For decades, Thailand has been a top choice for expats to visit, work and retire. Thailand, besides being famous for amazing weather, blue waters and very tasty food, has been expat heaven for the cheap costs of living. Many expats would flock from their home countries to spend their retirements in the warmth of Thailand’s sun, however, this golden era might be heading to an end.
Thai baht is on the rise
In the mid-2000s, Thai baht was valued at approximately THB ฿40 per US dollar, and in January of 2019 and the baht has strengthened to THB ฿32.3 per US dollar, appreciating by around 7% in 15 years. Since then, the baht has strengthened even more, valuing at THB ฿30.4 per US dollar, marking a 5.8% appreciation in less than 10 months. Thai baht is currently at its strongest point in over 6 years and for over 10 months, it has outperformed all other Asian currencies.
And while there is no single reason behind this phenomenon, the main ones include global investors purchasing local equities, the economic growth of the country remains at a high rate, and Thailand’s high account surplus of USD $3.9 billion in August 2019 alone.
What does that mean for those visiting and planning to retire in Thailand?
Surging baht is making life expensive for retired expats in Thailand
A stronger baht means that the baht in your bank account is now worth more when converted to other currencies, compared to a few years ago. It’s making Thailand an overall more expensive place to live, and both tourists and retirees might not see the Land of Smiles as a top Asian destination for cheap holidays, or retirement anymore.
In order to secure the right visa, retiring expats in Thailand must show proof of deposit of THB ฿800,000 (US$26,176) 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.
With the retirees’ pensions remaining the same, the strengthening baht means that for the same amount of money, retirees can buy fewer bahts to support themselves in Thailand. With less spending power, tourists and expats in Thailand must plan their stays more strategically, and plan for certain expenses in advance.
Expense planning for retirees in Thailand
Medical costs are an example of such expenses, which can get very high, depending on the situation, illness or emergency that needs treatment, as well as hospital bills, even in public hospitals, as foreigners can be charged more than locals. And since most expatriates choose private healthcare in Thailand, obtaining the right private health insurance plan in Thailand to offset these costs is a wise strategy.
However, the same private health plans that can result in affordable premiums for some, might cost more if the insured person starts the plan with any kind of illness, such as diabetes. These illnesses are also known as ‘pre-existing conditions’. While pre-existing conditions are usually excluded from insurance plans, some international health insurance providers may be more tolerant towards applicants with these conditions and may offer coverage as long as the applicant agrees to a waiting period, or pay an extra premium. This is still a better option than not having certain issues covered, as anything resulting from that condition is usually excluded from the plan, too.
Finding the optimal health insurance for retirees in Thailand can be a daunting task at first, but with the help of experienced advisors from Pacific Prime Thailand, expats in Thailand can rest assured that our team will use its best efforts to accommodate your needs. Contact Pacific Prime Thailand directly for more information, plan comparisons and free quotes.