Recently, the Thai government announced that that the Immigration Department will begin offering a ten-year retirement visa to foreigners over the age of 50 who meet other specific criteria.
Almost immediately, the foreign retirement community in Thailand was up in arms thinking that they had to meet the criteria set forth by the government to qualify for this visa.
However, they should have paid more attention to what the government didn’t say. They didn’t say that they were going to stop issuing the 1-year visa. They also didn’t say the new, 10-year visa was mandatory.
Until, and unless, a clarification is issued by the Immigration Department, the 10-year visa should simply be seen an option that retirees can choose instead of having to renew their visa on an annual basis.
Meeting the 10-year Visa Requirements
The anger and shock felt expressed by Thailand’s established retirement community stemmed from the requirements laid out by the government in order to qualify for this new visa, which many retirees would have trouble meeting.
The new 10-year visa fee is 10,000 Baht and you also must continue to report to immigration every 90 days and your land lord will still need to register your TM30. In addition, the foreign retiree must have a monthly income of 100,000 Baht a month or maintain a bank balance of 3 million Baht in a Thai bank for a period of one year in order to qualify.
Add to this the requirement to have a health insurance policy that provides at least 10,000 dollars US in hospital coverage along with 1,000 dollars in out-patient coverage and it’s no wonder that some retirees were very nervous.
Will it Affect the Property Market?
The government must have realized early on that they could only offer the 10-year visa as an option without seriously damaging the lives of both the retirement community as well as the property market. To make it mandatory would force thousands of retirees who have happily called Thailand home and invested in property here, to abandon the country and seek life elsewhere.
Retirees provide a recognised boost to the Thai economy. They shop at local markets, use local healthcare services and contribute to the Thai tax base in the form of VAT taxes that they pay on their purchases.
Although it’s really too early to say with any finality how the 10-year visa will affect the property market, it is interesting to note that the government’s stated reason for introducing the extended visa is to boost the medical and healthcare industry in Thailand by encouraging wealthier retirement age foreigners to view Thailand as a viable alternative to their own countries in which to spend their golden years.
Thailand provides excellent and affordable medical and healthcare services and the country has seen a noticeable rise in medical tourism as a result. The announcement of 10-year visa is a logical step to take in encouraging the growth of this phenomenon.
It will surely attract some wealthy retirees who will undoubtedly consider investing their savings and pensions into a comfortable home in Thailand. In this aspect, promoting a 10-year visa makes sense.
By issuing a visa that guarantees at least 10 years of residency, they also underline and communicate a sense of permanence that will placate retirees who may have feared that they would, at some point, be forced to move elsewhere. It also makes the idea of purchasing a property much more attractive than simply renting from a financial viewpoint.
Looking long-term at the situation, you might see retirement communities catering to foreigners being developed close to popular healthcare facilities and hospitals as a result of Thailand being seen as a foreign retiree-friendly destination.
Thailand for the Long-Term
Ultimately, by simply offering the 10-year visa, Thailand sends out a message that they are encouraging residency by foreigners as a long-term option that can benefit both potential foreign retirees and property developers.
For younger foreign residents of Thailand who are here on a work permit, the 10-year visa might also be taken as a sign that it might be worth staying in Thailand after they retire instead of pulling up roots and returning to their country of origin. This would also pave the way for them to invest in property as they would see Thailand residency as being a long-term proposition.
For the moment at least, let’s look at it optimistically. We have to assume that the government’s willingness to offer a 10-year visa is a sign that they’re encouraging foreign residents to consider a life in Thailand as a long-term option and the announcement of this visa is akin to throwing out the welcome mat. It should be seen as a positive sign by the retirement community and the property developers of Thailand.
Does this new retirement visa affect you in anyway, has it made you keener to invest in Thailand? If so, we’d absolutely love to hear what you think by posting a comment below!