More younger Australians traveling to Thailand for holidays are opting to settle in the Land of Smiles. For some it is a lifestyle choice, for others it is cheaper living and for many it is for the Love of a Thai woman.
Although no up to date official figures are available for Australians living in Thailand, it is estimated that the figure has trebled in the last fifteen years. One analyst estimates that the numbers of Australians
living in Thailand now stands at 25,000 with over 82% of these being men. The figures for Australian in Thailand may actually be higher as the number of Australians visiting Thailand in 2012 was over
950,000 according to figures available from the Australian government.
However the floods in Thailand in 2011 saw a dip in Australian visitors recovering in 2012 but there has also been movement in Australians returning home due to perceived dangers in Thailand and
changes made by the Australian government to retirement pensions.
Australian man sees danger signals in Thailand
Jason Bulmer (59) has just sold up his substantial home in Mae Sot province in Thailand and is returning to Perth in Australian with his Thai Wife Ming having lived in Thailand for the last seven years.
They have two children Sam (5) and Gordon (4).
'This came into focus for me when I was involved in a car accident here, nothing serious except it occurred to me that it might well have been giving the driving here and the legal complications that
arise for me afterwards. I also think that Australian is a better place for our two kids,' says Jason. Jason is a trained architect who sold up in Australia nine years ago to live in the Thai countryside. 'I still love
Thailand, it's just for me right now there are too many danger signals, I have had good years here and most of the people here are good types but that's it for me anyhow.' It has taken Jason 9 months to
find a buyer for the extensive four bedroom home he built and the new purchaser is an older German man.
This comes at a time when Thailand has been rated poorly in an international survey which measures the stability and peacefulness of a country as an indicator of the quality of life. The Institute of
Peace and Economics rated Thailand 105th out of 153 countries behind countries such as rule of law, peacefulness and stability.
Australian in Chiang Mai: 'Thailand better than I thought'
Niall Harmon another Australian living in Chiang Mai vehemently disagrees. 'I planned by retirement to Thailand over a 2 years period and finally made the break two years ago, everything has been
better than I thought it would be.'
Niall advises Australian seeking retirement in Thailand to visit for a month or two and live outside the 'tourist trail'.
His advice to Aussies seeking a new life in Thailand after retirement is:
- Make a budget and organise all finances carefully and honestly.
- Arrange an exit route such as residence or place to live in Australia or a way back home if you it be required.
- Make sure to apply and get your visa for Thailand in Australian before you make the move.
- Get a good lawyer to take care of your affair and visa requirements in Thailand.
- Do not find a relationship in Thailand until you have settled in.
'Of course many of the Aussies already have girlfriends or wives and that's why they want to make the move. Moving from Australia to Thailand has saved me money and given me an amazing lift in
Cost of Living in Thailand rising
In recent years the cost of living in Thailand has been steadily increasing driven by increased economic growth and some government policies which underpin a rise in labour costs. This has been
exacerbated for expats from the United Kingdom, United States and Europe by a decline in the value of foreign countries in relation to the Thai Baht. In recent years Cambodia and to a lesser extent
Vietnam have seen a growth in visitor numbers, some say at Thailand's expenses although Thailand is seen a gateway for many tourists visiting these countries.
But Niall Harmon in Chiang Mai still thinks Thailand is great value for Australians seeking retirement and a change of pace. 'You can still live in Thailand for a fraction of the cost of living in western
countries and the development in Thailand has made facilities here quite good too. I'd say it's the best of both worlds. Tell the truth I don't think it's desirable coming to a country simply because it's cheaper
and I'd say anyone who has any doubts are better off staying at home. Compared to the cost of living in Australia, Thailand is a dream.'
'There is a growing evidence that moiré Aussies are retiring to Thailand even those in middle age and one of the reasons Aussies chose Thailand is the prospect of finding love,' says John Oliver an
Aussie who successful retired to Thailand two years and lives in Chiang Mai.
