Cost of living in Thailand
The cost of living in Thailand is relatively more civil than in other parts of the world. It also depends on your own lifestyle choices. The good news is that 65,000 baht per month (or an 800,000 baht lump sum) can go a long way in Thailand, particularly if you pick where to retire with a degree of care. Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Hua Hin are the most popular. There’s also a growing ex-pat community in the north-east of the country, aka. Isaan. Each region has its own benefits and attractions. Cities and tourist areas are going to be more expensive than up-country in central Thailand.
Credits: The Thaiger
Cost of living in Thailand’s most popular cities & islands
Bangkok is a large Asian city with a cosmopolitan culture and everything you’d expect, and more than any other major city in the world. Getting around is increasingly easy if you’re willing to go public and take short hops on motorbike taxis. Driving yourself around Bangkok will drive you insane.
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, on the Andaman Sea. It was once a tropical paradise. Now it’s a growing urban island but still has all the same amazing beaches, just a lot more tourists. Approximately, the west side of the island is expensive and where a lot of the tourists’ hang out. The east side is a lot cheaper and residential.
Koh Samui is the second-largest island in Thailand but in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a smaller version of Phuket with more of an ‘island feel’ than its larger cousin. It suffers from an airline monopoly that makes it expensive to get there by air. There are also ferry services connecting you to the mainland.
Pattaya is, well, Pattaya. It became famous as an R&R location for American soldiers during the Korean War, then the Vietnam War. Then it built on its R&R reputation by becoming a popular destination for western tourists, mostly male, in the 70s and 80s. Since then its thrived as a sex-tourism destination but, over the past decade, has become much more cosmopolitan and cleaned up its act with classy tourism attractions, food scene, and hi-rise condos.
Chiang Mai is the northern Thai capital. Very laid back and steeped in the Lanna culture. It’s a flat, easy-to-get-around city, surrounded by beautiful hills and a growing eco-tourism scene.
Hua Hin is a quieter seaside destination. A favorite for Bangkok weekenders, it now attracts a growing ex-pat scene. It’s a coastal strip, facing the Gulf of Thailand, about 3-4 hour easy drive to the capital.
Cost of living in Thailand
When it comes to figuring out some basic costs of living & retiring in Thailand, your personal cost of living will vary a LOT depending on how and where you choose to live. You can, probably, live as cheaply as 30,000 – 40,000 baht per month if you’re prepared to live like a local and ‘rough it’ a bit, and not in a touristy area.
• A comfortable one-bedroom apartment – about 10-15,000 baht per month
• Utilities (including internet, phone, water, and electricity) – about 2,500 -4,000 baht per month
• Food (eating local food) – 100 – 300 baht per day
• Food (eating mostly foreign food) – about 300 – 1000 baht per day
• 1 beer – 100 – 150 baht, depending on the brand and where you buy it
• Comprehensive medical insurance – 4,000 – 10,000 baht per month (you would be MAD not to have full medical insurance)
Some other notes on the cost of living…
• Foreign goods can be heavily taxed and may cost more in Thailand than where you came from
• Anything involving local labor will likely cost a lot less – massages, maintenance, car services, etc
• If you choose to live in a beach resort, near the beach, eating international food and drinking imported beer all day, it will cost you more than you think
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