Is Phuket a good place to retire? Plus 10 Common Questions

Have you been looking to retire somewhere that your dollar will go further while being able to live the ultimate beach lifestyle? Then why not think about going to Phuket in Thailand where you can get an easy visa and own a condo or unit for a fairly cheap price.

Yes, Phuket is a great place to retire with its many beaches, great food, many yearly events, modern accommodation and all at a cheap price so your pension or savings will go so much further. The over 100 thousand expats that currently live there can not be wrong and with that many expats there is a thriving community for you to make friends and immerse yourself into the culture and lifestyle.

Here are some other things to consider retiring to Phuket Thailand:

  • Is it easy to get a Visa for Thailand?
  • Is it safe to live in Phuket?
  • Where do most expats live in Phuket?
  • How much does real estate cost in Phuket?
  • How much is a property to rent in Phuket, Thailand?
  • How much do you need to live comfortably in Phuket?
  • What is the public transport around Phuket?
  • What is the food like in Phuket?
  • What is healthcare like in Phuket?

Now that you know what other common questions people have about Phuket, let’s answer each of them for you.

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Is it easy to get a retirement Visa for Thailand?

Yes it is very easy to get a retirement visa for Thailand. You can on an “O” or “OA” type non lucrative long stay visa that you can get when you are over 50 years old and can prove that you have 65000 baht ($2k USD roughly) in monthly income or 800,000 baht ($24k USD) in a Thailand bank account. The initial visa will be for a year and can be renewed each year as long as you meet these requirements.

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

PRO TIP: If you want to try living there you can go on an educational visa to learn the language and they will also help you understand the cultural differences as well. This will also give you a group of friends to initially get to know while there.

Check out the article on Chiang Mai for more information on one of the cheapest language training courses in Thailand.

LINK: Retire In Chiang Mai, Thailand: The Ultimate Retiree Guide

Is it safe to live in Phuket?

The first thing you will notice as soon as you arrive in Thailand and Phuket in particular is how safe it feels and how non threatening the people can be. I personally think that is because they physically are shorter and slimmer people than most other countries. While you will undoubtedly get hawked (asked to buy stuff) they will never touch you physically as there are strict laws for them around that. 

Depending on where in Thailand you are they are not allowed to speak to you so will just either yell out what they have to offer like all markets in the world or resort to clicking or using lights at night. Once you start talking to them first then they are allowed to give you their sales pitch. 

There are very low rates of violent crime in Phuket as they all know where their income comes from and messing with foreigners gets them harsher penalties. Just obey the normal travel rules like no dark alleys alone at the early hours of the morning and you should be fine. Anywhere with people and you will be 100% ok and there is always someone else that speaks English not too far away anyway.

Where do most expats live in Phuket?

Patong beach and Phuket city are the two favourite places for expats to live in Phuket and it just depends on what type of lifestyle you are looking for. The beach lifestyle of Patong Beach of the more City living of Phuket Town where you then have easy access to many beach resorts at a short drive.

Patong beach has a tourist front end near the beach with most locals in the hills or a little inland. You will however see expats walking in the morning or having a beer about 4 streets back from the water at the cheaper restaurants and bars on Pisitkoraneee Rd. If you love the beach then Patong Beach is definitely worth checking out.

Phuket city has all the entertainment and markets that Patong beach has as well as all the other shops and shopping centres that you would expect of a bigger city. There are cheap buses to most of the beach resorts from here as well but the bus services are not necessarily on a regular time schedule. This is due to them picking up anyone alone the way that waves them down as well as at unmarked bus stops. There are plenty of tour operators and private car services you can use to get around the island as well.

How much does real estate cost in Phuket?

Prices for property on Phuket island start at around 30k USD for a condo or unit and $50k USD for a house. Keep in mind foreigners can not own land but they can own a condo or unit so this is normally the path most take. If you are married or in business with a local the land will be in their name and the building can be in your name.

Here is a website that has a lot of property on Phuket Island with an interactive map and also the ability to change to most currencies.

LINK: FazWaz Property Phuket

IMPORTANT: In any country always make sure you do a title search and have a local lawyer complete any property transactions to make sure the person selling the property actually owns the property. I would also suggest living somewhere renting first before buying to see what it is like living there long term before committing to buying real estate as well.

How much is a property to rent in Phuket, Thailand?

Rent on Phuket island in Thailand can be as low as $150 USD per month for a studio apartment and then go up to $4k USD per month depending on what it is you are looking for. The distance to the beach also plays a major part in rent prices as does the land size for more rural properties. The number of bedrooms and western style properties usually have higher rents.

