Krabi: Finding your place in the sun
The high cost of living in the West; the cold weather; and the lack of community in big cities: these are just some of the reasons more and more people are choosing to retire overseas.
In a warm, sunny country like Thailand, a small pension will go much further: you can live comfortably for as little as 1000 euros a month though many pensioners get by with less. And with a little more, you will find you can also enjoy luxuries that were unaffordable at home: for example, employing a housekeeper so your retirement really is all about leisure.
In a holiday destination like Krabi, recreation is at the foremost of most peoples minds. Outdoor living is the norm here and you can spend your days on anything from gardening to golf. The beach is never far away and there are any number of excursions both inland and out to the islands to be made.
Expats both young and old will always mention the quality of life here as one of the primary reasons for moving. Of course there is good food, good weather and a low cost of living, but there is also a nice balance of East and West: enough expatriates and western goods to make life familiar, yet also a friendly, vibrant local community used to having foreigners around and accommodating their needs. You can really get the best of both worlds.
With advanced technology making communication with loved ones easier, emotional ties back home need no longer stand in the way of a move. Skype and Google allow you to stay in touch with children and grandchildren with regular video chats. And when your family and friends find out you are moving to Krabi, you are in fact likely to have the opposite problem to solitude: too many visitors!
Finding a place to live
Many Krabi retirees choose to rent homes and keep their primary residence abroad. But for those who wish to make an investment and buy (leasehold only), there is not a great deal of choice.
In Krabi, there are relatively few good quality housing developments and the resale market is still very small. This is why many people choose to custom build a home. In this way, you are able to control the materials used, as well as specify the size and design of the property. Should you be investing for the future many younger people are now acquiring property in place of a nest egg, often decades ahead of time these type of houses are also easy to rent out to the holiday market and make some returns while you wait to retire.
Experienced local firms such as Ton Company in Ao Nang provide a one-stop house building service – from design to construction – and have expertise in creating livable homes for older clients with features such as extra security, guest bedrooms, outdoor living space and manageable gardens.
Any type of custom build can be done in your absence: usually only 2 or 3 site visits will be necessary, with progress reports and other communication done via email and Skype.
A car will be essential for anyone living long term in Krabi. The regional road network is excellent and well-maintained; Phuket, with its international hospital and large shopping malls, can be reached in under 2 hours. With a retirement visa (see below), buying a car and getting a Thai driving license is relatively straightforward.
The new government marina in Krabi Town, and the increasingly busy international airport also offer important air and sea links both within the Southeast Asia region, and further afield.
Overcoming culture shock
Because Krabi has a very large English-speaking community, as well as many German, Italian and Scandinavian residents, it is not as foreign as other parts of the country. Western food and brand name products are widely available in familiar supermarket settings and most service staff will have at least very basic English skills.
One of the things new arrivals find it hard to get used to is the relaxed pace of life. Things get done very slowly in Krabi and there are often frustrating waits for bank accounts or phone lines. The only solution is to embrace this laidback attitude and learn the meaning of mai pen rai.
One of the positive cultural aspects here is that older people are held in high regard by society and receive more respect than in the West.
Doing the paperwork
Thailand welcomes older visitors: in fact, anyone over the age of 50 can apply for a retirement visa of one year duration before entering the Kingdom. This permission of stay can be extended in subsequent years in Krabi itself, so no need for visa runs.
The only requirement is proof of sufficient income: a copy of a bank statement showing a deposit of not less than 800,000 baht; or an income certificate with a monthly income of not less than 65,000 baht; or a combination of the two totaling not less than 800,000 baht for the year.
Successful applicants have six months from their first entry to Thailand to bring household items from their home country, exempt from customs duty.