Strong Thai baht brings financial woes for expat retirees

Thai Baht still remains strong

An interview with a retired Briton in today’s Bangkok Post illustrates the financial difficulties some expats now face in the Land of Smiles as a result of the strong baht.

Brian Maxey moved to Pattaya from the UK to live off his sterling pension, but the surging Thai currency means he’s now finding it a challenge to meet the financial requirements of his visa. Brian recounts how when he first moved to Thailand, the British pound would get him 60 Baht. That figure has now plummeted to less than 38 Baht.

“It was a cheap place to live then. It’s not anymore.”

Foreigners who meet the age requirement for a retirement visa must also prove they have a minimum of 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank account, or a monthly income of 65,000 Baht. But the strength of the baht means people like Brian, relying on a British pension, are struggling.

Niels Colov left Denmark forty years ago to settle in Pattaya, where he helps run a local expat club. Speaking to the Bangkok Post, he says many expats are now leaving the country, unable to justify the rising cost of spending their retirement in Thailand.

“There’s an exodus of foreigners from this area to Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. We’re talking thousands of people.”

British Sterling… more value in other South East Asian countries

Others are not yet ready to leave but are having to cut back on their spending, such as Austrian Christian Foerster, who moved here twenty years ago.

“There’s an enormous change. Everything is more expensive. But it’s about adjusting, adapting and living modestly.”

The Bangkok Post reports how investors the world over see the Thai baht as a safe haven and the currency has been the world’s best performer against the Dollar for five years now, appreciating by more than 6% so far this year.

The Thai government continues to promote the country as a destination for retirees and despite the financial challenges, the cost of living is still lower than the US or Europe.

The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand issued 80,000 retirement visas last year, with the British availing of most of them, followed by the Americans, Germans, Chinese, and Swiss.

By May Taylor                                                                                              Source: Bangkok Post