Thailand is Open…………


Thailand has reopened its borders

We have been fielding some calls of late from people wishing to move or travel to Thailand. Yes, you can – Thailand has opened its borders. But of course, nothing is that easy in 2020 and extra rules do apply.

Thailand depends heavily on tourism with some estimates having tourism as much as 15% of GDP. Hence Thailand has been hit hard by Covid and not surprising it is eager to open its borders and get the economy ticking again.


What visas can you get?

There are currently no visas on arrival. The Thai Gov’t is (rightly) keeping strict controls on those that are entering their country. Also, as part of the visa application process you will need to provide certain requirements as part of the application process.

All visas applicants must apply through the Thai consulate/embassy in your home country.


Tourist Visa – 60-days (ST)

This visa is open to all nationalities. This can be extended for a further 30 days once in Thailand from the date the extension is applied for but before the initial 60-day visa expires.


Long Stay Tourist Visa – 90-days (STV)

This visa is open to citizens of counties considered to be low risk. Australia is one of them.

It’s nice to only allow citizens of higher risk countries only 60-days. That’ll keep the Covid out. But who are we to complain – those are the rules. It’s Thailand.

The 90-day visa can be extended twice to give a maximum 9-months in country.


Non-Immigrant O-A ‘Retirement’ Visa.

Applicable for people over age 50. This visa allows you to stay for up to one year. This visa can be extended on a yearly basis in Thailand.


Non-Immigrant O-X ‘Retirement’ Visa.

Applicable for those over age 50. Allows you to stay in Thailand for effectively up to 10 years.


Thailand is comparatively empty

Travel to Thailand now and you may get some extra special attention. Thailand ‘enjoys’ about 40 million tourists each year. This year it expects only 8 million – or around 20%. This means substantially empty streets, bars, restaurants etc. They are eager to have you back and are offering amazing deals on just about everything.


We will be updating all visa and property sections of our web site soon. We’ll keep you posted when this happens.


Self-isolation on arrival

As with most other countries, people entering Thailand will need to self-isolate in a state sanctioned quarantine hotel for 14 days on arrival. Documentation of hotel is part of the visa application process.


Medical insurance

You must have medical or travel insurance that covers Covid for the length of stay. Insurance must be a minimum cover of USD$100,000 for Covid medical treatment, and THB 400,000 for other medical and accident cover.

Although it is only a requirement to have this cover in place for the initial visa period and not for the period of any visa extensions, for obvious reasons we highly recommend the cover be in place for the total period of your stay.

For the longer stay visas – the O-A and O-X visas, your medical insurance will also need an additional THB 40,000 in outpatient cover.


You can get into Thailand……. but will Australia let you leave?

If you are an Australian or permanent resident, you cannot leave Australia unless you have an exemption. These include such reasons as being an essential worker for Covid aid, for medical reasons, it’s in the national interest etc.

For a great majority of us these reasons will not apply. However, there are real and easy reasons to be exempt and be able to leave Australia. These include:

  • You are traveling outside of Australia for 3 months or greater. Obtaining the STV (90-day) visas or the O-A / O-X longer term visas will be suitable.


  • You are an ordinary resident in another country other than Australia.


Of course, this is easy if you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident.


If you are and Australian or permanent resident, you will be considered an ‘ordinary resident in another country’ if your travel movements show that you have spent more time outside of Australia than inside over the past 12-24 months. This automatic exemption is useful for retirees and other expats that were living overseas prior to Covid.


The above is a summary of the real possibility of being able to move to Thailand. It’s only suitable for longer term stays, remembering you will need to quarantine when you get there, and on your return to Australia. But we take this to be a nice first step forward and hopefully 2021 can bring increasing travel possibilities with fewer restrictions.

Affordable Retirement Housing – Nipa Hut Philippines

Living in a Nipa Hut – Philippines

I have spent many years travelling through wide parts of SE Asia. If you have not already done so and you like an adventure, I recommend putting on a backpack, heading to the Philippines, get away from the cities and do some island hoping. With nearly 7,000 islands in the Philippine archipelago there are many places to see and explore.

In fact, you will find the islands of the Philippines completely different to the city centres, with their relaxed pace and extremely friendly ‘country’ people. And the waters as clear and blue as you can imagine.

One way I have found that the Philippines differs as a retirement destination compared to other SE Asian countries is how diverse in location expats choose to live. Sure, there are major areas such as Cebu, Subic Bay, and fast-growing Bohol to name a few where you will find larger quantities of expats.

But no matter where you go in the Philippines, you will inevitably run into an expat living a comfortable life on an island in the tropics.

I remember once I took a trip to the Romblon group of Islands – a not-so-well travelled region for tourism. In fact, in 6 days on the islands we saw only 5 other tourists.

