Rising baht exposes vulnerability of expat retirees
I have been living in Thailand for 19 years now, but I’m now suddenly a criminal because the value of the baht has risen so much that the Bt800,000 bank deposit required for my retirement visa came short by Bt8,000.
Due to this shortage, I was told that I had to leave the country, and start the whole process of getting a retirement visa all over again, even though I produced documents showing that my pension for the year was Bt15,000 higher than the amount required and I had always respected the Bt800,000 rule.
However, none of this was accepted by the woman behind the counter.
Finally, I decided to go to the Immigration headquarters at Soi Suan Phlu to file a complaint.
The receptionist there was very polite and told me that Pol Lt-General Surachet Hakpal was very busy. However, several police inspectors were called to speak to me, and they advised that I speak directly to the director of my Immigration office.
The director received me with kindness – maybe someone had called her from the headquarters. She understood my problem and asked my wife to show our marriage certificate. Immediately, I was given a 60-day visa extension, and was told to produce a new bank statement for the extension of my retirement visa. I did not need to fly overseas. However, I did not feel like a winner.
My story proves that even though an expat is married to a Thai, has taken care of her and her family for decades, and invested millions – there is no appreciation from the Immigration office.
Another point in question is the requirement for every long-stay expat to have health insurance. The minimum cost for this is about Bt30,000 a year for someone my age. I’m perfectly healthy for my age, I eat healthy and exercise daily, and will never willingly throw away so much money to make insurance companies richer.
I can afford it, but there are many other expats who cannot. Perhaps this will drive many good people out of Thailand.
I really hope the new government can introduce some positive changes, but only time will tell.
Mr Good Guy