Articles Related to Retire to thailand



#8: Abruzzo, Italy

It's hard to think of a lovelier corner of Italy than the Abruzzo. The beaches are golden, and the sea rolls out like a giant bolt of turquoise silk. There are mountains, too, meaning that, living here, you'd have both skiing and beach-combing on your doorstep, depending on the season.

This region is one of Italy's secret treasures. No overcrowding, no heavy industry, only castles, vineyards, and villages made of stone. Life in the Abruzzo hasn't changed much over the years, and exploring here is like wandering into a gentler, kinder yesterday.

This region of Italy is also one of Europe's best bargains. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month or less, including rent.

#7: Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is a city of parks and flowers, pretty, tidy, and, despite its checkered past, safe. It's also architecturally consistent and pleasing. Most every building is constructed of red brick and topped with red clay roof tiles. The overall effect is delightful.

Medellin is both an industrial, economic, and financial center for this country and a literary and artistic one. Newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival, an annual book fair, and, back in 1971, Colombia's answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon, all have chosen Medellin as their base.

Thanks to its mountain setting, Medellin is another of a handful of cities around the world that bills themselves as lands of eternal springtime. The cost of living is affordable, though not super-cheap. The medical care is excellent, with 5 of the 35 best hospitals in Latin America located here.

The European undertones in Medellin are strong, from the way the women dress to the way people greet you in passing on the street. This is South America, not Central America, and the differences between the two regions can be striking.

Medellin was named 2013's World's Most Innovative City and is finally beginning to shed its bad-boy image from Pablo Escobar days and to become appreciated for the romantic city it is, with good wines, great coffee, outdoor cafes, and open-air music venues.

#6: Pau, France

The city of Pau, also known as the "Green City" and the "Garden City," has one of the highest ratios of greenery per square meter per person of any European city. Further, Pau's greenery is tremendously diverse and includes trees and plants from Japan, the Caribbean, Mexico, Lebanon, the Mediterranean, Chile, and California, this huge variety in part thanks to the English settlers who came here after the Napoleonic wars and brought with them their love of gardening and parks.

Pau's is a landscape of accessible woodlands, the steep slopes of Jurançon wine country, the history-packed Plaine de Nay and its main town of Nay, and the pretty rolling countryside and ancient towns of the Gaves de Béarn. Pau is a university town, with close to 12,000 university students living on and off campus, helping to keep it lively.

The retiree who has dreamt of France but who can't afford Paris should consider Pau. A couple could retire here on as little as US$2,000 per month.

#5: Dumaguete, Philippines

In addition to its welcoming, friendly, English-speaking people, Dumaguete boasts a warm, tropical climate and lots of opportunity for outdoor adventures, including world-class diving and snorkeling and whale and dolphin watching.

Dumaguete sits right along the ocean, with attractive beaches to the north and south of town. This is also a university city, meaning an abundance of inexpensive restaurants that cater to "starving" college students. Foreigners have the opportunity to make friends with educated professors and aspiring students, take classes, and enjoy cultural opportunities not typically found elsewhere in the Philippines, including theater, ballet, art shows, and libraries.

Medical and dental care are good, with a new hospital under construction and international-standard health care available in nearby Cebu.

More than 5,000 retirees, including many Americans, have decided to make Dumaguete their permanent home. The primary appeal for the would-be retiree is a super-low cost of living; a couple could retire here on as little as US$1,000 per month.

#4: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has been luring expats from the West for many years with its low cost of living and great weather. The high-quality health care and health-related services are also big pluses for foreign retirees. Chiang Mai boasts modern infrastructure and an abundance of Western amenities. It's also a place where it can be possible for foreign retirees to find work if they're interested in supplementing their retirement nest eggs or simply looking to become involved in their new community; many Westerners are employed in Chiang Mai in language schools, universities, medical facilities, and tourist-related industries.

#3: George Town, Malaysia

George Town is a busy, thriving city with a large expat community that has managed to retain its colonial charm (it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The city is affordable, with a tropical climate, an intriguing culture, and gorgeous white-sand beaches.

