How To Retire In Thailand From Canada: 7 Simple Steps (2024)

Thinking of retiring in Thailand? The country is frequently ranked among the top ten retirement destinations in the world and is home to over 150,000 ex-pats, around half of which are retirees.

The rich culture, amazing food, beautiful beaches, affordable cost of living, and friendly people are among the top reasons why foreigners choose to retire here. I’ve spent over two years in Thailand during my travels, and it’s an amazing and diverse country.

Below, I’ll share a simple, step-by-step guide on how to retire in Thailand from Canada. Here’s a quick outline of the steps:

  1. Set your retirement lifestyle goals
  2. Research Thailand and the city you want to live in
  3. Set your retirement budget
  4. Apply for a Thai O-A Visa
  5. Purchase health insurance
  6. Purchase or rent a home in Thailand
  7. Apply for permanent residency

I’ll also cover some other details, such as how taxes work in Thailand and mention some of the best cities to retire in Thailand!

Are you ready to start planning?

How Long Does It Take To Retire In Thailand?

Picking up your life and moving overseas to Southeast Asia may seem daunting.

However, with proper planning and preparation, you should be able to retire in Thailand within a year or less, depending on your circumstances.

If you’ve never visited Thailand before, I strongly recommend booking a vacation to the country before deciding on it as a retirement option.

Thailand is an incredible country, but the culture and lifestyle can be vastly different from what the majority of Canadians are used to. A two or three-week vacation should be enough time for you to decide whether or not it’s the right place to retire in.

During your stay, try to explore the country and its culture by:

  • Visiting several of the top cities
  • Eating at local restaurants and trying the street food
  • Going on a guided tour of a city or historical attraction
  • Learning some basic Thai words and phrases
  • Riding in a “tuk tuk” (the three-wheel rickshaw used as a taxi)
  • Visiting one of Thailand’s beautiful beaches

You can find affordable all-inclusive packages that include airfare, accommodations, and even a rental vehicle by checking out one of these travel booking platforms.

How To Retire In Thailand: Step-by-Step Guide

How To Retire In Thailand: Step-by-Step Guide

Ready to pack your things and begin your new life in Thailand? Retiring in Thailand as a Canadian is a relatively straightforward process. However, there are some things you’ll need to have set in place beforehand.

Step 1: Set Your Retirement Lifestyle Goals

Before retiring to any country, you should outline your lifestyle goals. Make a list detailing factors like:

  • How often you’ll eat out versus cooking at home
  • What type of residence do you want to live in
  • Whether you plan on driving or relying on assisted/public transportation
  • How often do you plan on flying back to Canada to visit family and friends
  • How often do you plan on shopping, and what your budget is
  • How often do you plan on going on vacations (outside of Thailand)

All of these factors will determine the retirement budget you set for yourself and the type of lifestyle that you can sustain after retiring in Thailand. The more sustainable your lifestyle is, the more comfortable your retirement will be.

You should also figure out what type of residence you’d like to live in. The most popular styles of homes in Thailand include:

  • Modern condominiums in high-rises
  • Small apartments
  • Villas (typically found near beaches or in the jungle)
  • Tiny homes and beachside condominiums

Step 2: Research Thailand And Where You’d Like To Live

After determining the type of lifestyle you want to live as a retiree, you should take some time to research the country itself. The better you understand the culture before moving, the smoother your transition process will be.

You can learn a lot during a brief vacation to Thailand, but I recommend watching travel documentaries and YouTube vlogs.

It’s also a good idea to join a Thai ex-pat forum or Facebook group and start chatting with some members to get some inside information on what it’s like to live in Thailand as a foreigner.

You’ll also want to decide on a primary city to retire in. Some of the top cities for retirees in Thailand include:

  • Chiang Mai: Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is known for its rich cultural heritage, beautiful temples, and laid-back lifestyle. It has a large expat community and offers a range of activities, from trekking and outdoor adventures to cooking classes and meditation retreats.
  • Hua Hin: Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin is a seaside town known for its beaches, golf courses, and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a popular retirement destination and has a growing ex-pat community, with many international restaurants and amenities.
  • Bangkok: Bangkok is the country’s capital city and offers a vibrant cultural scene with top-rated healthcare, dining, and transportation. It has a large expat community and a range of housing options, from luxury condos to affordable apartments.
  • Pattaya: Located on the eastern coast of Thailand, Pattaya is a beach town known for its large ex-pat community, nightlife, shopping, and entertainment venues.
  • Phuket: Located in the Andaman Sea, Phuket is a beautiful island known for its stunning beaches, lush forests, and luxury resorts. It’s as close to a tropical paradise as you can get in Thailand.

