Sinking sterling hits Brit state pensioners in Thailand

Published:  20 Aug at 6 PM
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As sterling continues to struggle against the Brexit effect, UK expats in Thailand are feeling the pinch.

For the more adventurous amongst British retirees, Thailand has been a favoured destination for several decades due to its weather, low cost of living and, for some, the readily available choice of young, female companions. In the good old days, an exchange rate of around 72 to the pound meant even a British state pensioner on the ungenerous £628 per month UK stipend could fund a comfortable lifestyle including housing and entertainment. Nowadays, UK state pensions are paying out £715 per month, but the exchange rate is now stuck around 42 baht to the pound, a difference in baht of over 16,000 per month.

Expats on private or work related pensions are obviously better off, with the average at around £409 a week, but the present day exchange rate isn’t good news, especially as it’s expected to worsen considerably should a no-deal Brexit be the result of a lack of negotiating talent by the UK team. A recent article in an expat-aimed English language newspaper asks readers what their forex breaking point would be as regards leaving Thailand for another even cheaper destination or the home country. Amongst the results were car ownership by 75 per cent of respondents, 50 percent house ownership and 20 per cent condo ownership thus saving in rental charges, electricity at approximately 1000 baht per month and private health insurance at around 7,000 baht per month. This last is considered unaffordable by Brits on the basic state pension, and a rate of 38 baht to the pound would be devastating for most.

Theoretically, the majority of UK expats surviving on state pensions with no other income should possibly be searching for another country in which to live out their last years, especially as their UK state pensions will have been frozen the minute they arrived in Thailand. A few may have married or are living with Thai ladies, perhaps with a child, and would be reluctant to go it alone back in the UK as immigration law prevents them from bringing in their dependents without proving a high level of earnings. In addition, the sinking pound is likely to put off a good number of would-be expats for whom Thailand was a possible destination. Political instability might well be another reason why the Land of Smiles has lost its charm but, however the numbers are crunched, the good life seems to be fading fast, at least for the Brits.
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