George Town's total population is about 740,000, small enough that it's easy to make friends and meet people, yet big enough to mean health care that meets international standards and easy availability to goods and services most retirees are looking for. Year-round sunshine, First World infrastructure, turn-key permanent residency, and English-speaking locals make the living here easy. This is a paradise for food lovers and, all things considered, one of the most livable cities in Southeast Asia.

#2: Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca is a charming, walkable colonial city in the highlands of Ecuador, meaning the climate year-round is spring-like. The cost of living is low (though rising) and the cost of real estate is near rock bottom for Latin America. The health care is high quality, honest, and inexpensive. Cuenca's large and growing expat community is one of Latin America's most established and well integrated with the local community. Ecuador offers user-friendly retiree residency options, and the country uses the U.S. dollar, meaning no exchange-rate risk for American retirees.

Thanks to the big and growing expat community based here, downtown Cuenca boasts cafes, restaurants, bars, and bookshops alongside the traditional butchers, tailors, repair shops, and bakeries. Cuenca is also the country's center of art and literature; you can attend the orchestra or a play, enjoy a tango show or an art opening, all often free.

#1: Algarve, Portugal

Portugal's Algarve is the best place in the world to retire in 2014. This Atlantic coastal region is already home to more than 100,000 resident expat retirees and offers the best of the Old World, from medieval towns and fishing villages to open-air markets and local wine, plus some of Europe's best beaches.

The Algarve also boasts great weather, enjoying 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, more than most anywhere else in Europe.

Portugal ranks as the 17th safest country in the world. The infrastructure is good and improving, and the health care is international-standard. Medical tourism is a growing industry.

The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe. A retired couple could live here comfortably on a budget of as little as US$1,500 per month. And the country's new Non-Habitual Resident and Golden Visa programs mean it is easier than it's ever been for a foreign retiree to arrange legal residency.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Our 2014 Retire Overseas Index, which rates and ranks the world's top 21 retirement havens, is featured in full in this month's issue of our Overseas Retirement Letter. If you're not yet an ORL subscriber, become one now to receive this bumper special annual edition, hot-off-the-virtual-presses.

Or you can purchase a copy of the Index on its own here.

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Aug. 26, 2

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Here in Thailand, I've yet to hear of expats leaving because of the
coup: we've had a lot of coups here, too. But curiously, tourism dropped off dramatically. I speak from personal observation here. I figure hotels in Chiang Mai, where Vicki and I stay, should be more than half full in early June (shoulder season). Yet, in my survey, occupancy rates came out closer to 10% or 20%.

In June, Vicki and I played tourist here in Thailand. We took a week-long road trip with friends to Doi Ang Khang (a national park), went to Mae Sai (a border town snuggled up to the Myanmar border) and to Phayao (a popular lakeside town). We mostly shared the scenic sites with a handful of Thai tourists. We noted the almost complete absence of foreign tourists.

I can think of a few reasons for the decline in tourism. The western world remains mired in no-or-slow growth with young tourists having less money to spend. Until recently, Bangkok and other nightlife venues were under curfew, discouraging those who come to party. The Chinese came in large numbers after a Chinese movie called Lost in Thailand became a hit a few years ago. The movie was filmed in Chiang Mai, giving Chinese a special reason to come to town. I figure the movie tourism may have run its course.

Perhaps the major blow to tourism was the coup and street violence that preceded it. Beginning late last year, those thinking of coming to Thailand saw riots on TV. Middle-aged tourists crossed Thailand off their list as they planned ahead for their summer holidays. And I suspect Chinese, in particular, stayed away because of the coup. Young Chinese have only ever known a stable home government. They may never have heard of coups, much less understand them. Ditto the Japanese.

In spite of apparent misgivings abroad, the coup here has had little impact on the tourist experience, in my opinion, for Chinese or Japanese or anyone else. Street life has pretty much returned to normal, and more tourists are showing up. Meanwhile, those of us who spend time here enjoy less crowded restaurants, better prices, lower airfares, a slower pace, and special deals.

Paul Terhorst

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We bought a small packet of kindling and incense. We slipped off our shoes and offered the packet at the temporary shrine. Behind the shrine, rested the ornamental funeral chariot holding the monk's coffin.

