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Old 12-17-2011, 05:06 PM   #21
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Thanks for the informative thread Khufu. I know that comparing costs with Manhatten is not typical for members of this forum but it is good when comparing to life in an upscale Bangkok neighborhood.

What it indicates is that any relocation can be managed if you have the will to make it happen.

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Old 12-17-2011, 05:07 PM   #22
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I envy the Aussie and European expats who can escape income tax completely. Is your superannuation payout taxed? We Americans can only dream.

Australia has an excellent health care system because it is a civilized country that puts the well-being of its citizenry above that of the corporations. Unlike the US. However, don't you lose access to the Aussie system if you expatriate?
Thank you for the detailed response, including your budget. I have spent some time on Thai visa and am familiar with the varying budgets people consider to be reasonable. I for one would not want a significantly lower standard of living than what I have now, so agree that getting by on an ESL teachers wage and counting every penny is not my idea of fun and relaxation in retirement. As a single person, I am looking at ensuring I have at least 100k baht per month.

Whilst working, contributions going in to your superannuation account by you (optional) or your employer (compulsory) are taxed at 15%, and any earnings whilst in super are also taxed at 15%. This is still less than the tax rate of 38.5% for income earned over $80,000 and the tax rate of 46.5% for income earned over $180,000. Once you reach the age of 60, the super payout (entire balance) becomes tax free. If you wish to withdraw before 60, there is some tax that you will need to pay.

As far as Medicare is concerned, it is correct that you lose access once you become a non resident. However you gain access as soon as you return to Australia and show evidence that you are returning as a resident (eg new lease agreement in Australia, new gas/electricity account in Australia). In effect, it means that if you come back to Australia on holiday you are not entitled, but if you come back with the intention of staying, then you resume access. You need to be able to demonstrate your intention of staying.
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:58 PM   #23
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Thank you for the detailed response, including your budget. I have spent some time on Thai visa and am familiar with the varying budgets people consider to be reasonable. I for one would not want a significantly lower standard of living than what I have now, so agree that getting by on an ESL teachers wage and counting every penny is not my idea of fun and relaxation in retirement. As a single person, I am looking at ensuring I have at least 100k baht per month.

Whilst working, contributions going in to your superannuation account by you (optional) or your employer (compulsory) are taxed at 15%, and any earnings whilst in super are also taxed at 15%. This is still less than the tax rate of 38.5% for income earned over $80,000 and the tax rate of 46.5% for income earned over $180,000. Once you reach the age of 60, the super payout (entire balance) becomes tax free. If you wish to withdraw before 60, there is some tax that you will need to pay.

As far as Medicare is concerned, it is correct that you lose access once you become a non resident. However you gain access as soon as you return to Australia and show evidence that you are returning as a resident (eg new lease agreement in Australia, new gas/electricity account in Australia). In effect, it means that if you come back to Australia on holiday you are not entitled, but if you come back with the intention of staying, then you resume access. You need to be able to demonstrate your intention of staying.
One thing I have learned here that is not apparent on thaivisa is that there is a substantial and active expat community. They are readily available and welcoming. There are all kinds of clubs focused on sports or other kinds of activities. There's a book exchanging club, for example, and golf and bridge, etc. Most of the expats I have met so far have been working, rather than retirees, as it happens. So, it's easier to make social connections than you might suppose. You might get the impression from thaivisa that the expats are all sourpusses, but it's not so.

When you are here pick up a copy of the book, "The Bangkok Guide", put out by one of the expat groups. Lots of useful tips and groups.

For looking for an apartment this is a site that you might find interesting:
Kobayashi-ApartmentService

If you nose around you will find the maps. These show actual apartment buildings, distance to public transportation, parks, etc. The write-up on each building gives apartment sizes and rents, and sometimes a recommendation. We found it to be pretty accurate. The big expat area is Sukhumvit from the low numbered soys out to soy 55 or more. The higher numbered soys will be cheaper.

And this site is also quite helpful:
Thailand Real Estate & Property Forum (

These are ads for rentals organized by building. The apartments in the expat areas will be in English, while those in the Thai areas will be in Thai. So, it's easy to get a feel for which are the expat zones.

