Moving to Thailand from Australia

Tips for Australians Moving to Thailand

My Aussie financial advisor is James Brennan, who works for one of Australia’s oldest financial institutions, AMP. James has lived and worked in eight countries so he knows what he’s talking about. Here are some words of wisdom from James and helpful tips for australians moving to Thailand:

1. Pensions – there is no problem in being paid a pension overseas, and retiring in Thailand from Australia is no exception, but there are plenty of hurdles to cross. So tip one is not just to become familiar with the rules but to get to know the whole way Centrelink works. Who knows, you may be back sooner than you think? Or maybe you will opt for shorter periods of time in and out of Australia in which case becoming familiar with “working life” rules which can reduce your pension without your knowing it. [Note from me: Make sure that your superannuation pension stays tax-free while you are overseas. If you have a self-managed super fund, it will need to be restructured to ensure it remains a complying fund for Australian tax. If your super is with an industry fund or a big retail fund, the pensions you pay from it will be free from Australian tax. You can receive the age pension in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam or Bali just as you can in Australia. Some 80,000 Australians already receive their age pensions overseas. But there are some tricks to be aware of. For example, you need to be eligible for, and already receiving, the age pension before you relocate].

2. Medicare – periods of over 2 years out of Oz will see you removed from the system. No automatic re-acceptance applies and the same is true of Health and other concessional cards.  [Note from me: Medicare is principally a health system for Australians who live in Australia. Non-residents are theoretically not entitled to Medicare on visits home to Australia but there is some flexibility for temporary absences, usually of up to two years. Once you have lived outside Australia for more than five years there is no flexibility – you are not entitled to Medicare on visits home. Take out an international health insurance policy. It is worth the expense. International health insurance can be expensive, but there are a number of different levels of cover from catastrophe insurance to the gold standard policy and prices vary widely. Tell your insurer the truth about any pre-existing illnesses. Failure to do so can lead to a denial of claims. Check if your proposed insurance company is recognised by major healthcare providers in your new country of residence].

3. Major life transition ahead – this is the time to get your physical, legal and financial health not only checked, but recorded. Medicare allows you to keep medical records online. A will stored with your accountant or lawyer here plus a copy taken with you. It’s not the jurisdictional validity which is the key, it’s that you have thought through the issues which ensure that the right beneficiary gets the right amount at the right time.

4. On a lighter note, street food myths – perhaps it is the prospective euphoria of escaping from our nanny state but the rules of hygiene, food handling, storage, perishability ignore national boundaries. Maybe it’s because everything is so well regulated in food in Australia that our nannied stomachs become even more sensitive to disturbance.

5. Questions? Email James at [email protected]

A Note About Your Australian Home: Many people rent out their home in Australia then rent property in Thailand. This gives them the option of returning while keeping a foot in the Australian property market. You can rent out your principal residence for up to six years without affecting the tax-free capital gains when you eventually sell.

And Your Oz Taxes: Do your tax planning before you leave Oz. A key factor is whether you’re going to be a resident or non-resident for Australian tax purposes. Enjoy planning to retire to Thailand from Australia.


  1. gordon levett says

    I was told that even after 5 years you can reclaim Medicare. You just need to supply a statutory Declaration that you are a permanent resident and you can change your mind and fly out a week later.

  2. leslie barnes says

    hobe for you nee w long can you live out of Australia be for you need to return to keep your penion les

  3. Great tips we are Australians spending part of the year in Thailand and have met many other Australians that have made the move to Thailand. The cost of living in Thailand is the major attraction and world class amenities make living in Thailand an attractive option for many. I can be scary taking that first step to relocate the it’s well worth taking that first step. Thanks for sharing the advice.

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