A short-term gig or a forever home? The stats that tell the story

Some expats are on a brief adventure, while others never plan to come home and pension figures tend to show the ‘stay for life’ destinations

A good sign of a country’s long-term attractiveness to expats is how many of them opt to sign up for pensions in their host country.

Doing so demonstrates an intention to stay once a career has ended  and Canada leads the way with the highest number of British expats (86%) who have taken out pensions, according to HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey 2013.

The second highest is Australia (80%) with the third being the US (75%). All three countries are popular destinations for emigrating Brits and enjoy high standards of living for retirees. They were all well above the global average of 45%, calculated by HSBC.

Supporting the pension figures are statistics that show expats tend to stay longer-term in Canada, Australia and the US than other destinations. All three countries have a high number of “expat lifers” those who relocated more than 10 years ago.

Nearly eight in every ten expats (79%) moved to Canada before the year of 2000, and the same in Australia (61%) and the US (67%). The global average is just 39%.

Elsewhere, more than half of expats living in countries such as Russia (63%), Germany (57%), Switzerland (55%) and New Zealand (53%t) have decided to retire in their home country.

When it comes to having the world’s best state pension scheme, Denmark sits on top of all other countries, according to the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, which compares 20 countries with major retirement schemes.

Australia, which runs a national pension fund called Superannuation (or Super for short), comes third. The US slipped out of the top 10 for the first time in the five-years while Canada’s pension plan (CPP) is ranked sixth.

The birth of Thailand Construction News (TCN)

Picture this. I am driving down the little country roads, past the fish farms, on the way to work. It is a beautiful sunny day. It’s Friday 28 October 2005. I have been working for a client for over three years at Bangkok’s brand new Suvarnabhumi International airport, and it is my last day of work. I do not have a care in the world; apart from I have no client and no work to go to come Monday morning. No worries there then.

What am I going to do to find work?

None of my usual clients or contacts has come good.

Not heard from any recruitment agents (answer me this, why when I am employed do they call me with great job offers but when I am not I hear nowt from them?) – the main reason that not long afterwards (in the future) that I commenced my own a recruitment agent service, TCN Recruitment.

Tried searching the internet but six months work in Afghanistan is not to my liking.

I know, I will look through a few Thai construction job publications and get a job that way. Oh yeah, there are none. Note to self – “get home tonight and invent ‘Thailand Construction News’…”.

Actually, it literally went something like that. I had the idea that morning, jotted down some notes on how to go about it, and started it on the following Monday of unemployment. I picked up some work the following Monday by the way, thanks for asking.

On the 2nd of November 2005, we issued our first TCN newsletter and have been doing it ever since – a labour of love (or a bloody chore?).

Tell us what you think of TCN. Do not be shy, if you think its absolute ‘bobbins’, let us know. If it’s half-decent, let us know. If you have some ideas on what it should include – pictures of reader’s wife I hear you say (not!) – or what direction it should go in. Come on here is your chance to have your pop / say.

Who manufacturers or sells solar panels for home use in Thailand?

We recently received an email from a reader enquiring:

“Do any of your members know of a reliable company from which I can purchase, import solar panels and ancillary equipments, as I have a “Plan” to make the house I am going to build for retirement…”? Does anybody know? Don’t think I’ve ever seen any company selling solar panels for home useage.

There was recently a warning issued by Thailand’s Deputy Energy Permanent Secretary Kurujit Nakornthap, that Thailand must diversify the fuel it uses to generate electricity, or else domestic gas resources could dry up in about two decades, so why isn’t the Thai Government pushing the sales of solar panels for both homes and business usage; why doesn’t the Government reduce solar panel prices and make it compulsory that all new built homes and businesses from say the start of 2012 MUST incorporate solar panels in order to reduce usage from Thailand’s electricity grid?

What do you think?

New Work Permit Requirements from the Thai Labor Department

The Labor Department has instructed Asia lawyers that starting from today, there are new requirements for all applicants who wish to gain a work permit and also new criteria for existing work permit holders for renewals. They have issued new forms for work permit applications in several classes.

New applicants for work permits will now be required to provide proof of their Education Certificates (BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD) and a reference from their previous employer confirming employment.

The photo size has also changed from 5cm x 6 cm to 3cm x 4 cm.

Extensions of work permits (WP 5) will now also require a map to the office and a medical certificate. The medical certificate is valid for only 6 months so annual renewal of work permits will now require a new medical certificate including the medical exam. (Previously only new applicants needed to provide the medical certificate)

Additionally the medical certificate will also need to indicate the applicant’s blood type.