Nun, you'll find pictures of apartments on the kobayashi site.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:36 PM   #24
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Well that's a novel way to do things. Reading a PWC pamphlet on Thai tax I found the bit about waiting a year to remit the money.

I agree with you about wanting to get away from the US healthcare system! It's one of the main reasons I'lll be retiring outside the US. I live in MA and part of my planning has been to make sure I don't have to file any MA tax forms once I leave the US.
I understood that MA had a good health care system. Not your experience?

Are you considering Thailand as your destination or somewhere else?

As far as avoiding MA tax, you have to research the tax domicile rules for MA. One point that is important for some states is that there be nothing that can be construed as an "intent to return." It also means that we cannot vote although there is a way around that apparently. Let me know if you want the details.

My wife felt ill a few weeks ago so I took her to the doctor. In Thailand that means a trip to the hospital. Not plush, but a well-respected government hospital here in the BKK. Waited half an hour. Got to see a doctor, who happened to be bilingual. Spent 10 min. or so with him. Filled the four prescriptions right at the hospital pharmacy. Total bill including meds: USD 18. In Manhattan, without insurance, that would have been hundreds of dollars.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:04 PM   #25
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As a point of reference for all Australians, we have never had the 10% withholding tax applied to our Australian investments. We have always used an overseas address and had no issues. We have always declared and paid tax on Australian interest/dividends in our country of residence, at this time the US.

With regards to Australian medicare, none of the providers ever ask if you are resident in Australia. Both DH and I have valid Medicare cards even though we have been overseas for a long time. Also look at the reciprocal medicare agreements and if you have dual citizenship you can probably get around any issues of not being entitled. Personally I have never even heard of a tourist being refused treatment.
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:44 PM   #26
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As a point of reference for all Australians, we have never had the 10% withholding tax applied to our Australian investments. We have always used an overseas address and had no issues. We have always declared and paid tax on Australian interest/dividends in our country of residence, at this time the US.

With regards to Australian medicare, none of the providers ever ask if you are resident in Australia. Both DH and I have valid Medicare cards even though we have been overseas for a long time. Also look at the reciprocal medicare agreements and if you have dual citizenship you can probably get around any issues of not being entitled. Personally I have never even heard of a tourist being refused treatment.
DangerMouse

The 10% withholding tax specifically applies to bank deposits. You need to specifically request your financial institution in Oz withhold the 10% tax on interest earnt, otherwise they will not do so. Where it becomes advantageous to do so is in the following example.

An Australian resident that has say $1M AUS in the bank earning 5% interest. This equates to $50,000 per year. If that person moves to Thailand, he can ask that the bank withholds the 10% tax, equal to $5,000. That person is left with $45,000 after tax, or $3750 per month. Assuming a 30:1 exchange rate, that equals 112,500 baht per month. That person also no longer needs to complete an Australian tax return ever, assuming this is his only income, he declares himself as a non resident for tax purposes, and the 10% tax continues to apply for all future interest.

If that person does not ask for the 10% tax to be withheld, then he must fill in a Aus tax return for the income earned in Aus, and as a non-resident will need to pay 30% flat tax, or $15,000. He is therefore $10,000 worse off, and now has only 87500 baht per month, compared with 112,500 baht before.

In either case, there will be no tax to pay in Thailand if the income is not transferred over in the year it was earnt.

So there are clear advantages to declaring yourself a non resident for tax purposes and living in a lower cost country like Thailand.

As for Medicare, I am only going on their official website which indicates that if you are absent for more than 5 years, you would need to prove that you were now planning to reside long term back in Aus

Eligibility and enrolment - Medicare Australia

I cant see how a tourist would be able to obtain Medicare benefits without a Medicare card, and they could only obtain a card if they have reciprocal arrangements with Aus in their country. Of course, a tourist could seek treatment and pay the full fee (ie Medicare subsidy + gap), or alternatively if they have travel insurance, presumably the insurance would pick up the tab.

Reciprocal arrangements are only for certain countries, I dont believe the US is one of them.

http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/...orm_011005.pdf

In your case, you retain a medicare card so would be able to obtain the benefit, assuming the expiry on the card has not lapsed. You would also need an Australian address where the Medicare cheque can be mailed to you.
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Old 12-17-2011, 11:06 PM   #27
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Khufu

Apologies for the slight detour on the thread with Oz aspects.

