What’s the best place to retire in Thailand?

In my opinion, Chiang Rai is the best place for retirement in Thailand.  Read my husband’s story here.  We have many expats living in Chiang Rai who previously lived in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin.  Why did they move to Chiang Rai?  They moved for various reasons; to escape heavy traffic, large crowds, air pollution, cost of living, scammers and crime.  All of these people say they prefer Chiang Rai and have no plan to ever move again.

Thailand Retirement or Marriage Visa Application

First it is important to understand that there are basically two types of non-immigrant visas, O and OA.

The best visa is the O.

O visas are issued in Thailand and OA visas are issued in your home country.

The first step for retirement in Thailand is to secure your Thailand non-immigrant-O visa, but to do this, you must arrive on a tourist visa.

We can help you with the paperwork and formalities of converting your tourist visa into a retirement visa or marriage visa.

Health insurance requirement: All long term visa applicants, if applying in your home country will be issued an O-A visa and from October 1, 2022, must show proof of USD$100,000.00 (3,000,000 baht) health insurance coverage which also covers you for COVID.  It would be best to arrive on a tourist visa then we can convert that to an O visa which does not require the insurance.  On an O visa, you can buy adequate health insurance for far less money or possibly continue with the insurance you already have, assuming it covers you globally.

Retirement Visa financial requirements: You can get a Thailand retirement visa if you can show proof at least 800,000 Baht ($25,600 USD) in a Thai bank account or an income or 65,000 Baht ($2,100 USD) per month.  This will require a letter from the manager of your bank.  This account must be in your name only

Marriage Visa financial requirements:If you can show proof at least 400,000 Baht ($12,800 USD) in a Thai bank account or an income of 40,000 Baht ($1,280 USD) per month you can apply for a marriage visa.  This will require a letter from the manager of your bank.  This account must be in your name only

If you use the income method as proof of funds, you must be able to demonstrate that the funds are from overseas and that they have been paid monthly directly to your Thai bank account.  This will require a letter from the manager of your bank.  For the Retirement Visa you can combine your income and bank account to qualify.

Arriving on a tourist visa

Converting a Thailand tourist visa to a Thailand Retirement or Marriage visa is a two step process

Step 1, Apply to Convert to a 90 Day non-immigrant-O visa. This step cannot be done in Chiang Rai city and requires 2 120 kilometer trips to Mae Sai.  First you file an application.

Step 2, Collect Your Visa. 21 business days later return to Mae Sai and have the 90 day visa stamped in your passport.

Step 3, Apply For Your First 12 month extension. This step, 60 days after getting your 90 day visa stamp or 30 days before its expiry, is to apply for your first 12 month extension.  This part can be done in Chiang Rai city.  At this time you will again need to show the sum of 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank account but this time the money must be in your bank for a period of not less than 2 months.  Application fee for the immigration office is 2000 baht.

Retirement: At this time, for a retirement extension you will need to show the sum of 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank account but this time the money must be in your bank for a period of not less than 2 months before your visa application.

After applying for your visa, the 800,000 Baht must remain in your account for 90 days and must never fall below 400,000.  For subsequent renewals the sum of 800,000 Baht must be in a your bank account for a period of not less than 3 months before your visa application.

Marriage: At this time, you will again need to show the sum of 400,000 Baht in a Thai bank account but this money must be in your bank for a period of not less than 2 months.  

Arriving on a 90 day Non-Immigrant-OA visa

Retirement: If you arrive on a 90 day Non-Immigrant-O-A visa (which we do not recommend), 30-45 days before it expires, you will need to apply for your first 12 month extension.

You will need to show the sum of 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account for a period of not less than 2 months.  And, you must show proof of the health insurance described above.

You should open your bank account and transfer the required funds as soon as you arrive in Thailand.  For subsequent visas the deposit term is 3 months before and after the application and must never go below 400,000 Baht.

Marriage: If you arrive on a 90 day Non-Immigrant-O-A visa (which we do not recommend), 30-45 days before it expires, you will need to apply for your first 12 month extension.

You will need to show the sum of 400,000 baht in a Thai bank account for a period of not less than 2 months.  And, you must show proof of the health insurance described above.

You should open your bank account and transfer the required funds as soon as you arrive in Thailand.  For subsequent visas the deposit term is 3 months before and after the application.

Click here for more information on Thailand retirement.
Reminders To Thailand Visa Holders:

90-day Reporting

All long-stay visa holders are required to notify the Immigration Office regarding their current residential address every 90 days. This can be done either by mail, on-line or by a short personal visit to the immigration office. You may also enlist the services of an agent to do this on your behalf.

If the retiree is not in the country when the report is due, the counting for the 90-days will start again upon re-entry to Thailand.

Working
On a Thailand retirement visa you are not allowed to do any work not even voluntary.  To work in Thailand you need a Business Visa to get a work permit.  However, you can get a work permit if you hold a marriage visa

Re-entry Permit
If you plan to travel out of Thailand more than 3 times during the year of your visa validity, you should apply for a multiple re-entry permit after your visa is issued.

If you plan to travel out of Thailand less than 3 times during the year of your visa validity you should apply for a single entry visa, it if you decide to make a trip out of the country and return, you will need to apply for a re-entry permit before you leave each time.  Failing to do this will result in your visa being cancelled.

Bank Account
The long-stay visas are valid for a year and can be renewed by presenting the same requirements as the initial application. Please note that the required amount of funds in your bank account must be at least 3 months old.  Also, remember that for the retirement visa the funds must remain in your bank account for at least 90 days and must never go below 400,000 Baht.  If you choose to use the income method, you must be able to show regular monthly deposits equaling, or greater than,  65,000 for retirement or 40,000 for marriage, in a Thai bank for a period of 12 months.

Importation of Household Effects
Please note that according to the Bureau of Customs, though some say they can, retirees cannot import their personal effects to Thailand duty free.  Besides, it is likely cheaper to buy new here than it is to ship everything, especially after customs add their fees.

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