Before I had time to take many photos, my friend whisked me to our next stop, the lunch tent. Villagers had prepared gallons of spicy curries, flavorful soups, fried meat, and rice (both sticky and steamed). An early lunch had been served a couple of hours before we arrived, but there was still plenty of food for us and other latecomers.

After eating, we found a seat under a canopy, near my friend's mother and sister, to protect us from the sun or the rain. Women sat together in one area, men in another. During the next several hours, we listened to prayers, speeches, and more while watching the elaborate preparations for the burning. Children ran here, there, and everywhere. Between prayers, people chatted with their neighbors and attended to the children. Folks constantly came around to offer us cold water, sweet fruit drinks, coffee, and ice cream. I had the sense of being at a company picnic or large family reunion.

At last, the momentous final act began. First came a short dance ceremony. Then, many monks—and even more lay people—made their final prayers and offerings. Designated helpers removed the temporary shrine and placed flammable items, not meant for burning, far from the funeral chariot.

We all waited with quiet anticipation.

Suddenly, firecrackers, skyrockets, and whistling bottle rockets exploded all around. Specially designed pyrotechnics ignited. Colored smoke and sparkling lights enveloped the chariot. We heard a mysterious low, moaning sound. Finally, the chariot with the coffin burst into flames. Firemen sprayed water to keep flames under control. Everyone snapped photos as the all-consuming flames burned hotter and hotter, higher and higher.

It was over. We ate our soup (a final offering of comfort), said our goodbyes, and walked down the hill for home.

Vicki Terhorst

P.S. Thailand is just one of the countries we'll tell you about at the upcoming Retire Overseas Conference, coming up later this summer in Nashville, Tennessee. More details on this once-a-year event, here.

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David Sexton is his American counterpart. David relocated, on our offer of employment, from the U.S. capital to the Panamanian one, about two months ago. David is a few years older than Denis but shares the same approach to life and work.

This morning, when I checked my e-mails, I found one from David that read:

"Kathie, attached is something I've just written. Maybe you could work with it...find some use for it..."

Reading on, I was delighted with what David had to say. I thought you might appreciate it, too.

Here you go--David's open letter to retirees back in the States:

"My grandma--Nanaw, as I call her--retired recently for the second time. The first time was from the federal government nearly 15 years ago. More recently, she retired from a voter registrar's office in small-town Virginia.

"Nanaw 'gets' this whole retire overseas beat I'm covering now, but she's got a few years on the average retiree. Plus, she's too drained from the latest election cycle to earnestly consider relocating her life to a new country right now.

"This doesn't stop me from daydreaming about where I'd want her to move--that is, where I'd be most excited about visiting her if she were ever to retire overseas.

"I am 26, which makes me part of the Millennial generation. Sadly, we Millennials struggle to find time to visit dear old grandma and grandpa. I don't make excuses for our behavior, but it occurs to me that I would probably be more likely to visit Nanaw more often if she were enjoying her retirement overseas. What follows, therefore, are five excellent international retirement options, and why, if you move to one of these, you may see much more of your Millennial-generation grandkids.

Italy or France

"Why you'll see more of us: Millennials enjoy food, wine, and high culture.

We're fairly sophisticated, if we do say so ourselves. We're well-educated, and, when given the opportunity, we like to enjoy the finer things in life. So consider a country known for its world-class food, wine, and culture. Italy and France top my list in this regard. Be advised, though: The debt from that art history degree we wound up with is killing us, so you may need to pick up the tab at all café outings we enjoy together. (Side note: our impractical, liberal education is one of the chief reasons we'll appreciate your new home in either Italy or France and look for any chance to visit.)

Belize

"Why you'll see more of us: Millennials need a break.

"Millennials do a pretty good job of managing the vast interconnectedness and dizzying speed of modern life, but it does overwhelm us at times. And I can think of no better place in the world than Belize to get away from it all. How sweet it would be to have an off-the-grid retreat or a Caribbean island hide-a-way in the family to run to whenever the need to unplug the iPad and recharge the soul overtakes us.

Buenos Aires

"Why you'll see more of us: Millennials love cities.

