“I’m retired and looking for a nice, reasonably safe place to spend the rest of my days. As a sun and sea person, Thailand seems to fit the bill, especially as it’s cheap, and I hear health care is good and inexpensive should I need it.
“I know that a foreigner is not permitted to own land/property freehold (only leasehold). Do you know if this is likely to change? If so, when?
“Also, what is the crime rate like? Are the people reasonably honest?”
—Georgina R., United States
Asia Correspondent Wendy Justice responds:
“Expats in the Philippines believe that the laws around foreign ownership of land there will change in the next few years as the government works to attract foreign retirees. But I haven’t heard anything similar about Thailand. Foreigners are only permitted to own condos here.
“It really depends on where you live, but violent crime is extremely rare anywhere in Thailand. When crime does occur, it’s generally a crime against property (such as a house burglary) or overcharging (dishonest taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, for example, or tour companies that don’t deliver as promised). Buddhists tend to be as honest as anyone else–even more so, in some ways, as they believe that if they conduct themselves honorably during their lifetimes, they will be reincarnated to a higher form the next time around.
“There are parts of Thailand’s ‘Deep South’ that have experienced unrest, so I’d advise staying away from Hat Yai and any towns south of Hat Yai to the Malaysian border. Those problems disappear outside of those southernmost provinces.
“Corruption exists in Thailand (and practically everywhere in the world), but it’s something that affects foreigners rarely, if ever.
“As a whole, I’ve found Thailand to be a delightfully safe country and have never experienced any sort of crime or corruption other than with the occasional greedy tuk-tuk driver.”
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