In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
We at Retire Early
Lifestyle like to bring you stories of other travelers and retirees so that you
can enjoy their perspectives and tips. Here we have an interview with Garry
Holmes who has lived and traveled in Asia for years. At the time of this
writing, $1USD = $1.08 AUD but you can check out the currency converter below.
Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Garry: Iím a young 69 year old from Australia and after being to many
counties I decided to settle in northern Thailand.
REL: Do you consider yourself retired?
G: I receive the Australian Old Age Pension = AUD$1,575 per month but I
donít feel retired because there is so much to do.
REL: What brought you to Thailand, and how many years have
you lived there?
G: I came to Thailand in 1995 and worked as an ESL (English as a Second
Language) teacher. The first 10 years were in Bangkok and then I moved up to
Chiang Mai. I actually retired in 2012.
REL: What challenges did you have making the transition into the Asian culture?
G: I was really lucky because I had already travelled widely in Malaysia,
Indonesia and Burma so I was accustomed to the food and many of the things that
irritate a lot of foreigners.
As an Australian we eat with a knife and fork Ė the fork in the left hand and in
Asia we eat with a SPOON and fork and NEVER eat with the left hand because it is
considered "dirty" Ė it is the hand used for cleaning yourself after going to
the toilet so it is very offensive to locals who have never heard of or used toilet
paper. Toilet paper (if there is any to be found) is used for blowing your nose.
Adventurer's Guide to Destination Choices- Guatemala, Mexico, Thailand, USA
Which one is for you?
REL: What do you like most about living in Thailand?
G: What I like most are the people.
From north to south and east to west you find a
gracious people who share everything with you. I know they are not angels and
there are the bad things that happen, but generally speaking I have found that
they can be happy with very little. In the country areas they are not bitten by
the "consumer bug" but of course in the cities things have been changing with
young people affected by the latest fads.
Garry helping out at the homework club
REL: What do you average in spending annually? Does this include health
insurance? Do you have health insurance?
G: I spend money on all the things I want. I donít deny myself but I do ask myself,
"Do I really NEED this?" So I have TV, computer, hi-speed internet, micro-wave
(used for making hot water for coffee) and I eat 3 times a day. I have
air-conditioning in my bedroom but I usually only need it on a really hot night.
You see, I live in Chiang Dao which is at the foot of the third highest mountain
in Thailand so our weather is quite nice year round.
I spend 30 Baht a meal ($1AUD) = X 3 X 30Baht = $90AUD a month. I never cook, I buy from
the local market and in particular, one lady whom I know is a good cook and clean
in her habits.
That is basic but I do go to a buffet Ė an all you can eat restaurant which costs
139B = $4AUD+ and I think that is great. I think that I might spend, totally, $200AUD
per month on food.
Electricity is cheap and for 3 months of the year and during the cool season I donít
use enough to get a bill Ė the other months it comes in at about $3 or $4AUD per
I have a well with beautiful water and it costs nothing for water Ė just the
electricity for the pumping. I also have instant electric hot water for the
Remember, Iím in a rural area about 63Km from Chiang Mai.
Thereís a bus nearly at my front door that costs 40Baht ($1AUD+) to go into the BIG
city if I ever need to go.
Heath and Dentist
I donít have health insurance as the medical care is good where I live. My
Doctor speaks English, like all doctors in Thailand, they learn English during
their university training. It only costs me $1AUD to see him and my medications for
blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes cost me $12AUD per month.
Iíve had a few extractions at the hospital dentist section Ė very modern and
only $6AUD per extraction.
There was a time I had to stay at the hospital for 4 days and I had a single
room that was $25AUD a day including food and nurse.
I was lucky when I was back in my 50ís to have had AIA (AIG) Health Insurance. Back then in Bangkok I was able to have my hernia repaired and my cataracts
removed under the insurance plan so the costs were very small.
In my opinion, there is no need to have those high health insurance packages
unless you already have known diseases.
You can walk into any of the large city hospitals, government or private, and
see a specialist of every kind. You donít need a referral from a General Practitioner.
REL: What could one expect to pay for housing in Thailand on a monthly basis?
G: Housing in the rural areas is still quite cheap and even in Bangkok you
can get a "studio apartment" for about 5,000 Baht a month (about $167AUD) but
that is a very basic apartment. The same money in a rural area gets you a
complete house and you can grow your own organic vegetables (or have someone as
a "gardener" for $200AUD a month).
Some people find it just as cheap to live in a Guest House where the room is
cleaned and the bed sheets washed regularly and there are people from all over
the word to talk to. In Chiang Mai you can still get a Guest House for about
$400AUD per month (two people) and no bills !!!!
REL: Do you need a vehicle to live in Thailand?
