Truth Or Tales, Living Expenses in Thailand
This little reader submission is written because I am quite a bit confused myself when reading through some reader submissions.
No, I don’t mean the personal funny or less funny but sad stories, and whoring, bargirl or just entertainment stories and what not.
This very first time I want to make a submission covering the so called “western lifestyle” topic popping up here and then again and again…so I contribute to some more “again”.
This text of mine is more a comparison between what is written in some of those reader submissions and my own life and experience in Thailand. Mostly referring on the submission " Farang Life in Bangkok in 2012".
I am a German guy (so excuse my imperfect English as I am not a native speaker) aged 37, not fat, kinda good looking with a full operational brain that is filled with enough education and life experience to call myself kinda clever. Mainly I am in Thailand for business.
I don’t drink, I don’t whore, I don’t live on a budget here in Thailand, and I have a so called expat life.
Ok, enough boring stuff about me, let’s move on to the topic I want to write about.
1) Living in or around Bangkok
Recently I read a submission called Farang Life in Bangkok in 2012, which got me thinking. I agree with many parts in this submission but not on his baseline about living cost in Thailand of around 100k baht per month to have a western lifestyle nowadays in order to “survive western style” in BKK.
To be honest, I just moved to Thailand for a living and have been here around 8 month by now, so I can't recall on 12 years of inside wisdom about this place.
But I wonder what kind of lifestyle people referring to when they talk about 90k baht or more per month…per person may be needed to live here properly.
Maybe it's me who is the strange guy, I’ll really take that into account but, western lifestyle…
First your western lifestyle will get you to work at least 8 hours a day and 5 days a week if you are not on retirement anyway. You do so in the west right? Doing a regular work…hopefully.
So for most people I know, they don’t end up every evening going to party, bars, sanuk sanuk everyday as they are exhausted.
No matter if you sit with your ass in an office chair or are working hard labour.
I live in a nice little house of around 80 square meters, in a modern new village in a suburb of Bangkok and it takes me around 35 minutes to reach the “inner” city like Paragon Mall area and such.
The village has a big (very big) endless view pool and is decorated with colorful flowers and mostly silent and a place taken very well care of, as prices are already called expensive for the common Thai. So imagine it’s the good middle class where (I guess) Thai people have an income between 30-40k baht a month living around here.
Of course it’s not the Farang sticking together and simulating our home country village.
This house is bought and paid with 8,200 baht per month. All 3 rooms have the air-conditioning constantly working, shower with heater and all the stuff you would have at your western home lifestyle.
The expenses total around 11000 baht with water and electricity.
I have a car, I have a new motorbike Honda CBR 250 and I use them both, with gasoline around another 4000 baht per month.
Health insurance is maybe 2000 baht per month. Yes, it can be more, but never makes you reach the 100k baseline as a result.
All right, time to calculate…that sums up in around 17k baht.
Food, ok…come on, food in Thailand, you can get everywhere nearly everything, or get you a wife who cooks for you.
Whatever Farang or local Thai food, all is available plenty at very attractive prices.
Let's put another 15k baht just for the food as we don’t want in our “western lifestyle” eating at the street shops too much…check…sums up in around 32k baht.
So right now here we are, with a basic layout for a western lifestyle, living close to “inner” Bangkok. From here on it comes down to personal taste and habits, the so called “western lifestyle” does mean nothing but personal lifestyle.
I enjoy massages a lot. Nope, not the naughty ones but real nice serious massage, without the so called happy ending.
1-2 times a week, 2000 baht a month covers it all nicely. Makes it 36,000 baht altogether.
Ah weekends! Let's go to Bang Sean or better Koh Larn to enjoy the beach. Well come on… not every weekend, right? You don’t do like this anyway in the west, so 2 times per month you spend on the beach.
If you want to stay overnight you can get yourself a nice enough hotel for around 1000-1500 baht per night if you have some experience in Thailand.
Let’s guess we stay one night each time we go there and put 3000 baht on our budget for hotel, as well as 1000 baht each day on top for some sanuk sanuk.
So x2 times per month, 4 days altogether sums up in around 42000 baht on our overall budget.
I did this recently, going for 2 nights to Koh Larn for the weekend, and checked the expenses. 2 persons around 5000 baht, and that included, gasoline to drive 1:30 minute to Pattaya, the 30 baht ticket for the ship to the island, 1300 for the resort per night motorbike included.
