Retirement, koh samui
10 tips for a good retirement in Koh Samui
Retirement on an island where the average temperature is 28°C is an excellent choice. However, in spite of the initial enthusiasm, some retirees sometimes find it difficult to adapt. Here are our top 10 tips for a successful retirement on Koh Samui.
Tip 1 – Rent for a Long Term before you make your final decision
I can never say it enough: coming on vacation on Koh Samui for 10 days or even 3 weeks is not enough to really know if you will acclimatize to island life. You had a big crush on Samui, (great!), now you have to test it for a long time before settling there for your retirement. Living here for a while (I’m talking about 3 months or more) is a great way to get you in shape! You have time and freedom ahead of you, so why not rent for a Long Term? This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the local life (its customs, its left-hand drive, the understanding of English speaking Thais, the sometimes excessive and humid heat, the often spicy food, the other expatriates…).
Moreover, if you intend to buy or to have built, it will allow you to find quietly the district which corresponds to you, the interlocutors and providers with whom you feel in confidence (real estate agencies, builder…), etc…. Take your time, but above all, don’t rush! Besides, I would be really happy to meet you to help you if you feel the need.
Tip 2 – Knowing how to surround yourself well quickly
Of course, when you want to retire in a country you don’t know, one of the first things you do is to naturally seek to meet your compatriots in order to dialogue, exchange points of view, get to know their feelings about being an “Expat”, get advice, share good tips… Know, however, that it is not necessarily these people who will bring you the (right) advice adapted to your needs. Beware of free “advice” from one another. Why is this? Simply because your situation is unique and it is always preferable to turn to a lawyer. It is he who will be able to advise you on your Visa Retraite, the opening of a bank account, how to buy a property in a perfectly secure way…
Tip 3 – To have the necessary budget to live well
As the eternal saying goes, money is the sinews of war! This is very true, and above all, it applies necessarily when one is about to expatriate. It is important not to make mistakes, to calculate well in order to have a healthy enough cash flow to live properly on Koh Samui. The most striking fact of these last months is the strong disparity of the price between the Baht and the Euro. To get an idea of this, I invite you to visualize on Google, the different curves of the last 5 years. For example, in May 2014, 1 Euro was worth 44.90 THB, today, in October 2020, it is rather around 36.90 THB. This clearly means that for a pension of 2,000 € paid into your bank account in Thailand, you find yourself between 2014 and 2020 with a drop in purchasing power of 16 000 THB (430 €)!
To get closer to the reality of the course of October 2020, I will say that a monthly budget of 2 000 € (73 500 THB) is a minimum. In the case, (this is an example) where you rent a small house for about 20 000 THB (540 €), you will be able to live properly without going crazy, and eating a few times a week in local Thai restaurants. On top of that, there are expenses such as electricity, internet, water, your scooter and its fuel and your phone. Of course, I am not yet talking about private insurance or hospital fees.
In the end, it is of course possible to live on Koh Samui with a budget of less than 2 000 € / month. However, you have to take into consideration the activities a pensioner may wish to do, such as traveling in Thailand or Asia, meals with friends, sports activities (golf, badminton, fitness, yoga…), the boat, French restaurants, outings, excursions… Never forget that you always need a minimum to return to France, just to see your family from time to time. A plane ticket Koh Samui > Paris is around 30 000 THB (811 €) / p / return on “Emirates”.
Tip 4 – Securing yourself on the insurance side
One important thing to know when one is retired on Koh Samui: health care is expensive (especially private hospitals), especially for those who forgot to make arrangements before leaving for Thailand and are unable to pay for care once there. In France, we have Social Security, here, nothing is provided for foreign retirees or the inactive. Health care is not covered and remains the responsibility of the patient.
An accident or serious illness can quickly lead to ruin. An advice, subscribe to a Health Insurance and plan a Repatriation Insurance. Even if it requires a financial effort, it will protect you from a problem that could be devastating for your budget and eventually jeopardize your expatriation on the island.
Remember to contact the Caisse des Français de l’Étranger “CFE”. Subscribing an insurance policy with the “CFE”, allows you to remain registered with the Social Security in France, which will facilitate your return from expatriation.
Tip 5 – Travelling, Staying active and curious
Being retired does not mean letting go. Whether you are alone or in a couple, it is essential to remain curious and active. What’s more, on an island. Otherwise you risk falling into the traps of the Expat left to himself in a foreign country he discovers: loneliness, idleness, boredom, depression… The French community sometimes proves to be less supportive than one might imagine, and don’t count on the Thais to pamper you… unless you put a price tag on it.
Fortunately, there are many retired people who are involved in an activity on Koh Samui (opening a business, creating a Blog, regular practice of a sport, excursions, travels…), mixing the useful and the pleasant. Having projects is often the key to a successful retirement. Keeping busy also means making sure you are in better physical and moral shape.
Read, write, meet people, be curious and open… Anything that can help stimulate your brain and keep you in physical and psychological shape. It’s not always easy to cope with the upheavals imposed by retirement. It’s already complicated in your home country, it’s even more complicated in a foreign country like Thailand.