So if you pick a traditional Thai style property not right on the beach you can lower your rental price dramatically. That being said everything on Phuket island is no more than 30 mins to the beach anyway so you can have a secluded retirement property where you can easily get to the beach and go for a walk every day if you want to and still save money.

NOTE: The website in the section above will also let you search rental properties in Phuket.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Phuket?

For a 1 bed unit in Phuket it will cost you about $515 USD and for a 3 bed house it will cost you about $640 USD for a typical western style accommodation in the cheapest areas on the island. How you choose to live your life will then grow these expenses but on this you will be very comfortable and it will be well within most western country pension or retirement savings.

Here is a table of the common expenses you will have in Phuket:

ExpenseMonthly Cost
Rent (1 bed unit)$175 USD
Rent (2 bed house)$300 USD
Utilities (Electricity / Water)$50 USD (4 Baht per KW and 7% tax)
Mobile$10 USD
Groceries (Including Bottled Water)$100 USD
Dining Out (2 people X 8 times)$80 USD
Internet$20 USD (20Mb down / 10Mb Up)
Petrol$80 USD Car / 20 USD 125CC Bike
Total (1 Bed Unit)$515 USD
Total (2 Bed House)$640 USD

NOTE: These are the cheapest prices on Phuket Island and you will pay more if you want to be closer to the beach or in the centre of town in Phuket city.

What is the public transport around Phuket?

The methods of getting around Phuket are in order of cost: bus, e scooters, tuk tuk, taxi. To and from the airport hotels will charge you to Phuket city or Patong Beach at a generally agreed rate of 800 baht or $24 USD. You can get less than this down to 500 baht if you go with a private operator like the one in the image below.

The buses work all over the island and it is just a wait for the next bus type scenario as they do run early and late depending on how many pickups they do. There are multiple bus companies and it is very cheap to use them. Get there 15 mins before the bus departure time and you should be ok in general in case they are running early.

There are eScooters in the major towns and they can be quite cheap but only have a limited area they work in but can be very cheap to get around. They are not something I recommend if you are not sure on your feet and don’t like the idea of riding them through the traffic. Beam scooters are free to unlock and 3 baht per minute to use.

Tuk tuks are all a barter system and they will take you for a ride if you get my meaning if you don’t know the general prices around the area you are in. Patong beach and Phuket city are the most expensive with them being 200 baht for a trip of any length. You will see tourists freely paying 400 baht and up depending on time of day and urgency of the trip. Don’t be afraid to walk away as you will always get a better deal.

Taxi’s are generally just cars that act as taxi’s and these will be the same you get to and from the airport which you can book through your hotel your first time there. They will wait for you out the front of the airport doors with your name on a board. They are air conditioned and are good for longer trips. 

PROTIP: The local app like Uber is called GRAB and it is worth having on your phone from the moment you arrive until you leave. It will do tuk tuks, taxi’s, food delivery, groceries and shopping. Shoppee and Line apps are also used for shopping in Thailand in general. Only book Grab transport using the CASH option as you have a better chance of being picked up by a tuk tuk or car.

What is the food like in Phuket?

The cheapest food in Phuket is local Thai food and in the tourist areas a meal will cost you around 80 baht where a meal outside of these areas will cost you 60 baht. Western Restaurant meals and restaurants on the beach can cost you a lot more depending on what you order. Seafood is everywhere and can cost you up to 500 baht depending on what restaurant you walk into. If you pay 1000 baht or or 30 USD you better be getting something really special by a great chef at a great restaurant.

All over Thailand you will notice that chicken and pork are the two most popular followed by seafood as it is a little more expensive for locals. There are heaps of noodle and rice dishes as well as stir fry and I generally feel like I am eating better with most meals having a great variety of mixed vegetables. Pad Thai is a favourite of everyone and while the western world puts a lot of chilli heat into the dish the local dish is mild with no chilli. They will gladly add as much heat to it as you like though.

What is healthcare like in Phuket?

The level of healthcare for expats in Thailand is very high with all hospitals, dentist surgeries and medical practices using the same equipment you will see in countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. There are many major hospitals and they all just got a major cash injection and extra staff being the Phuket Sandbox for entry to Thailand.

A general dental checkup, clean and fillings done will cost you less than $40 USD in general and they will also do way more checks than most other countries and the usual fluoride treatment. They also have the equipment for minor surgery in most dental clinics as well.
A visit to the doctor for a full paying appointment will cost you around 500 baht at an international clinic or about 15 USD. I have not heard of anyone paying more than 1000 baht but it depends on the surgery and the services they provide.

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