Southeast Asia is now one of the most popular destinations for retirees looking to expand their horizons whilst benefiting from a relatively low cost of living.
The two favorites, Northern Thailand and Vietnam, both offer the year-round warm to hot weather Britons can only dream of, and American snowbirds find the solution to long, dark winter days in their home country as well as an established expat community to enjoy.
Both countries provide a comfortable lifestyle as well as a good choice of food and activities to suit older expats. It has to be said that Thailand is more expensive as regards day-to-day living, the cost of accommodation and the cost of visas than is Vietnam, with inflation now a problem for expats on less than generous fixed pensions as well as locals.
A mass influx of Chinese in both countries in the popular areas is one reason, as vendors, shop owners and real estate agents are upping their prices in order to take advantage of the new market.
Both destinations offer inexpensive utilities, although electricity in Thailand can be a budget killer if you’re addicted to 24/7 aircon, and Internet services in both are affordable but often very slow outside the major conurbations. Vietnam wins hands down as regards the cost and healthiness of its cuisine, with the average shopping basket costing 15 per cent more in Thailand.
Western foods in particular fetch ridiculously high prices due to Thailand’s excessive import duties. If imported beers and wines are part of life’s rich pleasures, Vietnam’s offerings are cheaper by over 50 per cent.
Good quality healthcare is available in Thailand, but at very high prices which seem to increase further every few months. Yes, they’re less than in fully developed countries, but so are standards as well as the use of English. Vietnam’s cities come with high quality healthcare at less than extortionate prices, but outside the cities there are shortages of equipment and medications. For first-class healthcare on the cheap, a flight to India is recommended.
The sensitive subject of scams, rip-offs and shameless overcharging of expats is fully explored in online forums but, basically, it’s more likely in Thailand than in Vietnam due to the fact that Thailand’s been a major tourist destination for several decades.
Some websites state English is spoken widely in Thailand but, sadly, this is a rumour rather than a fact, as English language tuition in Thai schools is poor at best and useless at worst.
As regards visas, Thailand’s retirement visa demands 800,000 baht per person is kept in a Thai bank account for three months before a visa is given or renewed and holders must report to immigration every 90 days. It should also be noted that immigration laws have become tougher since the military junta took over four years ago. Vietnam doesn’t have a retirement or long-stay visa as such, but the rules are less strict and can be tailored to requirements.
Why Retire in Northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai?
If you have decided to retire in Thailand, you would do yourself an injustice if you did not consider Chiang Rai. Our newest shopping center, Central Plaza, has just about everything you would find in your local mall.
Chiang Rai is the northernmost large city in Thailand. Chiang Rai is a beautiful and comfortable place to retire. If you are a nature lover and want a quiet, laid back retirement without traffic jams and the heat of the south Chiang Rai is the place for you.
Chiang Rai is considered to be the coolest city in the country. The average temperature is around 28 degrees Celsius during spring and it might go up to 35 degrees in summer then drops to 20 degrees in winter. More often than not, it rains for only about an hour and usually in the afternoon in rainy season. If you prefer cooler weather, Chiang Rai is the best choice. But if you like hot weather, Chiang Rai also has that for you in summer from April to August. On average Chiang Rai is 5-10 degrees cooler than the southern cities and we actually enjoy four seasons.
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The cost of living in Chiang Rai is cheaper than anywhere else in Thailand. It has been reported that Thailand is one of the cheapest countries to live in, therefore Chiang Rai must be one of the cheapest cities. There is also a close knit expat community and the local people are friendly.