G: I had a number of vehicles over the years but nowadays I find one not to
Buses are cheap, taxis in Bangkok are probably the cheapest in the world, (if
they donít scam you by taking you the longest way). I use a Honda Dream 125cc
motor cycle around town and in Chiang Mai I used one too.
I donít need a vehicle to go to Chiang Mai as the bus is convenient and easy to
get around once you are there. I used to think I needed a vehicle but they are a
waste of money really if you calculate insurance, wear and tear, fuel etc.
REL: Thai can be a difficult language to learn, is it necessary to master Thai
to live there?
G: It is true that Thai language is difficult to learn to speak and more
difficult to learn to write. After all these years of being here I can say my
Thai is very weak, just enough to survive, but all children from 6 years old to
17 years old are learning English at school and when Thailand enters the
ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, all business between the countries will be in English so
there is a big push for everybody to learn it. This makes it easier for
foreigners to do everything they need in English.
Some other countries have an
advantage because English was widely used in their past, Philippines, Malaysia,
Singapore, Burma (Myanmar) but if someone doesnít understand there is usually
another person nearby who can help.
It is much easier these days with the language issue than about 14 years ago.
REL: I understand that Thailand visa regulations change constantly. Could you
tell us what the latest requirements are for someone wanting to move there?
view of Chiang Dao mountain - 3rd highest mountain in Thailand
G: The VISA rules do seem to change a lot but the "core" rules have remained
Iím on a Non-Immigrant O visa for retirement. It gives me 1 year and then I have
to renew it.
There are two ways to get it.
1. Have 800,000
Baht in a Thai bank for 3 months before the time of renewal.
2. Have a letter
from your Embassy saying you have a Pension of "XXX" Dollars per year and 400,000
Baht in the bank.
These rules are found in a web site,
and they are the experts on
Some people get a multi-entry tourist Visa which gives them 60 days and an
extension of 30 days (90 days total). They do a border crossing and come back in
again for another 30 days or go travelling in one of the neighboring countries
which is so convenient.
REL: Whatís there to do for fun in Thailand?
G: There are so many things to do for fun. It could be living with the people in a
Thai village, riding elephants, learning Thai cooking, helping in a myriad of
"childrenís homes" and so on. I met a man once who was a reptile specialist and
every day he would show me photographs of snakes and other reptiles that he had
seen that day. There are others who are bird watchers.
Anyway, there are so many different types of things to do that a person would
never be bored.
I know of a place down on the sea coast near Chanthaburi where people can rent a
genuine fisherman's cottage for about $300 per month and they go fishing daily.
REL: Where have you traveled?
G: Iíve been lucky to have travelled all of Thailand from top to bottom and Iíve
loved it. The North has so many cultural things to see Ė the hill tribe people
for example, Lahu, Karen, Lisu, Mon, Thai-yai, Akha to name a few. In my village
we have thousands of hill tribe people come down for the market day every
Tuesday. It is so
REL: Share with us your best money-saving secret.
G: I donít spend much of my income as Iím single, donít drink or smoke. I go
to Church on Sunday and enjoy every day by being involved in my village. I find
by buying my food that there is no waste. I am hoping that this year I will take
up a new hobby of growing strawberries. That will be fun!!! And bring in a few
REL: What are your greatest passions in life?
G: I have been a writer for some years now and belong to a Writers Group in
Australia. I have to write a short story every week as my homework and I really
enjoy that. Some of the group are great poets and I love to read their work too.
I love being able to assist in our "homework club" after school when 30 to 40
little kids (aged 6 to 12) come to do their homework. I help with the English
homework and they become more confident to speak with tourists in English.
My life is simple but full. I also help in my fruit tree orchard. I have about
400 longan fruit trees, many mango trees, jack fruit, lots of lemon and grape
fruit trees and banana trees. Itís not as intensive work for trees like it is for
vegetables. Oh yes, I do have range free chickens for eggs and meat.
REL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
In 5 years Iíll be getting on, still young but I have to be realistic.
It is true that Asian people do still respect their elderly and I have a Thai
family who love and care for me daily. I remember someone telling me that the
three things that keep them going are:
1. Loving others
2. Being loved by others
3. Doing good to others
And so that
is what I want to be doing.
I will stay as long as Iím not a burden to anyone but when I become frail Iíll
be heading home to Australia as it truly is a "lucky country" and they care for
the aged very well.
I want you to know that I have enjoyed your travels and stories all these 8 years and have saved every
letter to re-visit your adventures. Retire Early Lifestyle is one of my favorite
Thank you Garry, for those kind words and we
want to let you know how much we appreciate you taking the time to answer our
questions for this interview. We know our Readers have benefitted from your
insight and wisdom.
For more interviews with Successful Retirees
and Captivating Characters,
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are
recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on
topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of
information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com,
they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since
1991. They wrote the popular books, The
Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your
Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person Ė the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesnít
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.