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Would love to semi-retire in Chiang Mai

Hi, I'm retiring early next year and am fascinated with everything I've read online about Chiang Mai.  I will go there for 3 or 4 months next year and longer the year after.  Eventually I would like to move there but will work in Canada a few months a year.  I think I should be able to live on 1200.00 a month from everything I have been reading.  This forum is very helpful, glad I found it :)

Brendah9

I read your post, and I also am hopeing to retire in Chiang Mai in approx 2014, am visiting next month for a few weeks, then hopefully next May for a month.

My budget is approx 800 permonth (£) so very similar to you as I presume yours is in $.

I have been spending hours every day for over a year studying everything about retirement in Thailand as you have, so we both appear to be on the same track.

Good luck, and it would be lovely to keep in touch with our plans to see how we are both getting on.

Take care to all that are thinking of retiring in Thailand, it is a big step, but hopefully like what will happen to me, once to take that step, a big smile will suddenly appear on your face...I cant wait for that moment!

Howie

fyi

USD - $1.00

CND - $0.9947

---
There some expats getting by on $800USD per month; but I KNOW, I couldn't live that way.

best of luck,
jon

I will have about $1200.00 Canadian, pretty well par with US.  I don't drink much.  I've been checking all the places that I can rent, amazed at the prices for that.  The food prices are amazing also.   I'm entertained just walking around taking in all the sights, sounds and smells.  Everything I've seen about Chiang Mai looks fascinating.  I would love to blog about my experience there.  I will have quite a bit more when I turn 60, and I'm only going to live there for 6 or 7 months per year and work in Canada so will also have money saved in case of emergencies etc.   I'm excited for my first trip there :)

I read your post, and I also am hopeing to retire in Chiang Mai in approx 2014, am visiting next month for a few weeks, then hopefully next May for a month.

My budget is approx 800 permonth (£) so very similar to you as I presume yours is in $.

A couple of thoughts on what you need to moneywise to " retire" in Thailand.

If you intend to make it your full time retirement home I would suggest £800(38,000 Baht) a month is a bit on the low side. I'm sure you could get by on that amount BUT its the bottom end.

You should also bear in mind, that depending on your visa status, you might well need to show an "income" of up to 65,000 Baht a month or a deposit in a Thai bank account.

Chiang Mai is supposed to be cheaper than Bangkok.  I hear so many different comments regarding how much you need to live in Thailand,  it gets confusing.  I think if I had 40,000 baht per month, that would be good.  I see apartments from 6000 - 10,000 baht and food is incredibly cheap.  I don't drink much and would be content walking and taking in all the sights.  I love photography and at the end of the day, would work on my blog and communicate with family back home.  I would have to find a place with good wifi.   I will try it for a few months and if it doesnt work, I will have to save more.  I think I can do it 6 months per year though.  I will have about 65,000 baht per month in a couple years, but for now I'm sure I can manage on 40 - 45,000 baht per month.

brendah9

I have choices of accommodation and visa.Welcome to Chiang Mai.

brendah9 :

Chiang Mai is supposed to be cheaper than Bangkok.  I hear so many different comments regarding how much you need to live in Thailand,  it gets confusing.  I think if I had 40,000 baht per month, that would be good.  I see apartments from 6000 - 10,000 baht and food is incredibly cheap.  I don't drink much and would be content walking and taking in all the sights.  I love photography and at the end of the day, would work on my blog and communicate with family back home.  I would have to find a place with good wifi.   I will try it for a few months and if it doesnt work, I will have to save more.  I think I can do it 6 months per year though.  I will have about 65,000 baht per month in a couple years, but for now I'm sure I can manage on 40 - 45,000 baht per month.

I'm curious, have you been to Thailand?

Chiang Mai is supposed to be cheaper than Bangkok.  I hear so many different comments regarding how much you need to live in Thailand,  it gets confusing.  I think if I had 40,000 baht per month, that would be good.  I see apartments from 6000 - 10,000 baht and food is incredibly cheap.

You can live cheaply anywhere in Thailand if you know how. I live in Bangkok and have a 4-bedroom house for 7000 baht a month. When we first moved in to the place ten years ago, it was 6000 baht.

We might be moving in the next few months and we've found some nice houses in the 8000-12,000 baht range.

Also, why Chiang Mai? I'm always curious to know why people move to Pattaya, Phuket, or Chiang Mai.

Food prices are good if you're eating Thai food. Ever go out in Bangkok to a nice steak house or a good Italian restaurant? For the most part, groceries, paper products and toiletries are not cheap here either.

If you plan on staying here long term, you're probably not going to want to stay in a studio apartment or only eat Thai food.

