Why This Southeast Asian City Is A No-Brainer Budget Retirement Choice
“With all its amenities, Hua Hin isn’t the least expensive place to live in Thailand,” writes Asia Correspondent Wendy Justice. “However, it can be a bargain choice by Western standards.
“Costs are similar to those in the capital city of Bangkok, three hours to the north. However, the city of Hua Hin (one of the destinations I’ll be featuring in my presentations for our Retire Overseas Conference in Orlando in October) is a vastly different place than Bangkok, with a real small-town ambiance, a high standard of living in a very safe environment, and a big, beautiful beach perfect for whiling away your days.
“Although most apartments and condominiums offered for rent are in the US$350 to US$500 range, there are plenty of places available for less. When we visited Hua Hin last month, we noticed several rentals advertised for 9,000 baht per month. That’s about US$300. Most houses rent for a very reasonable US$500 to US700 per month.
“If you’re like us and would rather eat out than cook at home, food would probably be your biggest expense in Hua Hin. An extravagant buffet dinner at the plush and historic Sofitel resort would set you back around US$40 per person. A fresh-caught fish dinner and a bottle of wine at one of the popular seafood restaurants built along the pier is about US$20 to US$30 for two. By Western standards, that isn’t a lot, though, for Thailand, it is at the high end of the spectrum. You could certainly spend less eating where the local Thais eat–say US$10 for two people at a casual Thai restaurant. Even less expensive would be eating at one of the markets, where a couple could enjoy a delicious local dinner for less than US$5.
“Hua Hin has free city-wide wireless Internet, which works well if you’re living near the center of town. Places on the outskirts of town often don’t have good reception. Hua Hin City Wide doesn’t offer the fastest connection speeds (the maximum is 100 kbps), but the price is right. Home ADSL plans through one of several private companies start at about 500 baht per month (less than US$20), perfect if you can’t get good reception from the Hua Hin Citywide system or if you require a secure network. You could also go to one of the many Internet cafes in town for online access at around US$1 per hour.
“Two people on a tight budget could live a comfortable lifestyle in Hua Hin for less than US$1,000 per month. In this range, you could rent an air-conditioned one- or two-room apartment, eat most of your meals at home or at the market, enjoy an occasional meal at casual restaurants, use the free city-wide internet, have cable TV and a part-time housekeeper, and travel around using public transportation.
“A reasonable budget for a couple wanting to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle in a rented apartment or condominium would be US$1,100 to US$1,500 per month. In other words, if you are receiving Social Security or pension benefits, a secure and comfortable middle-class lifestyle in Hua Hin is probably within your budget.
“For this money, you could be living in a one- or two-bedroom apartment or house, enjoy the help of a full-time housekeeper, eat several meals per week out, and take taxis or have your own transportation. You could rent a motorbike for US$6 per day or US$150 per month, worth it if you enjoy exploring or anticipate frequent late evenings out (past 9 p.m.), when the public buses stop service for the night.
“If you have a budget of more than US$1,500 per month to work with, you could fill out your lifestyle with a membership at one of the 12 golf courses and country clubs in the immediate area, a nice apartment or house with a pool and a view, a full-time housekeeper, your own vehicle, and regular meals out.
“People we’ve talked to who live here on a budget of US$2,000 per month are able to live very comfortably, enjoying plenty of imported foods and wine, driving their own automobiles, living in well-appointed homes, and spending lots of time on the golf course and at the country club.
“Important cost-savings in this part of the world include high quality and inexpensive medical and dental care. Likewise, travel. For less than US$10, you could be at the international airport in Bangkok, where you can hop on one of the deep-discount airlines that service this transportation hub to explore destinations throughout Asia.
“Hua Hin isn’t the cheapest choice in Thailand or, certainly, in Southeast Asia. I think it makes a great deal of sense, though, when considered in context. When you compare the lifestyle that US$2,000 per month buys you here with what it would afford you in North America, it’s a no-brainer.
“And Hua Hin’s biggest attraction–it’s long, clean, sandy beach and inviting ocean–is free.”