Written By James Barker
Almost one-third of all men will be single when they retire. I’m one of them, and at sixty-three I’m living my best life, really beyond anything I could have imagined, in Pattaya. My story is nothing special, in fact I’d basically lost everything when I decided to leave my home country, and I believe that anyone with the right mindset can find a great life waiting for them in this legendary seaside town. Here are some tips on how to get here from wherever you are right now, from someone who learned the hard way.
1. Buy a one-way ticket. For me, this was an important part of the mindset, that I was committed to moving and staying put. You may be asked by Immigration on arrival to show a return or onward ticket. There are services on the web that can provide these for you, so just google it.
2. Get your legal and administrative details in order.
– Mail – For me that just meant getting a mailbox service and filling out a change of address form with the post office. The service I have scans my mail, and I can read everything in a browser, even on my phone.
– Taxes – The state where I have my mail service also serves as my tax home.
– Phone – I got a Google voice virtual number, which I can use to make calls to the US over the internet, but mostly I use it to register a US number to receive text messages for two-step authentication services with websites like Amazon. Your options will vary depending on your home country. I also use Google Duo and Skype. You can get a SIM card with roaming your home country to use in a dual-SIM phone once you’re here, but be aware of the costs so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises.
– Driving License – Get an International Driver License in your home country, which will be honored in Thailand for some period of time. You can also use your International License to acquire a Thai driver license without taking the written exam and driving test (my experience at time of writing).
3. Get rid of your stuff. I hired an estate sale service to run a two-day sale for everything I owned, raising cash to help fund my new life. Sure you might have a few boxes you might want to store in some relative’s attic, but don’t keep stuff thinking you might need it if you return to your home country. If that day comes, you can deal with it then, but in the meantime if would just give you something to worry about when you could just be relaxing in a beach chair enjoying a fresh coconut.
4. Rent a place for a month and learn your way around. Airbnb is ok, and that’s what I used, but there are tons of great condos for rent in Pattaya-specific Facebook groups, so look for those and join in advance of your arrival.
5. Live within your means. Set yourself a realistic budget and try to stick to it. Lots of things will cost more than you think, so keep a contingency/emergency fund available.
6. Make a few friends. Isolation can kill your dream of the good life, so get out and socialize a bit. Expat clubs and Facebook groups are plentiful in Pattaya, so make good use of them.
7. Learn about Thai culture. It’s a fascinating and beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage. Read about Thailand’s history and some expat memoirs to get a feel for the place, even if you’ve spent some time here already.
8. Learn to speak a bit of the language. The locals will appreciate your efforts, and you’ll be glad you did. There are some great YouTube channels for learning Thai.
9. Build a relationship with a good agent for visa and local services. Navigating the requirements to keep you out of trouble can be tricky at best and disastrous at worst. A trustworthy agent can make your life a lot easier, and in my experience their services are worth every penny (make that baht).
10. Take your time. Don’t expect your first condo or girlfriend or anything else to be the answer to your prayers. Even if you do everything exactly right, you’ll make some mistakes, so go easy on yourself. Be nice. Thai people keep their cool, and everything will go better if you can too. Relax and enjoy your new life.
See you at the beach!
Note: You can follow the author on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube @PattayaVlog