That's why having a little more is better, IMO.

http://bit.ly/Y7DNSu

I'm curious, have you been to Thailand?

No I've never been to Thailand but I know a lot of people who have and they all loved it there.  I picked Chiang Mai because the climate is supposed to be nicer and not as big as Bangkok. I will try living there for 3 or 4 months the first time, longer if I decide.  I just want to ensure that 40,000 - 45,000 baht per month will enable me to live comfortably there. I will then get more of what is needed when I return the next year.  Thanks for you comments :)

If you don't have a lot of expenses for "entertainment", you can live well in most of Thailand, and especially Chiang Mai, for around 40000฿.  Actually you can live well with even less. Rents are the best values for Chiang Mai, and they are about 1/3 to 1/2 of the same level of property in BKK.  The quality of life in Chiang Mai is also much better than BKK (I have lived in both).  Noise, traffic, chaos in CM is far less than the big Mango.  Weather is definitely more tolerable than BKK as well.  However, you will need to get your own transportation in CM, since it does not have all the great Taxis and public transportation that BKK has, and unfortunately, a car is very expensive anywhere in Thailand.  Motorbikes are cheaper, but can be dangerous.  I do write a blog about life in CM:  http://americanexpatchiangmai.com

If not known yet where to go, please come to Baan WinRada.

I've come across this set of posts and it's of great interest to me.

I am intending to do what the OP cites at the start of this thread, though I do not plan to include periods whereby I base myself back home.

I'm 57 and am seeking to retire in Thailand, Chiang Mai to be specific. My monthly pension would be approx GBP 1,000 (USD 1,600) or approx. B47,000. GBP 700 of that is index-linked to the rate of inflation in the UK, though I am working on the assumption (incorrect or not) that the rate of inflation in Thailand may be higher than the UK.

My concern is essentially the same though ... is B47,000 a month enough to live comfortably in Chiang Mai? I enjoy Thai food, though would want to eat western food from time to time. My social needs are not wildly extravagant, meaning I would like to have a beer or two in the evenings and to be able to go out for a meal and a drink at a pub say two or three times a week.

What sort of accomodation would I be looking at with this kind of budget, given that I would want air-con (when it gets really hot) and a bit of room to spread out? Plus an internet connection is a must.

I am not interested in the bar-girl scene, rather being happier with a few beers and a chat at a local pub.

Reading many of your posts and comments, I have got a lot of questions from my clients too. When come to reality, some of new comers find it is more expensive than they were told by friends or others. I see those who live under 1000 USD per month here in Chiang Mai and I see some of those who live over than 10,000 USD per month.
My opinion is that, its better not judge or saying, it is cheap or not cheap. It depends on how you want to live your life and how you manage your budget.
I am Thai, listening to a client complaint that the strawberry smoothies (45 THB) is a rip off price or too expensive, makes me think where else you can get it cheaper than this, there for you should live where you feel comfortable with.

I am not being defensive, but would like to suggest the new comers to at least try to make a short staying to see the place before you settle down.

Chiang Mai Home :

Reading many of your posts and comments, I have got a lot of questions from my clients too. When come to reality, some of new comers find it is more expensive than they were told by friends or others. I see those who live under 1000 USD per month here in Chiang Mai and I see some of those who live over than 10,000 USD per month.
My opinion is that, its better not judge or saying, it is cheap or not cheap. It depends on how you want to live your life and how you manage your budget.
I am Thai, listening to a client complaint that the strawberry smoothies (45 THB) is a rip off price or too expensive, makes me think where else you can get it cheaper than this, there for you should live where you feel comfortable with.

I am not being defensive, but would like to suggest the new comers to at least try to make a short staying to see the place before you settle down.

45 baht is not a rip-off. You can get smoothies cheaper and find them for more depending on the shop and location.

That said, Thailand has gotten much more expensive in the past few years. It's no longer cheap. Some items are less expensive (food, labor) and some are more expensive (electronics, paper).

BTW - 45 baht is $1.50 or so in USD. There are places you can find smoothies for $1.50 in the U.S. but you need to know where to find them or the store needs to be having a promotion. Coffee, smoothies, etc...not much savings at all.

