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Aging American expat “living the dream” in Phuket on US $2,500 a month




An American says he is living the dream in paradise in Phuket for only US$2,500 a month. 70 year old Pete Bowen arrived in Thailand back in 2009 with only a suitcase and guitar after self-admittedly making an impulsive decision to sell his house and belongings and move across the world to look for a place in which he could retire.

Bowen says he made the decision to sell off everything and it only took 3 months to make his dream of living on a beach come true. He says he was laid off from his job and didn’t think he would be successful in finding another due to his older age.

“My adult children had left, and I wasn’t in a relationship. I decided to throw the dice.”

He’d visited Thailand before and knew he wanted to live away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. After visiting other countries, he decided to return to Phuket, Thailand and make it his new home. And, his choice seemed to be a good one as he says people in Phuket were friendlier, and he appreciated the “live and let live” culture of Thailand. He also, unsuprisingly, mentioned the famous smiles that Thai people are known to display. Bowen says it took him about 6 months to decide to set up his new life on Phuket’s Kamala Beach.

“Once here, living at the beach, I got to know people fairly quickly. That’s what kept me coming back. And it was fun. Just fun.”

Bowen, who wrote a book about retiring in Thailand early in his Phuket life and now posts videos, says he likes Kamala Beach because it features a small, but closely knit expat community. He even met his Thai wife of 8 years, Oorathai, or Puy, while she was having a cup of coffee, and says he knows all the bar and restaurant owners in the area.

“We’ll have dinners with a dozen friends every few weeks. It would be tough to leave this close community at this point.”

He says when they want to travel around Asia, Phuket’s status as a tourism epicentre means most flights cost him less than US$100. But he says moving abroad isn’t for everyone as it can be hard to make it back to America to visit family. He says now he and his wife visit family members through using Zoom or Skype as his family cannot visit much due to America’s limited vacation time for full-time workers.

“One of the hardest things is just how far away from the U.S. Thailand is. It takes 24 hours of flying to get home. People who want to see the grand-kids are going to be out of luck. It’s just not for everyone.”

“I don’t see many retired couples or single women retire here. For couples honestly, there are many beautiful young single women who would love to meet a foreign man. Couples should have a strong relationship to last here.”

Bowen says his monthly budget of $2,500 is doable with his Social Security check of $1,800 plus his own investment income. He says he rents a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house for $580 a month but says a 1 bedroom house or apartment can easily be found for $400 a month.

Bowen says he spends $20 a month for high-speed internet plus $15 a month for an unlimited cellphone plan. He says he relies on football and basketball internet packages for his American sports fix. And, he says going out to eat is a fraction of the price in America.

“Going out to eat is ridiculously inexpensive.”

Bowen says Kamala Beach is one of the most beautiful sights in the world, and it is apparent that he made the right choice in 2009 when deciding to sell everything and relocate to Thailand for a better life.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times


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  1. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    Typical Farang advertising young single woman…can’t meet someone who will take care of their old ass…it’s disgusting that it’s like this.

  2. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    Phuket is stressed out to make beautiful legendaries for common, elderly non asians. Where are the yacht men?

  3. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Seriously? For only $2500? In Thai? He can live comfortably in USA for this money. I live here with wife and child for about $1300 when we rent apartment and for $1000 when we back my wife’s house. We travel, eat in not expensive restaurants (mostly), buy gas for our car, etc.

  4. Avatar

    Roger Bruce

    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Yes I agree a better life for sure until the tourist come back
    Then life is not good too crowded and very hard to move when all the tourists are going to beach or bars or where ever
    Been there in full tourist season I hated it missed the quiet beautiful Central and North Qld AU beaches just too much congestion to enjoy the holiday…
    Sorry mate you are full of it
    Good Luck Thailand

  5. Avatar

    Roger Bruce

    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    OHH you forgot to mention how much you have to keep in a Thai bank to stay there bro

    divide that into your money expenses and it is a different story

    Good Luck Thailand

  6. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    These men never seem to bother they don’t own anything. Come to Thailand, rent because that is all they can afford, get married, and when they kick off the younger wife gets little to nothing. Shameful really.

  7. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    Chill out guys. Its all good. Seriously if you are all so pissed off then dont bother spending your time whining just move on really. Alright enough wasting time here myself writing this. Peace out, be happy again its all good and yes I do live in Phuket.

  8. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Only 2,500 USD a month .. so he spends about 2,000 baht a day after expenses … Crikey my wife and I spend about quarter of that and love our life here … sounds like he rings the bell too much

  9. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    $2,500 a month isn’t really cheap. If you have a paid off house in the US (which this guy does since he says he has investment income) you can live on the same or less amount. I’m sure he could live on $1,500 in various places of Thailand or neighboring countries.

