With the cost of living in Australia at its highest point in history, there have been increasing numbers of Australians retiring in Thailand.  Cost of living is also expected to be double the rate it is today by the time 2030 comes knocking around. This is why many Australians have been looking for a better way to spend their retirement years.One place that has become very popular amongst Australian wanting to retire overseas to reduce costs happens to be Thailand. The country has a low cost of living, it is easy to buy or rent an apartment, and overall your money goes a hell of a lot further, plus you are allowed to claim your Australian pension while retiring in Thailand.Below we will look into VISA requirements and any issues you may come up against while applying for your VISA, things to consider when claiming your pension from Australia, how much you should budget for when moving to Thailand, where to live, and the kind of lifestyles you can choose from depending on the area you move to.

Visa Issues For Australians Retiring in Thailand

You should not encounter too many problems obtaining a retirement VISA as an Australian in Thailand as long as you meet the requirements asked of you.

Application for a retirement VISA can be made at 50 years or over, which is a plus if you already have a pension or income.  However, if you are waiting for your Australian Aged pension, you may have to wait until you are 65 before you apply, which is soon to become 67.  If you enter of a tourist visa, this can be converted to a 90 day Non Immigrant O visa and 60 days later you can apply for your 12 month retirement extension.  Retire In Thailand can help you with this.

Financial Requirements (As of 2018)

Security deposit of THB 800,000 (AUD$35,000) in a Thai Bank

Leaving the Country or Checking in Every 90 Days:

One downside to having a retirement VISA is that every 90 days you will need to travel to your nearest immigration bureau to check in. Not a big deal in Chiang Rai as it is in the city.  You can also leave the country and upon re-entry, you will be stamped in. This will also count as checking in. Each day you do not check in, you will be liable to pay a 200 baht fine and stand the risk of having the VISA revoked.

Re-Entry Permit

Should you plan to leave the country while your retirement VISA is still valid, you will need a re-entry permit.  There are two ways of getting a re-entry permit.  One is to get a single-entry visa for 2,000 Baht and if you wish to leave the country, apply for a re-entry permit which costs 1,000 baht per time.  The other to apply for is a multi-entry visa at a cost of 6,000 Baht which allows you to come and go as often as you wish.  The difference in cost between a single or multi entry visa is 4000 Baht, so obviously if you plan to leave the country more than 3 times each year it makes sense to pay for a multi-entry visa.

If you don’t have the re-entry permit and leave, then your VISA will automatically expire. This comes as a nasty shock for those that re-enter only to find that because they did not have a re-entry permit, they are given a 30-day VISA exemption stamp then you must re-apply for a new 90 day Non Immigrant O visa and 60 days later re-apply for your 12 month retirement extension.

Renewing your Retirement VISA Every Year

Retirement VISAs in Thailand are only valid for 1 year. At the end of the year, you will need renew the VISA with a local immigration bureau.  This is not a big issue and is something you will be able to do yourself once you know the process that we will teach you.

Make Sure You Have An Address and Proof of Rent or Ownership

Despite this not being made obvious, there have been a few cases whereby applicants have been turned down for not being able to prove their address.

To solve this, all you need is your rental agreement, or house ownership papers. If you are living with someone, then you will need a few additional documents. The owner will need to write a letter confirming you live there, show proof of ownership, or proof of rental agreement.

This is not always an issue, and it entirely depends on the immigration office you visit. However, be prepared because there are times that additional documentation request of you may not be mentioned on the immigration website or on the forms handed out in the immigration bureau itself.

Employment is Prohibited

Once you have your retirement VISA, you will not be able to work in any job in Thailand, this includes volunteer work. If you do happen to gain employment while in the Kingdom, you will need to apply to change your VISA for a Non-Immigrant B work VISA or another work VISA that applies to the job you plan to carry out. This includes working for free or for a charity!

Claiming Your Australian Pension When Living in Thailand

There are now estimated to be thousands of Australians retiring in Thailand.  Some live here just for a few months a year, others for the majority of the year, while there are also plenty of Australians living in Thailand on a full-time basis.

Most Australians retiring in Thailand have a combination of their Aged Pension and a private pension saved while working. However, if you also have an income that is business related or rental income in Australia, then make sure you check where you stand in regards to taxes.

Where in Thailand to Retire

Deciding where to live in Thailand is ultimately down to many different factors. There are four main styles of living. You can choose to retire in the city, by the beach, in a village in the countryside, or in a town. Combinations of these options can be achieved.

Thailand has multiple options such as cities on the beach, villages in a countryside area near the beach, towns on the beach or in the countryside, and so on. You will need to do your research because different areas will come with a different cost of living.

For example, if you live in a tourist area, expect to pay higher rental rates, restaurants will be pricier than non-tourist areas, and worst still transportation in tourist areas is generally 400% higher than you would pay in a non-tourist area. The latter being if you don’t plan to buy or rent a car.

Renting or Buying a Property

Many people have made the mistake of buying a property before actually living in the area. You should always plan to rent for at least the first year you move to Thailand. This applies to those that have stayed in the same area on holiday many times before. Unless you have lived in the area for any length of time, you will not know about the many surprises Thailand can spring on you.

Flash floods, noisy neighbours, unexpected wildlife infestations, motorbike gangs, unscrupulous local police officers, and other problems can sometimes only begin to reveal themselves once you have lived in the area for a good amount of time.

Another consideration before buying is that the Thai property market is very different.  Thais consider a house that is not new as second hand and expect it to sell for less.

Rent is in general very cheap in Thailand, and much cheaper compared to Australia. Expect to quadruple the size of your living space when you move to Thailand. You may also usually have access to an array of amenities such as swimming pool, gymnasium, spa, sauna, tennis courts, work spaces, business function rooms, and more.

All you will need is a 2-month security deposit and 1-month rent in advance for an exchange of contract to be agreed. For some houses, you will need a 3-month security deposit and 1- month rent in advance.

  • Pros and Cons of Buying a Property In Thailand

If you decide to buy a place, then make sure you get a decent and very trustworthy lawyer. As a foreigner, you are not allowed to own land. That means you will need to buy a place that is owned by a management company, and even though the management company will have their documents translated into English from Thai, get your lawyer to translate the official documents again.

You are allowed to own an apartment  or condo 100% in your name as long as 51% of the apartments or condos in the complex are owned by Thais. If you insist on owning a house, then you will need to buy a house in what is known as a ‘Moo Baan’, which means community or village.

Much like apartments, 51% of the houses in the community must be owned by Thais at the time you make the purchase.

One of the huge downsides to this type of deal is that you are buying a leasehold property on land that you do not own. You should make sure that you have checked the terms of the leasehold thoroughly before committing to making a purchase.  Don’t worry we can refer you to a good English speaking lawyer who will make sure all is good.

Also, you will need to pay a monthly or yearly community village fee. This is so the management company can pay for street lighting, rubbish collection, gardeners around the community, security guards, and any communal facilities such as swimming pools or gymnasiums.

The upside to buying a house is that in general houses are dirt cheap!  I have just built a 2 story, 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house with a living and dining room for AUD$174,000.00.  This house is in a gated community and my fees are AUD$53.00 per month.  Had I bought land and built, it would have cost about AUD$130,000.00 with no monthly fees.