On the question of living off of USD $1600 per month, I think it is adequate but not extravagant.  Where Chiang Mai shines best for an expat is in housing costs --- apartment rents --- but most people think that this may be changing.  CM is growing very fast, and with the high speed train in 5 years many people in BKK will be coming north to live.  The value of the dollar is going downward, and I think will continue in that direction.  Raw food is cheap, cheap restaurants are still cheap, but almost anything "Western" costs more.  With 47K Bht a month, you may want to figure ways to supplement your income with some part-time work, maybe teaching English or doing something online. The economy is doing very well in Thailand and seems to be growing better than most anywhere else in the world.  The downside to that is it can be more expensive for foreigners depending only on an income from pensions of another country.
I wrote a blog article on this subject that may be useful:  http://americanexpatchiangmai.com/how-m … -thailand/how much to live in Thailand?

Thanks for the imput on B47K a month. I have been coming to Thailand for over a period of 25 years, and lived in Bangkok between 1988-2002. Obviously, the cost of living has gone up since 2002, as it does everywhere, and that will be a factor to figure in to any retirement plans that take in residence in Thailand.

I was figuring that of the B47K, I would allocate about B17K for an apartment and utilities (water, electric etc). That would leave me about 1,000 baht a day for general living expenses. The bar-girl scene would not be on my radar, no would excessive expenditure in bars and pubs.

I was last in Thailand for a 6-week holiday in Koh Samui just over a year ago. I found that with three meals a day and a couple of beers in the evening, I easily managed on B1,000 a day, and that was in "holiday mode".

I wouldn't be a hermit, and would look to making friends whereby I could go out for a couple of beers and a chat a few times a week, and if there were opportunities to join any expat groups for leisure activities I would hope to be able to do that.

I am not a great breakfast eater - scrambled egg on toast and coffee does me - and being very happy to eat Thai food, with a beer or two in the evening, I would have thought I would find it quite hard to spend B1,000 a day in Chiang Mai.

My hobbies and interests do require an internet connection, but other than that are not expensive. I would not require a larder of western food/luxuries either.

From what I have seen on many internet forums concerning living in Thailand, it obviously makes sense that when it comes to a monthly budget, it very much depends on what each person is looking for in respect of the lifestyle they would look to lead.

Balanced against whether B47k would be comfortable or not, there is the fact that my pension would not enable me to live at all in the UK, where I would have to continue working until I am 65. That thought definitely doesn't appeal to me.

I'm coming more and more to think that a monthly income of GBP1,000 would enable a reasonably comfortable way of life in Chiang Mai, which, though defintely not the "High Life", would be comfortable enough in retirement.

That being said, I will continue to keep an eye on all forums such as this one, and continue to read as many blogs on life in Thailand as I can. There's a lot to be learnt from the advioce and comments that people have on this matter.

Many thanks for any comments/advice posted.

I have enough savings to live in Chiang Mai for 6 months at 65000 baht, per mth, so I am going to see if I'm able to live good on less or if I will need the 65000 each month.   Plus I will find out if this is where I would like to retire.   From everything I have read though and people I have talked to, it seems like an amazing place.   I wish October would get here already haha.    My pension will be about 67000 baht per month.   I would like to have a fairly nice place with a pool.  I love to read.  I also love photography, so most of my hobbies don't require a large expense.   I don't drink much,   A couple beers noes and then.    I just need to have adventure in my life and Thailand seems like the place for that

At this level of income (65K Bht), you can live quite well in Chiang Mai.  That is substantially more than the typical expat living here.
Good luck to you, and if you have any questions about living here, just shoot me an email.
http://americanexpatchiangmai.com

I have recently returned from my 18th visit to Thailand and stayed in Chiang Mai for a few weeks December 2012.
I spent the time in Chiang Mai researching retirement for my hopefully end 2014 retirement in Chiang Mai.
At todays costs I looked at several apartments and I could live very nicely in ones that rent for B7-8000 per month, with approx B2000 for 240v/water, B6000 medical insurance, and B20000 for 4 meals a day (thai meals in street outlets) with B5-10000 per month for 2-3 beers a night. I chose an apartment with a pool and close to the old town to avoid too much transport (will buy a cycle)costs to the American language school and other hobby areas I will be frequenting like an artist school in the old town.

I hope this helps some of you

Howie

Thanks for all the information.   I would like to live by old town too. Checking the web, Chang Klan road area looks good.    I've been looking at condo called peaks garden that is close to Shangri la.   Maybe I should wait till I get there before securing a place though

If you intend to stay long term you must factor in visa costs which may entail a trip out of Thailand every so often.

Then as I understand you will also have to have baht800.000 in a bank account for certain types of visas. I suggest you research things very very carefully before taking the plunge.

