Thailand's most popular retirement city is Chiang Mai and can be referred to as a sister city to Cebu. Over 18,000 foreign retiree's living in Chiang Mai and happily.
After living in Chiang Mai for over 6 years I can attest to the fact that it is impossible or near impossible to find a foreigner who is retired here who wants to leave.
And that being said that speaks volumes. No place is perfect but once people settle in to Chiang Mai and if they are single males they find Thai girlfriends and the combination of nice girlfriend, affordability, safety, many things to do and prompt access to cheap healthcare keeps them here.
Our Chiang Mai Retire-on-550-month.com retirement service has enabled clients to get their visa for long stay and shown our clients the best accommodations in their budget range and introduced them to Chiang Mai and how to shop, travel, and live there.
Website visitors ask if the US $550 a month is still doable with rising costs worldwide and our reply is... YES, a single person can live here and comfortably on $550 US a month and that covers furnished accommodations, utilities, cable tv, internet, meals, and normal day to day living costs.
In fact couples .. foreigner with Thai wife or girlfriend .. have come out in forums and stated that they live here and comfortably on $440 US a month and well under our $550 US a month.
Keep in mind that our service is called "Retire-on-550-month" and some forum posters have said that they would find it impossible to live here on that amount. The posters are in the 20's and not retiree's and young men are bar fining regularly and not as interested in having a long term relationship and also younger men are drinking and spending money foolishly compared to our retire clients.
We had one website ask.. "With recent increase inflation is your 550 US still realistic" to which we replied.. "Yes, we have reviewed all the costs and a single person can live here comfortably on that amount".
That same website visitor then told us he wanted to bar fine 2-3 x a week and to live at US 550 a month. And we promptly replied that to the best of our knowledge one cannot retire anywhere in the world and bar fine 2-3 x a week and live on US 550 month.
The main difference between Thailand and Philippines in terms of retirement is safety, cleanliness, cost of living and infrasture.
Chiang Mai comes out on top compared to it's sister city Cebu in the Philippines which is the most popular retirement area for foreigners in the Philippines. Chiang Mai is cleaner, safer, better infrasture with few power failures, no water shortages, and Chiang Mai cost of living is about $200 US a month less than that of Cebu according to our calculations.
Where Cebu comes out of top is proximity to beaches even though not all the beaches are pristine or even clean for that matter. And the Philippines has many more people speaking English and even though speaking Thai is not required in order to live here having more people here who spoke English better would make life easier and reduce misunderstandings.
Chiang Mai wins out over Cebu as a place to retire to for the person who is on a budget and has US $500 to 1,500 a month set aside for total living costs.
Now once you have more money than that then Philippines would win out over Thailand as a place to retire to. Borocay has a gorgeous beach and relaxed lifestyle that would have me living there for 4-5 months a year and then for the remainder of the year I would live in Tagaytay where it is cool. But I cannot do that on US 550 a month and likely need $2,000 US a month or more in order to accomplish that.
No place in the world is perfect for retiremnt.
One has to look at how much money they have for retirement living and then narrow it down to the places where one could live comfortably and safely with the retirement funds they have.
Living with a Thai girlfriend or a Filipina would enable one to live more safely as opposed to living on one's own. And one can always have a backup generator for power outages or a water tank for water disruptions.
In both Thailand and Philippines the key to happiness for the single male retiree is a nice girlfriend. An attractive and sincere local girlfriend is what brings foreigners to Thailand and Philippines to retire and when one finds the right girlfriend, then it is what keeps them here.