New forms are now available and can only be used:

WP 1.: New applications for work permits
WP 3. (files include wp.3 and 3.1): petition treated as a pre-requisite while the applicant is outside the country applying for a non-b visa
WP 5.: Extension of work permit
WP 6.: Changes in the current work permit, such as adding a company, change in job title, change in office location (misc changes that do not require the issuance of a new work permit).

Download the new forms at http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/477081-new-work-permit-requirements-from-the-labor-department/

Time for Expats to Buy Property In Thailand

Little island destinations are developing interest for investors in the Zen paradise of Thailand

Published in 1997, Alex Garland’s bestselling novel The Beach plugged a gap in the book market with its “new age” utopia tale of a disaffected back-packers in search of an exotic hideaway untouched by tourism.

It was the start, perhaps, of the British love affair with this karma-fringed part of Asia. These days, worldwide demand for beach tourism means you’re unlikely to find an undiscovered cove all to yourself, although Thailand’s recently elected PM Yingluck Shinawatra is working hard to deliver the next best thing, with the launch of a sustainable tourism directive targeting lesser-known island havens, including the Koh Chang archipelago on the country’s eastern seaboard corridor.

A destination that relies heavily on foreign exchange, finding new markets is a must for Thailand. The county’s largest island, Phuket, is testament to this. Attracting over 40 per cent of tourists to the country, land prices have doubled here in the past ten years, translating into healthy returns for foreign investors. Like many of the country’s hotspots, however, oversupply, coupled with a fall off in buyer demand means the “squeezed middle” is feeling the pain.

“Popular destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya have been heading for ‘burn out’ for over a decade,” confirms Frank Khan, the director of Knight Frank Thailand’s residential department, “but the recession has brought additional pressures: a flight to quality, for one, with increasing numbers of foreign buyers chasing finite supplies of high end stock.”

A late entrant to the tourist game, Koh Chang’s polka dot chain of 52 islands, which boasts a larger combined land mass than that of Phuket and Koh Samui put together, represents a lucrative development opportunity. “Authorities are only too aware of the region’s potential and have pre-empted a ‘free-for-all’ by imposing strict building regulations and construction quotas,” explains Stefan Picot of overseas investment consultancy GDI Overseas. “70 per cent of Koh Chang is already set aside as a national park.”

Domestic transport links are improving too. Flights from Bangkok to nearby Trat regional airport are being supplemented by a fast ferry service from the mainland with plans to extend road infrastructure to neighbouring Cambodia. “The end goal is a coastal link between the triple gems of Koh Chang, Koh Kong in neighbouring Cambodia and Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam, which will fan-out tourism revenue to the wider region,” says Thapanee Kiatphaibool of the Thailand Tourism Board.

To date, the vast majority of foreign buyers have chosen to put down roots on Koh Chang (main island) where capital growth has been averaging 20 per cent per annum since 2005. Boutique-style resort projects line the scenic northwest coast: Tranquility Bay near Bang Bao fisherman’s village is among the swankiest, with fully-furnished, three-bed pool villas with guest quarters selling for £935,000.

Considerably less developed, and with current land prices around the £100,000 mark for prime beachfront lots, neighbouring island Koh Mak is home to a fledgling community of expat retirees, many of whom have settled here since title deeds for land on the island were upgraded in 2009. “The vast majority of the land plots now have Chanote titles, which makes ownership more secure,” says Kate Sawangwit of Exotiq Property. “Three or four bed sea view villas finished to western standards can be found for £250,000.”

Further south on Koh Kood, land prices (one-tenth of those on Phuket) are following a similar upward trajectory, the archipelago’s second largest island. Instantly recognisable by its bounty of coconut and rubber tree plantations, most visitors reach the island by hopper flight from Bangkok or catch the fast ferry from Trat; a “stepped journey” Sawangwit feels will “weed out the time wasters from the genuine buyers.”

Billed as the “benchmark” for future residential offerings on the island’s northwest fringes, is the newly-launched resort of Soneva Kiri, owned and operated by spa development specialists Six Senses. Spread across 150 acres of indigenous rainforest and pristine beachfront (including an exclusive private island adjacent to the resort), this £65 million project is home to just 27 beachfront, hill and cliff private residences; individual homes are constructed from sustainable materials including eucalyptus logs, native bamboo, and plantation-sourced pine.