I have researched it quite a bit.     As I said I'm only staying for 6 months the first trip and realize I will have to make a visa run.     You have to have 800000 in bank or prove u make 65000 per month which I will.    Thanks for your email though.    I will have it all figured out by the time I arrive there.   Right down to any immunization shots I may need

You sure can retire on that amount here. I am from manitoba and have been here for 2 1/2 years. There are a few tricks and info I have come across while here that would save you a few extra pennies and make your stay here very worth while. Contact me for further info if interested. At present I am living in a 3 bedroom house and paying 6000 baht a month. I have a car and insurance and licensing is a snap.   Norm

Haha your not kidding that Thai is difficult to learn.  I've been trying to learn some off of YouTube and all I seem to remember is Sa wad de ka.   I have an awesome app on my ipad called Learn Thai and it has everything for day to day conversations, asking directions, etc. and I can click on what I want to say and the ipad says it.  Maybe continuous repeating will finally help me and living there for awhile also.  It is fun trying to learn tho.  Maybe I will take a course when I'm there.

Hi I am Jenny, retired last year and live in Queensland, Australia. 

I too am considering retirement in Thailand and hoping to take my Australian pension there with me. (Is that easy to do?)  Are there many retired single expatriate women living in Chiang Mai where friendships could be formed (I am not gay).

I have travelled extensively but have not been to Chiang Mai - it just appealed to me when I was investigating retirement destinations.  Its not too far to come back to Aussie on visits etc and for my family to visit for holidays. 

Any information would be helpful.  I would be looking at around 10-12K thb in monthly rent and hope that would give me a serviced apartment somewhere close to town.  I am aware of the money required to be held in a Thai Bank and that is fine.

I will be visiting Chaing Mai later this year to see what life is like there and hope to meet some expats.

Thanks for all replies.

Jenny:

In all honesty, the amount of your budget for rent is OK for an apartment in a fairly modern building.  For me, I think a monthly income of around 45K Baht supports a nice lifestyle.  You can certainly live cheaper than that, but you will be compromising from what you probably have back home. 
Be prepared for a future with a stronger Baht (and everything else weaker) as the economy in Thailand is doing very well.
greg
How much money does it take to live in Thailand?
http://americanexpatchiangmai.com/how-m … -thailand/

Hi Greg

Thanks for your reply.  I realise it will not be like here and standards will be different, but the cost of living in Australia is very high and our government does not do the right thing by their pensioners, they expect us to live like paupers on the pittance of a pension they give us - and this is for working most of our lives in Australia and paying our taxes here.

I am looking at a better lifestyle somewhere else on the same money I have here with more interesting things to do, more interesting people - I am not ready for the rug over the knees yet.

I will wait until I go there in November and see what happens.  I like to have choices in life, most people think they don't have any, but there is always a choice though sometimes you have to take a chance -  and if you risk nothing, you get nothing.  I may even just decide to live there 3 months of the year or something like that.  But I will check it all out later this year.

Regards
Jenny

You have the right attitude about it for sure.  As an American, I am so very familiar in how the government would like us to live with social security.  We pay heavily into it all of our lives, and after thirty or forty years of mandatory participation, we get a negative return on our investment. It is absolutely impossible to live in the USA on the social security pension alone, but you can do it in Thailand as long as you can be flexible in adapting to Thai living.  Best of luck to you.
greg
http://americanexpatchiangmai.com

Thanks Greg, for your good wishes.  If I went to live in Chiang Mai I would expect to embrace their culture and learn their language - might try and study up on that a bit before I arrive (am learning Spanish at the moment).  This is not to say that the odd western meal would be unwelcome, but on the whole I would try to live the Thai way.  I have timed my visit to coincide with Loy Krathong and am looking forward to that very much. 

I think America is very much like Australia with regard to the pension - its just not possible to live life, only to exist.

Take care,never know might run into you there somewhere.
Jenny

PlanX.
Taxes etc are sure high in Oz and pensions low. I have heard that the Oz Govt are looking to stop pensions for those living overseas. Seems you may have to come home for 6 months each year.
This is idea only in the discussion phase but as it will save the Govt money I am sure it will eventually be initiated.

Hi Stumpy

That really does not surprise me.  They have already changed the amount of time you can be out of Australia on holidays before losing the pension and having to reapply - used to be 3 months, and now I think its six weeks.  I will keep my eye out for that though and see what I can find out.  Wonder what would happen if all the retirees left Australia (and other countries like this who don't care about their seniors and treat them like 3rd class citizens) and took ALL their money with them!

