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  • Guide to Retiring in Koh Samui: 7 Tips for a Perfect Retirement

    Guide to Retiring in Koh Samui: 7 Tips for a Perfect Retirement

    Retiring overseas has become increasingly popular, with people wanting or needing to reduce living costs a key factor. In many developed countries with high living costs, some find their savings and retirement nest egg insufficient. However, several countries offer a more affordable standard of living, a more relaxed way of life and the potential to retire earlier than initially planned because of these factors. 

    Another reason for making such a change is the opportunity for fresh adventures, a new and rewarding lifestyle with a whole new social group, and perhaps escaping the treadmill of life in your current homeland.

    If you are reading this, maybe you are already considering retirement in Thailand and considering living in Koh Samui as a viable option. Good choice!

    Samui is a tropical paradise known for its palm-fringed beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant nightlife. With its laid-back beach lifestyle, traditional temples, and lush jungles, this idyllic island offers a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and Thai hospitality, attracting expats and travellers from around the world. Plus it has its own airport with good domestic connections and some limited international services.

    Following are 7 hot tips to consider if you are moving to Samui.

    1) Try Before You Buy
    Holidaying in a beautiful resort is different from living in Samui. Before you commit, stay for at least three months, living like an expat, to know if it feels right. 

    Secure a long-term rental on a self-contained villa or apartment. This gives you time to familiarise yourself with food and drinks - what you can and can't get. Take time to understand local Thai culture and way of life, appreciate the tropical climate, and learn about the infrastructure and utilities, i.e. internet, electricity, and the best locations to live for your lifestyle.

    Consider renting your own transport to get around easily and get supplies. You aim to start doing what you'd like to do in your retirement. It allows you to assess living costs and lifestyle and evaluate whether it is for you.

    2) Networking - Getting Settled and Making New Friends
    Integrate with others, especially expats, as quickly as possible. Most expats willingly provide advice on the 'how to do stuff'. This can be anything from how to get a Thai driver's license, where to find your favourite beer, hiring transport, maintenance repairs, paying a utility bill, opening a bank account, acquiring health insurance, buying property on Samui, and so forth.

    The internet provides some guidance on matters. However, it may be in Thai with confusing translations; government and business websites may be limited, old, and hard to follow. Another option is to ask a lawyer for assistance, depending on the matter.

    As most of us are social creatures, making new friends is also important. Not only for entertainment, dining out, and recreational activities. Social contact benefits our mental wellness. Facebook is a popular social media platform, and a search will highlight location-specific expat groups, buy & sell, and other special interest groups. 

    3) Acquiring a Visa 
    |Holding the correct visa is essential if you plan to move to Thailand. Some people may enter on a holiday visa. If you decide to obtain a Non-Immigrant O Visa (long-term visa for those over 50), engaging a lawyer can be worthwhile, or you can navigate the system yourself.

    The criteria for getting the visa may differ between countries. The requirements usually include proof of a monthly income or lump sum deposit in a Thai bank account, over 50 years old, and a medical certificate. Many considering retirement on Samui finds the visa requirements reasonably easy to meet.

    4) Healthcare and Health Insurance
    The likelihood of needing medical assistance as people age is no surprise. Each country has different rules regarding access to medical care for those not living in their own country, so flipping back home may not be viable. 

    Healthcare in Thailand may be inexpensive by comparison; however, private hospital expenses can quickly add up. An accident requiring extended hospitalization, or repatriation to your own country, could put a considerable dent in your retirement fund.

    Our tip is to obtain health insurance to at least cover in-hospital expenses. Local and international policies may be sourced directly from insurers or through brokers. 

    5) Your Budget and Cost of Living 
    You may find your expenses considerably less than your home country. However, verifying costs, like rentals, food, entertainment, insurance, transport, sports and recreation, and travel, will help you develop a realistic financial plan and sleep comfortably at night. Checking the feasibility of buying property in Samui is also a good exercise.

    6) Travel, Be Active, Be Open-Minded
    Get active and become involved for your physical and psychological well-being. Whether single or a couple, living without involvement and participation can quickly lead to loneliness, boredom, and depression.

    Fortunately, in Samui, there are many sports and recreational activities, including water sports, golf, hiking, cycling, tennis, and lots more. Consider quiz nights, charity nights, joining a service club, and more.

    Facebook is your friend on Samui, joining expat groups, embracing different nationalities and cultures, attending events and actively meeting others. Expats are generally friendly and welcoming; however, you do have to make an effort.

    This is all about building your network and developing new interests. Avoid comparing everything to 'home'. It may be different, frustrating, funny, or seemingly odd, but it is all part of the discovery and adventure. 

    7) Choose a Good Location
    Many expats such as Maenam, Bophut, Choeng Mon, Chaweng, and Lamai live around Samui's north and east coast. This is where you find most amenities, hospitals, shopping centres, sports and recreation facilities, restaurants, and entertainment. Taling Ngam, in the south, is quieter still. 

    Much of the housing is villas and houses along the coast and on the hillsides behind. You will not find towering condos, as buildings cannot exceed 6 meters and must have a minimum of 50% of the land dedicated to landscaping and the design fitting with the Thai and tropical environment. It really does present idyllic island living.

    If Koh Samui fits you, Lazudi Samui can assist with buying guides and relevant information to set you up in the next chapter of your life. 

    Lazudi is a Thailand real estate leader with offices in locations popular with expats. Whether you are looking for an investment or somewhere to live, our team can help you.

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