  10. Avatar


    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 10:02 pm

    Man, you make a good choice and it wasn’t a wrong move I captured what you shared here. But to me, if you found peace and comfortable life in Phuket, it already a great achievement. It is all about spending the rest of your live given this second opportunity.

    Lastly, I too share with you, as being born in Asia having moved to America, I still love to retire back to Asia, as live style is totally different in many aspects…you know what I mean.

    Good luck to your new adventure in Thailand.


  11. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 2:07 am

    If push came to shove, you could live in Phuket on $600 a month. I’ve had to do before.

  12. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 5:08 am

    $2,500 a month counting his wife sending $1,500 a month in her family.

  13. Avatar

    michael anthony

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 6:24 am

    How does he get his visa to stay there all that time and does he have the expensive mandatory health insurance . Does he have the large amount of money in the Thai bank account you have to have for the retirement visa

  14. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 9:48 am

    What a bunch of jealous people commenting here on a story about a man that is just happy living in Thailand. He’s happy, so be happy for him! Regarding monthly expenses, he’s spending about 75K THB per month, what’s wrong with that? I couldn’t live for 75K THB per month in Thailand, if I have to spend that amount per month, I rather go home to my own country. I think he’s actually doing an awesome job.

  15. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Wow. That sounds almost like me. I am happy for him and his wife and wish them the best, always.

  16. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 10:50 am

    He took a chance, with recourse, in 2009 that worked out for him. Congratulations and good for him as he now has a wife he loves, friends and a life he wants to live. Happiness is about contentment and gratitude. What works for him doesn’t have to work for everyone else. Personally a $2,500 retirement in Phuket is NOT “Living the Dream” for me, but to each his own. I’m happy for him.

  17. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Good luck to him but , when the reporter says that he only spends 2,500 USD a month .. wow do a story about people who only spend a quarter or half of that amount of that to live here … 2,500 USD could take you to nearly anywhere to have a life let alone Phuket …

  18. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 11:21 am

    I agree with TV comments above. There are many unhappy people who would rather blame him than themselves. It’s easier to do that.

  19. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    I can live there too, and only use $3500 a month

  20. Avatar

    General Rice

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    What is the point of owning anything in Thailand? I myself own 4 houses / apartments in my home country to get regular income, and in Thailand I own one condo. But the condos here are unlike the ones in the west, here they deteriorate and get worse and worse at a high pace. I decided to rent only in this country from now on. Problematic neighbors from military / police / gov you cannot complain to about loud music at midnight? Soi dogs? Someone decided to build a factory next door? Just move 🙂 No need to worry about your property anymore.

  21. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    Nice tale. But $2500/month is accurate, and you’d likely be better off in Florida for that cost. Thailand isn’t for everyone, matter of fact, it isn’t for most. I’d wager the majority waded into something they ultimately don’t truly understand nor enjoy. You can see it in the constant pissing and moaning in the comments here and elsewhere..TVF. It’s a bit wild, frankly, and the vast majority of foreigners can’t handle it in any manner of proficiency. Many stick it out as they’ve no other options and finish out their days in disgruntled misery, attributing their shortcomings and lack of foresight and smarts on their environment.
    In short, you should probably stay where you’re at, as you’re probably not built for the Thailand life.

  22. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    Lucky home to be able to spend it.. I can not and also if I spend that amount I wonder on what 555

  23. Avatar


    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    I added up $615.00 of fore mentioned monthly expenditure. I’ll be generous and add another $30.00 a day for food for two. That’s like $1200 a month. Where’s the rest go? ….err , never mind and p***y!

  24. Avatar

    James R

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 1:29 am


    Judging by the many stores I have been told of old men with young women it is the men who end up losing out in the end.

    It is not natural in Thailand for young women to marry old men, just look at the Thai population, the vast majority of Thais marry people of their own age.

    The girls who marry old men are just after their money and many bleed the old men dry before trapping their next victim, there is always two sides to every story.

    But good look the the chap in this story, there is nothing to say he has married a young woman, if he is happy then we should let him be.

  25. Avatar


    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Those prices are crazy. In bkk my 1bedroom condo rent is roughly 200 $, cellphone with unlimited internet is 5 $, no need for a landline…

  26. Avatar


    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 8:41 am

    The vast majority of Thai people on Phuket would also get by very well with USD 2,500 a month.

  27. Avatar


    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Why can’t I get the lyrics to “I ain’t got nobody,” by David Lee Roth, out of my head when reading this article?
    People should ask this guy: How easy was it knowing you wouldn’t see your kids in the US again due to your limited budget, did you realize Medicare doesn’t pay-out in Thailand, did you know once you checked-out of the US that it would near impossible to get the new wife a visa, did you know the high cost of anything/everything imported, did you know your visa is always at the mercy of the authorities, and how have you met Thailand’s new health insurance requirement at your age?
    Article reads like a paid advertisement for Phuket and women, for uninformed retirees.

