PattayaRetirementTravel Tips

Trapped retirees discover Thai break

gfjghjLike many savers, after the global downturn fried his nest egg, Derek Jones wearily resigned himself to putting off his retirement for at least five years.

In the event, instead of rising early to continue his job as a self-employed painter and decorator, his daily routine starts with an early morning stroll along Pattaya’s beachfront before a cooked breakfast in a local cafe.

‘The financial crisis was actually a blessing for me, although it didn’t look like it at the time,’ he says.

Retirees like Derek Jones represent a new segment of enquiries at real estate companies in Thailand – savers who switch their retirement venue in reaction to a slide in income but stumble onto a lifestyle way beyond their original aspirations.

For Cyrille Hareux of Company Vauban, many retirees whose savings suffered in the global financial meltdown could later regard the recent downturn as an opportunity – albeit in an especially convincing disguise.

‘If you choose your location and property with care, Thailand can provide the perfect retirement – with the lifestyle, the weather, the service and even the community life that people aspire to,’ he says.

From a legal perspective, Thailand welcomes foreign retirees in two routes, says Rene-Philippe Dubout, a lawyer specialised in real estate.

‘One option is to get a retirement visa, for which you need a regular income of at least 70,000 baht a month [about $2,000] or to show at least 800,000 baht [about $23,400] in a bank account,’ he says.

‘But there is now a new option of buying a property for at least 10 million baht [about $294,000].’

An outstanding destination for expats to leverage their savings into a luxury retirement is Pattaya, where the developer Terry Allen Collins claims they can pick up a premium lifestyle at a bargain price.

‘You can live the millionaire lifestyle, even if you are not a millionaire in your own country,’ he says.

‘It’s a lot more than just an affordable location. You also get the relaxed atmosphere and the incredible service along with modern healthcare facilities.’

The only proviso for new arrivals in the Land of Smiles is to remember that – while the climate and the courtesy may be unfamiliar – the fundamentals of business and human nature still apply.

‘When you arrive it does feel like you are in paradise – and that makes a lot of people lose their common sense,’ says Martin, a long-time resident in the resort town of Hua Hin.

‘Don’t do things you wouldn’t do in your home country. When it comes to important issues like buying property seek the same professional advice you’d look for if you were at home.’

Why retire in Thailand?

1. Upgrade your lifestyle. A moderate income will enable you to employ a maid or gardener and to enjoy a level of service only the extremely rich can find in the West.

2. Modern health care. Thailand’s hospitals provide world-class clinical excellence along with a standard of service that is practically unique.

3. Weather. You can certainly expect the occasional deluge in Thailand but most of the year offers plenty of sunshine and pleasant days.

4. Re-invent yourself. Moving to a new country is often the trigger for developing new interests and skills. Or even for starting your own business.

5. Safety. Crimes against expats are rare and most condominiums have guards to protect residents from theft.

6. Investment. Property in Thailand has consistently offered substantial gains in value without the periodic slumps that affect real estate in many other markets.

7. Respect. Thai culture accords a reverence to the elderly.

8. Community. Many Thai towns now host a community of expats, each with its own distinctive profile in terms of nationality and background. Astute retirees can pick their destination to ensure they like the neighbours.

9. Leisure. For activities like golf, swimming or fishing, Thailand is hard to beat.

10. An early escape from the daily grind. With the low cost living, you can leave the treadmill years before your colleagues saving for a retirement in the West.

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