I have a couple more questions if you will indulge me.

Did you meet your Thai wife in Thailand or the US, and how long have you been together?

How much of the decision to move to Thailand was due to your wife missing family, versus the financial aspects and being able to retire early?

How long has the move been in the planning?

Do you have any advice for relationships with Thai women, for someone who might move there in the future?

Finally what is Manhattan like. As you say, it is one of the most expensive parts of the US. Is there anything you miss about Manhattan (clearly not the going to work bit...)
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:50 AM   #28
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Khufu

Apologies for the slight detour on the thread with Oz aspects.

I have a couple more questions if you will indulge me.

Did you meet your Thai wife in Thailand or the US, and how long have you been together?

How much of the decision to move to Thailand was due to your wife missing family, versus the financial aspects and being able to retire early?

How long has the move been in the planning?

Do you have any advice for relationships with Thai women, for someone who might move there in the future?

Finally what is Manhattan like. As you say, it is one of the most expensive parts of the US. Is there anything you miss about Manhattan (clearly not the going to work bit...)
I met my wife online first via a chat program and then in person in 2001. I had never been to Thailand previously and had no interest in it although I had always wanted to live abroad. I invited her to come to NYC to study English full-time. She was already a high school English teacher with a college degree, but her English was not yet fluent. She did come and we were married in 2002. She spent a year in intensive ESL and then did a second degree at a uni in NYC and worked in her industry there for several years. We lived in NYC for nine years until we came to BKK earlier this year.

Hmm. I don't know that I would fully endorse the idea of seeking a spouse by nationality. But if you come here Thai women will certainly be a fact of life. I don't know any other Thai women very well at all. From the little I do know I would make these observations. Thais, men and women, don't seem to have very good, collaborative relationships with communication and taking care of each other's needs. The relationships seem to be take-it-or-leave-it. The men want a wife mainly in order to get male children, as far as I can see. Spousal abuse occurs at a high rate, according to one estimate I have just read, at twice the rate in the US. That's another one of the less than charming aspects of the culture. So, foreign man have a certain cachet with Thai women. In any case, getting dates with attractive Thai women won't be a problem. The problem is more likely to be making a satisfying relationship. Many do, of course. In our case, although it was no part of any plan, it worked out well that we lived in the West for the first nine years and she became completely fluent in English. She understands American culture in a way that she never would have if we had met and settled down here in Thailand. Anyway, my advice would be to go very slowly, even though that is not my own history.

The decision to move to Thailand was actually relatively easy to make. What attracted me was the lower cost of living and the chance both to live abroad and become fluent in a non-Indo-European language. For her it was the chance to be close pnysically to her family. Yesterday, she spent the day making cookies with her five-year-old nephew in our kitchen and I thought our plan had worked out perfectly. Of course, I miss my friends and family, too, but it's not the same for a man, is it? If I had not been married to a Thai, I probably would have considered Buenos Aires. I should be clear that I retired only a few years early. I would have been able to retire now even in the US, but the lower cost of living here provides an additional financial safety factor as well as the cultural interest.

We have been planning the move to Thailand for about five years. We went around looking at apartments here on a vacation three years before we moved, for example. You can't do too much planning. I opened extra bank accounts and credit cards in the US, because you can't necessarily count on being able to open them from abroad. The hardest problem to solve is the exchange rate risk, but that should be much less so for an Aussie because the AUD should be expected to move along with the Asian currencies, more or less. And Oz runs a trade suplus, doesn't it?

We had a good life in Manhattan. NYC is a very walkable city and I enjoyed walking on the streets and in the parks for many years. The same can't really be said for BKK. But I had lived in NYC for a very long time and I wanted to live some different way for the next period of life. My wife misses Manhattan more than I do actually. Mostly, what I miss is just a couple of close friends.

If you do come, setting up your household and all that won't really be very difficult. Longer term it is very important to have a purpose and to find friends. Otherwise, life becomes grim. For me language study will be the focus for the next year and then I have some ideas about how to proceed from there. In any case, be aware that you always need a Plan B, because there might be any number of reasons why continuing in Thailand may become untenable at some point in the future.
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:04 AM   #29
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Khufu

Thanks for the comprehensive response.