One day we hired a local fisherman to take us out fishing for the day. We stopped off at an exceedingly small island for lunch only to be greeted by a French national living in a nipa hut near the only other inhabitants – about 20 local fishermen and their families.

The Frenchman’s life is a little too remote for me, I need a little more excitement and plumbing if I am to be honest. But my travels through the Philippines has left a mark on me. Now, when I think about my retirement (I am only 50 so not just yet), one thing I am contemplating is living in a nipa hut near tropical beaches in the Philippines.

What is a Nipa Hut?

A nipa hut is traditional to the Philippines. It is a light weight, typically easy to move stilt house that is well suited to the warm climate of the country. Although traditionally nipa huts are basic in structure, nowadays they come in all shapes and sizes and can be made to suit your personal tastes if required.


What is the cost to buy?

This is a little hard to answer. I mean how much can you build a house anywhere? It depends on size, materials, and many other factors. However, I have spoken with a couple of good nipa hut builders and the cost to build is typically between AUD$10,000 to AUD$15,000 for each 50 sq/m.

Costs will include delivery and installing the building on the land. Additional costs that will be incurred will be such things as plumbing and bathroom fit outs. But in the Philippines these costs are a fraction of costs back home.

Broadly speaking you can find yourself in a nice small to mid-size nipa hut such as the one below, with full plumbing with plenty of change for AUD$50,000.


Now where do I put it?

The short answer is ‘on any land that you can legally rent’. And if you want sewage, add ‘….and that you can connect sewage to’.

In the Philippines this is quite broad. Even though foreigners cannot own land, they can own the building on top of the land. Foreigners can legally lease land for up to 50 years with another maximum 25 years extension.

You can even structure the contract that you are able to sell the lease to a third party or even have it passed down through your Will on death.

If you were to vacate the lease, or the lease expires you can simply take the nipa hut away as they are easy to move. Or sell it to someone else and they can take it away.

A smart way to structure your retirement

What I have been seeing more of is a foreigner setting up a nice, livable nipa hut on land and taking a long lease (say 20+ years). When this lease expires the owner of the land receives ownership of everything on it, which includes the nipa hut.

As the landowner gets eventual ownership of the lot this is factored into the lease payments. Depending on the location and the value of the nipa hut and fixtures this can make the lease payments on the land incredibly low.


This option is clearly not for everyone. But for those that are considering retirement on a budget or looking for more traditional housing with the peace of mind of long-term ownership, then this could be for you.

To set something like this up you could budget typically for anywhere between AUD$30,000 to AUD$70,000. Plus, the cost to lease the land.

You can design the nipa hut to suit your personal wishes and to suit the land that it sits on. The builder will sit with you to draw the plans and will build the home to your specifications.

The Philippines is attracting a lot more retirees. In fact, the country has a stated goal of being the number one destination for foreign retirees in the world.

An ambitious plan yes. But to achieve this they make it easy for foreigners to settle into Philippine life. This includes setting up home.

Why we continue to love SE Asia


The Retire to Asia team has just returned from spending 3 weeks (Feb/Mar 2020) in Bali, Thailand & Malaysia revisiting our current business partners and forging new alliances. It therefore seemed appropriate for us to re-visit the many reasons why we continue to love SE Asia.

In no particular order:

The Food

Fresh, healthy, delicious, cheap and reflective of the many cultures who have settled and influenced the region.

SE Asia remains a food lover’s paradise.

 The Nocturnal Vibrancy Of Life (and sense of community)

Sitting at a local bar as the sun sets, SE Asia starts to wake up.

Street shopping, scooters, the laughter of children and adults permeates the airwaves as people stop to sample the food and produce carts trundling the streets.

It is not uncommon to see 2 and 3 generations of families out and about enjoying one another’s company with the sense of respect of the younger generations for their esteemed elders.

Streetscape in the backstreets of Pattaya, Thailand. One of the more popular tourist precincts in this beautiful country.

Colour, noise and a festival like atmosphere tends to greet all and sundry as the heat of the day subsides into the warm embrace of the evening.

The Friendliness Of The People

Thailand is known as the land of smiles and it is easy to see why. Other regions also mirror this happiness and relaxed way of living.

Yes, some of the bigger cities have crowded roads, streets and markets however it all seems to adjust and thrive on the general ebb and flow of life.

Whether the relaxed lifestyle is due to climate or religiously driven tolerance, the friendliness of the people is one the many charms of living and travelling in SE Asia.

Amazing Climate And Natural Beauty

There is something amazing about a tropical paradise, long open beaches, palm tree’s and thousands of islands in the various SE Asian archipelago’s.

Whether it is rainforest, temples, mountainous regions, rice paddy fields, rivers, lakes and beaches, this region is as rich and diverse in topography as it is with its food, culture and peoples.