Four- to six-bedroom residences range in price from £2 million to an eye-watering £5.3 million. Annual management fees of 2 per cent (of the property purchase price) cover maintenance services, with a villa rental Programme offering a guaranteed minimum yield of 2 per cent based on villa size and personal use. Properties, confirms resort spokesperson Henry Gray, command on average £1,500 a night.

So who will be buying? “High-net worth individuals,” confirms the director of Six Senses Residences, Robert Green. “Those looking for spacious homes in a small, well-managed luxury development. A high percentage will be baby-boomers – most want homes in managed estates because they’re busy individuals. Allocation of villas to date has drawn a broad international clientele – UK, America, India and the Middle East, which makes for a cosmopolitan community.”

But while the rarity value of a ‘slice of paradise’ carries sway, the investor “tipping point”, adds Green, is more likely to be the perceived wider security that the Thai market offers: “Thailand is no stranger to challenging climates, but its economy remains relatively steadfast, with a government pro-business and pro the country moving forward. It’s also one of the few global holiday destinations with a truly international reach. With a drive for well executed and innovative real estate opportunities now underway – getting in on the ground floor bodes well for future returns.”

Buying in Thailand

Thailand has very strict property ownership laws. Foreign nationals can own property freehold but not land.

Most property purchases are carried out on a renewable leasehold basis with owners taking repeating leases in tranches of 30 years up to a quoted potential of 120 years. The leaseholder can build or make changes to a property on the land during the time of the lease and can leave it in their will to relatives.

Property tax does not apply to property being used for private residential purposes. Costs only apply on transfer of ownership. This normally equates to two-three per cent of the property market value and is shared between the buyer and seller.

The seller pays the real estate agent’s commission, which ranges from three per cent to five per cent of the sale price.

Buyers should always check the credibility of the developer and company managing the development and engage a competent legal firm to advise on the contract.

‘Tricks and Mortar: The Little Book of Property Wisdom’ by Laura Henderson is available now from all major booksellers and online retailers.

The importance of preparing a will in Thailand

For many people, estate planning and the preparation of a will is a dreaded thought and something that is avoided. However, it is certainly advisable to prepare a will as soon as possible if you have property in Thailand.

If you do not prepare a will, the law decides how the estate is distributed. Succession in Thailand is governed by Sections 1599 ff of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code (“CCC”). Rules related to international issues are governed by Sections 37 ff of the Thai Act on Conflict of Laws.
Statutory heirs are entitled to inherit according to the following order (Section 1629 CCC):



■Brothers and sisters of full blood

■Brothers and sisters of half blood

■Grandfathers and grandmothers

■Uncles and aunts

The surviving spouse is also a statutory heir. His/her share of the inheritance depends on how many and which type of statutory heirs there are altogether.

Thai inheritance law does not recognise the idea of a statutory share. Any heir can be fully disinherited.

If there are no living relatives and no will, the estate devolves to the state.

Why a will is recommended

It is highly recommended to have a will and testament naming all your assets, such as property, bank accounts, vehicle, and personal items as well as naming your heirs.

If there is no will, the statutory heirs have the burden of proof that they are next of kin.

They will have to hire a Thai lawyer to represent them during the court proceedings in Thailand and perhaps even have to travel to Thailand. This is avoidable by preparing a will.

In a will, an administrator of the estate may also be appointed, such as a lawyer in Thailand.

Thailand now has enacted laws that govern issues related to the so-called “living will”, which means your instructions as to what to do if you are seriously injured and left in a vegetative state.

Such instructions may be included in your last will and testament.

Also, funeral arrangements may be set forth in your will.

If the deceased had a Thai spouse or partner who owns common assets in his/her own name, in particular if they have been paid for by the deceased, the spouse or partner also should have a will.

Formalities of a Thai will

In Thailand, the most common type of will is required to be in writing, dated at the time of making the will, and signed by the testator before at least two witnesses of the testator’s signature (Sections 1656 CCC). It does not have to be drafted in Thai language.

The body text of the will may be printed or handwritten. In addition to this common type of will, there are certain other types with different formalities, such as a public will, which are less relevant in practice.

We strongly recommend preparing a separate Thai will for assets in Thailand in addition to the will in your home country.

This is necessary because different jurisdictions usually require different formalities for wills.

Furthermore, having a will drafted in the home country to cover assets in Thailand may be problematic and burdensome to the family as documentation may need to be translated, notarised and approved by a government body.

