Retire at Chiang Mai on 550 USD per month only
We have picked 4 popular retirement destinations within Thailand :
* Chiang Mai
* Chiang Rai
* Pattaya
* Phuket

and will provide some information which may help you better decide which location may bebest for you to retire in.

When you have selected Thailand as your retirement destination you then have to decide where in Thailand you want to live.

Chiang Rai is one of the retirement cities we have selected.

Our information is based on having lived in or visited all of these locations and having a first hand knowledge of what most foreigners (farangs) are looking for when they retire.

We will compare and rate each location under each of these categories:

Cost of Living Climate
Things to Do Nightlife
Advantages Disadvantages

Points will be given to each based on the above categories and a winner chosen in terms of "Best Retirement Destination in Thailand".

Cost of Living

In this category Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have the lowest costs for accommodations, dining, entertainment and other living costs.

Fruits and vegetables are grown locally and are downright cheap.
Accommodations can be found that have a balcony, internet, cable tv, furnished for about 4,000 baht a month. Nothing fancy but clean, new or fairly new with just about the same size space as you would have in a hotel room. Fridge and tv may even be included besides bed, mattress and table and chair. Hot and cold water shower is standard for bathrooms. Bathtubs are rare.
Costs are almost identical for both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai except for land for housing which is priced a bit lower in Chiang Rai and that is the only difference in our opinion.

Points awarded:
Chiang Rai 10
Chiang Mai 9
Pattaya 6
Phuket 5


The northern cities win here as the climate is cooler in both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Foreigners can find the hot climates unpleasant and even intolerable in their senior years.

Points awarded:
Chiang Rai 10
Chiang Mai 9
Pattaya 6
Phuket 5

Things to Do

Chiang Mai is the clear winner here. From sightseeing in and around Chiang Mai to the Chiang Mai zoo, large malls, and long list of activities designed to separate the tourist from his money.
In our opinion Phuket comes in second because of the nice beach, and island tours.

Chiang Rai comes in third and Pattaya which a beach which we did not even want to use and with too many bars and sex starved males comes in last.

Points awarded:
Chiang Mai 9
Phuket 7
Chiang Rai 6
Pattaya 4


If bars is your thing then Pattaya is the clear winner.

If a variety of entertainment, bars, and affordable dining is your thing then Chiang Mai is the winner.

Sorry Chiang Rai and Phuket but as to nightlife there is little in comparison.

Points awarded:
Pattaya 8
Chiang Mai 8
Chiang Rai 4
Phuket 3


Clean air, and low cost of cost of living are the key advantages.


Fewer people speaking English, less nightlife and fewer things to do are the key disadvantages.

Best suited for couple where Thai lady is from that area.

Winner - Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai 35 points - Chiang Rai 30 - Pattaya 24 - Phuket 20

Selected by us as the best place to retire in Thailand and proven out by statistics that show Chiang Mai as the most popular retirement city not only in Thailand but in South East Asia.

Many different things to do designed to separate money from tourists visiting Chiang Mai. Not perfect, not the best party city, not the city with the most bars, no beaches and a bit hot and rainy for part of the year.

But good enough to keep thousands of farangs residing here happily long term with no intent to leave.

We believe that a single farang can live comfortably in Chiang Mai on $550 U.S. a month in a nice apartment with cable tv and internet and eat at local Thai restaurants.

If you find a Thai girlfriend then the cost will increase as you will be paying for food for 2 people and doing more entertaining out at the outset anyways.

But for the marginal increase in living costs for adding a Thai g/f you will find that she will save you much more by cooking for you, by negotiating better prices for transportation and items you may want to purchase and by her providing companionship which decreased or eliminates the need for bar activities.

Accommodation in Chiang Mai

If you have a g/f from another area of Thailand then you may want to consider near her family as obviously she will want you to visit them and them to visit you so costs of transportation come into play and also she will likely to be happier nearer here friends and family.

If you do not have a Thai girlfriend then Chiang Mai would offer more opportunities to meet a Thai girlfriend and to entertain her there.

Keep in mind that Chiang Mai has an international airport, that the train tracks end at Chiang Mai, that Chiang Mai offers more income opportunities for the Thai girlfriend and even for the farang. Many farangs start a business with the wife or g/f in the forefront and the farang in the background providing the capital required to start the business.

So bottom line we do not see enough compelling reasons to live in Chiang Rai as opposed to Chiang Mai and the cost of living is higher in Pattaya and Phuket with a warmer climate and less to do in our opinion. Several days of laying on the beach is nice but not everyday for a senior who may be worried about skin cancer.

We urge our retiree's who are single to find a nice Thai girlfriend if they are eligible heterosexual males as the Thai g/f is what brings the most happiness to farangs living here and also keep the costs of living lower or much lower compared to living here alone and hitting the bars.

So for living in Northern Thailand we would recommend starting off in Chiang Mai and once you get accustomed to Thai foods and have a Thai g/f if you are an eligible heterosexual male then you can visit and live in communities outside of Chiang Mai.

Once you have had your fill of sightseeing and bars you may want to relax, read, write a book, take in the local culture and that may best be done in a smaller Thai community.

If cost of living is important we would suggest Chiang Mai as costs are lower for accommodations and dining and entertainment in comparison to Pattaya or Phuket.

In terms of climate we would recommend Chiang Mai then Chiang Rai as northern Thailand is cooler than Bangkok, Phuket or Pattaya.

related pages..

Retirement to Chiang Mai

Retirement to Pattaya

Retirement to Phuket

Tips of Retiring to Chiang Mai

Retirement in Cambodia

Retirement in Philippines

Condo's for retire


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