Thailand is consistently ranked amongst the best places in the world to retire. And for good reasons. Costs of living in western countries are high. Retirees find it ever harder to live the lifestyle that they planned all their lives for. It is no wonder that many are looking abroad for ways to make their retirement funds stretch to provide the lifestyle they dreamt of. Read this article to discover the best reasons to retire in Thailand.

1. People and Culture

Local attitudes to older people in society can have a big impact. Older people are still highly respected in Thai culture. Children are taught to respect their elders. Manners are still a major part of Thai culture. You will find that children will always greet elders with a Wai. They will not interrupt them and will use polite, formal language. When an older person visits their homes, Thais will go to extra levels of hospitality. They will look to provide a comfortable chair, some delicious snacks and drinks and generally try to make you feel welcome. Some westerners find it a bit annoying to be treated in this formal sort of way but the benefits are a feeling of worth and relevance.

Thais are fun loving and usually smiling. How uplifting to be amongst people that are generally happy. There are two major no-nos in Thai culture; never lose face and never cause others to lose face. These two general rules mean that you rarely see open arguing, harassment or fighting. Of course, Thais face the same disappointments, pain and frustrations as any other people. It is just a matter of how they deal with it that makes them a delight to me amongst.

A good insight into Thai culture is to understand the traditional Thai greeting – Kin khao rue yang. This basically translates as “Did you eat yet?” Eating is a major part of the culture. Thais love nothing better than getting together for a good feast with plenty of conversation and fun.

And, although there is crime as in any society, Thailand is generally a safe place to live. There are regular stories of people having their wallets returned to them. Car crime is very rare, petty theft and burglary is very low compared to western countries.

2. Food and Drink

This brings us to another great reason to retire in Thailand – the food. In many western societies you will pay a good price to eat in a Thai restaurant. Not in Thailand. Food is literally everywhere. From roadside kiosks to exotically decorated restaurants you will never tire of eating out in Thailand. And at prices you can only dream of. You can eat a tasty, nourishing meal for as little at 100 baht ($3). Even in more upscale dine-in eateries you will find full menus at around $10 per person.

Fresh produce is available from both small and large markets. Nearly every little village or area in the city has a daily market. You can buy fresh fruit and vegetables as well as seafood, many types of fresh meat and everything you need to cook up a feast.


Thais drink water a lot. Drinking water is often provided free of charge and drunk with ice. Other drinks include freshly made fruit drinks, coconut juice (often served inside the actual coconut), and a variety of milk-based drinks.

local alcoholic drinks include a variety of locally produced bottled beers. Some are internationally recognized brands such as Singha and Chang. There are many other internationally marketed brands such as Heineken. Watch out for locally produced spirits. Lao Khao is a rice whisky produced in every village. National brands of rum and whisky are extremely affordable and potent.

Western Food & Drink

Western food and drinks are also available but do come with a premium price. However, the upmarket supermarkets and wineries can supply nearly every beverage available in the west. Likewise, there are plenty of restaurants serving every style of western food. Pizzas and burgers are everywhere with most international brands well represented. If you crave other western foods the cities and even smaller towns have French, Italian, German and other culinary styles.

Readily available and affordable delicious food and drink is certainly one very good reason to retire in Thailand.

3. Health & Wellness Reasons to Retire in Thailand

When was the last time you had a remedial massage or just a long relaxing session? In Thailand massage and spa treatments are a part of everyday good health. Young children learn massage in the home at a very early age. Some go on and specialize in massage and spa treatments. And the best part – they are so affordable that they will not make a big hole in your weekly budget.

Treatments include

  • Traditional Thai massage which involves a rhythmic stretching and tissue massage.
  • Herbal aroma oil massages – Your masseuse applies a variety of herbal oils to your body and uses slow relaxing motions to ease muscles and joints
  • Steam herb massages – A selection of herbs is held in cloth bags. This is then steam heated and applied to various acupuncture points. Great for stiff joints and injured muscles.
  • Herbal steam baths – great for respiratory function and the release of toxins.
  • Neck and shoulder massages to ease the tension around the neck and shoulders.
  • Foot massages work on the pressure points in the foot to increase the flow of energy. The addition of cool herbal massage stimulates the senses and enhances the feeling of total relaxation
  • Manicure and pedicure – So much pleasure keeping your nails in good shape.