"Millennials are attracted to things they didn't have growing up. As we enter adulthood, we're choosing adventure over safety, connectedness over isolation, convenience over inconvenience, car-independence over car-dependence.

"Put another way: We despise the suburbs from whence we came. Downtown, with its excitement, intimacy, and ease of living, is our preferred habitat. I put Buenos Aires on this list simply because I like it, but you can replace it with any of the world's brand-name cities, and, I promise, the grandkids will show up.

New Zealand

"Why you'll see more of us: Millennials love natural beauty (and hobbits).

"That Millennials are city-dwellers does not preclude an appreciation for natural beauty, particularly the unspoiled variety. Even the least outdoorsy of us loves snapping Facebook-profile-worthy photos in front of striking, natural landscapes. And, thanks to 'The Lord of the Rings' movies, when Millennials think 'striking, natural landscapes," we think New Zealand, and we really want to go.

Thailand

Why you'll see more of us: it's Thailand.

Thailand seems to be either the Millennial's favorite country or at the top of their travel bucket list, so it's a great way to lure the grandkids to you. Bonus: It would be fun for us to say, 'Phuket, I need a vacation; I'm going to visit my grandparents in Thailand!'"

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. What else this week?

"Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
And to anchor at the island when you are old,
Rich with all you have gained on the way,
Not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you..."

-- Constantine Cavafy, 1863-1933

 

  • "What are we doing?" Lief asked me yesterday morning as we were dressing for work, rushed, hurried, pulling ourselves together, while, meantime, making breakfast for Jackson, pushing him out the door in time for his school bus, collecting papers we might need in the office, grabbing laptops and cell phones, feeling already that the day was getting away from us, as, frankly, we feel most mornings...

"What?" I asked, barely registering his question, trying to tidy up the bathroom before we headed downstairs and out the door.

"What are we doing, here in Panama?" he asked...

 

  • We write regularly about how much it costs to live overseas, providing detailed budgets for expenses in different locations we recommend around the world.

But...what does it cost to get there in the first place?...

  • In these dispatches, I give a lot of virtual ink to Latin America. That's because it's nearby to North America (where most of our readers currently reside) and because it can be cheap and sunny (two things most would-be expats and retirees abroad actively seek).

But there's a world beyond these Americas that can also offer good weather and a low cost of living...plus, in some cases, some things you won't find here...

  • Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison writes:

Having lived in both Montevideo, Uruguay, and Medellin, Colombia, I think I can help compare the two...

PLUS--From resident global real estate investing expert Lief Simon:

Agricultural land has taken a priority position among real estate investors over the last few years. Yield-generating investments are a critical part of any portfolio right now, and agricultural land not only throws off a yield, but it also can be expected to appreciate in value as arable land around the world becomes scarcer and demand for food increases.

When one mentions growing things in Colombia, the first thing that comes to mind is coca leaves...the raw product for cocaine. While the end product might make some people big bucks, the crop itself doesn't make the farmers much money.

However, Colombia has another major commodity crop: coffee, which offers big potential both short- and long-term.

This country is known for producing some of the best coffee in the world. Surprisingly, though, the industry is not nearly as efficient or as developed as you might expect. There are two major problems. First, the high-quality "specialty" beans are combined with lesser quality ones, at both the picking and the packing stages, meaning the end result is far inferior to what it could be.

In addition, farmers aren't incentivized to care about growing better coffee. They have been trained that they get paid the same going rate for their beans, regardless of the quality, good, bad, or somewhere in between. The local co-ops come around and tell the farmers that they are paying X per pound today...take it or leave it. So the farmers take it and carry on with their farming as best they can. They've got families to feed, after all.

Colleagues who have been researching the coffee business in Colombia have identified some interesting statistics. Colombia has more than a half-million coffee farms. The average size is a bit more than 1.5 hectares (that is, less than 4 acres...or very small). Within those half-million farms are what are referred to as "lots," or areas, of different types and qualities of coffee beans. In total, there are more than 9 million "lots" in Latin America, only 10% of which qualify as specialty lots (that is, high quality). The specialty lots are the good stuff, but, again, most are blended in with everything else, thanks to how the industry works.

