In recent months Pattaya or more accurately Thailand has come in for some heavy criticism on the well-known forums regarding retirees. As always, some of the criticism has had some justification whilst others were completely over the top but, on the whole, in the last few months there has been no noticeable decline in the number of retirees living in Pattaya or those that come on holiday. So, why is Pattaya still so appealing to this group?
First, the negatives
Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have increased in popularity in recent years as they are considerably cheaper countries than Thailand, visa issues are minimal, and the welcome that you receive from the locals is usually friendly and positive. Pattaya is no longer a ‘cheap’ destination in many respects and this is something that we have previously covered. However, if you decide to “live within your means” you can still have a reasonably good life as many things such as local food, local beers, and some accommodation are not expensive.
Of course, Thailand seems expensive to many who rely on an income from overseas such as a pension because of the strong baht. This when coupled with some currencies such as Sterling performing poorly, inevitably means that things cost more in real terms, if not in baht than they did previously. Quite simply, their money doesn’t go as far as what it did before. However, this would be the same in other countries too.
The next concern and the one that has received a lot of publicity this year concerns the rules changes connected to the Retirement Visa. With retirees now being forced to keep larger sums in Thai banks AFTER they have received the visa, many are predicting that it will be impossible for them to stay. At the moment, Thai Immigration appears to be being lenient so the impact of this may not have been fully felt. In addition, retirees are now required to have health insurance, a sensible thing anyway, but something that many declined. This is just another additional expense that many feel is beyond their means.
Finally, the vast majority of retirees that travel to Southeast Asia are male and are seeking the companionship of a younger female. Here in Thailand, some have made accusations that the Thai ladies are now a little less friendly than their counterparts in Cambodia and Vietnam, many of whom speak superior English and are maybe less demanding when it comes to their financial requirements. This perhaps encourages people to opt for alternatives to Thailand and indeed, it is maybe due to a combination of all these issues that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is aware of the problem and seeking ways to address it.
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Let’s face it; Thailand is more advanced than countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos. It also has a lot more to offer making Pattaya a fantastic place to live. You have the year-round climate and there is plenty to do whatever your interests. There are clubs that you can join, golf societies and plenty happening throughout the day or night. The bars and restaurants are filled with expats and tourist making you feel at home and it is very easy to get hold of western food if eating the local food is a genuine concern.
The strong and well-established expat community is also appealing for retirees. In Pattaya, they will be amongst like-minded people with similar interests and probably find themselves with similar experiences. This can make life less lonely and in many cases gives them a new lease of life. They will never be short of opportunities when they can meet up over a coffee or a beer.
As we get older, some things become more important to us and healthcare is perhaps a fine example. The international hospitals in Pattaya are of a high standard and if you have health insurance do not pose much of a concern. Obviously, health insurance rarely covers pre-existing conditions so this is worth taking into consideration before you make any permanent moves. Local clinics are also pretty good for minor ailments and pretty much all medication is available here.
When you think about accommodation, Pattaya has everything that you might require. You can go in at the budget end of the market and take a simple room or you could opt for a luxury villa or condo. Quite simply, anything that you require is available and is well priced. If you are concerned about the quality of the buildings, it is very easy to find ones nowadays that would meet many European standards so this again should put your mind at ease. This is not the same in Cambodia and Laos.
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We all have to admit that language barriers do raise concerns especially as we get older. Either we find it harder or we don’t have the inclination to learn new languages and this can leave us feeling isolated and sometimes vulnerable. In Pattaya, the levels of English that are spoken in most places are pretty good and improving all the time. This may not be perfect for those who are not native English speakers but it does help things along nevertheless. Again, the levels of English in many of other parts of Thailand are not as high never mind in other developing countries in the region.
For however many prices have increased in Thailand and Pattaya, it is still far cheaper than leading the equivalent lifestyle in most parts of Europe or the US. This means that realistically, your dollar, Euro or pound does go further. The warmer weather also means that you can be outdoors more which again can help to save money. It is perhaps little things that make the difference and doing a proper comparison between the cost of living in both places, you will that Pattaya comes out very favourably.
Pattaya is somewhere that in long-haul terms is fairly easy to get to. Flights are frequent from most countries with major airlines and fairly reasonably priced. Getting to Pattaya from Bangkok or indeed U-Tapao is again straightforward and cost-effective. Transportation links in some other countries in the region are certainly not on a par with that in Thailand and this can provide unneeded stress at the beginning or end of your trip.
There are many reasons why Pattaya is still very appealing to retirees. Most of the reasons for retirees leaving are because this has been imposed on them, as with in the case with the visas, but few are leaving by choice. If you are someone who is largely unaffected by the visa requirements or marginal increases in costs, then Pattaya is a fantastic place to retire.