Thailand is an excellent country to live and retire in, you can live a comfortable lifestyle for a fraction of the cost of living in most western countries. You also get warm weather all year and amazing food, and exotic locations, what's not to like? Though Thailand is considered to be an exotic destination, it still provides you as much comfort and conveniences as western countries. We Thai people are also nice and welcoming, as you can experience by watching more of our videos in our Baan Smile channel. Now let's start exploring the best cities to retire in Thailand so that you could find out which city best suits your lifestyle needs.
Chiang Mai is located in the northern part of Thailand, it is one of the best cities you can retire in Thailand. It is very popular for people who look for a calm and slower-paced life and want a milder climate as it is much cooler than cities such as Bangkok due to its location.
Chiang Mai is also home to hundreds of buddhist temples for you to visit and explore. This combined with the mountainous setting will give you a really unique feel as compared to Bangkok or Phuket for example. The landscape is also one of the most beautiful in Thailand. The Doi Inthanon mountain range is magnificent and has the highest peak in Thailand.
Do not be fooled though, even though life is slower paced and more relaxing there, you will still have plenty of access to all the modern conveniences and comforts. Chiang Mai still offers plenty of nightlife, if you're into that, maybe just not as much as Bangkok or Phuket.
Chiang Mai is also one of the most affordable cities to retire in Thailand, as many single expats are able to live comfortably for as little as $1,100 per month. Overall, Chiang Mai is an excellent place for you to retire if you want a calmer life and beautiful scenery and is one of the top choices for foreign retirees.
As you guys probably know, Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand, and is located in the center of Thailand. As a huge cosmopolitan city, Bangkok offers everything such as luxury hotels, massive shopping malls, temples and landmarks as well as an extensive public transportation network.
Being a big capital city, Bangkok has the most and the best facilities like the best hospitals in the country, some of the best restaurants and bars, and a the most diverse group of people. It also has the most foreigner population anywhere in Thailand, which is good for people who are more social.
Most people prefer to live in the heart of the city such as Sukhumvit road because it has the best public transport system such as the BTS sky train which makes it easy to get around, and it also has the best restaurants, bars and nightspots. Life will definitely not be slow in Bangkok as it is very fast-paced. Those who want more breathing room but still want access to the city can live in the suburbs such as Bang Na which is located around 30km from the center of the city.
Now you must be thinking that Bangkok is an expensive city to live in, well you can't be more wrong. Bangkok is extremely affordable and is actually one of the most affordable cities to live in Thailand, on par with Chiang Mai. You can get a bowl of noodles for $2 at street food shops in the city center while enjoying the view of the skyscrapers.Two bedroom apartments next to the chaophraya river costs just under $800 a month and it is even cheaper now due to the pandemic.
If you want a fast paced city life or want access to the best facilities and hospitals while not breaking the bank then Bangkok is the perfect choice for you. It has everything you can imagine a world-class city to have and more while being affordable at the same time, which is very hard to find.
Located at the Andaman ocean, Phuket is a tropical paradise with many white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water. However, it still has all modern living amenities and is one of Thailand’s most populous cities. There are many fantastic beaches, the most famous ones being Patong, Karon and Kata beach.
Even though Phuket is a beach town, there is everything you would ever need, including international restaurants so you could get a taste of home anywhere. There are countless bars and plenty of nightlife as well if that's your thing. Some beaches offer you as much nightlife and parties as you'll ever need, while the next day you could go to a beautiful quiet beach to relax with no one to disturb you. It really has it all.
If you retire in Phuket, it could feel like you're on a holiday everyday. Other benefits of Phuket for retirees is that you can still enjoy a modern lifestyle just like you had in the west, even though you're in a tropical environment . It also allows you to have a feeling of a city life if you want it as well as a relaxing beach life.
One disadvantage is that the living cost is a little bit higher in Phuket and food generally costs a little more as it is a tourist paradise. The public transport system is also almost non-existent so it is recommended to own a car to get around the city.