Between underutilized land, thanks, in many cases, to farmers not having the money to invest in modern farming methods, and a lack of pricing incentive, a big potential exists to improve both the quantity and the quality of coffee farm production across Colombia. That's the opportunity that the guys behind Coffee Latin America (CLA) have conceived a strategy to take advantage of, a strategy that translates to a chance for you to own your own coffee farm in Colombia, professionally managed by the Coffee Latin America team. It's an opportunity of great interest, I believe, to the individual investor right now, as well as of great benefit to coffee farmers and the entire coffee-growing industry in Colombia.

Here's how this works:

Coffee Latin America identifies farms they believe they can help, by increasing both the yield of the land and the quality of the beans being grown. Investors purchase those farms (or parts of them), and CLA sends in its management team to get to work.

Implementing modern farming techniques--including using fertilizers, organic pesticides, and better planting techniques--CLA expects to be able to increase the average yield of farms from the current less than 50% of maximum potential to a more optimum level over the course of 10 years. Meantime, they will get better quality coffee from the current trees...and new plantings will be of higher-value plants, such as the geisha that Starbucks recently announced being available in some of its high-end stores.

The critical variables in CLA's plan are increasing total farm yield and raising the per-pound price for better-quality beans. Harvesting more coffee is relatively easy--you simply plant more trees. Right now, many farmers don't farm all the land they have available because they just can't afford to. Plants, pesticides, fertilizer...it all costs money.

Raising the coffee price is a less straightforward objective. CLA expects to accomplish this by taking better care of the trees, planting better coffee varietals, and using the direct marketing channels that CLA has created online to support its investment efforts.

The bottom line of all this is a turn-key opportunity for the investor. An investor buys a piece of property that CLA identifies, and CLA's coffee farm management company, Tiera Cafetera (TC), takes over from there. The selling farmer is given the option to continue to work the farm at a decent salary if he likes. TC provides the materials and tools required to improve yields immediately and puts a plan in place to increase the quality of the coffee beans being grown.

The coffee is harvested and packaged for sale through the CLA product chain, which targets both professional and home roaster markets directly, online, providing for an immediate increase in price.

As Colombia places no restrictions on foreign property ownership, you can buy as little or as much land as you like. The minimum investment is currently US$10,000, which buys a half-acre of an active coffee farm. That minimum will go up as CLA finds more farms and will vary depending on the size of farms available.

As the farms being purchased are already producing coffee, cash flow is generated from day one. However, it will take up to a year to make the necessary investments and see the accompanying improvements in yields and quality.

Projections show that investors should begin to receive small cash returns after the first year. As both yields and quality are improved, cash flow should increase, eventually resulting in an annualized return on investment of 19% per year.

Note that, while coffee plants live for up to 40 years, they produce effectively for but up to 12. A regular replanting schedule is required to keep a farm at optimum productivity. The cost of this is factored into the projected returns.

Remember, further, that this is an investment in the land itself. You own the farmland, meaning you could sell it at any time. TC asks a right of first refusal to be able to buy back your coffee farm should you decide to sell, so they can keep the high quality trees they are planting in their retail coffee system. While they can't guarantee they will buy back your farm when you want to sell, you can be sure they will be motivated to try to accommodate.

That said, you should plan to hold your investment for at least five years to allow the cash flow to increase enough to support a sales price that translates to a nice capital gain.

For more details on what I see as a very appealing productive land investment opportunity in a growth market, inquire here.

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April 4, 2011:

"Kathleen, I am a new member of your Overseas Retirement Circle. I will be visiting Penang, Malaysia, in May and am wondering if you could recommend the best place there for dental work and a medical checkup. I think this might be a good place to retire and wonder if you have any advice on who to contact to find out about rentals, living in Penang, etc.

"I really enjoy receiving your information and hope to make your Orlando conference this year."

--Isobel H., United States

As a member of the Overseas Retirement Circle, you have access to all past issues of our Overseas Retirement Letter. These are archived on your website. We recently published an issue on Penang that has information on rentals and also medical contacts.

Remember, as an Overseas Retirement Circle member, you're eligible for a special US$100 discount off the cost of the registration fee for the Retire Overseas Conference taking place Oct. 14-16 in Orlando.Continue Reading:

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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