Best Places To Retire In Thailand: Top Destinations For A Happy Retirement

If you're looking for a low cost retirement to paradise, Thailand fits the bill. Check out some of the countries best retirement destinations.

Allow yourself to imagine a life of golden sunsets, emerald landscapes, and a retirement most dare not even dream of.

Yes, the beguiling land of Thailand beckons retirees in search of a life less ordinary.

Thanks to its low cost of living, beautiful beaches, turquoise ocean, and lush green forests. Thailand has become a trendy retirement destination for expats worldwide.

Health is wealth, and Thailand’s top-tier medical facilities cater to your needs.

All this while your retirement nest egg stretches out lazily, providing a life of luxury that feels more like an indulgent splurge than a carefully managed budget.

With so many options, deciding where to settle down can be challenging. In this article, we’ll explore the crème de la crème of retirement destinations in Thailand.

Let’s find that special corner of paradise that’s waiting just for you!

Phuket: the tropical paradise

If you dream of retiring to a tropical paradise in Thailand, Phuket is a great option.

A paved path along the sea in Phuket, Thailand
Phuket, one of the most popular expat destinations in Thailand

This beautiful island is known for its stunning beaches, emerald blue waters, limestone karsts, and scenic viewpoints.

Phuket has a large expat retiree community, making connecting and building new friendships easy.

Cost of living: Phuket

Phuket’s cost of living is relatively affordable compared to other popular retirement destinations worldwide.

The cost of living in Phuket is around 11% lower than in Bangkok, making it an attractive option for retirees.

Expense Cost (USD)
Rent (1 bed apartment) $355-$550
Rent (3 bed apartment) $1000-$1500
Monthly Cost (no rent / 1 person) $600
Monthly Cost (no rent / family of 4) $2100
Dining Out (2 people) $30-$35
*Data updated: July 2023


Phuket has a robust healthcare system with some of the best facilities in the north Andaman coast region.

The two leading private hospitals are Phuket International Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Phuket. Both hospitals offer a full range of healthcare services, including emergency services.

The hospitals are well-equipped and staffed by highly qualified medical professionals, many fluent in English.

The cost of healthcare in Phuket is significantly lower than in Western countries, making it an affordable option for retirees. The hospitals also provide a comprehensive range of health and medical tourism services.


Phuket offers retirees a relaxed and laid-back lifestyle, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the island’s natural beauty.

Being relaxed and laid back doesn’t have to mean a boring retirement.

The island’s urban areas, like Patong, offer vibrant nightlife and a plethora of dining and shopping experiences. There are also plenty of outdoor activities, such as hiking, swimming, and snorkeling.

The cost of living is low compared to most Western countries, making it financially appealing to retirees.

The expat community is very engaged, providing a supportive network and companionship. Day-to-day living, shopping for groceries, meeting up with friends, and finding things to do are all relatively easy for new retirees.

If you prefer tranquility, places like Rawai or Mai Khao offer quieter living with equally stunning vistas. Phuket’s public transport system isn’t perfect, but it is improving.

Buying a car or motorbike can be helpful if you want to enjoy the additional freedom of having your own transport.

Overall, Phuket offers a balance of modern comfort and idyllic island living for retirees.

Hua Hin: the beach haven

If you are looking for a retirement destination with an incredible beach that’s fit for a King, Hua Hin may be your perfect destination.

A busy tourist street in Hua Hin: restaurants and cafes along a street
Hua Hin

Hua Hin is just over a 3-hour drive (200 km / 125 miles) south of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand.

It’s the home of the King of Thailand’s summer palace and also a very popular destination for Thai tourists as well as expat retirees from all over the world.

Here is what you need to know about retiring in Hua Hin:

Cost of living

In general, Hua Hin offers a lower living cost than other popular retirement destinations in Thailand, such as Phuket and Pattaya.

Here is a breakdown of some everyday expenses:

Expense Cost (USD)
Rent (1 bed apartment) $250-$350
Rent (3 bed apartment) $650-$700
Monthly Cost (no rent / 1 person) $500
Monthly Cost (no rent / family of 4) $1800
Dining Out (2 people) $30-$35
*Data updated: July 2023


Hua Hin has three modern hospitals catering to locals and expats.

  • Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin
  • San Paulo Hua Hin Hospital
  • Hua Hin International Polyclinic

There’s an excellent range of clinics for day-to-day illnesses such as colds and viruses, stomach problems, etc., and it’s generally easy to find English-speaking medical professionals.

As with the rest of Thailand, medical treatments in Hua Hin are much less costly than in the West. Which also means health insurance premiums will be cheaper.

If you are planning to have international health insurance, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal. 


