Have you thought about retiring to Thailand and just wondered what living in Bangkok on a permanent basis would be like? This article will answer that and many other questions people commonly have about retiring to Thailand.
Yes, Bangkok is a great place to retire with a wide selection of international food, cheap accommodation, an extensive public transport system, welcoming people, a very active expat community, cheap flights throughout Asia and a massive array of festivals and events to entertain you.
You may also have many other questions about what it is like to retire to Thailand and Bangkok and we will cover below.
Here is also a list of common questions people ask when retiring to Bangkok:
- How much do I need to retire in Bangkok?
- What is the food like for retirees in Bangkok?
- How can I eat cheap in Bangkok?
- What are the requirements for a retirement visa in Thailand?
- Is Bangkok safe to retire too?
- What is there to do in Bangkok for retirees?
- How much does it cost to stay at a cheap hotel in Bangkok?
- Is Bangkok safe to walk around at night?
- What are the transport options in Bangkok?
- What do Bangkok people do for fun?
- Is buying property in Bangkok a good investment?
Now that you know what common questions retirees ask, let us discuss each one in detail.
How much do I need to retire in Bangkok?
You need a minimum of $465 USD per month to retire in Bangkok for your actual expenses in a Thai style apartment and eating local Thai food, so basically living as a local. You will also need a constant $24k USD or $2k USD in monthly income in a Thailand bank account for your Visa as per the Visa section below.
Keep in mind that living this way your living expenses will change depending on whether you are happy living like a local or whether you want a Western-style living and food. This just gives you a starting point from where you can then decide what you are comfortable with.
Two of the options are available in the table below:
|Rent (Studio)||$115 USD|
|Rent (2 to 3 bed)||$233 USD|
|Utilities (Electricity / Water)||$50 USD (4 Baht per KW and 7% tax)|
|Groceries (Including Bottled Water)||$150 USD|
|Dining Out (2 people X 8 times)||$80 USD|
|Internet||$20 USD (20Mbps Down / 10Mbps Up)|
|Transport (MRT the Metro or Subway)||$40 USD|
|Total (1 Bed)||$465 USD|
|Total (2 Bed)||$583 USD|
What is the food like for retirees in Bangkok?
There is a massive variety of food choices for retirees in Bangkok from buying groceries and cooking at home very cheaply, to exacting out every meal from thai style markets and then to more middle and upper-class restaurants. Restaurant dining is truly international as all country food types are represented in Bangkok.
Bangkok itself has a major focus on Japanese and Korean food as well as local Thai food. You will find these influences in many of the foods but I do find it hard to find a decent Ramen Japanese style as they are mainly adapted to local tastes. There are a few around though.
How can I eat cheap in Bangkok?
You can eat very cheaply in Bangkok at the local markets the locals eat, or Pier 21 at the Terminal 21 shopping centre on the top floor where prices are regulated for around 50 to 60 baht per meal. This works out at roughly less than $2 USD per meal and with a fruit smoothie for less than $1 USD.
The markets are a great place to pick up some cheap food and the quality is great and there is so much variety to choose from. You can find some great local markets to eat from and in the video below you will see some great ones in the Silom area of the city which is my favourite area. Not all markets have the same quality and variety so find one that you feel comfortable with.
There are also Thai style food courts in most large shopping centres so if you look on the top or underground floors you will normally find them and check them out for food that you like. If you are ok with eating like the locals you will always get a cheaper meal.
If you are around Silom area there is a food court called MITR 24 Zone that works 24 hours, perfect for the ones that like the nightlife and are looking for someplace to eat late at night or even wait for a few hours until take the next train or bus. It is also great for if you are jet-lagged and want somewhere to eat at weird hours.
PRO TIPS: Type the work Market into a google map search and you will find some cheap places you can go and check out near you no matter where you are in Bangkok. My rule of thumb is that I like to see the food cooked in front of me and go to the stands that have more customers. Also if you want to know where my favourite markets are you can find them in the description of the video above.
What are the requirements for a retirement visa in Thailand?
Thailand has an easy Visa of type “O” or “OA” for retirees that are over 50yo and have $2k USD in monthly income or $24k in a Thailand bank account. The visa renews yearly and you just need to prove that you still meet the requirements above.
The “O” visa is one you apply for inside the country and the “OA” is the one you apply for from your home country. The Thailand official embassy website for each country has specific conditions that may apply for your country and you can find the country by country rules by clicking on the link below.
LINK: Royal Thailand Embassy Country Websites
Is Bangkok safe to retire too?