Fresh seafood fish and whatever you like, a nice serviced place at the beach, one time jet ski, renting some tire tubs for chilling in the water and hanging around at a beach pub at night with drinking some Bacardi and what not.
This wholesale packages included some sunburn for free on top!
Ok let's count in cinema at least 2 times per month on top. So each cinema visit costs you around 500 baht and that includes tickets and some popcorn with Coke that you don’t take from your food budget.
We are roughly around 43000 baht now.
Ok ok ok…let's put an additional 5000 baht on top for whatever.
Makes 48000 baht right?
Well, still a long way to go to get the roughly 90k baht that you need as stated in some other reader submissions. And for many this “western lifestyle” is already more than they will have or can do in their home country that’s for sure.
Even taking into account to go to the pub here and there and enjoy some drinks and put that on top of the 15k baht food budget of yours…I mean if you're not a hidden alcoholic your budget won't explode.
Alright let’s put another 5k baht on top for shower gel, some razor blades and the visit of a haircutter per month or buying some new clothes. Sums up in 53k baht.
Some savings is a must have, make it 7000 baht you put aside per month for, car needs to be repaired etc. or just for the sake of saving some money for whatever you like.
And right now right here we are living on a budget of around 60k baht. And have a very western like lifestyle already, or maybe somebody set me constantly on drugs and I am just daydreaming it as I sit on the concrete floor eating sticky rice deep in Isaan and making scam calls for a living.
Why do I claim to know it? Because I am doing it, and I don’t need to look after my money too much. I don’t need to live on a 60k budget. I could afford a damn lot more, but could live as well on less if I start controlling my expenses some more and still don’t have to live like the average Thais.
I am willing to say that you can have a western lifestyle for roughly 40k baht here as for pure living expenses if you not rent next to Nana or Silom area, not including saving up money, and call it western lifestyle without going too far from the truth.
And in my case that 60k is for 2 persons already. So let me ask, what the hell are people doing when they claim a “western lifestyle” in and around Bangkok cost you around 90k baht per person?
I can only guess, you're either not smart with money or your definition of western lifestyle isn’t even close to my definition.
Of the 8 months of living here I for sure had a month I spent 100k as well, but hell, that lifestyle had nothing to do anything with my western lifestyle – it was way above my western lifestyle with renting a 250 square metre villa with a big pool, maid and pickup car included etc.
I hope your definition of a western lifestyle is not drinking your brain off every day, or keeping 3 bargirls as mia nois around you because I doubt you are able to do so in the west.
My conclusion for all you people out there who are looking for information for living expenses in Thailand. You can't really get this kind of information.
On what kind of budget you will be able to have a happy live here absolutely comes down to your personal taste and definition.
Of course my stated budgets can change as for personal taste, but still I think stating the 90k baht needed for western lifestyle is somewhat strange to me, even if you have to beef up the monthly sums for needed savings.
Obviously I can be proven very wrong as soon as children come in to the equation, then of course in Thailand your monthly budget for a western lifestyle with western education will explode easily to 90k baht a month.
But beside that, if a western lifestyle means you need at least 8 bottles of beer and 3 happy ending massages per day it will be a lot more expensive than without. (No offence, just a provoking example, of course your budget explodes as well if you have to eat 5 stars first class exclusive restaurant food each and every day. However if you could afford that lifestyle back in the west, why even bother to talk about money?)
What people spend to maintain their lifestyle in Thailand seems like such an innocuous topic but it can get some people's blood boiling!
I know people at each end of the scale. I have one friend living up country with his house paid for who lives on round 25,000 baht per month, and he has a kid to support. I have another friend who owns his own place, doesn't whore around and estimates his monthly spend at in excess of 300,000 baht.
My lifestyle costs me about 1.1 million baht per year. My monthly spend is about 70,000 baht. I then spend about 150,000 – 200,000 per year on international travel and about 150,000 – 200,000 baht per year on computer and camera gear. I do not own property so I pay rent every month. I don't drink much and I don't go whoring. I could live on much less if I had to, but would not really want to.
The things that push my budget up are imported food items like high quality imported fruit (which can be 3 or 4 times more than it costs in Farangland), nuts, raisins and berries and various other imported food items. Why do I insist on buying imported food items? Because they are healthy and generally take much better than the local alternative.
For sure, I could live on much less, but then I don't know that I would want to. "Treats" from home make Thailand that much more livable, at least in my opinion.
* If ever there was a topic on which most readers could contribute, this is it. It would be interesting to hear what people's budget is, and *why* they choose to spend what they do.