My Thai fiance and I spent quite a bit of time in Hua Hin on my last trip to Thailand. Since I started writing this blog, I have had my eye on Thailand and Hua Hin specifically as a retirement destination. My fiance loves Hua Hin and travels there often, and many of her friends have spent countless vacations there. She has lived in Bangkok for the past 15 years and and has traveled to Hua Hin since she was a little girl. This small little town is a favorite travel destination for Thais that want to escape the big city of Bangkok and relax along its beaches. For me, I wanted to take a look at the cost of living and retiring in Hua Hin Thailand. Needless to say, I was very impressed.
First off, there are many expats living in Hua Hin. Everywhere we went, there were many English speaking expats from many countries who were eager to strike up a conversation. We met different people every day in the night markets and along the beaches. If you are not shy, it’s easy to meet lots of friendly people. Many of the Thais also speak English in this town. I am learning Thai myself, but it’s nice to fall back to my native English language.
Before we get started, I still believe my first choice of the perfect expat town is Chiang Mai. It has more to offer in regards to culture, temples, and history. However, Chiang Mai’s air quality gets to be very smokey during the burning season between February and April. When the farmers burn their fields, you can see and smell the burning fields for months. But not to be a Negative-Nancy, I think this is the perfect time to check out Hua Hin. The skies are clear over there year-round, and you have the bonus of being near the beach. The town is bustling with activity, and the costs are a just a little bit higher than Chaing Mai, but not so much that it will break the bank.
Rentals in Hua Hin
If you look around locally, or even even on craigslist, you can easily find fully a furnished studio apartment for around 12,000 baht in Hua Hin, which is around $350 US dollars a month. We found one within walking distance to the beach in that same price range, and it even had a view of the beach. Of course, these prices will vary depending on what months you are staying there, and the prices will always be cheaper if you rent on a long term contract vs month to month. When we were there in April (one of the least expensive months) we found them for 12,000 baht. In the tourist season, the same studio will go for around 25,000. If you really like the place and stay for 6 month lease, it drops to 15,000 per month in the tourist season. The one in the picture below had free internet and TV as well.
One cannot talk about Thailand without talking about all of their delicious food. Since my fiance has been to Hua Hin countless times, I let her lead me the way to some of her favorite restaurants. There were so many fantastic places to eat, it was really hard for me to pick a favorite. Surprisingly, one of my favorite places to eat was in a coffee shop. But it’s really more than a coffee shop, it’s more like a restaurant. The name of the place is called the Jek Piek Coffee Shop. It’s an outdoor seating kind of place, and it really gets crowded with all of the locals eating there. Honestly, you can never go wrong if you eat at a crowded restaurant where the locals all hang out. My fiance and I ate some hot pot soup that I still rave about. Be prepared to wait in line, because it’s a very popular place for Thai people and it’s also very inexpensive. I think this is the reason why the locals love it so much. The food and the service is well worth the wait. Our meal for two came to around 400 baht, including drinks – which is about $11 USD. If you have a smart phone with you, you can find it via the gps address – 12.571638, 99.957344
The Beaches of Hua Hin
On this trip, my fiance and I wanted to get some pictures of us together for our upcoming wedding. So we invited some of her friends to come to the beach with us to take our picture. There were quite a few people there, but not nearly as many as you would see in other tourist spots such as Phuket or Pattaya. The beaches were clean, sandy, and well kept up. Actually, now that I think about it, almost the entire area of Hua Hin was clean and well kept up. It was very windy on the beach the day we took pictures, and we had seen a few people windsurfing and kite surfing. It really looks like a lot of fun, I am going to have to try windsurfing someday.
I really believe if you are going to retire in Thailand, you really need to travel around the whole country so you can get a feel for all of it’s diversity. My favorite town so far is Chiang Mai, and I would have to say Hua Hin is a very close second. It’s a little crowded for such a small town. But it’s usually only on the weekends when it gets really busy because of the many Bangkok residents taking quick day trips there. It’s clean, safe, and a very friendly place for expats to hang their hat and call home. As a retiree, you can rent a condo for $350 USD near the beach, and eat out as a couple for about $10 to $15 per day.
This small beach town is a not as well known among expats as some of the other tourist towns in Thailand. But it’s a wonderful place many expats continue to have on their radar for retirement, and I am already look forward to my next visit.