Yes, Bangkok is very safe and I have never once felt unsafe there in any part of town. While there are areas you should avoid late at night on your own in dark alleys like any large town anywhere in the world. The overall safety levels are high either single or as a couple as retirees and most people will help you if you get stuck. There are high levels of English in the town so always someone within earshot that can help.
The basic rules I follow to not get into trouble is just to stick to where people are, use grab or the two train networks to get around late at night and finally don’t show off expensive watches and jewellery and you should be fine. The most you can expect is pickpockets so be mindful and wear bags on your front and keep everything zipped up.
What is there to do in Bangkok for retirees?
There are heaps of things for retirees to do in Bangkok from the vast array of festivals to the conferences and events, there is a huge culinary scene to try, there are plenty of temples to visit and tourist attractions to see as well as expats to make friends with.
The first thing I would suggest is joining one of the many Expat Bangkok Facebook groups to have a support network and to start meeting some people just like you that are living there. In the image below I have shown you how to do the search for these groups.
This is a way of also getting to know the areas you might want to stay in and get local advice and you can see I am a member of one also. This is where you will find the friends you will spend most of your time with doing hobbies or activities.
The shopping in Bangkok is also amazing with heaps of options including the country’s biggest weekend market that has heaps to buy and things to do as well as lots of great food choices. You can reach it from the MRT or BTS and then it’s a short work and well worth checking out.
The next thing to do is look at the Tourist information websites to see what is coming up. Yes I know you are thinking of living there permanently but this is the place to look for these things quite easily.
LINK: Official Thailand Tourism Website for Bangkok
Also, don’t forget to check out the other parts of Thailand to see what is on as well because flights and accommodation around Thailand is so cheap you will find yourself going for a weekend away to other states events for less than $100 USD to see them including flights and accommodation.
Flights to other Asian countries are also extremely cheap and you can also drive to many of them as well from Thailand. So think outside the box and jump in the car for a weekend away and go to all Thialands neighbour countries either by air or road.
I would personally recommend checking out Seam Reap and Angkor Wat when you can and here is an article I wrote about it.
ARTICLE: Why Siem Reap is a great place to live and retire?
How much does it cost to stay at a cheap hotel in Bangkok?
The cheapest on booking.com is $293 USD for a month or $9.7 USD per night roughly. This gets you a king-sized bed and desk and private bathroom. This rate is because most hotels have a monthly rate that is much lower than the normal rates and is not near the MRT or BTS.
If you want something that is closer to town then you will pay around $500 to $600 USD per month or $20 USD per night and still get a good place that is a walk to the MRT or BTS. If you search on google maps for a monthly stay you can normally find some gems at very low prices. Each hotel website has different deals so google maps is a better initial search location. By doing this I have been able to get many times a nightly room rate around $13 USD quite easily.
PRO TIPS: Summary of pro tips are that if you use Google Maps for your initial hotel search and plan on staying at least a month then you will get the monthly discount rates. This is normally the minimum you want to stay if you are thinking of moving to retire to a country and particular city. In retirement time is on your side.
Is Bangkok safe to walk around at night?
Yes, it is extremely safe, the biggest threats being pickpockets in big crowds. As mentioned in the Is it safe section, just don’t flaunt your wealth and stay in streets where there are other people and you should be good day or night. If you ever feel unsafe you can use Grab to get a car or tuk tuk and you will be home in no time for a very cheap price.
What are the transport options in Bangkok?
The main transportation options in Bangkok are: MRT (Metro or Subway), BTS (Sky train), Buses, Cars (Grab). Grab is your best choice for a car as it will give you a fair price instead of trying to barter with a driver. Just make sure you put the payment option as cash as most won’t take Credit Card.
Here are the websites for each of the modes of transport:
- MRT Metro or Subway
- BTS Sky Train
- Grab Thailand – biggest Car / Tuk Tuk / Food Delivery / Shopping App (Choose Cash Option as payment).
PRO TIP: As mentioned above use Grab to make sure you don’t get ripped off with bartering with Cab drivers and you will get more pick ups if you choose cash as the payment option as not all drivers like paying the extra fee for Credit Card.
Is buying property in Bangkok a good investment?
Yes the town is only growing and even though it had a slow down in 2019 and 2020 due to COVID this year in 2022 it has now started to warm up again with an expected 5% growth. With high demand and the slow down of construction with limited workers and resources like steel in shorter supply during COVID this will only add to the property growth.
Here is a website that has a lot of property in Bangkok with an interactive map and also the ability to change to most currencies. You will find both properties to rent and buy.
LINK: FazWaz Property Bangkok
PRO TIP: Always make sure you get legal advice before buying property and remember in Thailand you can only own the apartment or condo and not the land it sits on.