Readers' Submissions

Retirement, Thailand Or New Zealand

  • Written by Anonymous
  • June 17th, 2019
  • 12 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

Some thoughts about retirement in Thailand. Some points below, such as the weather, are purely personal preference. But others such as Health Care are not just a personal preference thing.

 

Weather

It is a personal thing. I would prefer to wake up to the warm of Thailand 365 days a year, compared to tolerating a New Zealand winter. Was in NZ for 3 weeks winter last year, and it was not at all pleasant.

New Zealand 0. Thailand + 1 (Personal view only).

 

Tolerance for Bullshit

I cannot agree. New Zealand is way worse than Thailand.

I recent weeks I have been trying to get a heat pump replaced in NZ. First, it cost $167 for someone to come and clean it, but then to actually tell her it needed replacing. Then the performance I have been through for a replacement you simply would not believe. I will not bore you with pages of detail, but suffice to say, I get people lying, people not honouring what they promised, people quoting the (expensive) brands they want to sell, and refusing to quote what I want. Others that can quote, but will take almost to summer before it can be installed. It is a nightmare. I still do not have this sorted. It has been going on over a month! The attitude. The lies. The time it takes. A nightmare. Contrast this to my wife, who wanted to install a new air conditioner in a room at her mum’s place in Thailand. She goes to Home Pro and buys it. Within 48 hours it is installed. And the cost of the whole thing (air-con and installation) is less than what the Kiwis want to charge just to install in New Zealand.

Last year I had reason to be in NZ and deal with WINS. OMG! Have you ever dealt with WINS? Seriously, if you want bullshit perfected to a fine professional art form, then this is the place for you. In no other situation have I ever encountered so much bullshit. And the question I asked was, if you are putting me though all of this, how do you expect an 80-year old to both understand all of this, and navigate her way though it? It is impossible. If Thailand wants to introduce more bullshit into their system, I recommend they consult with WINS. They are the world experts on bullshit.

I have a friend who decided to re-settle in New Zealand after living in Australia for many years. I lose count of the number of messages he has sent me with a long story ending in, “this is bull shit”. A recent one was wanting to get a bank account. The NZ bank tells him, he cannot open a bank account without an IRD number. Go to get an IRD number, and he is told, can’t get an IRD number without a bank account ! He has found the rules, regulations and the speed to get things done in New Zealand a nightmare, that is rife with bullshit.

New Zealand minus 1. Thailand 0. (New Zealand way worse – probably should be minus 2).

 

Health Care

I personally know a case of a 93-year-old New Zealander who needs a (reasonably minor) operation. He is in quite a lot of pain and he has no quality of life. The good news is that as operations go, this one is low risk, and it will almost certainly address the issue and restore his quality of life. The bad news is that he lives in New Zealand. He is on a waiting list for gods sake. The operation has been scheduled more than 3 times and every time, last-minute, it gets cancelled for one reason or another. Of course he has the option of going private, but that will cost. And compared to quality medical care in Thailand it will cost excessively. A few weeks back there was some “caravan” going around NZ and they suggested they could do the operation in that! A caravan. New Zealand is becoming third world. He declined that option. He is 93 and still waiting. Totally disgusting.

You are right that medical care is no longer “cheap” in Thailand, but all the issues you raise about the costs and the need for insurance apply equally if you live in New Zealand. To think that medical care is more-or-less free in NZ is a myth.

I also had one short hospital experience in Australia a few years ago. To say it was a nightmare is a huge understatement. As I said at the time, if I have a serious issue and could die, then god help me, if I am in Australia.Give me Singapore or Thailand any day. I know of someone who died in an Australian hospital. While it can never be proved, in my mind, I am convinced that had she been in Singapore she would still be alive.

New Zealand 0. Thailand 1. (New Zealand health care is not free, and is more expensive than Thailand).

 

Expat Society

I don’t see the relevance of the points you make. It is up to you to mix with the right people. While what you say is correct, you sure can get into the wrong circles in Australia or NZ too. It does not matter where you live, you need to mix in the right circles. Personally, I have never had these problems. But that is true of every one of the 4 countries I have lived in (1 of which is Thailand).

New Zealand and Thailand 0. (It is not about the country, it is about you and the company you keep).

 

Visas

Agreed, they are a pain. But are they anymore painful than the Visa’s my wife needs for Australia, New Zealand, and Europe? Don’t really think so. Basically when you need VISA’s for any country it is a pain. It was not long ago there were stories floating around about NZ Immigration taking excessive periods of time to approve visas and people were loosing accommodation and flight costs due to not getting approvals on time. Thailand may be a bit of a pain, but I have not heard of these problems. So is Thailand really any worse? And from my own experience, I have more confidence that I could stay in Thailand for the next 20 years in retirement, than I have of being able to stay in Singapore.

New Zealand and Thailand 0. (They are as bad as each other).

 

Cost of Living

If you are looking for somewhere cheap, than Thailand is probably not where you should be. That Thailand is cheap, is a myth, similar to the free NZ healthcare. Some things certainly are cheaper, and others are not. It is plus/minus. We actually spend a lot more in Thailand than New Zealand, simply because there are so many more options on what to do in Thailand, and New Zealand is so limited in what you can do. So yes, if you really want to live cheap, find a country town in NZ, put up with cold, bullshit, and you can save your money while sitting on the endless hospital waiting list. Cheap. But not my idea of retirement!

New Zealand 1. Thailand 0. (New Zealand is probably somewhere where you will spend less).

