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Does the cost of living in Thailand worry you? FLEXIBLE is the concept here...
Thailand can cater to any bank account... 
frugal lifestyle to decadent living!

Cost of living in Thailand insights are mainly focused on my experience in Chiang Mai…

I try to keep costs under $3000.00 per month, for 2 adults and one child. 

I kept close records for 4 months [December, 2019 to March, 2020] and the costs I report are based on this.

Costs are in CAD$.

I know farang couples who manage on under $1000.00 monthly.



My experience with the cost of living in Thailand

It costs about $2900/month for me, my partner
and her young granddaughter.

For me, renting my house in Canada, and the $ from my pension
mean I can lead a really sweet life.

A monthly cost breakdown is at the end of this page... a cost of living in Thailand based on 4 months of tracking every expense.

Cost of Living in Thailand:
Accommodation

Thailand is sometimes described as

  1. A third world country
  2. A developing country
  3. A world-class sophisticated country

All are correct!

And accommodation is available… almost anywhere… that reflects those descriptions. 

My experience is with

  • Hotels, mostly 2 - 3 star
  • Apartments/condos, similar to what a middle class Thai would rent.
  • Houses that a well-off Thai would own.
  • One spa resort, 5 star

Outside of splurging at that spa, I’ve NOT used any 5 star hotels or resorts.

And I’ve NOT stayed at the 99 ฿ [$4 CAD] flea-bag hostels that can be found on back streets in the cities.

I choose to rent in a transition neighbourhood.  I rent a modern secured apartment in the Chiang Mai Lodge… a hotel and serviced suite residence.

I’m in what is predominantly a Thai neighbourhood, with farang starting to move into nearby hotels and high-rise apartments. 

There goes the neighbourhood!


Cost of Living in Thailand:
Food

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The three of us eat well for about $725/month.

My partner visits the local farmers' market daily and buys fresh ingredients for our meals.

We eat at local restaurants 3 or 4 times a week.

We eat at "western" restaurants one time a week.


Cost of Living in Thailand:
Travel around Thailand

I travel frequently. 

VISA RUN

We take a 3 - 4 day holiday every 2 months, so I can renew my visa, traveling via VIP buses.

  • These are the size of a Greyhound, but look better. 
  • They have room for 24 passengers, only. 
  • There’s a toilet on board. 
  • Water and a sugar-laden dessert is provided. 
  • They have rest stops every 3 hours. 
  • The seats are better than airline steerage. 
    OOPS, I mean airline economy!
  • This trip which lasts 3 hours, one way, costs me just over $15 per person, return.
  • We rent a van for a day, on those holidays, so we can do "tourist" things, at a cost of about $75/day including driver and fuel

I budget $75/month for this.


OTHER COUNTRY HOLIDAYS

Sometimes my partner and I holiday in nearby countries (Indonesia [Bali], Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Myanmar)

Return airfare is often under $100.00 per person to these places. There are several “bargain” airlines with weekly travel specials.

A hotel with breakfast, for 2 persons, is around $20.00 per day. These are 2/3 star places with A/C, hot showers, western toilets and are super clean, friendly and centrally located for walking tours. The breakfasts provide western, Chinese and local food. 

A 1 week trip, for 2 people, would cost me under $1000.00.


Local Transportation

If I’m moving around a place on my own, I choose to use local paid transportation. 

In Bangkok, that would mean a Taxi Meter, an a/c Toyota that is incredibly cheap.

One 2 hour trip I took [really bad traffic] cost $10.00.

I consider these to be the best taxi value in Thailand!


I use song taews outside of Bangkok. These are small pickup trucks with 2 rows of seats in the box of the truck. 

(song taew is pronounced song tow which translates to 2 seats;  “tow” rhymes with how)

There is a roof over top, and grab bars. A ½ hour ride across the city is under $1.00. You flag these down and negotiate the cost to your destination.

The downside is that lots of other people will get on with you, and the trip is not particularly direct. 

For day trips, I have rented a song tow and driver for $30.00 per day. And 6 people can easily fit in. A breezy trip… nice and cool on a hot day

Bangkok and Chiang Mai have efficient public transportation systems that are not expensive.


Locally, there are also tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis.

Riding a tuk-tuk

A tuk-tuk is a modified 3-wheel motorbike, with a small passenger area over the back wheels.

I recommend a ride in a tuk-tuk… at least once. These, at one time, were the least expensive means of getting around a city for farang. Now, I find them over-priced, with surly drivers. 

The cost is usually negotiated before the trip, and seems to start at 50 Baht, or $2.00.

Not to mention they scare the crap out of me with their driving style. They get to your destination quickly, however. 

Another issue I have is that I find it very difficult getting on and off. 

I just don’t bend, fold, and flex as well as I once did.


taxi-motorbike

I NEVER RECOMMEND using one of the motorbike taxis, although they are popular with Thais. These are super cheap, and very quick through traffic.

I don't know costs.

It is a delight to see a well-dressed, nonchalant young Thai lady riding side-saddle through traffic… whilst the driver wheels in and out, sometimes over sidewalks, to get his fare to the destination. The drivers wear orange vests, and congregate on a soi just off a main roadway, waiting for a fare to appear.

Soi = side street


My partner is a good driver, and I trust her for trips around the city in our older Toyota.

Sometimes we travel to “the hills” to visit her Mom, using that vehicle... a 90 minute trip.


Cost of Living in Thailand:
Medical

I completely trust the private hospitals and University hospitals in the major urban centres

Being an old farang, I’ve always been cautious about my health. My experiences with health care in Thailand proved to me that it was just as professional as in Canada, and far quicker. 

One surgery that would have taken 6 months to take place in Canada, took 2 days in Bangkok. It cost $1000 and included one followup, all medication, and room and board for two people overnight, since my partner had a bed provided in my private room.

I have used the BANGKOK HOSPITAL GROUP several times for medical services. This is oriented toward farang, and has English speaking, internationally-accredited doctors and staff.

There are several of these hospitals: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, and Hua Hin. 

If I need surgery or have a major health problem, I head to one of these, and pay by credit card. 

They are not cheap, but they are superlative health facilities.

If my medical “issue” is not critical, then I use local Thai clinics. Service has always been prompt, pleasant, inexpensive, and competent. English is not always available, however.

While living in Chiang Mai, I've opted to use the Siriphat Hospital which is a public facility, associated with Chiang Mai University.

It is just as modern as the Bangkok Hospital Group facilities, but it's slower to get service [crowded!]... maybe several hours wait for a non-emergency situation.

MUCH cheaper than the private hospitals... I had a 4 day "visit" that was under $200/day... all inclusive...  with private room and a place for my partner to stay overnight.


There's an American expat [JC] living in Thailand who spends a lot of his time exploring Thailand 

He produces in-depth reports on cost of living in Thailand in areas such as

  • places to live
  • accommodation costs
  • food costs

and so on...

Here's an introduction to his information


Warmest regards,


Garry says

p.s. I’ve run across two farang who have pared down the cost of living in Thailand to the bone: one leads a comfortable and relaxed lifestyle, while the other is an alcoholic who has parlayed a minimum US Social Security pension into a “reasonable” life...  albeit not one most would aspire to.