Readers' Submissions

Retirement in Thailand

  • Written by Professor
  • June 12th, 2014
  • 5 min read



There have been several excellent submissions recently about what it costs to live in Thailand on a budget. My hat is off to both writers who showed how inexpensive it can be to live in the Kingdom.

Additionally, there have several subs recently rekindling the debate from a year or so ago about whether it is better to come to Thailand at a young age, or to wait until one has made a nest egg in the west first.

All of these well written subs have prompted this offering. I have debated with myself long and hard about whether to send it in, as I am sure many readers will jump down my throat. Readers of this website do not take kindly to anyone trying to show off or in any way intimate that they are superior to others.

I assure you that this is not my intent. If you wish you to attack or make fun of me, please go ahead, just try to keep it clean, if you don’t mind.

So here we go—another man’s cost of living in Thailand.

I own two properties in Thailand (three if you count the house I built for my girl in her village which is in her name).

It is often said that investing in Thailand is a mug's game. I am not sure. I think if you invest wisely, and with real estate in quality and location, then you can do all right.

The first property is in Phuket, purchased after the tsunami when prices were good. I paid 20 million baht at the time, and an identical property just sold for the same price. So, at worse, I am at breakeven. However, I paid with US Dollars when the exchange rate was 42 baht/1$ so in dollar terms I am up a nice bit.

Monthly operating costs are high. Because there are only a few units in the development, yet a fairly big property to maintain, the monthly fee to the condo is 22k baht. Electricity (2k), internet (1k), TV (2k), water (800), gardening (2k), cleaning (2k) and pool (2k) mean my monthly running costs are about 34k baht. Financially, having a place in Phuket that you go to part time doesn’t make sense, but it is nice being able to drop in whenever I want with no bags, and have all my stuff there ready to go. Besides, how do you put a price on swimming in a private pool with young ladies at 2 AM? (especially when they don’t have swimsuits).

My second property is a condo I recently bought in Bangkok. After years of staying in hotels I decided it made sense to purchase. Previously, I was spending about 13k baht/month in hotel bills, every month. I bought a fully furnished place in a new building and a good part of town for 12 million baht, 127 sq meters so the cost was about 95k baht/meter. I don’t know about resale value, but I regularly get calls from brokers offering me 65k/month to rent it out. This comes to about 6.5% annual return, which is not great but certainly reasonable and about what one should expect from real estate rentals.

Monthly operating costs are not as bad as Phuket. Condo fees are 6k since it is a big place with many units to share costs. My girl cleans and we only have Thai TV so the additional costs are about 1500 baht for internet, 3k for electricity and 200 or so for water. So let’s say a total 11k/month which is slightly less than I used to pay hotels, but at least now I don’t have to carry clothing and it’s nice to have your own place. Since we have 2 bedrooms we can entertain friends and relatives when they come to town.

It is hard to calculate food costs, as I am not there regularly. A nice meal out with wine for two people might set me back 5k, a more typical meal at a local place is less than 1k, and when my girl cooks the cost is negligible.

I have an international medical insurance program which is good anywhere in the world so when I need care in Thailand I usually go to Samitivej which is pretty good.

After housing, medical, and food, the biggest expense is for entertainment. I am not a bar goer so I can’t comment on what it costs to hit Cowboy every night. But I do believe in steady companionship, and that costs.

It is difficult to say how much it costs to keep a local girl. There are an infinite variety of budgets for an infinite variety of girls. But, very broadly speaking, let me put girls into three buckets. The first would be regular girls, with a current job. I suspect these girls might not be that expensive to keep. The second would be bar girls. To keep one it is a not so simple matter of paying them the same as they could earn in the bars. I have a friend who currently lives with an active bar girl. He loves her and she loves him, but he cannot afford to pay her what she makes, and she will not give up the income. So they live together, and he grits his teeth as she comes home every night with income from short time.

The third group might be girls without jobs, who are happy to be in a relationship so they don’t have to work the bars. For these, I have always felt it best to work out with them a monthly budget, and then give a little bit extra.

I give my girl (who I have now been with 8 years) 40k/month, in two installments of 20k the 1st and 15th of every month. With this she buys all her necessities, supports her family (mother, father, two sisters and her sisters three children), and maintains the house in the village. The 40k is fixed and she knows under no circumstances is she to ask for more (which, of course, she does on a regular basis). I also gave her a credit card about 2 years ago, on which she puts about 10k/month, usually petrol for her car and occasional trips to Tesco Lotus. She always asks for permission first before using the card for anything else.

Everyone must decide for himself when and how (or if ever) to move or retire to Thailand. For my part, I did it at an advanced age, when I had made enough to be able to enjoy myself without worrying.

To each his own, and I wish all of you the very best.

Take care

Professor