Phuket Thailand Low Cost Retirement

–>Phuket Thailand Livability Factors
–>Phuket Thailand Cost of Living
–>Phuket Thailand Best Area Stay, Best Tours, Cheapest Flights
–>Phuket Thailand Best Beaches Tour
–>Phuket Old Town Walking Tour
–>Phuket Thailand Nightlife Tour
–>Phuket Digital Nomads: Food and Experiences
–>Phuket Facts and History
Best Retire Cheap in Paradise Locations in the World

This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha. This is my Phuket Thailand Low-Cost Retirement Guide.

We are presently touring around Thailand looking for the best retire cheap in a paradise location. This is my fourth or fifth visit to Phuket. Normally, I just come for a week or so, but this time I have spent 13 days here. We have another 8 or so stops in Thailand. Subscribe if you would like to learn all about Thailand.

I have lived in or visited 65 countries in my life. My mission is to document all of the best places people can live or retire cheaper than home.

You see, many people got hammered in the 2008 market crash. Some people do not have the money they expected to have at this time. Others will be trying to retire on social security alone. Some people are living a working retirement to support their lifestyle. I have no objection to a working retirement if you really love what you do.

But if money were not the issue … would you keep working?

One of the ways you can live cheap or retire earlier than you thought possible is to reduce your expenses. There are cheaper places to live in the world that could provide the adventure you crave on the budget you can afford.

Today, we are talking about a beautiful island in Thailand, called Phucket, but my retire cheap in paradise reports worldwide are located here.

If you would like to learn how to live in a paradise location for possibly less money than you are spending at home, or the various ways people make money online, grab a free copy of my EBook:

How to Fire Your Boss and Travel The World

Phuket Livability Factors

There are certain things I think about when as I consider each area for retirement potential. I call these my livability factors. I rank each one high, medium, or low. If the factors are ranked mainly high it is a good indication that I could live here. Then I assign an overall desirability score.

Walkability: Medium. You will probably need a car or scooter to live here. The beach communities of Kata and Surin, my favorites, just don’t have everything you will need. You will need to make trips to Patong or Phuket to get supplies and vary your entertainment. Grab car is way overpriced here, the taxis are outrageous, and the public transportation is lacking greatly. I would have given this factor a LOW if scooters weren’t so cheap. You can find a used cheap scooter here for about $300 easily. So medium.

Internet: High. The Internet is not really an issue in Phuket.

Food: High. If you love Thai food you will love the quality and pricing here. Just stay away from the tourist restaurants which are on or within a block of the beach. Go back a block or two and see where the locals are eating for $2 to $3 per meal. If you want to eat western food here, expect to pay $8 to $15 USD per meal.

Weather: High. The average temperature year-round is about 83F/32C, with average highs of around 90F/33C and average lows of 77F/25C. The rainy season is May through October when at least some rain falls in 18 days of the month. The rain turns on and off like a faucet, so it rarely ruins an entire day.

Things to Do: High. If you enjoy the beach and water sports, you should be fine. If you are a cultural lover I would say medium or low. There is some culture in Old Town Phuket.

Social Considerations: Medium. Many Thai people speak only ‘tourist services’ level English. They will help you with a delightful smile on their face, but will not understand more nuanced questions. And why should they? They have to know a few words of 3 or 4 different languages and most expats are on vacation so they have little chance to develop deeper relationships. Some of the tourists and the expats here seem very focused on sex tourism and aren’t really interested in developing lasting relationships with Thai people. So if you want to develop a real feeling for Thailand, and you live in Phuket, you will need to learn how to learn some Thai.

Expats: High. If you like hanging out with expats, you will find them through various Facebook pages or on Internations. That is where to go if you have a very specific or odd question I have not answered here. The expats here seem to be an honest angry bunch overall, so put on your game face before you start asking questions.

Real Estate: You can get a condo here starting around $100k USD 20 minutes from the beach. But I never recommend buying until you have lived somewhere at least 3 years.

Phuket Desirability Score: High. This would be a great place for people that are most comfortable in a medium-sized city.

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Phuket Cost of Living







Airbnb/per month rate





1 Br Apt w/lease





Hostel/per day





High-End Restaurant





Neighborhood Restaurant





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Per Day




This estimated cost of living is for one month, for one person as a temporary visitor. It only includes rent, 2 meals per day, and local transportation. I usually have oatmeal for breakfast in my room, so I don’t count that. For a full understanding of what it would cost you to live here, visit Phuket and add any items you spend money on.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on lifestyle and the time since this post.

The above numbers are for one person and do not include alcohol, tours, or extras. Here is a free report explaining, “How The Cost of Living Table Works.”

Please book using our links to recommended flights, tours, or accommodations. You will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission. Your kindness will encourage us to keep making these travel guides and videos.

Best Area to Stay in Phuket

Lets face it. People come to Phuket for the beach. So you will want to spend at least some time at the beach. My favorites are Kata Beach and Surin Beach … though you can’t go wrong with Kamala Beach if you are surfer, or Patong Beach if you are a party animal. However, if you are a cultural explorer, your exploration of Phuket should include a day or two in Old Town Phuket.

Here are my suggestions for you for each.

Kata Beach: We stayed in this studio condo for $20 USD per night. With Airbnb fees and housekeeping it ended up being $25 per night. If you are new to Airbnb use this code at checkout to get a big discount.