Take care
Jenny

scottmallon :
brendah9 :

Chiang Mai is supposed to be cheaper than Bangkok.  I hear so many different comments regarding how much you need to live in Thailand,  it gets confusing.  I think if I had 40,000 baht per month, that would be good.  I see apartments from 6000 - 10,000 baht and food is incredibly cheap.  I don't drink much and would be content walking and taking in all the sights.  I love photography and at the end of the day, would work on my blog and communicate with family back home.  I would have to find a place with good wifi.   I will try it for a few months and if it doesnt work, I will have to save more.  I think I can do it 6 months per year though.  I will have about 65,000 baht per month in a couple years, but for now I'm sure I can manage on 40 - 45,000 baht per month.

I'm curious, have you been to Thailand?

Chiang Mai is supposed to be cheaper than Bangkok.  I hear so many different comments regarding how much you need to live in Thailand,  it gets confusing.  I think if I had 40,000 baht per month, that would be good.  I see apartments from 6000 - 10,000 baht and food is incredibly cheap.

You can live cheaply anywhere in Thailand if you know how. I live in Bangkok and have a 4-bedroom house for 7000 baht a month. When we first moved in to the place ten years ago, it was 6000 baht.

We might be moving in the next few months and we've found some nice houses in the 8000-12,000 baht range.

Also, why Chiang Mai? I'm always curious to know why people move to Pattaya, Phuket, or Chiang Mai.

Food prices are good if you're eating Thai food. Ever go out in Bangkok to a nice steak house or a good Italian restaurant? For the most part, groceries, paper products and toiletries are not cheap here either.

If you plan on staying here long term, you're probably not going to want to stay in a studio apartment or only eat Thai food.

That's why having a little more is better, IMO.

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HI scottmallon,

Did you say you are currently living in a 4 bedroom apartment for only 7000 THB a month?
Where?
The lowest i can find for a good apartment (1 bedroom) is 15-21,000 THB per month in Bangkok

If you have any idea of a one bedroom apartment less than 10,000 THB plz let me know

Thanks

$1200 per month should be adequate to live in Chiang Mai with a
little planning.  Transportation is a bit of a hang up until you
know the place and then it won't be a problem either.

Brenda,   A married couple without any bad habitual behavior(i.e. smoking,boozing,whoring ect.) can live quite comfortably on $1200/mo U.S. so you should find an extremely nice standard of living as a single person with $1200/mo to live on. These blogs are filled with folks who will tell you that you need $2000/mo or more to have a comfortable lifestyle, of course these are the same people who hang out in bars multiple evenings/wk and eat at sizzler, pizza hut, the dukes or other western eateries on a regular basis, and most own a car or truck and feel the need to live in western style comfort and sq footage apartments/condos(1000-1300 sq ft.)! You will find that transportation in and around CM is readily available and quite reasonable without renting or buying an automobile, and there are a plethora of mid range($190-$250/mo)fully furnished studio condos(400 sq ft. or so) and serviced apartments in Chiang Mai that have A/C, hot water showers(many even with tubs) free wifi and cable TV, many even have a pool and an exercise room. Eating Thai is much healthier than western food and in short order you will find find your favorite vendors/markets for breakfast,lunch and dinner. On $1200/mo you should be able to live comfortably, eat well, enjoy transportation wherever you need to go, have a decent BUPA health plan, go out to movies, enjoy 2 hour massages and have your hair/nails ect. done on a regular basis and still have a litlte cash left over at the end of the month. God luck to you and enjoy your time in the LOS!

One cost to consider is medical insurance cover.

Try this website for cost of living etc www.numbeo.com

Thanks.   I will be looking at getting Medical insurance right away

Thanks so much for your comment.  I'm really excited about going to Chiang MI now.   I will actually have about $2000 dollars Canadian a month so I should do quite well.  I'm not into the bar scene.  Mostly into photography and exploring.   Maybe a beer or two at home after my long days walking around the city.   Can't wait to try the food and massages.  Been checking YouTube and Thailand looks like a fascinating adventuresome place.   Everyone seems so friendly.  And so much to see and do.   Doesn't look like I would ever get bored.   I will get a hotel or guesthouse when I first arrive and look for something that will suit me.  Hopefully with a pool and fitness room.   Thanks again for your positive comments

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Brendah9

I have been to Thailand 20times and hope to start a language course in Chiang Mai towards the end of the year (a 12 month course). Apart from the course bit, you are doing exactly the correct thing, staying in a B&B until you find the right apartment, and also looking for one with a pool.

You won't regret it for one minute what you intend to do...there may may a few times you think ' what am I doing here!!!' But with such a life changing thing you are doing ( and I will be doing) you are bound to think like this for time to time, but that's part of moving.....

You will not regret it. Once you arrive, please don't hesitate to contact me anytime should you need a little advice, I may not be able to help, but I just may be able to offer that bit of advice that may help.

I hope to be there soon

Howie

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