for a one-bedroom condo start from $300 with basic facilities. You’ll need to pay utility bills like electricity, water and internet but it’s all relatively affordable. To save even further, live like a local. Phuket may be more expensive compared to other regions of Thailand, but you still can buy a street-food meal for 60 baht (TWO DOLLARS!). Buying all the ingredients and cooking at home can sometimes be more expensive.
Those over the age of 60, or those who need regular treatments or check-ups, can opt for a less fancy hospital or local clinic to save costs. Make sure you set aside a healthy budget for treatments that won’t be covered by your insurance. If you’re fit to make regular visits home, you may be entitled to use your travel insurance.
Sky Is the Limit
Over the last five years, Phuket has seen a rising demand for retirement villages. Developers and specialists partner to provide luxury retirement residences complete with 24-hour care whether you’re an active senior or require an watchful eye.
- MontAzure – Unparalleled Luxury for Independent Seniors
Arguably the most exclusive retirement village on the island (probably one of the most luxurious in the world), MontAzure is nestled among untouched forested mountains cascading all the way down to the beach. Sitting on the last remaining plot on the west coast, MontAzure was developed with its surrounding protected nature reserve in mind.
Four leading Thai property developers – Nye Estate, Chewathai, LPN Develoment and CH Karnchang came together to establish Kamala Senior Living Co. They already have a strong record of running four other successful retirement properties.
Suitable for retirees from Europe and the US, MontAzure offers one to two-bedroom condominiums starting from $230,000. The prices can rise up to $2.3 million for a more private two-bed penthouse with rooftop pool and beachfront views.
The luxury retirement village provides a 24-hour emergency medical facility on-site and is home to Niche Naturopathic Health & Wellness Center, the first naturopathic medical center for people over the age of 50 in Asia.
Residents of MontAzure also have access to beach clubs, bars, restaurants, boutiques, a spa and wellness center and biking and hiking trails. An international standard golf course is only 15 minutes away in Bang Tao. Keen sailors don’t need to travel far either because Royal Phuket Marina is just a 30-minute drive.
The village is managed by Otium Living – a global, senior-living specialist with professional consultancy by the UK’s leading luxury retirement village developer Audley Retirement. Otium Phuket is also expanding to another exclusive retirement village in this mixed-use development.
- Phuket Retirement Village – Affordable Luxury Retirement
Not far from MontAzure, Phuket Retirement Village is situated in Thalang district. The area is known for palm-fringed beaches and relaxing vibes, making this residential area feel more exclusive. The nearby lush nature is ideal for hiking and biking.
However, residents won’t feel too far removed from all the conveniences. Phuket’s major supermarkets like Villa Market (best known for stocking western foods and ingredients, Tesco Lotus, Makro and Big C are within a 10 to 15 minute drive. Phuket Retirement Village is also 20 minutes from the island’s best international hospitals such as Bangkok Phuket Hospital and Siriroj Hospital. Keen golfers can find a standard 18-hole golf course in the next village of Laguna.
Phuket Retirement Village provides two levels of care services – nursing care and home care. Although they’re unable to provide full medical care, the retirement village offers health care and support for the able-bodied residents in nursing care. With their partnership with local international hospitals, residents can have comprehensive access to top medical care at reasonable prices.
Meanwhile, residents of the home care program can live more independently in their own residences – designed with wheelchair access and grab supports and completely step-free. Every residence comes with two immediate care service buttons. All residents of Phuket Retirement Village receive a free, yearly medical check-up to keep a good track of their health.
Phuket Retirement Village’s 40 fully-furnished residences come in two sizes – a one-bed 105 sqm villa and a two-bed 133 sqm villa with a private plunge pool. Strategic, tropical gardens are placed between houses to give residents maximum privacy. Prices start from $122,580 for a one-bed villa and $158,064 for a two-bed villa through an ownership lease of up to 30 years.