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“Why Retire in Thailand?” is a question I hear a lot...
7 insights from a Canadian Expat who’s been there and done that…
and sometimes screwed up!
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When I turned 65 my life seemed to go to pieces. I retired, went through a divorce, and started a downward health trend… poor me…
I started a fairly aggressive plan to overcome all this… starting with
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Thailand is known as “The Land of Smiles”… the people are universally pleasant, kind, gentle, caring and friendly… although often puzzling!
They refer to foreigners (non-Oriental foreigners) as farang.
It’s a different culture, and some of their ways of interacting are peculiar!
Thais are predominantly Buddhist, which is a religion that is incredibly forgiving of human foibles. At least this is how I experience it through my interactions.
I have decided that Thai’s National mantra is “my pin rye”, which translates to “NO PROBLEM”.
A major value for Thais is looking after family. It seems almost to be genetic! Kids just KNOW that they will be supporting their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, forever.
This trait can cause some real problems for farang - Thai relationships.
Now, it would be silly to think that ALL Thais are pleasant, honest, and above board. Not so…
Another trait is “saving face”. For instance, most Thais would choose to lie about something rather than
And workers in sex trades, or in bars are predatory and jaded, so anyone is fair game and considered a sucker.
Thailand is located a few degrees North of the Equator, and is a sub-tropical country.
It's weather is almost always hot! And quite livable...
This topic deserves MANY PAGES on its own!
A quick summary: OMG it so yummy!
Thailand can be as expensive as you want.
A single person could manage OK for under $500.00/month. Or you could spend that much daily.
I, personally, want it to cost under $3000.00 per month for 2 adults and a small child.
I know farang couples who manage on under $750.00 monthly.
Here's a slightly different perspective on costs related to the idea of "retire in Thailand".
This is a good topic to start off “fascinating culture”.
Thai Buddhists are devout and social behaviour is heavily influenced by their religion.
The BEST thing about Buddhism, IMHO, is there is no “original sin” to louse up one’s life; very little guilt and NO concern about atonement, or forgiveness, or salvation. Their favourite expression is “no problem”
[my pin rye is the approximate Thai pronunciation].
AND no proselytization going on.
The Buddha, himself, laid out many rules about behaviour and so on. I relate to this translation of one of his writings.
In summary, I find Thai Buddhism to be:
Buddhism appears to me to be gentle, loving, forgiving, and the religion’s characteristics flow into the adherents.
A Thai friend said to me, on my first trip in 2006, “I love our temples. No other place in the world has anything so beautiful.” She might have a point.
I note that Buddhists have a plethora of temples… at least one in every village, not to mention many scattered hither and yon over the countryside.
One city I drove through, Phetchaburi, had a 2 kilometre stretch of nothing but temples;
For many tourists, the overwhelming number of temples numbs one to the beauty and special ambience of each one.
Personally, I have a ½ dozen or so temples I recommend for visiting.
There are comedies, dramas and news on ALL THE TIME. Praise
be that I do not understand Thai very well. The plots and acting are so
abysmal, that I shudder to consider the dialogue!
At the best, a comedy reminds me of a very poorly written and acted “I LOVE LUCY” show.
AT THE WORST, and this means the actors are all lady-boys; they make me think of the Three Stooges, dressed in psychedelic drag, on a bad LSD trip.
Dramas are soap opera style and usually run 2+ hours EVERY NIGHT. Half the program is romantic music carrying us through some dream sequence where the not-lovely girl dreams of the really dreamy guy. I am assuming the guy is dreamy… all the girl characters swoon over him. The women characters either cry or scream, and often do both. The men are stoic except when they backhand the whiny women. Or kick their wives for some supposed misdemeanour.
This domestic violence all seems in contrast to a pleasant and forgiving everyday self-presentation to us farang… but then, it is TV.
Almost all the Thai ladies with whom I have interacted claim their spouses physically abused them. Maybe there is violent undercurrent of which I am unaware.
I am always annoyed in Canada, when the news is merely a series of 30 second sound bites on important stories.
Well, just try to imagine a 90 minute in-depth, musically accompanied, non-story about (say) 250 school girls being presented a pillow by someone of importance. And we get to see all 250 with their bedding.
I choose NOT to purchase health care insurance on my trips.
I “go naked” which means I pay my health care costs out-of-pocket.
Mostly, that works out OK. Costs for health care range from 25% - 70% of what it would cost me in the USA. Of course, costs for Canadian health care approach ZERO for me.
The health care system in urban Thailand is excellent. The country is a major “Medical Tourism” destination. Click to read more.
I have used the BANGKOK HOSPITAL group several times for medical services. This is oriented toward farang, and has English speaking, highly-accredited doctors and staff. There are several of these hospitals: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Pattaya, and Hua Hin.
If I need surgery or have a major health problem, I head to one of these.
Drugs are available without prescription and are 1/3 the cost of what I pay in Canada.
Dental treatment is good and 1/5 the cost of Canada.
"Hang on, Garry!” I hear you say.
“How can you possible characterize Thailand as safe?”
I understand your hesitation in believing that Thailand is safe. TV stories and horrific pictures of terrorist attacks and political demonstrations seem to be all one sees about Thailand.
(Interspersed with too many exposés providing specious information on sleazy Thailand.)
I’ll try to put all this into perspective.
I have never felt in danger, anywhere, anytime, in Thailand... only SAFE!
However, I am always conscious of where I am.
I make sure to stay away from the naughty streets and bar areas at night.
I don’t indulge in illegal and/or stupid activities that could jump up and bite me in the butt.
I don’t go to drunken full moon beach parties.
I never ride a scooter/motorcycle. I never drive a car.
I stay away from troubled areas;
I stay as far away as I can from police, the military, and any other armed government agents.
I MAKE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO DO THIS IN EVERY COUNTRY I VISIT, including Canada.