Step 3: Create A Retirement Budget And Income Plan

One of the best reasons to retire in Thailand is the affordable cost of living. In Thailand, everything from housing to entertainment, food, and transportation is significantly more affordable than what you may be used to in Canada.

Simply put, a modest retirement budget in Canada could allow you to live like royalty in Thailand.

That being said, it’s still important to create a retirement budget for yourself. Consider the lifestyle you outlined in step one, and outline how much that lifestyle will cost you monthly living in Thailand.

Detail how much you’re willing to spend each month on:

  • Rent
  • Food for your home
  • Dining and entertainment
  • Healthcare and medical costs
  • Travel and experiences
  • Vehicle and/or transportation

This can vary significantly depending on your retirement income from a pension plan, investments, or even a business you can remotely manage.

Step 4: Apply For A Residency Visa In Thailand

With your goals and budget complete, you’ll need to apply for a Visa in Thailand.

If you’re over the age of 50, you’ll want to apply for the Non-Immigrant O-A (Long Stay) Visa. This Visa is specifically designated for foreign retirees over the age of 50 who plan on residing in Thailand for a long period of time.

Eligibility requirements for a Non-Immigrant O-A Visa include:

  • Applicant must be at least 50 years old
  • Applicant must have a clean criminal record
  • A bank account statement showing at least 800,000,000 Thai Bhat ($31,599.65 CAD) OR
  • Proof of monthly income earning at least 65,000 Thai Bhat (2,570.72 CAD)
  • Valid Canadian passport (with at least six months until expiration)
  • Proof of health insurance that meets Thai government requirements (see below)
  • Medical certificate

You must also have a permanent residence that you plan on renting out for at least one year.

Another stipulation of the O-A Visa is that the holder cannot work in Thailand. This means you’ll need to rely on a retirement pension, Canadian income (working remotely), or other forms of income outside of Thailand.

You can begin the application process for an O-A Visa by visiting the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in Canada. There are three locations located in Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa.

The Non-Immigrant O-A Visa must be renewed annually if you wish to remain in the country. Additionally, you’ll need to check in with a Thai immigration office every 90 days to verify the validity of your residency, health insurance, and other documents.

Step 5: Purchase Health Insurance

Thailand offers public health insurance to its citizens. However, foreign residents and retirees must purchase their own private health insurance that covers the minimum requirements outlined in the O-A Visa application.

You must verify continued healthcare coverage every 90 days when you update the Thai immigration authorities.

It’s worth noting that Thailand has an excellent private healthcare system, especially in its major cities. From hospitals to general care, you’ll receive excellent care, which is another reason why Thailand is such a great place to retire in.

Step 6: Rent A Home In Thailand

To maintain your O-A Visa, you must have a permanent residence in Thailand. O-A Visa holders are not allowed to purchase a home or own land in Thailand, though, so you’ll need to arrange a long-term rental or lease agreement with a property rental agency.

Once you’ve established residency in Thailand, you can purchase a home, apartment, or condominium. However, you won’t be able to purchase the land under the building.

Step 7: Apply For Permanent Residency

After living in Thailand for a number of years on a long-term visa, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency.

This is a lengthy and complex process with strict eligibility criteria, including language skills, financial means, and investment in Thailand. The Thai government also limits the number of permanent residency permits granted yearly.

How Do Taxes Work In Thailand?

How Do Taxes Work In Thailand?

As a Canadian citizen, your tax obligations in Canada will depend on your residency status.

If you are considered a non-resident of Canada for tax purposes, you will only be taxed on Canadian-sourced income, such as rental income, employment income, or business income earned in Canada.

You will not be taxed on your worldwide income or your foreign-sourced income.

That being said, with a Thai O-A Visa, you’re not allowed to work in Thailand. Unless you have income from other countries outside of Thailand and Canada, then you’ll continue paying standard Canadian taxes on your taxable income.

Conclusion – Thailand Is A Great Place For Canadians To Retire

Thailand can be an incredible place for Canadians to retire. Most Canadians over 50 who earn at least $2,500 in monthly retirement income and have a clean record are eligible to apply. The Visa can be renewed annually for as long as you wish to stay in Thailand or until you apply for permanent residency.

The quicker you can retire, the quicker you can start living your golden years in Thailand. Keep on reading to see the best tips to retire early in Canada!

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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