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Is Thailand getting tired of tourists?


Thailand, one of the most beautiful countries to visit, relax, and play. A nation that has long been known for its friendly people, fabulous temples, great food and beautiful women—and least I forget, its wild night life and its standing as a world renown destination for sex tourism.

Millions of people from nations all around this great blue globe we call home have ventured to this mystical land over the years to not only enjoy all that the country has to offer in all manners of tourism, but to work, and or, retire–to spend their remaining years in peace and harmony.

All this was made even easier in the past by the relatively affordable cost of housing, combined with the low cost of living and the availability of superb and readily accessible medical care.

For three decades the government of Thailand has made it possible for those looking to enjoy an affordable and fun filled holiday, or to live out their golden years in relative comfort and security to do so, and to do so fairly easily.

For many years the immigration process in regards to visas for everything from a simple thirty to sixty day tourist visa, a long stay visa for work purposes, and or, retirement visa was a fairly easy undertaking.

A tourist visa could then, and still can be obtained at your point of entry into the Kingdom, with long stay and retirement visas obtained through a visit to the immigration department, and at a moderate cost.

There was also a time that buying a house was a lot easier, and considerably more affordable.

Here-in lays the problem however.

The last couple years has seen the regulations pertaining to the issuance of visas become not only more complicated and restrictive, but more costly as well.

The government of Thailand has, for some reason known only to the politicians involved, decided to make it harder and more costly to obtain, and or, renew work permits, long stay and retirement visas.

The requirements in place at this time require that you pay an enormous fee up front, in the neighborhood of one-hundred-ninety-one thousand baht (6,400.00 USD) to apply for a retirement visa, you then have to have at least eight-hundred thousand baht (26,700 USD) in a Thai bank, which personally scares me as Thai banks are not very secure in my opinion, and then guarantee that you make at least eighty-two thousand baht, or over twenty-seven hundred USD per month in retirement income.

Now with this amount of income on a monthly basis, many of us could make out fairly comfortably at home.

It is becoming more complicated to purchase a residence as well as put the needed protections in place like a “Superficies” that will act to protect you in the event your Thai partner decides she, or he wants to sell the land out from under you. And unfortunately this does happen frequently.

Now as far as medical care is concerned, most find it highly affordable when comparing cost to their home country. And the Kingdom is one of several Asia countries offering medical tourism, however in order to seek treatment for anything other than a minor ailment, you better bring the Platinum Visa or American Express along.

Why?

Simple, if it is determined you will need to be admitted to the hospital, and or, require surgery; you will need to pay an immense deposit up front, if not the total estimated cost, many times you will be asked to surrender your passport to the facility, unless you have medical insurance that cover the cost for you, most do not.

And in the event you find yourself in need of emergency treatment and care; if you do not have the available funds you most likely will not be treated. Your only hope in many cases, the public hospitals, not so nice as far as medical facilities go, and you still have to have the ability to come up with the funds within a very short period of time, and before being released.

The overall cost of living has been climbing to boot, particularly in, and around the bigger cities, Bangkok a case in point.

Many of the everyday food items we have come to enjoy and take for granted in our diet; eggs, milk, bacon and such, have become more expensive to purchase and enjoy than we found them to be in our native lands, with many of these products being produced within the country itself. Go figure.

Those new to Thailand will find that if they budget their funds, they may be able to just get by on around 10,000 Baht, or approximately three-hundred-thirty US dollars a month. This is an average wage for a working Thai. And then if, and only if, you choose to live in a small studio or one bedroom apartment with no air-conditioning, or virtually few creature comforts, as well as having to live in a predominately Thai neighborhood many times in a not so desirable area off the beaten path in regards to ease of transportation like the Skytrain and Underground.

Now if you eat as the majority of Thai’s do, two or three meals consisting of rice and veggies combined with either pork, beef, chicken, or fish, in small quantities, or dine at one of the numerous sidewalk food carts or stands, one can get a cup of steamed or sticky rice, a small portion of pork, chicken, beef, or fish, with a sprinkling of veggies for around thirty-five to forty baht—approximately a dollar fifteen to a dollar fifty.

However if you are like the majority of foreigners; “Farang” that come to the country in search of a relaxed and financially affordable lifestyle, you will find in order live in a fairly comfortable manner it will set you back at least 35,000 to 40,000 baht (twelve-hundred to thirteen-hundred-fifty dollars), per month, and only if you still chose to rent a one bedroom, or small two bedroom apartment. And if you elect this route due to income restrictions, you will never be able to receive a retirement visa.

Where once Farang were looked upon as a welcome addition to the cultural mix of the country, as well as an added boost to the Thai economy, it has slowly, but surely been changing. Foreigners in the Kingdom are, to put it in a politically correct manner, tolerated. Thailand has become to a degree, somewhat dependent on foreign tourism to help keep their economy stabilized, and to aid there standing within the top percentile of third world countries worldwide. In fact a major portion of the Thai economy comes from tourism. Yet they seem to forget their roots. Had it not been for the United States having four bases within the country during the Vietnam conflict, and the millions of dollars pumped into Thailand, the country would still be, in many areas, one big rice paddy.