Conflict of law

If assets include a house and/or a leasehold right in Thailand, Thai courts will be competent for the probate and Thai law will always govern the succession.

If assets include movable property in Thailand, including shares in a Thai company, Thai courts will be competent as well, however according to Thai conflict law the law of the domicile of the deceased at the time of his death will be applied.

A Thai will should be prepared and signed on Thai territory, as in this case it is ensured that the aforementioned Thai rules regarding the form of the will apply.

Probate in Thailand

In order to obtain a probate in Thailand, probate proceedings at the Thai courts will need to be initiated by the heirs. A probate will in most cases be required to administer the estate orderly, even if the deceased has provided for a last will.

If the deceased himself named an administrator in his will, the probate court will appoint this person.

One of the heirs, but also a third party, such as a lawyer, may act as administrator. Otherwise the court will seek to appoint one of the heirs as administrator of the estate.

The administrator will be appointed by the court if none of the heirs object.

The administrator is obligated to appear personally at the court hearing in Thailand.

If heirs consent to the appointment of the administrator in writing, they will usually not be required to appear during the hearing of the probate court in Thailand.

This means that in a normal probate procedure without complications, the heirs can avoid traveling to Thailand by using a professional administrator such as a lawyer.

Inheritance of Thai property

Please note that a leasehold right regarding property in principle ends upon the demise of the lessee.

However, standard land lease agreements usually state that the leasehold right should be passed on to the heirs by way of inheritance.

This issue needs to be dealt with at the time of preparing and entering into the land lease agreement, and it is advisable to have your legal adviser check any such agreements again as part of the inheritance arrangements.

A building owned by a foreigner may be passed on to the heirs according to general rules.

If shares in a Thai company are passed on by way of inheritance, e.g. in the case of shareholding in a Thai company that holds land, it should be noted that rather complicated legal issues with regards to corporate law may arise.

A will provides for clarity here and avoids legal disputes between heirs and/or shareholders.

Inheritance Tax

It might be interesting to note that inheritance tax is not levied in Thailand.

– Fabian Doppler 2013-02-13

Expat life: The best places for making friends, making money and raising children

Thailand’s on top when it comes to quality of life and a brilliant social scene, however Switzerland is top for making money and Germany for raising children

Thailand is the easiest place in the world for expats to meet new friends and have an active social life, a survey has revealed.

If the main focus is on earning money and disposable income, however, Switzerland and China are the best places to head.

For those with families who maybe planning to start one, Germany and Singapore top the charts for raising children abroad.

The research was done by HSBC as part of its sixth annual Expat Explorer Survey.

The first section of the survey scored destinations for the expat experience they provide, in terms of quality of living, ease of setting up and integration.

In second place after Thailand was Bahrain, followed closely by China, the Cayman Islands and Australia.

When asked about how easy they found it to make friends, 76% of Travellers in Thailand said it was very easy which was the highest percentage in the world.

Next in the friendship rankings were Singapore and Taiwan (63%) and China (59%).

Those countries where the only ones that managed to beat the global average, which showed that 57% of Travelers overall found it easy to make friends when they moved.

When it comes to improving their social life after their move, expats in Asia found it best.

More than a third (35%) of expats based in the region said they socialised more after relocating, compared to a global average of 26%.

The second part of the survey focused on expat economics and assessed factors such as earnings, disposable income and satisfaction with the economic outlook of the country.

Switzerland came first in this section, followed by China, Qatar, Thailand and the Cayman Islands.

When asked if they noticed an improvement in their financial status after moving, 75% of those in Switzerland said yes, 73% in Qatar and 72% in China. The global average was 56%.

The ease of raising children was the topic of the land section of the survey. Germany came top, followed by Singapore, France, New Zealand and South Africa.

The poll also revealed that Germany, France and Spain in particular offer expat parents access to cost-efficient and high-quality childcare.

The poll was conducted by independent research company YouGov on behalf of HSBC Expat. A total of 7,004 people were asked via an online survey conducted between April 29 and June 11, and the sample covered more than 100 countries.


Bike Track Opens in Suvarnabhumi

BANGKOK, 28 March 2014: Suvarnabhumi Airport opened a new bike path to encourage enthusiastic cyclists.

The cycling path is part of a service perimeter road that was used when the airport was under construction.


Suvarnabhumi Airport might have won the hearts of cyclists, but Don Mueang Airport is possibly the only airport in the world where golfers can tee off between the runways on an immaculate 18-hole course.

