Survey shows older expats in Thailand fear for their futures

Published:  19 Sep at 6 PM
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Expat pensioners living in Thailand are becoming concerned over the ever increasing cost of private heathcare and the reliability of the Thai retirement visa system.

Long considered an exotic but stable expat retirement destination, Thailand is home to expat communities in many provincial cities and large towns as well as in Bangkok and the beachside towns along the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea coastline. Although no official figures are available, it’s possible the majority of long-stay expats in the Kingdom are over retirement age, with many married to Thai wives.

A recent small but relevant survey has revealed the key issues of concern for the older expat community. As expected, expat retirees’ main concerns were healthcare and visa prospects, both of which are the cause of sleepless nights due to a generalised lack of accurate, verifiable information. However, the biggest concern is caused by a feeling of ambiguity concerning the government’s future visa policies.

A majority of older expats stay legally via a one-year extension known colloquially as the ‘retirement visa’. Renewable yearly and requiring a permanent deposit in a Thai bank of 800,000 baht, these visas disallow any work or volunteering, and holders must report to immigration every 90 days.

Recently, a new 10-year visa was launched with full fanfare, available to expats over 50 years of age. The requirements are complex, including financial documents, home-country police clearance and a considerable sum of several millions of baht on deposit in a Thai bank or earnings of at least 100,000 baht a month. Also required is full private health insurance, extremely expensive for elderly people and almost impossible to obtain for those over the age of 75.
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