Many of these therapies are offered by the roadside for just a few dollars. Others, in spa settings ranging from quite primitive to extraordinary luxury.

Meditation is also a part of everyday life in Thailand. You can find Yoga retreats and detox programs. All at affordable prices.

Being amongst a caring and happy society, eating well and enjoying natural wellness treatments are certainly among the top reasons to retire in Thailand.

4. Western Medicine and Healthcare

Thailand has world class hospitals, dental clinics, and eye clinics. Thais enjoy a virtually free healthcare system, but the private hospitals offer procedures at a fraction of the costs in the west. There are hardly any waiting times either. It is estimated that private healthcare is around 30 – 40% cheaper than the west. Indeed, Thailand has developed an ever-increasing medical tourism. People fed up with waiting for an operation back home can come and get them done here at an affordable cost and without delay. We hear of people virtually having a free holiday when combining with dental or medical treatments.

The big hospitals and clinics recognize many international health insurance schemes.

In short, if you need expert western medical treatment, you won’t be disappointed in Thailand.

5. Accommodation

You can rent a small downtown apartment in the center of Bangkok for around $700 per month. Outside the capital that will drop to around $350 per month. A small village house might cost as little as $200 a month. At the same time, you can rent a 5 bedroom villa with swimming pool for under $1000 a month in some parts of Thailand.

If you prefer to combine your accommodation with some care you can hire caregivers at various levels of care. A house maid might cost as little as $200 a month. Full care by a registered nurse would cost around $600 a month.

Better still, enjoy luxury living at a retirement resort combining the care level you need with onsite luxury spa treatments.

Accommodation at any level will seem incredibly good value to you if you are used to western prices.

Other reasons to retire in Thailand

1. Expat communities

There are thriving expat communities in most of the main locations chosen by retirees. They exist as formal or informal groups and mean that you are never short of some non-that company. Some arrange outings and other recreational events. Many have games evenings and other meet ups.

2. Travel & Adventure

Thailand is a large and varied country and travel within it is extremely easy (outside of covid restrictions). There is a good network of domestic flights that can get you to the beeches or the mountains in no time. The roads are generally in good condition. There is a comprehensive rail network.

And there are so many places to visit. Maybe you are looking to spend some time by the seaside or enjoying hiking adventures in the Northern hills. Perhaps you are interested in visiting historical sites. How about the many golden temples and palaces of Thailand? The scenery is often breathtaking.

Due to the extraordinary variety of flora and fauna any nature lover will be in heaven in Thailand. There are 147 national parks and they each have something unique to offer. Some, such as Khao Sok, have vast lakes in them with plenty of activities on them. They will each immerse you in natural surroundings – a treat for all the senses.

3. Golf and Recreation

Thailand has roughly 250 golf courses. Many of these are in the main target areas that people chose to retire in. If you are a golf lover, you will have no problem finding well cared for golf courses and a welcoming golf community.

Tennis lovers are well catered for along with badminton, and snooker. You will easily find wonderful swimming pools, often set in charming surroundings. There are dance groups and acting and poetry clubs as well as a host of live music venues. In the expat communities you will find people playing board games and most other recreational activities are available.

4. Climate

The climate is generally another of the reasons to retire in Thailand. In some parts of the country the hot season can be a bit oppressive but virtually everywhere offers air conditioning. If you head to the hills of the north, you can take advantage of cooling breezes. At the same time, it never freezes, and temperatures rarely drop below 20 C.

When it rains it rains! But that is OK as it cleans the air and usually comes in short powerful downpours followed by bright sunshine and cloudless skies. In the south the humidity can be a bit oppressive but only at certain times of the year.

Unlike some countries, Thailand does have seasons and that this adds to the character of life here. It plays its part in providing such a rich variety of nature and scenery. Most of the time it is warm and sunny – like a lovely summer’s day in the west.

5. Holidays and Festivals

Though Thais are hard working they certainly enjoy a good festival. And there are plenty of them. The best part is – you’re invited. Festivals are all-inclusive and a great way to see the Thais at their best.

