Retirement in Chiang Mai - Thailand

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Last edited: March 02, 2021 at 17:23:45

Beyond a doubt, Chiang Mai is one of the best places in the world to retire. Every year, Chiang Mai ranks the top of retirement reviews across the globe (although it is sometimes overlooked by those reports that focus on big places only). Besides the general advantages of living in Thailand, Chiang Mai is particularly good for retirees because of many reasons:

  • The cost of living in Chiang Mai is rather low. An average pension of say USD 1,500 nowadays equals about THB 48,000 which allows you to live rather comfortably.
  • The quality of life in Chiang Mai is rather high.
  • There are many facilities, including sportscenters, golf courses, shopping malls etc.
  • It's easy to get a retirement visa.
  • There are many expat communities in Chiang Mai.
  • You can still live a vibrant and active lifestyle.
  • The weather in Chiang Mai is milder than in other places in Thailand, not as hot and with some real seasons.
  • There are many hospitals and pharmacies everywhere in Chiang Mai, and the quality of medical care is good enough for most situations. Moreover, healthcare and personal caretakers are affordable.
  • Chiang Mai people are quite genuine compared to other places such as Bangkok and Phuket, and it's easy to mix with local Thai.

Retire in Chiang Mai

Besides this, one great advantage of retiring in Thailand or Chiang Mai is that contrary to some places and modern cultures in the west, old age is not looked down on or put aside in nursing homes as remnants of a world the rest of society doesn't really want to engage with. Quite the contrary, in Thai culture old age is to be respected, parents are to be honored and economically Thai people are very aware that older people have accumulated more savings and thus are more able and willing to spend than say backpackers.

On a personal level, many older farang men are still able to date (much) younger women partly because women aren't afraid or averse to older age and appreciate maturity and (financial) reliability. Read more about dating in our later section.

Other popular places in Thailand to retire compared to Chiang Mai

A few other popular places in Thailand you can consider to retire to are the South, Bangkok, or the Northeast.

The South

The South is far hotter than Chiang Mai, has only 2 seasons (the hot and the rainy season), but many places in the South have the advantage of beaches and seas, that Chiang Mai doesn't have. Instead, Chiang Mai is located in the center of a range of mountains, which makes it a unique place.
Popular places in the South you can consider are Phuket, Huahin, Ko Samui and Krabi. The lifestyle you can lead in these places is, however, quite different from Chiang Mai. Beach and island life can get dull, not much is going on besides Full Moon Parties (that you may not be so interested in when you retire) and there is a fairly limited selection of restaurants. In some places such as Huahin, there are much fewer young people making it a bit sleepy place. Phuket has a much higher cost of living, about twice or triple that of Chiang Mai.


Bangkok is Thailand's capital city with some 8 million inhabitants. There are areas where you could feel at home, although in general Bangkok lifestyle can be quite tiring with all the traffic congestions, heavy air, hot weather, and the general density of buildings, roads and people. Moreover, Bangkok is probably one of the most unfriendly cities in the world for pedestrians, leaving nearly no space to walk next to roads and with a road structure that emphasizes main roads much more than interconnecting smaller roads.
The main reasons to settle down in Bangkok is when you crave the cosmopolitan feeling that smaller cities cannot offer, while there is a more interesting crowd of active people with some education and a good job, both Thai and foreign.
Bangkok does offer some good restaurants, but overall local food and the average restaurant is rather poor, especially compared to Chiang Mai.
Costs of living in Bangkok are much higher than in Chiang Mai.

The Northeast

The Northeast comprises primarily of Isaan province with some nice little cities such as Udon Thani. There is an infrastructure of expats and a fair selection of international restaurants, but the facility level in these places is less than in Chiang Mai. The cost of living is comparable to that in Chiang Mai. There is less going on, however, in terms of culture and activities.

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