Accessibility To All Of SE Asia To Explore

As this downloaded AirAsia flight route map highlights, basing yourself in one of the 4 main countries that we deal with (Bali, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand) places you firmly in the middle of any incredibly diverse and vibrant region of our world.

Utilising a cheap base closer to the many places of interest is a great way to explore, live and travel during semi and full retirement. The many budget airlines in the region offer lots of affordable choices.

Cost Of Living Benefits

Backed by independent research that we use on our website, these SE Asian countries offer a 50% to 75% cheaper cost of living than our major cities of Australia. Enjoy!

Whether it is a $3 Tiger beer, $2 bowl of Pho soup, a $10-$15 three course meal for 2, a one hour Thai massage for $10, no cover charges, free parking and cheap taxi / bus transportation at less than $1 for short to medium distances, SE Asian daily living costs makes your budget go a lot further than say in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Permission To Live – Life Is Not Too Over Governed

Australia seems to be increasingly layered with more onerous sets of rules governing what we can and can’t do. Ie lockout laws, greyhounds, alcohol and dog walking in public places, beaches, parking restrictions etc. Catering to the noisy minority, local, state and federal government and law enforcement authorities seem to be further restricting our lifestyle freedoms by stealth.

The amount of families that we saw happily jump on a scooter, groups picnicking on the beaches with food and alcohol, commuters jumping on and off taxi trucks for 10 baht (50 cents) unrestrained, with children and without seatbelts and doing it safely made us lament at some of the daily Australian freedoms we seem to have lost back home.

Where in Australia these days could you purchase alcohol 24/7 from a 7/11 or mini-mart and drink / smoke outside with family and friends. Should you wish to relax and do this on a beautiful beach, in a park or other public place then you can do this throughout most of SE Asia generally without hassle and restriction. Naturally the predominantly Muslim countries of Indonesia and Malaysia have certain restrictions here, but tolerance tends to govern the overzealous enforcement of rules.


Yes we maybe a little biased but as you can see from the above pictures and information, there are many reasons why we suggest you visit SE Asia to see for yourself and who knows, you too may fall in love with the region.

If that is the case, the team at Retire To Asia, is more than willing to help you make that a more semi or permanent living or retirement lifestyle option for you.

Please visit  or contact us directly on  1800 961 377 to learn more.

Retire to Asia Update – Where Are We Now?

Retire to Asia Update – Where Are We Now?

We were relaunching, but………

Recently the team at Retire to Asia travelled to Bali, Thailand and Malaysia to visit our service partners. Our aim was to launch specific new services as well as enhance current services upon our return.

These services are designed to ensure you get the right advice, at the right price and that you deal with the right people to ensure your move goes smoothly.

However, as you can no doubt appreciate, we have decided to postpone the launch and see which way the wind blows over the coming weeks and maybe months?

We were planning to travel to the Philippines next month but of course that’s been cancelled for the foreseeable future.


You can still find our updated services and information

In the meantime, we have updated our web site to highlight those services. So if you are self-isolating and/or working from home and a little bored – maybe even haven’t managed to get to Dan Murphy’s yet and feel like a bit of light reading you can find our updates in our ‘How Can We Help You’ section at:

Also check out some new documents in our revised ‘Documents Library’ you may find interesting:


What we’ll be up to while ‘Social Distancing’

We will be massively increasing our blogs and posts on all things SE Asia and what we have learnt that may be of use to you. This will be starting this week. Hopefully the world will return to normal sooner rather than later and we can all continue to enjoy what SE Asia has to offer.

We will be publishing our first free newsletter for quite some time in June, so please sign up if you haven’t already done so via the bottom or our web site:

Also sign up to our Retire to Asia Facebook Community Group for more interactive information and dialogue with other members:


New member of the team – Jeff Gill

Helping me put all this together is a new addition to the team – Jeff Gill. Jeff once ran the Sydney office for Mercer FP and like me is looking for a new challenge away from suits and ties and office environments.

His infectious enthusiasm has really put a fire under me to scale up our Retire to Asia business in a meaningful way, hence all the work that we have been doing lately behind the scenes which we will now be starting to relay to you all.

Hopefully you will find it informative as well as entertaining.

Here’s Jeff caught in a candid moment:


Intro to Aged Care options in SE Asia

SE Asia has increasing options for care in our later parts of life. This article is an introduction to this topic and we will explore in detail throughout 2020.

Johor Bahru – A cost effective way of living near Singapore

For many retirees and long stay visitors Singapore has it all. Great food, entertainment, shopping, culture, world class healthcare and transport links. But the cost of living is often a deal breaker. What if there was a way to reduce the costs and still have access to it all. In this blog we explore how it’s possible.