Hua Hin offers a laid-back lifestyle with modern amenities and traditional Thai culture.

The town’s beach is the main feature. A 5 km long stretch of white sand beach that heads down the coast to the hill of Khao Takiab. Perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

You’ll be able to enjoy the town’s lively night market and the sumptuous local cuisine. Some excellent seafood restaurants like Lung Ja Seafood are popular with locals, tourists, and expats alike.

Golfers, take note! Retiring to Hua Hin means you’ll have access to some of the best golf courses in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

Hua Hin is a popular retirement choice for expats drawn to the international vibe of the town.

You’ll meet expats from just about everywhere, and you’ll be able to enjoy fantastic international cuisine from all over the world.

Another attraction for expat retirees is the range of property rental and purchase options.

You’ll find condominium buildings stretching down the coast, built to Western standards, with many located close to excellent shopping malls.

In conclusion, Hua Hin is a great place to retire if you want a beach haven in Thailand with a vibrant expat community and all the amenities required to enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle.

Koh Samui: serene beauty

Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island, is possibly better known as a location for young people with its world-famous full moon parties and its party capital Chaweng, packed with bars and clubs.

A tropical beach with golden sand and palm trees
Chaweng Beach, Koh-Samui

However, Koh Samui also offers the opportunity for a luxurious lifestyle on an affordable budget that expat retirees are eager to take full advantage of.

Cost of living: Koh Samui

Depending on your lifestyle choices, retiring to Koh Samui can provide a retirement lifestyle at a standard that wouldn’t be available anywhere in the West at the same cost.

Expense Cost (USD)
Rent (1 bed apartment) $350-$650
Rent (3 bed apartment) $850-$1250
Monthly Cost (no rent / 1 person) $580
Monthly Cost (no rent / family of 4) $2100
Dining Out (2 people) $25-$30
*Data updated: July 2023


Koh Samui is a regional healthcare hub with a comprehensive range of healthcare services. There are three primary hospitals:

  • Koh Samui Hospital
  • Thai International Hospital
  • Samui International Hospital

The hospitals are modern and internationally accredited, offering a full range of health services, including medical tourism.

You’ll also have access to a range of well-facilitated affordable walk-in clinics with English-speaking medical professionals for general illness. Some of the clinics also provide home visit services.

For more information, read our guide on Living In Koh Samui.

Chiang Mai: the mountain retreat

If you’re looking for a peaceful and tranquil place to retire in Thailand with a cooler climate than many other popular retirement destinations, Chiang Mai should be at the top of your list.

A colorful buddist temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Royal Park Rajapruek in Chiang Mai

Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush greenery, making it the perfect mountain retreat.

Here are some things you need to know about Chiang Mai if you’re considering retiring there.

Cost of living

One of the most significant advantages of retiring in Chiang Mai is the low cost of living. Compared to other cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai is much cheaper.

Expect to pay around 14% less for groceries and up to 50% less for a rental property than in Bangkok.

Here’s a breakdown of some primary expenses in Chiang Mai:

Expense Cost (USD)
Rent (1 bed apartment) $250-$350
Rent (3 bed apartment) $450-$750
Monthly Cost (no rent / 1 person) $500
Monthly Cost (no rent / family of 4) $1800
Dining Out (2 people) $20-$30
*Data updated: July 2023


Chiang Mai has a well-established healthcare system, with several hospitals and clinics offering high-quality medical care.

Expats can enjoy healthcare that compares favorably with some of the best private hospitals in the West. The hospitals are clean, many of the medical professionals speak English and they are always polite and friendly.

The cost of healthcare in Chiang Mai is also much lower compared to Western countries.

Here are some of the best hospitals in Chiang Mai:

  • Chiang Mai Ram Hospital
  • Bangkok Hospital Chiang Mai
  • Rajavej Hospital 
  • Lanna Hospital
  • McCormick Hospital


Chiang Mai is a popular choice for retirees. It offers the laid-back lifestyle many expats seek, along with a slightly cooler, less humid climate and a very friendly local community.

With a metro population of just over 1.1 million, the city enjoys an excellent range of amenities that aren’t available in less populated areas.

You’ll have access to major shopping malls, an international airport, and a broad range of homes and properties to meet most budgets through rental and purchase.

As a retiree, you’ll find plenty of things to do, from shopping trips to exploring the city’s ancient temples or hiking in the mountains.

There’s a lively expat community that organizes a range of social events and activities. You’ll receive a warm welcome into your new community.

The expat community is reasonably well distributed throughout the city and its suburbs. You’ll find one of the largest expat communities in the Nimmanhaemin (Nimman Road) neighborhood, a stylish and hip location you’ll love exploring.