Either way, Phuket is the best city to retire in if you want to live on the beach while still having access to modern facilities. It also has an International Airport with plenty of direct flights to foreign countries so do not have to rely on stopping over in Bangkok often.
Koh Samui is another fantastic place to retire you’re looking to retire on an island that is more laid-back and slower-paced than Phuket while still offering some of the modern comforts. Samui used to be a backpacker island with minimal infrastructure and amenities but that is no longer true. Anyone can retire here now without sacrificing too much comfort and facilities.
There are plenty of comforts such as international restaurants, shopping malls etc. Quality healthcare is still available on the island and a basic visit to a doctor costs only around $20, which is very affordable considering its location.
There's also plenty of things to keep you busy such as yoga, salsa dancing or enjoying the nightlife on top of island activities such as snorkelling and diving. The seafood there is also one of the freshest in Thailand and is relatively affordable as compared to foreign countries.
The biggest difference between Phuket and Samui is that Samui offers a more relaxing environment but you can also get some comfort if you live near the main beaches such as Chawaeng and BoPhut. It is also just an hour and a half away by air from Bangkok.
A drawback of Samui could be accessibility due to limited flights, especially from international destinations, but that could also be an advantage if that's what you are looking for. Overall, it's one of the best places in Thailand to retire at. If you do not mind having less accessibility and want a more quiet and secluded life, then it could be better than Phuket.
Hua Hin is a coastal town that is 3 hrs drive away from Bangkok. It is very popular for people in Bangkok to go there during the weekends to take a break and enjoy the sea breeze. It is more unusual for expats to retire here as compared to other cities that we have mentioned, however that does not mean that it is not a good place to retire.
There are plenty of western restaurants and bars as well as shopping malls available. It is more like a city that is next to the sea rather than a town. It also has some of Thailand’s best golf courses, so if you love to play golf, then you will definitely love Hua Hin. The beaches might not be as crystal clear as Phuket or Samui but you get a city feel, and you could easily drive into Bangkok whenever you feel like it. There are also plenty of expats, especially from Europe retiring or living in Hua Hin because of its more laid back atmosphere as compared to Pattaya and Bangkok.
Another advantage is that there are not many tourists in Hua Hin as compared to Phuket or Bangkok, which gives off a different vibe and there are no tourist traps that you can fall into. Every modern amenity or facilities that you will even need is available in Hua Hin and a world class hospital as well.
Just like most places in Thailand, Hua Hin is very affordable to live and retire in and in some cases you can also live on a budget of $1,100 a month, which is on par with Bangkok.
If you want to live in a place that has a small town feel and a relaxing atmosphere and still offers modern facilities and plenty of activities then Hua Hin should definitely be considered, if you miss the big city feel, you can always drive to Bangkok, unlike Phuket and Samui.
Pattaya is one of the most popular cities to retire in Thailand. It is only a 2 hour drive to Bangkok and 1 hour and a half away from Bangkok’s international airport, giving you access to flights to almost any country you want to travel to. It offers a full on city living experience while still giving a tropical beach vibe. It is the perfect middle ground for someone who wants to live in a City, but still be able to relax and enjoy the beach.
There is nothing that you cannot find in Pattaya, it is also famous for its nightlife, so if that's your thing, you will definitely enjoy Pattaya as it is definitely on par with Bangkok. There are plenty of street side shops, huge malls and whatever cuisine you fancy. If you want access to a cleaner beach then you could always go to one of the islands such as Koh Larn, which is only a 30-minute boat ride away.
There is also a huge expat community and is extremely popular with Europeans, amny expats choose to retire in Pattaya because it's a full on city next to the sea. There are a lot of condos available for rent in Pattaya for all lifestyles. It is also just as affordable as Bangkok, if not even more as rent is extremely competetive.
If you have a tight budget for retiring, then Pattaya is definitely for you and you will definitely enjoy living there, you should definitely be able to live there for less than $1,100 per month if you wanted to. However, if you want to live in a secluded and easy going place, then Pattaya is definitely not for you. You should consider Hua Hin, Phuket or Samui instead.