 

Conclusion

In my twilight years, I mostly want to avoid bullshit and live an easy life. Avoiding bullshit is probably impossible to achieve fully anywhere. But I know I will have way less bullshit to deal with in Thailand compared to New Zealand. What I see in New Zealand completely horrifies me. And my stress levels in the last few weeks is not about Thailand – it is dealing with bullshit in New Zealand.

Of course there are alternatives to Thailand – especially for those coming from America or Europe, but for those of us in this part of the world, I think Thailand stacks up very well compared to the alternatives. I know of a few people who have returned to New Zealand to live (not all coming from Asia though). And I really struggle and scratch my head and wonder why?

New Zealand 0, Thailand 2. (Sum of scores above, makes Thailand somewhat better than NZ).

Stick‘s thoughts:

Obviously I have already said my piece on retiring in Thailand and think New Zealand is a better option, by far. But to address some of the points you make, I have made some comments:

  • I get it that some don’t like a cold winter – I absolutely get that and if it’s the case, then New Zealand would not be a good choice of place to retire. That said, it’s currently winter here in New Zealand and checking the local meteorological website, I see that the hottest day so far this month here was 19 degrees Celsius with the lowest daily high 13. Most days have had a daily high of 15 degrees or warmer (and remember, this is winter). The coldest recorded overnight low so far has been 3 degrees. Cold, but when you’re sleeping in a warm house and you wake up to temps warmer much than that, it’s not a big deal – at least it isn’t to me. And remember here, unlike Thailand, we have clean air year-round, zero concerns with pollution and in my part of NZ, some of the highest sunshine hours in the country. There’s none of the dangerous levels of pollution that you get in Thailand from November through to May i.e. for half of the year! That’s why overall I think the weather here is not just better, but much better. But if you like hot, super hot and muggy humid weather with air you can taste, Thailand wins hands down.
  • The BS in Thailand gets to me these days. In the past, when I was younger and more adventurous, it didn’t bother me so much….but as I get older I am much less tolerant of it. New Zealand is the most BS-free country I know and it’s something I like a lot about living here. Thailand, I am afraid, is at the very other end of the scale.
  • Granted, a tourist visa for Thailand will be issued much faster than a tourist visa for New Zealand. However, we’re talking retirement here, not a holiday so I don’t think there’s much relevance in talking about a visa for a holiday. It would be better to talk about visas for a long or permanent stay and in that respect New Zealand wins hand down. Permanent residency in Thailand costs 200,000 baht to apply for, requires 5+ years working in the country and the 70+ documents you must provide including many from your homeland. The application is so difficult to complete that pretty much everyone retains a lawyer – which increases the cost markedly. In New Zealand, permanent residency costs $210 (you do need to get a residence visa first which is a bit over $1,000) so let’s say a total of less than $NZ 1,500 or about 30,000 baht. It takes a few months to get residence granted in New Zealand, but a very, very long time for PR applications to be processed in Thailand. And in New Zealand, once you have a residence class visa (most people can get it within 2 years), medical care is paid for (note, I don’t say free because essentially your taxes cover it), you can vote, you can buy any property you like and you get all sorts of other benefits that a retiree in Thailand can only dream about!
  • Cost of living does come down to personal life choices and location and one could write a compelling case to show either country is cheaper or more expensive than the other. It’s all about personal choices. For me and the lifestyle I lead which I’d say is a typical Western lifestyle, New Zealand is cheaper. If you wanted to live in a quality property in Bangkok and compare it to a quality property in Auckland, I believe New Zealand would be cheaper, partly because properties in New Zealand are built to much higher standards. But certainly some things – like getting a repairman out – cost much more in New Zealand by a multiple of many times.
  • My thoughts on the people you hang out with are that New Zealand wins hands down. Kiwis are some of the nicest, most genuine people in the world – and I say that objectively. Expat society in Thailand, hmm, there are a lot of good people, but a lot of ratbags too. I don’t even think there’s a contest in this regard (and I imagine pretty much any Western country would come up trumps over Thailand).
  • Healthcare in New Zealand is world-class. Yes, if you are on the waiting list for a non-urgent operation, you might wait for some months. Anything urgent / critical to life and you will be seen to and treated immediately. This is no different to the public system in Thailand. And you might just be surprised when comparing private in NZ with private in Thailand. The best private hospitals in Thailand charge astronomical amounts these days! But really, this is all irrelevant because if you retire in New Zealand, it will be covered by your taxes whereas if one retires in Thailand YOU HAVE TO PAY! On the issue of the caravan, that has had a lot of press here and it’s a way to get surgeons to communities where people are less mobile and might not be able to make it to the centres where surgery is carried out. On the issue of healthcare, people seldom mention first responders. Have an accident in New Zealand and the first responders are medical professionals in a very well-equipped ambulance – your chances of survival are much greater than if you are picked up by a rescue crew in Bangkok and carted to hospital in the back of a pick up truck! Oh, and New Zealand has lots of helicopter ambulances too – and accident victims and those who have suffered a medical emergency in a remote area a long way from hospital are frequently airlifted to hospital so they can get expert treatment quickly. The areas where Thailand healthcare might be better is in terms of some specialties where simply by numbers (Thailand has 67 million people, New Zealand 4.5 million) some docs in Thailand might carry out procedures that no-one in New Zealand does. Medicine is cheaper in Thailand and many pharmaceuticals can be easily bought over the counter without a prescription and finally, the one which many Thai expats seem most concerned about: Thai nurses are definitely more attractive than their Kiwi sisters!

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