Most of us dream of moving to an island but the logistics and costs involved can be a deterrent. Thailand’s government is making it easier — though not necessarily affordable — with their new elite residency visa program. So whether it’s Ko Samui or Ko Pha Ngan, moving to Thailand just got a little easier.
The Thailand Elite membership program is a state-owned subsidiary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and offers seven different relocation packages. If you’ve got money to burn, the top-of-the-line “Elite Ultimate Privilege” membership costs $60,000 (plus a membership fee of $600 per year) for a 20-year residency. One of the main benefits is the Privilege Entry Visa (PEV) which allows members an extendable one-year stay in Thailand without the usual requirement to exit and re-enter the country.
In addition to the multiple-entry tourist visa, the membership includes a 24/7 concierge service, which gives expats VIP access to those pesky government agencies (think immigration, work permits, and the department of motor vehicles). Also included: limousine airport transfers, a private lounge at the airport, annual health checkups at a state-of-the-art private hospital, special shopping and dining discounts, complimentary spa treatments and complimentary golf greens fees.
If you’re on a budget, the low-end tier is around $14,500 for the “Elite Easy Access” membership. That gets you a renewable five-year visa and similar perks to the Elite Package, minus the golf and spa treatments.
Aimed at retirees and frequent business travelers, the application-based program anticipates that more than 1,000 people will apply. Individual and family memberships are available. Visit Thailand Elite for application information.