AoT Board of Directors chairman Sita Divari said “the cycle route was opened to help 300 to 500 cyclists who were already cycling around Suvarnabhum Airport”.

It s part of AoT’s strategy to improve its image and provide Bangkok with additional leisure space.

“There are many cyclists in the area near the airport, so the company responded with a green corridor project that makes the sport safer and more enjoyable.”

Ironically, the construction of infrastructure around the airport in 2004 to 2006 was a major obstacle for cyclists, who were members of the Rama 9 Cycling Club . They trained on roads directly leading to the airport and for safety reasons were forced to relocate.

But news of the new road quickly circulated, earlier this year, with some cyclists videoing the route and posting in on the internet. Since then the number of cyclists heading to the airport has grown significantly.

AoT said the new cycling road surface is covered with a para rubber coating to prevent slips and handle all weather conditions.

The track is open daily from 0600 to 1800.

The airport is fast becoming a Mecca for leisure cyclists. Their favourite starting point is  Suvarnabhumi 3 Road, which is a two-lane road that starts at the intersection of the bus station and runs parallel to the eastern runway for about 7 km.

With the opening of this bike path, they have a choice of lanes exclusively designed for bikers, which runs along the flood-prevention barrier circling the airport.


Acquiring Thai Nationality

Acquiring Thai Nationality

To acquire Thai nationality – Citizenship

People who are Thai by birth are:
1) anyone who is born to a Thai father or mother anywhere in the world;

2) anyone who is born in Thailand to foreign parents who were both permanent residents in Thailand.
Foreigners may acquire Thai nationality under Section 10 of the Act through naturalization or, if the women marries the Thai citizen, they may apply to adopt their husbands’ nationality under Section 9, if they have been legally married for 3 years (1 year if they have a child together).
The Act requires applicants for naturalization under Section 10 to have held permanent residence for 5 years, have some kind of occupation in Thailand and have some understanding of the Thai language. Under a 2008 amendment, males married to Thai citizens are now exempted from the requirement to have permanent residence and knowledge of Thai but not from the requirement to have an occupation in Thailand. In order to qualify for the exemption, men with Thai wives must have been legally married for 3 years (1 year if they have a child together).

Furthermore to the qualifications specified in the Act, current ministerial guidelines require the following. You must show evidence that you have some sort of job in Thailand paying a salary of at least 80,000 baht a month (40,000 if married to a Thai) along with tax receipts dating back 3 complete calendar years. You need to present a valid work permit and copies of expired work permits, if you have changed jobs within the period. You should be in a house registration book (blue TR14, if a permanent resident, otherwise a yellow TR13). Finally, you need to produce receipts from registered Thai charities to demonstrate your contribution to Thai society. These doesn’t have to be huge amounts but should be over a period of time, not just a single donation immediately prior to your application.

Applications for Thai nationality must be made in person to Special Branch at National Police HQ, Bangkok, for Bangkok residents, or at provincial Special Branch offices for those residing in the provinces.

For those applying under Section 10, Special Branch will allocate points based on: age and education: job; Thai language ability; understanding of Thailand; length of time with permanent residence or a house book; and personality.

In order to qualify, applicants must score at least 50 points out of 100. Males with Thai partners are not obliged to pass the Thai language test, due to their exemption, but may need these points to qualify overall. All interviews throughout the process are conducted solely in Thai and a basic knowledge of spoken Thai is thus obligatory for all applicants.

Minor children may apply for naturalization along with a parent and are exempted from all the qualifications, tests and interviews.

The process for women with Thai partners applying under Section 9 is much similar to the above but they are not tested or assessed for points, nor do they have to be employed. Instead their husbands need to demonstrate that they have income of at least 15,000 baht a month.

Those who apply under both Sections 9 and 10 who pass the Special Branch process will be finger printed, pay the application fee (currently 5,000 baht for naturalization) and will then be vetted by various other police departments. They will also attend an interview with the National Intelligence Agency, usually at a restaurant in Bangkok. This vetting process normally takes 2-3 months and applicants’ files are then forwarded to the Ministry of the Interior (MoI). The next stage is a panel interview at the MoI with senior officials from various government agencies. At the interview those without Thai spouses must sing the National and Royal Anthems from memory and unaccompanied into a microphone.

Following the MoI interview, applications need to be approved by the interior minister and finally countersigned by the King. Once the King has signed and applicants have taken an oath of allegiance, the new Thai citizens will be announced in the Royal Gazette. After paying a further 1,000 baht fee for their naturalization certificates, they can apply for Thai ID cards and passports. They may also assume a Thai name but this is no longer compulsory.

