Strong baht making retirement expensive

Brian Maxey moved to Thailand from the United Kingdom expecting his sterling pension to give him an easy retirement. Instead, he’s finding it harder because of the strong baht.

He bought a townhouse, pickup truck and motorcycle when he arrived at the age of 55 two decades ago. Back then the pound bought about 60 baht, but now it fetches a little less than 38 baht.

“It was a cheap place to live then,” Maxey said in an interview in Pattaya, which is popular with European retirees. “It’s not anymore.”

The government issued almost 80,000 retirement visas last year, a climb of 30% from 2014. To qualify, foreigners must show a deposit of 800,000 baht in a Thai bank or have a monthly income of 65,000 baht. Another route is to have income and deposits totaling 800,000 baht combined.

Britons accounted for the largest number of retirement visas in 2018, Immigration Bureau data shows. They were followed by Americans, Germans, Chinese and Swiss pensioners seeking affordable golden years.

Some pensioners are already leaving, according to Niels Colov, who moved from Denmark about 40 years ago and helps to organise a club for expats in Pattaya.

“There’s an exodus of foreigners from this area to Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines,” he said. “We’re talking thousands of people.”

Some of those remaining may have to cut back spending, said Christian Foerster, an Austrian who retired to Thailand 20 years ago.

“There’s an enormous change,” he said. “Everything is more expensive. But it’s about adjusting, adapting and living modestly.”

Related search: amp, retirement visas, strong baht, years ago

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Writer: Gary Boyle
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