With its low cost of living, excellent healthcare system, and relaxed country vibe, Chiang Mai is a great place to retire.

Bangkok: urban energy

If you’re looking for an exciting, vibrant, and cosmopolitan location to retire, Bangkok might be the perfect choice.

Colorful fruit and veg on the stalls of a sreet food market in Bangkok
The Maeklong Railway market in Bangkok

Known for its bustling streets, energetic nightlife, and rich culture, Bangkok is a city that never sleeps.

However, before you start packing your bags, it’s essential to consider your cost of living in this thriving metropolis.

Cost of living: Bangkok

Like any capital city, Bangkok is relatively expensive compared to other destinations on our list.

However, it’s still much cheaper than many Western cities, especially any capital city in the West.

Your personal cost of living in Bangkok will vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and the type of property you want to live in.

As with any major city, you need to get to know the best areas within the city. Understand the pros and cons of living in those locations and whether they work for your budget.

It’s often beneficial to start with a cheap rental apartment, get your feet on the ground, and then make longer-term choices when you’ve had a chance to experience Bangkok firsthand.

The cost of living table below will give you a good starting point for budget planning.

Expense Cost (USD)
Rent (1 bed apartment) $350-$750
Rent (3 bed apartment) $950-$1800
Monthly Cost (no rent / 1 person) $650
Monthly Cost (no rent / family of 4) $2300
Dining Out (2 people) $30-$35
*Data updated: July 2023


Thailand is known for its high-quality healthcare system, and Bangkok is no exception.

The city is not just home to some of the best hospitals in the country. They are independently recognized as some of the best hospitals in the world.

Newsweek completed a survey in 2022 with 80,000 medical experts in 27 countries. Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok was recognized as both the best hospital in Thailand and one of the best hospitals in the world.

Other leading hospitals in Bangkok include:

  • Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital
  • Bangkok Hospital
  • Vejthani Hospital Bangkok

As a retiree in Thailand, you’ll have access to both public and private healthcare.

Public healthcare is affordable but can be crowded and have long waiting times. Private healthcare is more expensive but provides faster and more personalized care.


Bangkok is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you enjoy shopping, dining, or exploring cultural attractions, you’ll never run out of things to do. The city is also home to a large expat community, so finding like-minded people to socialize with is easy.

Compared to major Western capital cities like New York or London, most expats find Bangkok to be more relaxed.

This is primarily due to the Thai culture and lifestyle. You’ll find that the locals are welcoming and generally chilled out, even in such a big city.

It’s rare to visit any place in Bangkok where the people won’t be warm and welcoming.

However, the size of the city, with a population of nearly 11 million, can be overwhelming for some retirees.

The traffic can be chaotic, and the noise and pollution can be a challenge. Bangkok might not be your best choice if you’re looking for a quiet and peaceful retirement.

If you love the buzz of city life and the convenience of a cheap, efficient public transport system while surrounded by fabulous restaurants, shopping malls, bars, nightclubs, temples, museums, and art galleries, Bangkok needs to go to the top of your list.

Overall, Bangkok is an excellent choice for retirees looking for an exciting and dynamic city lifestyle.

With its high-quality healthcare system, diverse lifestyle options, efficient Skytrain transport system, and relatively affordable cost of living, it’s no wonder why so many expats choose to retire here.

Discover where to live in the Thailand capital in our guide on the best neighborhoods to live in Bangkok.

Pattaya: the entertainment hub

If you are looking for a city with vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and abundant entertainment options, Pattaya is an excellent choice for retirement.

A coastal city of Pattaya at sunset - pink sky and city lights reflecting in the bay
Pattaya Beach

Nestled on Thailand’s spirited east coast, the small city of Pattaya (population 120,000) is a city of stark contrasts and delightful surprises that appeals to expats and retirees worldwide.

Located just about a 2hr 15min drive from Bangkok, Pattaya is one of the capital’s nearest beach locations, making it ideal for retirees who want easy access to Bangkok.

Famous for its electrifying nightlife, there’s much more to this vibrant city that draws in the international retirement expat population.

In Pattaya, a broad range of exhilarating entertainment options promise a life of non-stop adventure.

Indulge in retail therapy at extensive shopping malls like the popular Central Festival Pattaya or satiate your taste buds at a myriad of exquisite restaurants serving international and local cuisines.

The city hosts world-class healthcare institutions and international schools, ensuring comfort and convenience for all expat age groups.

Cost of living: Pattaya

One of the main benefits of retiring in Pattaya is the low cost of living. Even though Pattaya is relatively close to Bangkok, you can enjoy a much lower cost of living.

General groceries will only be about 10% less than in Bangkok, and expect to pay similar costs to Bangkok when dining out.