I should have also welcomed you to the forum. I am a relative newbie and dont post here much, but I do keep an eye on the threads regularly, and for someone like myself that is trying to retire early, it has some invaluable information and helps me to stay motivated. The board is somewhat US centric but that's fine.

Anyway, enjoy your (early) retirement in LOS !
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:13 AM   #30
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Khufu

Thanks for the comprehensive response.

I should have also welcomed you to the forum. I am a relative newbie and dont post here much, but I do keep an eye on the threads regularly, and for someone like myself that is trying to retire early, it has some invaluable information and helps me to stay motivated. The board is somewhat US centric but that's fine.

Anyway, enjoy your (early) retirement in LOS !
Good luck with your plans. The future seems far off. Then, one day it's here.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:55 AM   #31
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Interesting story Khufu. My timeline and story is similar to yours. I lived on Mercer St and made the decision to leave the USA 9/11/2001 and finally made the move to SA on 9/11/2003. I was not country specific at first but knew it would be LAM as opposed to SEA. I met my wife (Peruvian) and became interested in her culture. We discussed options as I was flexible and in the end decided to stay close to her family. My first visit here was for 3 weeks and I experienced a feeling of "being home" that many of my friends (who travel here frequently) have noticed as well.

I agree on not being specific on your future spouses nationality as I dated internationally for many years and met many women (although wonderful) were not for me and never once was it a nationality issue.

I am not very close to my family, so it is a non-issue and old friends will always be old friends (only older).

Enjoy your new adventure and stay young!
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:37 AM   #32
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Interesting story Khufu. My timeline and story is similar to yours. I lived on Mercer St and made the decision to leave the USA 9/11/2001 and finally made the move to SA on 9/11/2003. I was not country specific at first but knew it would be LAM as opposed to SEA. I met my wife (Peruvian) and became interested in her culture. We discussed options as I was flexible and in the end decided to stay close to her family. My first visit here was for 3 weeks and I experienced a feeling of "being home" that many of my friends (who travel here frequently) have noticed as well.

I agree on not being specific on your future spouses nationality as I dated internationally for many years and met many women (although wonderful) were not for me and never once was it a nationality issue.

I am not very close to my family, so it is a non-issue and old friends will always be old friends (only older).

Enjoy your new adventure and stay young!
Upper West Side here.

Peru is a fascinating country. There is so much to see and so varied. My wife and I would both like to go there. Are you retired or working?
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:18 PM   #33
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Upper West Side here.

Peru is a fascinating country. There is so much to see and so varied. My wife and I would both like to go there. Are you retired or working?
While Peru is a fascinating place to visit, I have learned what ever country I live in, it must be in the Capitol city otherwise I might as well .....

I retired 24 years ago (been living in Peru for 8 years). Upper West Side has always been my favorite. I was living with a Coed who was getting her PHD in Psychology at NYU, hence the Village location. I have a 22 y/o Daughter who is
working on her PHD in Pysch as well, so apparently " I drive women crazy", just not in a good way!
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:35 PM   #34
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While Peru is a fascinating place to visit, I have learned what ever country I live in, it must be in the Capitol city otherwise I might as well .....

I retired 24 years ago (been living in Peru for 8 years). Upper West Side has always been my favorite. I was living with a Coed who was getting her PHD in Psychology at NYU, hence the Village location. I have a 22 y/o Daughter who is
working on her PHD in Pysch as well, so apparently " I drive women crazy", just not in a good way!

How do you spend your time in Miraflores? We enjoyed visiting the Andes in Ecuador earlier this year, but crime was clearly an issue. Are you able to manage that well enough?

Is your daughter doing clinical or experimental psych?
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:37 PM   #35
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How do you spend your time in Miraflores? We enjoyed visiting the Andes in Ecuador earlier this year, but crime was clearly an issue. Are you able to manage that well enough?

Is your daughter doing clinical or experimental psych?
My daughter is studying clinical psych ( no jobs) at the Univ of Colo. in Denver, she completed her undergrad work at Univ of Mich in Ann Arbor.