Surin Beach: Rated 9.4 and priced well when I looked. Great spot.

Kamala Beach: Great ratings. Very near the beach.

Patong Beach: A bit crazy for my taste. I recommend just visiting Patong at night.

Old Town Phuket: This is the center for cultural explorers. The street is the first stop on the Old Town Phuket Walking Tour.

Cheapest Flights to Phuket

We almost always get our cheapest flights on this Skyscanner. They have a web crawler that is constantly looking for the cheapest prices all over the world. As usual we found the cheapest flight to Phuket on Skyscanner.

Best Guided Tours of Phuket

There are two tour aggregators I recommend. But each tour company listed at each link is operated independently. So check both links and read the most recent reviews before making a final decision.

  1. Top Tours in Phuket
  2. Phuket: Phi Phi, Maya, Bamboo, and Maiton Island Day Trip
  3. Phuket: Half-Day Ethical Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
  4. Phuket: Ferry Transfer Between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi

Phuket Thailand Best Beaches Tour

Here is our scooter map for the Phuket Thailand Best Beaches Tour.

Here are our favorite beaches listed from top to bottom:

  1. Kata Beach
  2. Surin Beach
  3. Kata Noi Beach
  4. Kamala Beach
  5. Karon Beach
  6. Hat Nai Harn Beach
  7. Patong Beach
  8. Bangtao Beach

Just ==>click here<== or on the below Google Map on your smartphone to get started on your walking tour. This is not the same order as the favorites list above.

Phuket Old Town Walking Tour

If the above video looks fun, click ==>this link<== or the below map to take the self-guided tour on your smartphone.

The Big Buddha Tour (self-guided)

We didn’t go this time, but here is my picture from my 2014 visit.

Just jump on your bad motor scooter and ride up to see the Big Buddha.

Patong Bangla Road Nightlife Tour

Here is a short video of Bangla Road in Patong. If you go at all, just go for people watching. Do not get involved in any illegal activities. You may never leave Thailand.

Having sex with prostitutes in Thailand (or anywhere in the world) is a bad idea in my opinion. You are exposing yourself to the risk of disease and potential underworld violence. But worse than that is what it does to young people. They typically enter the lifestyle when they are too young to understand the long term consequences to themselves, their family, or the Thai society.

Digital Nomads Life and Food Experiences

Here are our best food experiences in Phuket this visit. These are ranked most favorite on top.

The Pad Thai Shop (Kata Beach): $ We loved the 50 Baht ($1.50 USD) meals here.

Yo Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurant (Patong): $$ This is in the basement food court of the Central Mall in Patong. It was good but a little overpriced. The good news was that Qiang Hui was able to find a nice meat dish at another food stall a few doors down for 70 Baht, which was cheap for such a fancy mall.

Best Noodle Soup Shop (Kata Beach): $ I was fasting during part of our stay here in Kata Beach. Qiang Hui was eating really nice and cheap noodle meals here for 60 Baht ($2 USD).

Malin Plaza (Patong): $ Qiang Hui found fresh charcoal-broiled fish of all shapes and sizes here for really cheap, 100 Baht $3 USD. There are a bunch of food sellers here in small stalls to choose from.

Kata Night Market (Kata Beach): $ Qiang Hui found all sorts of small food stalls here selling all sorts of different foods. 80 to 120 Baht $3-4 USD.

Vagabond Buddha’s Kitchen: As I said, I was eating one meal per day and having protein shakes twice per day. There weren’t many vegetarian choices in Kata Beach so I was cooking my one meal per day. We shopped for groceries at this Makro.

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Phuket Facts and History

Here are some interesting facts about Phuket Thailand according to Wikipedia.

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand. Phuket is in the southwest part of Thailand on the Andaman Sea.

Phuket was part of the major trading route between China and India. It was frequently mentioned in the trading routes of Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English traders.

In 1545, Fernao Mendes Pinto, a Portuguese explorer, described the ports of Thailand, then called Siam.

During the 16th century, Phuket lost some status as a trading port. The seas became rough and pirates were based in Phuket.

Later in the 17th century, the Dutch, English, and the French competed with each other to trade with Phuket. The French held a monopoly buying tin from Phuket, but that ended with the Siamese revolution in 1688.

In 1785, Burmese troops were preparing to attack after Phucket’s military governor died. But the governor’s wife and sister ordered the woman on the island to dress as men and take positions on the Thalang city walls. The Burmese fled upon seeing the apparent strength of the defense. The woman received the honorary titles from King Rama I.

Phuket once derived its wealth from trading in tin and rubber but now tourism is the major source of income in the province.

Phuket has a rich history of tin mining carried out by various cultures, such as Siamese, Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, and Sea Gypsies.

In 2004, Phuket and nearby islands were struck by a tsunami caused by an earthquake in the India Ocean. Two-hundred thousand people perished all around Asia and 5400 of those died in Phuket. In 2006, Thailand created an anchored tsunami-detection buoys as part of a regional warning system. Because the buoys are 620 miles offshore, they should provide enough advanced warning for people to seek high ground in the event of another Tsunami.

Over 70 percent of Phuket is covered in hilly terrain. The west coast beaches are sandy whereas the east coast beaches are muddier.

The largest most overcrowded beaches are in Patong. South of Patong is Karon, Kata, and Kata Noi beaches. North of Patang is Kamala Beach, Surin Beach, and Bang Tao Beach.

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This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?

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