Retiring at 53 was a gamble. My husband Michael and I left good jobs, friends, and family, sold our lovely house and garden and said goodbye to the security and benefits of life back home for a new life in Thailand.

Retirement in Thailand

I Had Plenty of Nagging Thoughts

Would there be enough things to interest and stimulate me? Would I make new friends? Could I adapt to a more Thai- and Asian-style diet? What sports and fitness activities would we do? How would I stay busy? Would I become a couch potato or worse still, a barfly? The questions seemed endless. We decided the best way to find out, was to just do it.

And, here we are, some three years on, living in the coastal resort town of Hua Hin, Thailand.

Retirement in Thailand

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Luxury Living for Less than a Basic Apartment Back Home

After renting for a while, we bought a fully furnished, two-bedroom, pool villa for just under $100,000. It’s about a 10-minute drive to the town center and about a two-mile drive to my favorite beach. There’s also a Thai fresh fruit, vegetable, and seafood market just over a half mile away.

Our day usually starts with a leisurely tropical fruit breakfast on our patio, admiring our flowering orchids, and lush palms. Sometimes, as we ease into the day, I reflect on what I would be doing if we hadn’t made the move.

I Would Have to Work if I Was Still Back Home

Living in Thailand costs about a third of what it cost us back home, which meant we were able to retire over a decade earlier than planned. Although the cost of living was a driver in our decision to move, it wasn’t the only one.

We wanted to experience new cultures and different ways of life, learn a language, explore new countries, travel more, and meet new people. Moving overseas gave us a completely new lease on life.

Retirement in Thailand

Bored on the Beach? Hardly!

As it turned out, my nagging thoughts of what we would do and how we would cope were totally unwarranted. There are so many options. I admit I’ve become a gym junkie, fitness freak, call it what you will.

But with a world-class fitness center with group classes, a 25-yard swimming pool, tennis center and membership for about $675 a year (a little less than my old gym, but with much better facilities), it’s hard to resist. And there are plenty of other gyms at around half that price, too.

Marathons and shorter runs are popular in Thailand and every weekend races are hosted in national parks, on country roads, by the seaside, and in cities around Thailand. I took part in my first half marathon earlier this year. Our friend Gerald, a 70-year-old expat and tri-athlete, is an inspiration. He exudes positive energy and regularly enters competitions in Thailand and around the world.

We also have new expat friends who moved to Hua Hin for the golf and others who have since taken it up. It’s a golfer’s haven here, with nine excellent courses within an hour’s drive and they are a very social bunch.

When we first arrived, I took up pickleball, a racquetball game which is a mix of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. It was a great way to make friends, lots of fun and, at $5 to play for two hours, great value too.

I’ve Rediscovered My Love of the Great Outdoors

Exploring surrounding national parks like Khao Sam Roi Yot and Kaeng Krachan with their abundance of birds and wildlife, caves, and walks are fascinating and we make a trip every month or so. The beaches are excellent for taking a stroll or lazing on a sunbed and watching the world go by. Even wandering the older streets, going to a market, or checking out a temple all provide food for thought and contemplation.

What I love most is that, even after three years, I find our life here stimulating—and it’s healthier too. We continue to learn about the food, the Thai culture, religion, and traditions. We continue to make new friends from around the world, discover new activities and interests, and relish being in a friendly, welcoming, and loveable country.

Sipping my coffee this morning, I asked myself, “Was it worth the gamble?” The answer… “Absolutely, without a doubt, 100%, and more.”

Retirement in Thailand

Is Retiring in Thailand Right for You? Here’s a Great Way to Find Out!

In January 2020, International Living is setting off to Southeast Asia to meet with and hear from a well-connected group of expats and experts ready to share their inside scoop on living there. You’re invited to join a small group of likeminded souls keen to explore the region’s welcoming, beautiful, great-value havens.

In Thailand, this whirlwind tour will take you to Chiang Mai (known as the “Rose of the North”), and to Vivien’s adopted hometown, the royal resort of Hua Hin. In Vietnam, you’ll explore the coastal city of Da Nang, and the capital, Hanoi, and set sail on the breathtakingly beautiful Ha Long Bay. 

Discover more and find out how you can reserve your place on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Click here for all the details.

Could you see yourself retiring overseas one day? Why or why not? Which country would you most like to retire in and why? Let’s have a chat!

Vivien Cullen is an expat living in Thailand and a contributor to International Living, a publication that has—since 1979—been showing folks like you how to retire earlier, better, and more affordably abroad. You don’t have to be well-heeled to travel and live like you are…you simply need to know the shortcuts.

Editor’s note: This sponsored post was written by our friends at International Living.

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