I have only been to the coastal areas of Ecuador, I am not a fan of altitude but I have taken several trips up the Andes. My favorite Andean city is Arequipa and the Colca Canyon and I have also taken the train from from Lima-Huancayo which was once the worlds highest railroad ( now it is in Nepal) which stops at a station Ticlio 15843 ft (managed to smoke half a cigarette).

Miraflores is a small oceanfront enclave of about 100,000. I can and do walk around literally 24 hrs a day. As about 4 million tourists a year come here to gawk at the ocean (the picture next to my name is about 2 miles from my apartment) and eat in some of the worlds best restaurants security is a big priority. Besides the national police, we have tourist police (pretty women who speak English and have guns as well as our own private security force, and surveillance cameras in the sky everywhere. Petty theft camera's,cell phones,computers,nextel,ipods is definitely a problem! I do not wear jewelry other than my wedding band, a cheap cell phone and less than $100.00 in my front pocket.

Everything I need is within a 17 block radius, 4 supermarkets, bakeries,fruit carts, 2 multiplexes, 100's of cafes/restaurants/Bars, My private clinic, Dentist, Miles of Oceanfront parks, cliffside walking trails, etc,etc. Parasailing/Surfing/Tennis are across the street

How I spend my day?

I get up at 7:45 (when DW leaves for work) spend time with my 6 year old son until his driver picks him up for Kindergarden at 8:15. Have Coffee on the terrace till 8:45, watch news until the market opens at 9:30.

( I am a former WS trader who has no portfolio, but can watch the tape for hours on end).

Around 11 am, I shower get dressed and head to the office! It is an Outdoor Cafe (never rains in Lima) owned by a fellow Expat and is a meeting place for guy's that are in country. If I have errands to run, I will postpone them to tomorrow. I return home at 2:30 sharp (Son arrives home) and sit down with the family for our main meal.

3:30-4:00 take my daily nap.
4:00-6:00 take my son to the park/beach/walking or whatever and discuss life.
6:00-7:00 Meet friends for drinks and girl watching.
7:30 Meet my wife for Coffee/sandwich/dessert.
Usually, friends/Family/relatives come by till late or we watch TV/Movies.

Weekends we are up very late and sleep in most mornings.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know!
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:02 AM   #36
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Very interesting to hear of life on the ground in Peru! We only got to 12,000 ft in Ecuador and at which point walking up the stairs wore us out.

I know about traders. I worked on the buy side, IT though. Dealt with plenty of traders.

Sounds like an agreeable life. Congratulations.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:52 AM   #37
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Khufu, thanks for your extensive perspective on your life in Bangkok. I've been in country 20 months and have a few comments.

>Khufu
>The dollar will probably resume its decline after the current flight to safety runs its course.

Enough of Thailand's exports go to the US that they act to keep the exchange rate within certain bounds. No idea if they can continue to do that, or will need to.

>Ozziedreamer
What is the smog / pollution factor like?

PCD : Regional Daily Air Quality

>Can you expand on the not so charming Thai cultural aspects?

What appears to be pervasive selfishness. For example, imagine a busy road in a business district where 2 cars can pass with care. Thais have no problem parking on such a street in a way that reduces it to one and a half lanes. At least the Thais affected are patient as they wait their turn. Except at temples there appears to be no public venue or occasion where the concepts of 'too loud' and wondering if your noise is bothering anyone exist.

If money can be spent now to make things better in the future or siphoned off for personal use, guess which route government takes. Corruption exits at all levels.

Be foolish enough to put more money into something than you're willing to walk away from and then contest that you've been ripped off is a good way to end up dead.

Twenty coup d'etat since the monarchy gave up power in 1932. Some have been violent, but almost always the only way to be affected by the violence is to be in the protests or stupid enough to linger nearby.


>nun
>So what visa are you on? If not the non-immigrant retirement visa

Someone recommended thaivisa.com. Great source of info. If you ask a question about visas there be prepared to be schooled on the innaccuracies of your question before anyone attempts to answer it. The retirement visa is a non-immigrant visa, type O-A. Most retired people here are on non-immigrant type O visa, with annual extensions.

>Khufu
>We use St. Brendan's Isle mail forwarding service. Very happy with them. We seldom actually have mail forwarded though. Most of it gets scanned and then I download the pdf file. Very efficient.[/QUOTE]

+1
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:48 AM   #38
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That's interesting. I don't know anyone who is retiring to Taiwan. Do you speak Mandarin? What are the advantages to Taiwan? I understand they have a very smart and affordable health care system. Can you get a long-term visa?