  28. Avatar

    J West

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 10:43 am

    It’s not just “ unnatural” for young women to be seen with fat bald ancient farang , but Thai reaction wavers between disgust and hilarity. First, the girl is ostracized by all but the vendors in the same trade. Thai are highly moral for appearances sake, you won’t ever see a mismatched Thai couple tottering down the street holding hands .She has to put up with the shame because her choice is either the grubby perv or starvation in a mosquito infested paddy. He remains ignorant of the insults hurled his way because he can’t speak Thai, and remains oblivious in drink and illiteracy. Married? Thai are compassionate and feel sorry for any woman unlucky enough to have to take on such shame.

  29. Avatar


    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    The paradise of cheap ageing Charlies indeed! I hope this adrticle will bring in a few more heaps and encourage courageous Thai ladies ready to take care of those left overs and force them to buy those houses and lands! Skin them girls! BTW, the ageing ladies prefer other destinations, there’re a few good spots for cougars too lol

  30. Avatar

    J West

    Monday, March 15, 2021 at 10:06 am

    5555555 !!! “ Chompoo get sick. Motocy break down ……

  31. Avatar


    Monday, March 15, 2021 at 11:00 am

    J West has a point. Young dark skinned Thai women don’t have posters of fat, bald and ancient farangs on their walls growing up. They generally prefer men their own age and someone they can more easily communicate with. Their economic circumstances dictate their actions. That’s why you hear so many stories of these women ditching farangs once they’ve secured the economic benefits. I’m not saying all situations end up like this but a lot do.

    With that said, everyone in this world has attractive qualities. Physical attractiveness, money, humor, honesty, confidence, personality and sexiness are examples. So a poor attractive women finds money attractive and is labeled a gold digger. A rich farang values youth and attractiveness and is labeled a pervert. The point is everyone gets something out of these relationships or they wouldn’t be in them. Once they meet, other qualities may be revealed that enhance the relationship or no other qualities are revealed and it goes south once the money and beauty/youth are gone.

    Most white skinned and gainfully employed Thai women with at least a middle class upbringing will not be caught dead with a fat, bald and ancient farang. They have choices and aren’t as economically pressed so they don’t go there and there is face to be lost if they do.

    If you’re an old multi-millionaire then you have a shot at anything because in Thailand money talks. Just like it does in the west.

  32. Avatar

    James R

    Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 1:33 am


    It is not a matter of skin colour and nor is it a matter of being poor.

    Most people in the South of Thailand have dark skin, they do not work as bar girls, they for example work as hotel receptionists, tour operators, in shops, banks etc in Phuket, the mostly fairer skin women from Issan work as bar girls in Phuket.

    There are many decent Thai women who have met and married decent farang men of a similar age, they meet through a job or family/friend connections in Thailand.

    But many farangs seem to think it is the norm for young Thai women to marry old farangs which of course is not true
    They get this idea as they only ever hang around with other old farangs married to ex bar girls.

    These type of people I avoid.

  33. Avatar


    Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 10:41 am

    James, you’re right that if you’re a young good looking western guy then the story I told above doesn’t apply. I was only referring to old, fat and ancient farangs. If you see a young Thai women with an old, fat and ancient farang then my story generally applies.

    Skin color matters in Thailand. In Thailand, and for that matter in Asia, potions and products helping you get whiter skin are ubiquitous. A local Thai friend once told me that most Thai men view a dark skinned woman like a westerner would view a 300 pound woman. He once had a friend that was bragging about his beautiful tanned new girlfriend. My friend kept quiet and shook his head because he didn’t want to burst his bubble. That’s why most Thai men don’t care if westerners take their dark skinned women. If westerners were taking a lot of fair skinned women then there would be a lot of pissed off Thai men.

    In the west tanned skin is prized because it usually shows the person is wealthy enough to take time off to vacation and get a tan. In Asia tanned skin means you’re a peasant who has to work in the fields and can’t stay out of the sun. It’s old fashioned thinking but it is what it is.

    A fair skinned woman has many more options in Thailand than a dark skinned woman.

  34. Avatar

    James R

    Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 1:51 am


    You are overlooking the fact that most Thai women do not have fair skin and therefore they can not find a Thai husband according to you, but that is not true, most men do not have fair skin either and do end up marrying women who are not fair skinned.

    Yes of course fair skinned women in Thailand are regarded as prettier as are thin women in the West but most Thai men and women find a Thai to marry and skin colour does not come into it 99% of the time.

    You are mixing ideals up with day to day life.

  35. Avatar


    Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 9:33 am

    I guess we’re having a violent agreement.

  36. Avatar

    James R

    Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 2:48 am


    Yes it look like we are agreeing in a round about way.???

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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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