Are you thinking of moving to Thailand or retiring in an exotic location, but you’re uncertain about where to settle?
Perhaps you’re concerned that your pension is not enough to live comfortably on in your own country. Or you feel that now is the time to take advantage of your extra time, and you’re ready to explore more interesting and exotic places.
Whether you are retiring as a couple, or you are on your own in search of a beautiful, younger companion, Chiang Mai in Thailand has it all.
Like all countries in the world Thailand has its good qualities as well as bad. With that said, here are the 7 Top Reasons why Chiang Mai, Thailand, is the best place to retire.
1. Great Lifestyle
If you are keen on a retirement filled with the outdoors, as well as a relaxed way of living (or the ‘slow life’) then Chiang Mai is the place for you.
Located on the mountainous north of Thailand your days could be filled with kayaking, white water rafting, mountain climbing, jungle treks, meandering bicycle rides through villages and mountain trails, to name a few.
If you are the type of person who thrives off arts and crafts, nowhere else in Thailand (possibly Asia) can they boast of so many factories and entire villages dedicated to arts. You can visit workshops where you can learn about the production of silk or silver, and purchase memorable, hand-crafted souvenirs, like the Baan Tawai wood carvers’ enclave, and the Bor Sang umbrella-making village.
b. Big City
On top of this, Chiang Mai also offers big city attractions and diversions, like fine restaurants, shopping centres and entertainment.
If you’re looking for things to do in Chiang Mai, there are a host of forums to find what you’re looking for.
- Chiang Mai Events – If it’s happening in Chiang Mai, it’s on this Facebook page.
- What, Where, When Chiang Mai – A Facebook page for everyone: event organisers, promoters, bar owners, club owners. Feel free to add people to the group. The more people on here, the more we’ll know what’s happening in and around Chiang Mai.
Plus, there is a large expat community in Chiang Mai. Approximately 40,000 expats live in and around Chiang Mai, so you will find your tribe and community with relative ease. honest and sweet.
- Lana Cricket has used the Gymkhana sports grounds for over 50 years, providing a wide variety of tennis, golf, cricket and other sporting and social events.
- The Chiang Mai Expat Club, perhaps the best of all of the communities, holds a variety of scheduled events and activities. The Expat Club Membership is a once off 1000 baht membership fee (US$32) and is a great resource for businesses that specialise in the Expat and Retired person. It’s also a great place to pick up tips and tricks from those who have been here a few years.
More than anything, you might find your budget can go a lot further, and you can afford to live a lifestyle in Chiang Mai that might be inaccessible in your home country.
2. Gorgeous Countryside
Chiang Mai is extremely beautiful. Sure, there are some buildings and areas in the city that are an eyesore, and the phone and data wires strung from pole to pole take a day or two to get used to, but step away from the touristy areas, and you step into paradise. Natural beauty assails you from every direction. From misty mountains to raw, rapid rivers, Thailand is no stranger to natural beauty.
3. Great Climate
Tired of those cold and snowy winters back home? Do your joints ache just thinking about another miserable winter? Chiang Mai’s average temperature is just below 30 degrees Celsius. Nothing bone-aching about that! Plus, thanks to a strong belief in air conditioning, the hotter days are more than bearable.
a. Perfect Season
From November to February the weather in Chiang Mai is perfect. Clear blue skies with 30°C temperatures and low humidity during the day and lower temperatures at night.
b) Hot Season
Around March the temperature starts to get hotter, but Chiang Mai’s proximity to the mountains ensures it’s always a few degrees C lower than anywhere else in Thailand and most places in Asia. This attracts a lot of Thai tourists escaping the heat from Bangkok and elsewhere to Chiang Mai.
c) Rainy Season
The rainy season starts around May and sometimes goes until October. The rain usually buckets down once or twice a day for 30-60 minutes. You will have about 30 minutes warning as the dark clouds roll in and the wind picks up 10 minutes before it starts.
4. Cost of Living
Thailand, like most of Southeast Asia, has an incredibly low cost of living. The Nomad List, which compares the cost of living and quality of life of cities around the world, ranks Chiang Mai as one of the most affordable places to be live. This will vary depending on your lifestyle and where you choose to settle down.
You can easily find a long term place to stay for just a couple hundred dollars a month, which is a mere fraction of what it would cost in the West. Combined with the overall cheap cost of food and you can live comfortably in Chiang Mai for very little.
Buying a condo could cost $25k – $50k, but you can quite comfortably rent a condo for 30 years for less.
