I am the sort of person who doesn’t even like to experiment with the brand of toothpaste that I use. I just don’t like change, I was lucky enough to find a partner with the same attitude.
I had been living in Sussex for almost 25 years from the time I went there to attend University. I have never particularly loved the city but I never hated it either. Like I said earlier, I just don’t like change. I had a steady job and so did the wife. Our only daughter had just moved to France for college and we were still going on with our jobs.
One day, I got this promotion (with pay-rise) that I had been long waiting for and only when I got it did I realise that it did not make me happy a bit. I had wanted the promotion since I knew it would pay me well and I would be able to afford a better apartment in the city. I just then realised that even in the bigger apartment, I would be spending even lesser time with my wife.
Why I Chose Thailand
That evening, when I discussed this with the wife, we felt that as a reward for having worked so hard for the last 20 years, we should take it slow going forward and spend more quality time together. When considering the places that we could retire in, we felt that our 20 years savings were meagre and it wouldn’t be possible to retire anywhere in Europe.
Retiring to the countryside was also ruled out because we wouldn’t be able to find a job that would pay us decently due to the nature of our qualifications. We were not afraid of choosing an Asian country and were even keen on choosing one, purely for economic reasons.
We knew that our meagre savings could go a long way in the developing world. Thailand clearly stood out due to the following reasons.
- Incredible value for money. We calculated that it is not going us to cost us more than Â£500 per month to live in tier-2 city like Chiang-Mai in Thailand for an equivalent lifestyle.
- More options to travel. Thailand is a vast country and because of the low cost of living, we could travel around the country a lot.
- Great food. Thailand is known for its great cheap and healthy food.
- International community. There is already a lot of foreigners who have retired in Thailand and we decided that it is a good sign to show that we wouldn’t have a problem settling in.
We have been to Thailand before as tourists. It was easy to get a visa then, we travelled around Thailand for about 20 days during the trip. However, now that we were going to stay there for a longer term, we were looking at multiple visa options.
- Tourist Visa
It is easy to get a tourist visa to Thailand. However, you will be stamped either 30 or 60 days upon arrival and it wouldn’t be possible to stay longer. The acquaintances I spoke to who already lived there introduced me to the concept of ‘visa runs‘. Visa runs refer to travelling to a nearby country when you are nearing your stay limit in Thailand.
You can come back to Thailand and get a fresh 60-day stamp on your passport. Since there are a lot of Asian countries nearby that you can travel to and fro for cheap, visa runs did seem like a practical option. Also, they are completely legal and are not even frowned upon by the authorities. This can work for you if you don’t mind being constantly on the run. We decided that getting a tourist visa would be our last resort.
- Retirement Visa
Since there are a lot of expats retiring in Thailand, the country has been offering a specialised ‘Retiring Visa’ to make it more attractive. Getting a retirement visa from the UK can be a little complicated because of the paperwork involved, but there are very few requirements to get one. All you have to do is open a bank account in Thailand, deposit THB 800,000 in your account and have a valid proof for the deposit. We had to rule this out because of two reasons – I hadn’t turned 50 then (a requirement) and I wanted to have the option of working in Thailand to meet our daily expenses in the country.
- Work Permit
Since I already had a number of job offers from Thailand, I decided that I should get a Work Permit after securing a job there.
The Moving Process
The physical act of moving internationally to Asia might seem daunting. In fact, this could be one of the biggest reasons that people hesitate to move to a different country. Our process was successful since we had planned it very well in advance. We had made a checklist based on research and recommendations.
- We got rid of a lot of unused items. Moving to Asia was a great excuse to throw out things from our attic.
- We also got rid of items that we knew we could buy for cheap in Asia.
- We sold most of our large furniture. We felt that it was not worth the cost of storage. We could always buy furniture when we return to the country.
- We felt that packing and trying to move the stuff ourselves was not worth the hassle. Therefore, we planned to leave this to the professionals and hired a good international removals company locally.
Choosing the Right Removals Company
This could be one of the most important decisions you make throughout your moving process. I have heard a number horror stories about people who chose poorly.
- Couples who had already moved to a different country and were left stranded there without their stuff arriving for months.
- People who had lost their stuff in the shipment.
- Stuff that was shipped to the wrong country.
This is why I spent a number of days researching online and asking for recommendations from people I know. Here’s what you need to keep in mind while choosing a removals company.
- Do they have good customer support?
- Do they have international moving capabilities? A lot of removals companies that call themselves ‘international’ do not have capabilities of their own and they often rely on third-parties to handle your moving.
- How long have they been into international moving, specifically Asia?
- Do they provide professional quotes? A good removals company will never ask for an advance payment. They will inspect your place, provide an estimate, pack your stuff and only then will you be asked to pay.
I happened to find a great removals company called Wynnes which fit the bill perfectly, whom I recommend if you are from Sussex or anywhere in the south of the UK.
We have been staying in Thailand for the last 5 years and we absolutely love it. I would say that jumping through all these hoops was totally worth it.