Located in the heart of South East Asia is the Kingdom of Thailand, a country of around 62 million people and known as the “land of smiles”.  It’s a fantastic country of Eastern contrasts, renowned for the beauty and friendliness of its people.  Thailand is also rated close to Singapore as one of the highest-ranking countries for expats living in Asia.  But is it possible to retire to Thailand?

Like many countries’ governments, the Thai government has realised that there are benefits to attracting people who want to retire overseas.  So that yes, it is now possible to retire to Thailand!  People retiring in Thailand need to have a verifiable annual or monthly income, so there’s no drain on the Thai economy, only an inflow of external currency.

To qualify for a visa to retire in Thailand you need to be over 50 and be free of any criminal history in Thailand and also in your country of residence, for Brits this means you need to have a police check carried out through Scotland Yard.  You also need to be free of any contagious diseases.  You’ll need to be in possession of a valid passport and also prove with a bank statement that you have an annual income of around £15,000 or a monthly income of £1,300.

One of the main destinations for people retiring in Thailand is Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, a busy, bustling city of 8 million people.  Good for shopping, eating out, entertainment of all forms and especially golf!  Bangkok also houses some of the countries most impressive Buddhist temples if you enjoy exploring another nation’s culture.

If the beach is your reason to retire in Thailand then Phuket could be your destination.  Known as the “pearl of the south,” Phuket is the largest Island in Thailand and is now the number one tourist destination in Asia which as a continent is known for its beautiful beaches.  Phuket is also home to the Thai jet set and is becoming increasingly expensive as a result – this may put off would-be retirees who have a fixed income to live on.

Pattaya is another well known beach destination that might appeal instead.  Since being discovered by American GIs during the Vietnam War, Pattaya has lost a lot of its seedier reputation and has been re-branded as a family destination with water parks, fun parks, golf courses and dive centres.

If your idea is to retire in Thailand and you’re looking for a cooler climate, then consider Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the Northern Province.  The area is renowned for its cool climate, morning mists and relaxed way of life.  It’s not completely away from it all however, Chiang Mai boasts any number of good world cuisine restaurants, hospitals and shopping facilities.

Nong Khai town is another popular destination for those retiring in Thailand and was recently voted the 7th best retirement destination in the world by America’s Modern Maturity magazine.  Life is laid back in this town located close to the border with Laos, and expats can be found dining in many of the restaurants on the banks of the Maekhong river.  Living costs in Nong Khai for a family of two with a live in maid including rent, entertainment, maid’s salary, utilities, food and car running costs amount to around £950 per month.

Whatever your retirement plans are, with its four distinct regions, the mountains and forests of the north, the vast rice fields of the central plains, the semi arid farmlands of the northeast plateau, and the tropical islands and long coastline of the southern peninsular, Thailand offers those wishing to retire overseas a perfect destination.  For more information about your entitlement to retire to Thailand visit the website for the Thai embassy in the UK.