John who formerly worked in an Architect's office was able to take early retirement when an investment policy matured. 'I planned my escape meticulously and now I even have some money to spare
every month so I head back to Oz twice a year. Unusually John has not yet found a permanent Thai love partner. 'I decided I wanted to live in Chiang Mai because I love the peace, serenity and the
culture of the place, I have many girlfriends but right now I don't want to complicate my ideal life here. 'Most of the men who come here are looking for somewhere cheaper, more laid back and off course
the Thai ladies,' he says.
Thailand dangerous for Australian men
It has emerged that more Australians die in Thailand each year than any other foreign country. However experts say the reason for this may be that more Australians are visiting Thailand then is
recorded and older Australians are dying each year on natural causes.
In 2012 over 100 Australians died in Thailand according to the Australian embassy in Bangkok. To get a glimpse into the activities of Australians in Thailand, it is interested that the embassy in Bangkok
reported that they had investigated 82 missing persons reports and carried out 190 welfare checks for the government in Australia.
Information give by the Australian embassy in Bangkok also indicates that they are kept busy dealing with Aussies who have become involved in trouble particularly in places such as Phuket and
Pattaya. Australian consular officials point to the increasing popular Full Moon parties as occasions when Australians have suffered injury sometimes fatally while other incidents involve the full range of
threats including sexual assault, assault, murder or accident. In all 57 Australians were arrested in Thailand in 2012 while 15 were attacked. The Australian embassy also handles child custody and
Phuket - key danger spots for Aussies in Thailand
The first Australian to die in Thailand in 2013 was Eric Faulkner, a 21 year old from Melbourne who fell from balcony on the ninth floor of a Phuket hotel while attending a party. Mr. Faulkner, who was
a student in Australia with a bright future ahead of him, had reported to a hospital in Patong two days before his accident. He was asking for help with hallucination issues but left the hospital before staff could
attend to him. In 2011 another Australian Dean Mc Keon was killed when he fell from a fourth floor balcony also in holiday in Phuket.
The Australian embassy in Bangkok reports that Phuket alone accounts for 60% of their case load during the peak holiday season. In all,the Australian embassy handled 875 cases in 2012 with over of
a third of all incidents occurring in Phuket. In most cases Australians are not the victims in these incidents but the perpetrators such as the case involving two Australians allegedly members of an outlawed
motorcycle gang who shot two German tourist is the popular tourist resort.
Senior Aussies not happy with Labour government retirement rules
The is growing concern among Australian men planning to retire to Thailand about changes in the application of Australian pension rules. These changes also have had an effect on those already living
in retirement in Thailand. The new rules came into force in January 2013. Aussies in Thailand and those planning to retire there are increasingly anxious about the growing number of restrictions and
requirements being introduced by the government in Canberra.
While Thailand is not the top retirement destination for Australians in Asia, it is particularly popular with Australian men with limited means or who are seeking a new start or love in their golden years.
Already, in some instances, Australians settled in Thailand have had to return home and become embroiled in a red tape with nowhere to live and very meager financial resources.
The new pension rules deal with eligibility for the old age pension which means that citizens must be resident in the country for two years before receiving it and are subject to further restriction even
after receiving the pension. The move has also hit Australian citizens who had immigrated to Australians from a third country in the world as eligibility for the pension is dependent on 35 years work
requirement as of this year.
'I am now depressed, I have been force to live with my brothers family and I have barely enough to survive,' says Jamie Ostins who returned on a flight to Australian in early February leaving his Thai
wife in Buri Ram with very little to support her. 'I have been a good worker all my life and just when I wanted to live out my golden years, my government hits out at me, I'm so sad, it's not like me to be
such a complainer.'
The trend in recent years has been for younger Aussies to look for an alternative lifestyle and settle in Thailand but the growing numbers of elderly Australians retiring has grown steadily. Indeed many
Australian men in Thailand see the moves by the government as a response to the exodus of elderly Australians to low cost and exotic destinations like Thailand.
While the numbers of Australians coming to Thailand for love and retirement continues to grow, it is clear that there are some challenges. However the sheer numbers now making the move indicate
how rewarding it can be.