However, you can make significant savings with your accommodation costs. With some research, you can expect to pay up to 40% less for a like-for-like condominium with easy access to fantastic beaches.

Check the table below for an overview of the cost of living in Pattaya

Expense Cost (USD)
Rent (1 bed apartment) $270-$450
Rent (3 bed apartment) $650-$850
Monthly Cost (no rent / 1 person) $580
Monthly Cost (no rent / family of 4) $2100
Dining Out (2 people) $30-$35
*Data updated: July 2023


Pattaya has seen significant healthcare investments with some world-class international hospitals over the past decade.

The hospitals have English-speaking staff and provide various medical services, including specialist care and emergency services.

Another benefit of living in Pattaya, generally speaking, the cost of healthcare in Pattaya is also lower than in Bangkok, making it an attractive option for retirees who want access to quality medical care without breaking the bank.

Always remember that any extended hospital stay will be expensive; always ensure you’ve got international health insurance coverage.

Some of the best hospitals in Pattaya are:

  • Pattaya International Hospital
  • Bangkok Hospital
  • Pattaya Memorial Hospital

Naturally, for minor ailments, you will find a wide selection of local clinics and pharmacies with qualified pharmacists who can offer helpful suggestions and help you get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.


Who doesn’t want to retire where the sun shines almost every day? Pattaya gives you endless blue sky, long walks along stunning beaches, and every modern amenity you could want.

Pattaya has a thriving expat community. You’ll find plenty of social activities and events to keep you busy. A range of expat clubs in Pattaya can help you find your way around, meet new friends and settle into your new life.

The lower cost of living means you’ll be able to take full advantage of the city’s broad range of local and international restaurants and modern shopping facilities. Or why not pamper yourself in one of the city’s health spas?

Pattaya has plenty of opportunities if you’re looking for retirement, with plenty of outdoor activities, including golf courses, parks, and snorkeling.

In conclusion: With its low cost of living, excellent healthcare options, and diverse entertainment and social activities, Pattaya is a great place to call home in your retirement years.

Krabi: affordable living in paradise

Krabi, one of the smallest retirement destinations on our list with a population of just over 32,000, is famous for its panoramic vistas and breathtaking beaches, and the enchanting nearby islands waiting for you to explore.

A woman walking along a narriw strip of golden sand framed by blue waters of a tropical beach in Krabi, Thailand
Koh Pak Bia island in Krabi Province

With an incredible coral reef, one of the world’s most beautiful, you really are retiring to one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.

It’s hard to believe that you can live in such an incredible location for less money than some of the most mediocre and boring places in the West.

Cost of living: Krabi

Krabi is undoubtedly more affordable than the big cities and popular tourist destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Koh Samui.

The cost of living can also vary significantly within Krabi’s province, depending on the level of development at the location and its popularity. With some research, you should be able to find an ideal place to call home at a very affordable cost.

Check our table below to get a general idea of the cost of living in Krabi.

Expense Cost (USD)
Rent (1 bed apartment) $450-$550
Rent (3 bed apartment) $600-$850
Monthly Cost (no rent / 1 person) $560
Monthly Cost (no rent / family of 4) $2100
Dining Out (2 people) $22-$28
*Data updated: July 2023


Being a small city, Krabi doesn’t have the healthcare facilities of major cities like Bangkok. However, there are excellent hospitals.

Krabi Nakharin International Hospital is a very modern healthcare facility offering a range of services with English-speaking medical professionals.

Opened in 2014, the hospital boasts advanced medical technology with specialists in various healthcare fields.

You will also find a good range of clinics and pharmacies in the city with English-speaking staff who can help you with day-to-day ailments.


Krabi is one of the less discovered locations for expats. However, there is a growing community, and you’ll be able to meet up, make new friends, and get valuable help and advice as you settle into your retirement.

Possibly the real reason to take a serious look at Krabi is you’re getting all of the magic that retirement to Thailand brings but at an even more affordable price.

The advantages of exploring less explored locations also mean you’ll have more choices without the more prevalent overcrowding in well-established areas.

Take a look at our new Living in Krabi guide to learn more about why we think it’s a destination that you should seriously consider.


Thailand offers a great deal of options for retirees seeking a rewarding and affordable lifestyle.

Whether you want the buzz and vibe of city living or the tranquility of a small town, Thailand has something for everyone.

The climate is great, nature is fantastic, finding friends is not difficult, and the healthcare is good. Just remember to get health insurance that meets all your needs. To ensure you get the best value for money, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal. 

Best of all! No matter where you choose to retire in Thailand, you can expect a welcoming and friendly culture, delicious food, and a low cost of living.

With careful planning and research, you can find the perfect place to enjoy your retirement years in a fantastic country.

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