Many women within the Kingdom, and I am not referring to just the working girls, see Farang as “Walking, talking, ATM machines.” Strictly a source of added income and status to benefit them and their families and nothing much more, unless of course you count the land and houses that many Farang are seduced into buying for their “beloved” ladies, only to end up losing down the road.

Another problem is that approximately 75 percent of the Thai people do not speak English, not even within the major cities like Bangkok. Take this in comparison of its neighbor; Cambodia, yet a poorer nation–where somewhere in the area of 80 percent speak English, in fact many speak not only their native language of Khmer, but English and French as well.

Go figure!

In the three plus years I have resided within Thailand I have found the level of friendliness, and acceptance of foreigners to be on the decline. Many times while waiting for the Skytrain, or in line at a 7-11, I have been pushed aside by Thai’s in a hurry, and with not even a “Sorry!” I can recall numerous times while waiting at the curb with my wife, who by the way is Cambodian, along with my two daughters while waiting for a Meter-Taxi, only to have one pass us by and pull in to pick up a Thai fare standing not ten feet from us, or in many cases have the driver actually refuse to take us where we wanted to go.

To top it all off, a major factor making many of the Farang residents I personally know, as well as many businesses nervous, is the very delicate, and very unstable political situation within the country.

Having experienced the last major fiasco of political unrest in Bangkok in 2010 first hand, one where taxi drivers refused to pick up fares out of fear of being shot at by the police or army. Having watched the events unfold on TV, and reading the stories in the papers as a few thousand Thai’s, the “Red Shirts”, literally brought the country to its knees with three months of demonstrations and property destruction costing not only numerous Thai lives, on both sides, as well as a the lives of a few foreigners, but thousands of Thai’s lost their jobs, as well as billions of baht in overall damages, not to mention damaging the country economically through the loss of business, businesses, and tourist dollars.

I know, as do many of the foreign residents within the Kingdom, it is only a matter of time before this nation is torn apart with another major situation of political unrest, or even, God forbid, a civil war. Unfortunately however this may be closer than one might imagine, as close as when their beloved King, who is very ill and has been hospitalized for well over a year now, passes.

If you are one that is still interested in visiting, working, or even retiring to Thailand, I encourage you to do your research first—then, and only then, if you are still up to the trip, due so with caution and foresight.

I for one am returning to the security of the USA. Although the economic picture is not sound, I do have a decent retirement income, and most importantly, I am a citizen, have the ability to receive medical care if needed in an emergency, can live on my retirement, especially since I have a house to return to, and don’t have to worry about being caught up in a civil strife involving the army and police that is only beginning to take root here, but such is life in a third world nation.

A flurry of emails have come in on this subject addressing the residency regulations. Here are two…

Allen Cross writes in his article: http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=6087

“The requirements in place at this time require that you pay an enormous fee up front, in the neighborhood of one-hundred-ninety-one thousand baht (6,400.00 USD) to apply for a retirement visa, you then have to have at least eight-hundred thousand baht (26,700 USD) in a Thai bank, which personally scares me as Thai banks are not very secure in my opinion, and then guarantee that you make at least eighty-two thousand baht, or over twenty-seven hundred USD per month in retirement income.”

This is not true and he certainly knows better (having lived there for 3 years) and I doubt why he want to scare people off Thailand.

The application fee for retirement visa is unchanged since some years 1,900 Baht ( = 61 US$ and not 6,400 as he wrote).

Than as single you have to proof 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank (when married to a Thai only 400,000 Baht),

OR (not “and”, as he wrote)

65,000 Baht income/month (approx. 2,000 US$).

And Thai banks are saver than many others worldwide (none ever failed in the last decades and savings are better and higher guaranteed as by FDIC).

The rest of his article remains uncommented allthough I not agree with many of his observations.

Best Regards

Volker Boehm

And

While I agree with much of the tone of this article, some major errors of fact in this para:

The requirements in place at this time require that you pay an enormous fee up front, in the neighborhood of one-hundred-ninety-one thousand baht (6,400.00 USD) to apply for a retirement visa, you then have to have at least eight-hundred thousand baht (26,700 USD) in a Thai bank, which personally scares me as Thai banks are not very secure in my opinion, and then guarantee that you make at least eighty-two thousand baht, or over twenty-seven hundred USD per month in retirement income.

Completely incorrect. The write may be confused with residency which is another matter altogether.

A non-O immigrant visa which covers retirement will cost 2000 baht, about $65 of your US dollars. If the person needs assistance with the paperwork (shouldn’t, quite easy) there is no shortage of legal/visa companies  who will complete the process for 8-9000 baht, US $250.

And: 800,000 baht or (not also) monthly income. Not both. It can be a combination though if eg pension totals 500,000 pr annum then person needs the remaining 300,000 in the bank.

A check of the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs website will confirm this information.

There are thousands of people living here on this visa.

Glenn

Enjoying life in Thailand

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