A guide to retiring in Thailand

Retiring in Thailand is a fantastic option for many expats. Great weather and incredible cuisine are just a couple of reasons to live in this part of Southeast Asia. Continue reading to learn more about retiring in Thailand, including retirement visa requirements and the cost of living.  

What are the requirements for a Thai retirement visa?

First, you’ll need a valid visa to live in Thailand permanently. While there is no official ‘Thai retirement visa’, it’s possible to legally live in the country full time. The main requirements are that:

  • You’re 50 years old or over.
  • You can deposit 800,000 baht (around £18,200) into a Thai bank account, or have a monthly income or pension of at least 65,000 baht (about £1,400).
  • You have a valid health insurance policy.

Next, you’ll need to go to your local Thai embassy and get either a single entry: 

  • Non-immigrant type O Visa (valid for 3 months for £60). 
  • Non-immigrant type O-A Visa (valid for 12 months for £150).

You can then continue living in Thailand by renewing your visa for one year at a time. This is known as an Extension of Stay visa and allows you multiple-entry into Thailand.

How to extend your visa in Thailand 

Every time you extend your type O or O-A Thai visa, you’ll need to meet the initial financial requirements. That means having a balance of at least 800,000 baht in your bank account. You’ll also need to pay a 1,900 baht (£43) renewal fee 

Everyone who lives in Thailand long-term has to submit a 90-Day Report to Thai authorities. This means going to your local Thailand Immigration Department and declaring your current address, even if it hasn’t changed. 

Can you work on a retirement visa in Thailand? 

No. You cannot work while on a Non-immigrant visa. You can become eligible for Thai Permanent Residency, and consequently a work permit, after receiving three consecutive visa extensions. Permanent residency also gives you the right to buy property and become a director of a public company in Thailand. 

Top tip: Getting permanent residency can reduce the legal red tape, cost and paperwork of renewing your visa each year. That includes attending the 90-Day Report appointment.

Need to transfer funds to Thailand? Then read our guide on sending large amounts of money overseas beforehand. 

How much money do you need to retire in Thailand?

The cost of retiring in Thailand depends on two things: your regular monthly expenses and your lifestyle. Still, you can enjoy a modest retirement on around £460 per month, according to expat website A Little Adrift. That amount covers extra costs such as  domestic help, scooter hire and eating out regularly.       

While housing will be your highest expense, you’ll need to consider other costs such as:

  • Apartment deposits and agency fees.
  • Moving and shipping costs.
  • Flights to Thailand.
  • Daily expenses.

Using data from cost of living experts Numbeo, Azimo has created the table below. See how typical expenses compare from one Thai city to another.  

CityCentral 1-bed apartment Monthly leisure centre fees Monthly basic utility billsRegular cafe cappuccino3-course meal for two
Chiang Mai£271£63£63£1.46p£14
Koh Samui£278£40£40£1.53p£20
Hua Hin£363£32£55£1.27p£18

*Figures taken from Numbeo.com and some have been rounded up to the nearest pound sterling (£).

For more information, check out Azimo’s guide to the cost of living in Thailand

Want the best overall deal when transferring money to locations like Bangkok and Phuket? Get top tips from Azimo’s how to send money to Thailand guide.

Where’s the best place to retire in Thailand? 

Where to retire in Thailand
Where to retire in Thailand

That depends on many factors including your lifestyle and budget. 

Do you want a peaceful town or a bustling metropolitan city? Alternatively, a beach resort town that guarantees the best of both worlds? The good news is that Thailand caters to all tastes. 

Bangkok is famous for its ornate shrines, eclectic cuisine, and vibrant street life. Marvel at the gleaming temples, catch a tuk-tuk through Chinatown, or take a boat along the floating markets. Away from the tourist trail, Bangkok is also a draw for retirees who prefer modern living mixed with the warmth of Thai culture.

Although Phuket is famous for its party scene, the island is also home to several secluded regions. Mai Khao Beach and Cape Panwa both remain largely unspoilt and are perfect for expats seeking a peaceful lifestyle.

The city of Chiang Mai is blessed with an abundance of sacred Buddhist temples and quaint villages. However, Chiang Mai still bustles with live music and night markets, offering residents the best of city life without the frenzy of Bangkok. The city is very receptive to visitors and new residents, as it’s home to strong Burmese and Chinese communities.

​​Koh Samui boasts some of the best diving sites in the world. The island, formerly a coconut plantation, is well connected to nearby amenities, including an international airport. While offering a laid-back lifestyle, Koh Samui still gives adventurous residents the chance to enjoy activities such as bungee jumping, trekking, and mountain biking.

The coastal town of Hua Hin‘s proximity to Bangkok attracts an expat community of all ages. Despite its popularity with holidaying Thai royals, influencers, and its annual jazz festival, the town remains a quiet place to live. 

Opening a bank account in Thailand

You should try opening an account with one of Thailand’s ‘big five’ banks. These banks typically offer more services and boast larger networks. That includes everything from branches, staff to ATMs. 

Even better, you may be able to open a bank account in Thailand before arriving in the country. The big five banks in Thailand are: 

  • Kasikorn Bank.
  • Siam Commercial Bank.
  • Bangkok Bank.
  • TMB Bank.
  • Krungthai Bank.
Did you know? TMB Bank was established by Sarit Tanarat, a Field Marshal in the Thai Army who came into power through a coup in 1957.

Another option is to open an international bank account. First, you’d need to check that your bank operates in Thailand; otherwise, Sage Capital or HSBC are great alternatives. 

In general, you should avoid rural banks as they usually have limited services. In addition, they may be less regulated than bigger banks.