Cost Of Living In Thailand
I live on 55,000 THB a month. I almost never try to cut corners with my lifestyle. I shop at the most expensive super market in town, I eat out (and order in) from western places a lot, I run the AC constantly and I live in a really nice place in a great location. And even though I live in Chiang Mai where it is cheaper, for comparison, my expenses did not exceed 65,000 when I was living in Phuket last year. And that place is supposed to be even more expensive than Bangkok. I do live in a 2-bedroom condo and live with a friend. But that is by choice – if I lived alone I would actually save money by living in a studio.
Here is my monthly breakdown:
13,000 Rent – This place is far nicer than any place I lived in back home and it is furnished. In California a place like this would be triple the cost. For 15,000 back home I would be lucky to get a room in a 3-bedroom, mediocre, in a poor location, unfurnished place. In Oregon you could drop that price down to about 11,000.
15,000 Groceries / food – I blatantly waste money in this area. I don’t claim it is for health reasons as I think cheap Thai food can be very healthy and tasty, too. You can get grilled chicken, fresh fruit and stir fried vegetables for a pittance and those are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. For example, I will buy salmon sashimi regularly or have a 1,000 baht steak at Duke's periodically. I find myself eating out for almost every meal – something I never did back home. I also eat more than most guys because I enjoy lifting weights. I do draw the line at 300 baht for a small container of raspberries though, haha. If I ate out as much back home I think my bill would be a bit over double what it is in Thailand.
800 Motorbike and gas – This is actually a high figure and assumes I buy a new bike every 2 years and put it up the old one for a fire sale price. I think a similar set up could be had back home and for a similar price… but it would not be socially acceptable for an adult to be driving a motorbike. Before I left to Thailand I was paying 9,000 a month car payment, 4,000 a month for gas and another 4,000 for insurance. And my car was only moderately nice.
10,000 Visa runs – I go to Cambodia now because I like that place a lot. In the past I used to go to Kuala Lumpur which is comparable in price. When I go I stay at decent places. They only give me a single entry visa at these places. If I wanted to be a real cheap Charlie I could get this all the way down to about 1,500 a month. For people retired, married, studying or working here… you don’t have this expense at all. Another option is to just buy a student visa (and courses) for 2,500 a month averaged over a year. If you wanted to take trips like I do it would probably be a similar cost back home.
600 Gym – It is a reasonably nice one although the sauna is sub par. This is similarly priced to a gym back home if you shop around enough.
3,000 Electricity – We really do have the AC on *all* of the time. This expense jumps slightly in hot season and goes down a bit in winters. If I was living alone it might be a bit more expensive. This is a lot more expensive than my old electric bill. This is the one of the few things I legitimately spend more on than I did back in the USA – and this is a small expense.
500 Clothes – I don’t dress well and don’t really care to. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal here… whereas back home I am really forced to dress really well if I want to get anywhere with girls or just about any social setting. In the USA I was spending about 5,000 a month on clothes and I wasn’t even close to keeping up with the Jones’.
1,300 Internet – We have an expensive internet because this is very important to us. The good news is that for this price it is really an awesome connection (3BB Premier). This is also a lot more expensive than the US alternative.
That totals 44,200 so far. This leaves about 10,000 unaccounted for. Maybe I get a working girl once a month, go drinking a couple times a month, massages (Thai normal ones) a couple times a month. All of these things are way, way more expensive back home. Prohibitively so – I would just never do them.
I make a lot more money than I spend. That is the only reason I waste money on some of the things I do. I think I could very easily chop food down by 5,000 baht a month and cut another 7,500 off visa runs. That would make my monthly expense 42,500… and that wouldn’t really have much of an impact on my overall lifestyle. I could also get a nice studio for 8,000 a month and, assuming a double internet bill as a result, shave off another 3,700. Thus, if you were being mindful and reasonably frugal, you could live comfortably on less than 40,000 THB up here in Chiang Mai. If you completely eliminated the visa run budget and really went cheap Charlie on the food (almost no western food) you could probably get to below 30,000.
Anyway that is just my opinion on the topic. I realize that I lead a bit simpler and more minimalistic lifestyle than most people. But I really am quite comfortable, happy and entertained most of the time doing this.
Yep, you can have a comfortable life for not a lot of money!