Building in Thailand is quick and easy, compared to more strict and regulated Western countries. You could buy your own piece of land in the countryside and build your dream home for a fraction of what you would pay back home. The one downside is that a non Thai cannot own the land a property is on. You could, however, enter into a 60 year lease agreement which provides similar rights as ownership. For this reason many couples buy condos (you can own these 100%), or wait until they marry a local before purchasing a house or land.
A smart idea would be to first visit an area you’re interested in living in, and chat to the expat community there about challenges and tips they have. John, an expat from South Africa, has lived in Chiang Mai for years with his girlfriend Nim. They bought a mango grove deep in the countryside and transformed it into the tranquil Baanpong Lodge, building it from the ground up. He often helps expats with contacts, advice and common Thai sense. His best advice is, ‘Stay in the area you’re interested in for a month or two before you decide.’ Buy him a beer at the poolside bar and ask him what you want to know.
Motorbike rental is around $90-100 per month for a 125cc bike large enough and with enough power for the western frame.
If you want to use public transport it is easily affordable. You can hop on the red trucks (songthaew) for just 20 baht, a Tuk Tuk will cost you between 60-100 for a five kilometer trip. Hiring cars for day trips is around 800-1200 baht. In addition, if you fancy a trip to the beach, the high frequency of special offers for flights within Thailand mean you could fly for just $15 per flight (although usually $60-100). Uber is another way to get around Chiang Mai.
Food in a Thai restaurant starts at 35 baht and seldom goes past 105 baht (US $1 – $3). Street food is even more affordable, and – once you get over the hesitation of buying from a street vendor – the cost and convenience of street food will keep you coming back for more. Plus, the food tastes great! Western food usually costs more, but is still much cheaper than is typical in your home country. Although you will generally find eating out is cheaper than cooking food yourself at home.
4. Incredible Food
For most people in the world, Thai food is incredible. Living in Thailand you will have access to practically every Thai dish under the sun within a short drive from your home.
a. Western Food
If you’re concerned that you might not enjoy Thai food morning, noon and night, there are so many foreign restaurants, especially around the major expat areas, that you can have your pick of menus. If you’re in the countryside Baanpong Lodge has a Thai and Western restaurant, and their food is delicious, and affordable.
b. Street Food
For around $1 a meal you can eat well known Thai dishes like pad Thai and green curry, and Chiang Mai’s local specialty Khao Soi, from any street stall or market.
c. Cooking Schools
This is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of Thai food. Most schools start in a local market, teaching you how to shop for your own food and what ingredients to look out for. Most cooking schools cost around $30 for a half to full day where you can take your pick of which traditional dishes you’d like to prepare.
6. Genuinely Friendly People
Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles (LOS), so this might not be new information to you. However, as most expats will tell you, not everyone is smiling and happy all of the time. They are humans after all! But, without a doubt, the wide majority of Thai people are sincere, kind and friendly. One of the greatest things about Chiang Mai is that you do not have to always be on guard that your wallet is about to be taken advantage of.
The people in Chiang Mai have traditional and high values, and Chiang Mai is not what you might expect from Thailand. Yes, this is Thailand, and there are parts of the city you can go to if you are feeling ‘lonely’ – but for the most part the people who stay in Chiang Mai have higher morals and codes of behaviors from other Asian regions. However, it is common for a man to have a much younger Thai partner, where both parties share a mutual understanding of what makes the relationship work for them. Thai women see their man as the highest and greatest focus of their attention. You will not find a more devoted partner.
7. Affordable Health Care
One of the great things about Thailand is how affordable their medical treatment is. Thailand is well known as a medical vacation location, because the medical treatment is first rate at a fraction of the cost of where you are living now. Medical and dental treatment is affordable, as is cosmetic surgery. In fact everything is affordable, including the health insurance for living here full time.
A dental clean is about 600 baht, x-rays only 800 baht, ($17-22), a visit to a doctor for medical checkups are around 200 baht ($7) and medical certificates for the various documentations you will need are 50-100 baht ($3). Insurance of around 20,000 baht per year will get you a premium health insurance policy with Bupa Blue Cross. The cost of hospitalisation for a private ward would start around 2,000 baht per day.
However, if you are not in good health, and you are of the age that entitles you to free healthcare, assisted living, free bus rides, etc, in your home country, it might be better to stay in a country that offers these perks, than to retire in Chiang Mai.
Thailand is unmatched as an ideal retirement location for expats coming from all parts of the world.