The granting of Thai nationality under the Act is up to the discretion of the interior minister. It is not subject to any judicial process or review and no time limit is set for approval. The entire process usually takes several years and requires patience. On average about 160 people are granted Thai citizenship every year. Contrary to commonly held beliefs, it is not important to have a Thai spouse and/or children, as long as you are otherwise qualified. Many naturalized Thais have foreign spouses or are unmarried.

Thai children born or living overseas may apply for a Thai birth certificate and subsequently a Thai passport at a Thai embassy or consulate at any time in their lives. In order to gain a Thai ID card, they must be entered in a house registration book and apply in person at a district office in Thailand. Being entered in a house registration book will result in males being called up for the military conscription ballot at the age of 20. However, they are exempted from military service on reaching the age of 30, if they have been living abroad and have never been called up. In such cases it is advisable to defer being entered into a house registration book and applying for an ID card until after the age of 30. In the case of children who are born Thai with one foreign parent and also hold the nationality of the foreign parent, Section 14 of the Act gives them the right but not the obligation to renounce their Thai citizenship at the age of 20 with the minister’s approval.

Best countries in the world to retire to in 2015

BALTIMORE MD – InternationalLiving.com’s new 2015 Global Retirement guide includes two Asian havens and three South and Central American destinations as the top five countries in the world which is most affordable for expats.

Of the top 25 retirement destinations identified in InternationalLiving.com’s new Annual Retirement Guide as the best places in the world to retire to in 2015, five stand out as offering the lowest cost of living.

They are Nicaragua, Vietnam, Ecuador, Thailand and Belize.

The index’s Cost of Living category evaluates things like day-to-day living, the cost of a flight back to the U.S, Shopping, Cinema tickets, Dining out, Rubbish collection, Gas, Gym membership, and also takes into account hidden and often unconsidered costs (like traveling).

Nicaragua received a perfect score of 100 in the Cost of Living category. Where a single person can easily live on $1,000 or less a month and a couple can maintain a comfortable lifestyle for between $1,200 and $1,400.

“You could live here in a $2-million mansion with everything you would ever want in a home if you are willing to pay for it,” says InternationalLiving.com Nicaragua correspondent Bonnie Hayman, who lives in the coastal town of San Juan del Sur. “But the great thing about Nicaragua is that you don’t have to. You can still feel like you’re living the good life on a very low budget.”

Similarly  in the South American country of Ecuador, expats report they enjoy a comfortable lifestyle on a small budget.

Some of the largest savings in Ecuador comes with very low utility costs. Most places in Ecuador, especially the highlands, have a moderate climate, which means no heating or cooling costs. Few expats who live in mountain areas spend more than $35 per month on electric, water, and gas combined.

“The local market is where you’ll save a lot of money, too,” says InternationalLiving.com Ecuador Highlands correspondent Wendy Dechambeau. “If you like fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, Ecuador is the place to go for a hefty amount of produce at low costs.”

“You can get a luxuary hour-long massage for $20 or less, and a full manicure or pedicure can cost as little as $3. A lunch complete with soup, salad, fried chicken, and rice washed down with a super-sized beer will cost $4 per person,” reports DeChambeau.

In Vietnam, a couple can live well for $1,000 a month or less. A furnished one-bedroom apartment close to the beach costs $200 a month in the town of Hoi An. Spend $600 to $800 for a three- to four-bedroom house with a garden. A comfortable apartment in Ho Chi Minh City costs around $500 a month.

Internet with unlimited data costs $14 a month, electricity around $35 a month, a cell phone call is less than a cent a minute. For shopping, especially fresh produce, expats say they save by shopping in the markets and avoiding supermarkets. Thailand still continues to be a draw for expats and tourists because of the low cost of living.

“Even in the heart of Chiang Mai, it is possible to rent a modern one- or two-bedroom furnished condominium for less than $600 per month. For those willing to live a short distance from the major urban centers, there are a large variety of comfortable homes available for much less,” reports InternationalLiving.com Thailand correspondent, Steve LePoidevin.

“Picking up a delicious meal from a local street vendor can cost as little as a dollar. Add another dollar or two, and you can get a beer or fresh juice. Although the sky is the limit, eating out at a mid-range restaurant can still be relatively inexpensive and rarely costs more than $10 to $15 for a couple.”