The big ones are:

  • The Songkran Water Festival – national holiday I April
  • Phi Ta Khon – the Gost festival – Loei Province June, July
  • Yi Peng lantern festival in Chiang Mai – November
  • Loy Krathong – Festival of Lights and Lanterns – Throughout Thailand – especially big in Chiang Mai – November
  • Boon Bang Fai – the aptly named Rocket Festival in Yasothorn Province – June or July
  • Wing Kwai – Buffalo Racing Festival – Chonburi – October
  • Lopburi Monkey Banquet – November
  • Phuket Vegitarian Festival – Watch out it is a bit gruesome as body mortification is part of the festival.
  • Chiang Mai flower festival – February
  • Chinese New Year – various cities – January and February
  • Candle Festival at Ubon Ratchathani – July

This is certainly not a comprehensive list. Local villages and temples have their own special days. There is usually something going on all year round.

6. Visas

Although they seem a bit complicated the truth is that it is easy to obtain yearly visas and there are many agencies around that will help you navigate through the process.

7. Shopping

Apart from the markets and craft villages there are modern malls and shopping centers in all towns and cities. Most cater for the increasing number of aspiring Thais looking for modern technology and fashion.

There are specialist tech malls full of all the latest computers and tech items you will find back home.

There are some chains that target the foreigners as well. These have many of the delicacies you might have thought you would not see in Thailand.

Ebay, Etsy and Amazon are all available in Thailand. Additionally, the local Asian platform Lazada offers a huge variety of goods delivered to your door. All these sites are available in English as well as other languages.

8. Coffee and Tea

Are you a tea or coffee lover? Worrying that you might not get your daily fix? No need. Northern Thailand has some of the best coffee in the world. If you are a tea lover you are in luck. Thailand grows some of the finest teas in the world.

9. Motoring

It is easy to own or rent a car. You will find many of the makes that you are used to. Not only the obvious choices such as Toyota, Honda, and Ford but also Mercedes Audi and BMW. You have to pay import duty on many of the cars that are imported so they may seem a little above the prices you are used to. However, running costs are much lower than you would expect.

Road taxes and insurance are very affordable. Fuel costs vary but you pay around $1 per liter. Good, cheap servicing is available. Finding a good local garage to look after your vehicle is the key.

You can rent a car for around 800 baht ($24) per day with deals available for longer term rentals.

If you are up to riding a scooter, then your transport costs will be laughable. Cost of a good new scooter approx. $1500. Servicing insurance and fuel are ridiculously cheap. However, be warned, driving a scooter or motorbike in Thailand requires great concentration and care.

You do need a driving license for a scooter or a car. You should not find the test at all difficult.

10. International and National flights

There are many direct and indirect international flights to Thailand. On top of that domestic flights are also numerous. The main airport is Suvanabhumi to the East of Bangkok and serves as a hub for Asian flights. Chiang Mai has an international airport. In fact, there are 38 airports serving Thailand and seven of those serve international flights.

The impact of Covid on retirement in Thailand

As of late 2021 Thailand is just about to open again to vaccinated travelers.  In the main, for those already living in the Kingdom Covid has been well handled. Yes, there have been various levels of closures and restrictions, but the main shopping centers and markets remained open for business. Travel was restricted within the kingdom and many attractions were closed. Now that a significant number of the population have been vaccinated things are easing up a bit again. As Thailand welcomes visitors again from 1 November it is expected that things will steadily get back to normal.

The top reasons to retire in Thailand – Conclusion

If you can make the break from your home country, you will find that retiring in Thailand offers you lifestyles you can probably only dream of at home. Perhaps the most challenging aspect would be the Thai language, but it is quite possible to get by in English. All Thais are taught some level of English at school, and many enjoy the chance to show off their skills. If you do manage to learn some Thai phrases you will be met with broad smiles. Thais really appreciate you making any attempt to learn their language and culture but above all they are welcoming.

You will find affordable, delicious, healthy food and safe cheap accommodation. There is so much going on and a large expat community at hand if you want to get involved.

On top of that Thailand offers world class levels of healthcare along with traditional treatments.

You will enjoy warm sunny days most of the year and find plenty of adventures to try out. There is something for everyone here no matter how mobile you are. There are many reasons to retire in Thailand. The main one – look forward to getting the maximum enjoyment from your senior years.

About Ban Sabai Retirement Village & Care Resort

Ban Sabai offers a resort style experience with special services for seniors wishing to retire to Thailand. They are situated in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. The accommodations are specially equipped to allow the maximum of independent living. If you require greater levels of care then Ban Sabai can provide excellent professional care at any level. They also provide plenty of activities to keep you busy.

You can find out more by completing our inquiry form.