Tip 6 – Accepting the fact that not everything is like your country
One very important thing to know: when you arrive on Koh Samui, you have to integrate the fact that you are not/no longer at home. Therefore, you will have to bend to the habits and customs of Thailand. Many retirees who have chosen this destination as a new land of asylum are somewhat disappointed or even lost in front of a culture, a way of thinking or a language that is a thousand miles away from their own.
Apart from the fact that you will always be perceived as foreigners in the eyes of the Thais, you will have to show self-denial, patience, tolerance and open-mindedness if you want to insert yourself in the island and experience a peaceful and pleasant retreat. Otherwise… you may be unhappy and feel very lonely
Fortunately, all those who have chosen to expatriate to Thailand have some knowledge of the country and generally know what to expect. The Thai way of living and thinking, their culture, their way of driving, the Thai administration… can be destabilizing at first glance, but you can easily get used to it.
Anyway, never get angry no matter what happens! It won’t make things move forward. Keep smiling (the Thais will gladly give it back to you) and tell yourself that nothing and no one is perfect, but it could be worse.
Tip 7 – Speak English, even if simplified
Thai people speak, above all, and only Thai, and even those who speak English have a rather restricted vocabulary, always answering “yes” to the slightest question, for fear of losing face (but always with a smile). However, young Thai people consider that it is essential for them to speak English in order to understand the tourists, their lifestyle and their habits.
Even if you are not very comfortable with foreign languages, you must make the effort to learn English. This will be of great help to you in Thailand. You will see that with time, it will become a habit and it will be much easier for you to communicate and fit in on Koh Samui. Above all, don’t be afraid, English can be learned at any age, and everyone can learn this language with motivation and willpower.
Contact the Consular Agency of the island or ask the Blogs or “Facebook” groups for information about training and other English courses in French on Koh Samui. A piece of advice, start by trying to make yourself understood with your own words, if your interlocutor doesn’t understand you, reformulate.
There is another alternative: learn Thai or the usual words and expressions. On the one hand, you will be better integrated into Thai society, and on the other hand, the locals appreciate this virtue very much.
Tip 8 – Investing
Investing in a property on Koh Samui, may not be your immediate target heart to “well” spend your retirement. But with a little thought, it can have many advantages that deserve a little more consideration. Of course “Buying your Villa” or “Building on a Land” will not guide you in the same way. It all depends on your motivation, your desires, your ability to follow a construction site… and your budget. Once again, I recommend that you surround yourself with competent people in each trade before committing yourself financially.
The first advantage, for sure, is that you will be at home, which is not negligible. You will also be able to receive friends from France, family, etc… Then, you can show them your region, the good restaurants of the island and spend excellent moments together.
The second advantage is that you can Rent your House, your Villa. Admittedly, this will not allow you to multiply disproportionately the amount already paid by the pension, but it will be able to pay you all the fixed costs of maintenance of your property, hiring, perhaps, house staff who will take care of your clients and the villa. In short, if you take the trouble, because it is a profession that is becoming more professional, it can be rewarding.
Finally, you can Resell your Property and, perhaps, make a capital gain to, for example, re-invest in larger or smaller according to your needs. To do this, you must be well aware of the current trends of potential buyers.
Tip 9 – furnish your “home” to feel good
Once settled on Koh Samui, it is very important to feel at home, even if it is for a Long Term Rental. To be comfortably installed, whether it is in a villa with garden, an apartment in a Condominium, a house in a residence, with all the conveniences at your disposal, will allow you to appreciate your Expatriation on the island smoothly. Above all, treat yourself!
Like many retirees who have arrived on the archipelago, you will certainly reside in several accommodations before finding the one that suits you best and in which you will fully blossom. Take the time to choose, and if you need to, come and see me, I will be able to propose you a large number of villas and houses for rent or for sale.
Once you really feel at home (whether you rent furnished or buy), make this place a soothing and cozy place, by bringing your personal touch with the help of accessories, and by instituting pleasurable rituals. Don’t forget that routine is made to be rushed, especially in Koh Samui.
Finally, know that on the island, there are all the modern comforts (household appliances, television, hi-fi, Internet…), but also many decoration and household linen stores with a large choice available. Enough to make your new main residence, a true haven of peace and change of scenery.
Tip 10 – communicate easily with your loved ones
Nowadays, it has never been easier to travel while staying connected with your loved ones. In the past, many retirees were reluctant to travel to the other side of the world for fear of cutting themselves off from “their world”. Today, thanks to new technologies, we feel like we’re still there a little bit and miss almost nothing.
The communication network in the Koh Samui archipelago is both modern and convenient to use, while being very widespread on the island. From the telephone to the Internet, it allows everyone to stay in touch very easily and to be connected to others (including family and friends). Wherever you are, connections are excellent. As a result, you rarely feel isolated or lost, a guarantee of security and tranquility. You will love to use social networks (“Facebook”, “Instagram”, “Twitter”…), and all the gadgets related to them (“Tweets”, emails, chats, sending photos and videos, applications such as “WhatsApp”, “Line”, “Viper”…).
The Telephone System on the island is highly technical and particularly well developed. Most of the foreign phones work on the island provided they are “GSM” compatible. To make a phone call or to be reached in the archipelago, nothing could be simpler, just follow the instructions.
I’m going to finish my article as I started it: Living your retirement on Koh Samui is just great! Live it to the fullest and enjoy the present moments without worrying about others. Just be happy!