Expat pensioners in Thailand facing triple whammy of high baht, falling property prices and soaring inflation

Published:  26 Nov at 6 PM
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Expats forced to leave Thailand are finding themselves caught in a property sale trap.

For an increasing number of expatriates in Thailand looking to leave for a less restrictive alternative or even returning to the home country, the property market slump is seriously bad timing. Many long-stay Western expat retirees who sold their homes and used the cash to buy a Thai condo or villa are now unable to keep up with immigration’s ever-increasing financial demands and are looking to sell or rent before giving up and trying somewhere new.

USA expats on state pensions are somewhat better able to withstand the pressure, whilst Britons drawing the far less than generous and also frozen UK equivalent are suffering even more from the high baht. For those who have Thai wives and a family to support, the news is even worse and there’s no relief in sight, making selling up and moving on even more distressing. In addition, Thailand is no longer a bargain destination – at least not for foreigners from the West.

As the year ends, the trend of expats being unable to sell their homes or even rent them out at a reasonable amount is growing, with lives being put on hold as a result in every previously popular expat destination. Those forced to repatriate for health reasons due to the soaring costs of Thailand’s private medical care and even treatment in public hospitals are now facing having to leave their properties empty and vulnerable.

For many elderly expats, the recent shock of compulsory private healthcare insurance for specific long-stay retirement visa extensions is the last straw, especially as using a Thai company is mandatory even if a far superior Western health insurance policy is already in place at a similar cost. In cases of this kind, those unable to comply as they’re either too old or have ongoing health issues will lose the right to stay, leaving them the options of either placing their homes in the hands of a letting agent or selling at a heavily reduced price.

Perhaps the most painful effect on Western expats who’ve already lived long-term in Thailand is the feeling they’re no longer welcome in what used to be a popular alternative retirement destination. Being unable to sell or even rent out a former home in order to release much-needed capital or income can be devastating, both financially and emotionally.

The majority of older expats in Thailand have done their best to integrate as much as is possible as well as contributing to their local economies, and many still love the country but are now unable to deal with the reality of its present direction.
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