Fairly large nest egg needed to retire comfortably in Thailand

Extended families are no longer the norm in Thai society. Gone are the days when elderly parents can simply wait for aid from their grown-up children. (Photo by Danie Franco)

Unlike previous generations, people entering their senior years now and in the future will likely need to save a substantial sum of money for their retirement. Without savings, they risk struggling on their own, minus support from younger relatives or the government.

Extended families are no longer the norm in Thai society. Gone are the days when elderly parents can simply wait for aid from their grown-up children. Many young couples nowadays say that if they tie the knot, they prefer not to live with their in-laws. When families live apart, financial resources cannot be shared so easily.

Also, more Thais are choosing to stay single these days.

As of 2017, about 10 percent of Thailand’s senior population was living alone. And this is a growing trend: the percentage of elderly people living on their own rose by 4.5 percent per year between 2007 and 2017.

How much does it cost to retire?

The National Economic and Social Development Council estimates that each person now needs approximately 3.1 million baht to spend around 30 retirement years in relative comfort.

Older persons who need to shift to nursing homes due to health issues or waning independence will require even more money.

Nursing homes charge about 15,000 baht a month for a basic bed and basic daily support. This fee does not cover the cost of adult diapers, medicines and other personal amenities. For elderly residents who need additional help or care, the fees are higher.

The monthly rate almost doubles for those wanting a private room, while the cost of a room at a luxurious facility jumps to 50,000 baht or more per month.

Healthier people, meanwhile, can move into senior housing projects that provide services and facilities designed for the elderly. For instance, the Senior Complex developed by the Treasury Department and Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital offers a 30-year lease on a condo at its project starting from 1.8 million baht. Similar projects offered by private operators cost far more.

The prices of units at the Jin Wellbeing project, for example, are expected to start at 4.1 million baht, according to Kasikorn Research Centre. Meanwhile, spending your retirement years in an elegant villa in a housing project like Sansara can cost up to 21 million baht.

Stories of suffering and struggle reveal tragic side of Thailand’s ageing society

Any cheaper alternatives?

While retiring can be expensive, many elderly people can take comfort in the fact that several foundations offer far cheaper alternatives.

The Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Somdet Phra Sangharaj Wat Bovoranives Vihara Foundation under Royal Patronage offers 36-square-meter rooms to seniors who make a 200,000-baht donation and are willing to pay 1,500 baht per month for maintenance. The number of rooms available is limited, however.

It should also be noted that the government has no plans to build more housing complexes for the elderly despite the country’s fast-aging population. Next year, a fifth of the Thai population will be over 60, and by 2033, 28 percent will be elderly.

“Our focus now is on active aging. We aim to keep people healthy for as long as possible. We have been encouraging them to save money and have tried to create an elderly-friendly environment,” said Suchitra Pittayanorasate, director-general of the Department of Older Persons.

Currently, the department has 12 old people’s homes and one day center for the elderly under its jurisdiction. Together, these centers support 1,200 seniors.

But demand is high.

“They are operating at their maximum capacity already,” said Suchitra, adding that the government is also pushing local administrative bodies to take an active role in elderly care. As a result, local authorities now run 13 old people’s homes.

“We think it is good for the elderly to live in their own communities. They will be happier there,” Suchitra said.

By Thai PBS World’s General Desk


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