What major changes are you thinking of, incorporation into the PRC?
My wife is Taiwanese and I speak some Mandarin. I still have 15 years or so until retirement, so plenty of time to learn more. The advantages for us are cheap cost of living, good affordable health care, beautiful scenery, incredible food. Since my wife is a citizen I am eligible for a JFRV (joining family resident visa). I don't expect anything too bad if reunification happens, but there's always a chance it happens the ugly way.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:13 PM   #39
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My wife is Taiwanese and I speak some Mandarin. I still have 15 years or so until retirement, so plenty of time to learn more. The advantages for us are cheap cost of living, good affordable health care, beautiful scenery, incredible food. Since my wife is a citizen I am eligible for a JFRV (joining family resident visa). I don't expect anything too bad if reunification happens, but there's always a chance it happens the ugly way.
Sounds excellent. I learned some details of the Taiwanese health care system from a documentary. Seems they thought it out very carefully, have a national heath card system with access to centralized medical records, and don't restrict access to specialists. And it's cheap. I found that pretty enviable.

Good luck with Mandarin. I am very glad that the Indian alphabet system took hold in Thailand instead of ideograms. I find studying a new language to be an excellent retirement activity.
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Old 01-30-2012, 02:02 PM   #40
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Sawasdee Khap Kuhn Khufu...

Thailand is at the top of my list for retirement locations... I have spent much time in Thailand over the years for business and pleasure, along with many other countries in SEA... Yes, it has some problems, but IMO, no worse than anywhere else in the region and is a far cry better than in the US...

Good synopsis on the country, cost of living and benefits of living in BKK, visa regulation, etc... It should be noted that Bangkok is the most expensive place to live in-country and is not representative of the rest of the Thailand, with a few notable farang enclaves... I have many friends living on between $1000 usd per month up to $10,000 per month in Thailand and want for nothing, except possibly for a good hot dog or philly cheese steak sandwich... It is a destination where you can live a very comfortable life on very little means if necessary -or- if you are a cashed-up expat, there is very little you cannot find in the sois of Bangkok... It is truly an international destination with a wide cross-section of people from all over the world and a fascinating place to explore...

With rent over 60K baht in Bangkok, I guess that would put you in Thonglor, upper Asoke or possibly Silom... All areas that put you in the thick of things in the Big Smoke... Anywhere close to the BTS / MRT makes transport a breeze around town as Bangkok's traffic during peak times is notorious... You description of rental properties is spot on, not just in BKK, but all over the country... Outside on the business district in downtown Bangkok, it is possible to rent furnished homes / condos / apartments starting around 15K baht per month... At today's exchange rate, that's under $500 usd per month...

Funny that you would mention the ThaiVisa forum as it is one of my greatest sources of entertainment... The internet is the best free entertainment since television and ThaiVisa does not disappoint... I would say that you need to take 25+% of what you read there as valid and the rest is just a windup... I am sure you got much grieve from ESL and backpackers on TV when you quoted a 160K per month figure... I can just imagine the posts... lol...

A bit of additional information on non-immigrant type-O visas with a retirement extension requiring 800K baht in a Thai bank... If this is the route you take, then the funds must be in the bank account for 3 months prior to the retirement extension being renewed, so you cannot deplete the account to zero and just top it up prior to visa extension renewal... You can also provide proof-of-pension documents to either replace or supplement the 800K account... If you have pension income netting you 62,500K baht per month, you can forgo the bank deposit method... You can also use a combination of bak account funds and pension funds to meet the requirements... The pension documents must be certified or apostiled by your embassy in Thailand prior to submission for visa consideration... Of course with you being married to a Thai national, these requirements are cut in half...

While I enjoy Bangkok for brief periods of time, it can get to be a bit much for me after a short while, so I will not be living in BKK when I move there... In fact, I am having a hard time deciding where to live, so I will spend the first few months in Jomtien, then most likely Chiang Mai or Hua Hin... All of which are great destinations where you can live a comfortable life on a modest retirement income...

Best of luck in the future...

Chok Dee...
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