Let’s face it, one of the main reasons people move to Thailand is because it’s pretty cheap, and damn awesome, of course.
But while housing is very affordable, food items can be pretty expensive, particularly if you’re partial to imported foods such as cheese, wine, olives and, errr… Marmite.
Branded clothes and beauty products can be pretty expensive too; think Nike trainers and anti-wrinkle skin creams.
But overall, Thailand still ranks as one of the cheapest places to live in SE Asia. Overall, I still find it cheaper than Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia.
I did some pre-research on two cost of living sites, but I found them to be pretty off the mark, particularly when it came to housing. That said, one took the average across the whole of Thailand, which again isn’t that useful.
So I decided to gander around the shops and compile my own list based on the Bangkok cost of living.
Note that if you’re thinking of living in other cities like Chiang Mai or Khon Kaen, the cost of housing is likely to be a lot lower. However, supermarket food items and entertainment is likely to be about the same. I discuss this later on, too.
I’ll be adding items to this list and updating it periodically, but if you want to know the price of a particular item or service in the meantime, please let me know and I’ll do my best to research it for you.
Please use the currency convertor to convert from Baht to your native currency.
Semi-skimmed milk (Meji 990 ml) ฿44
12 organic eggs – ฿89
Cheddar Cheese (Mclelland – UK import) – ฿275
Chicken breast 200g (S Pure Healthy) – ฿59
Loaf of brown bread – ฿57 Baht
Penne Pasta (500g) – ฿55
Olive Oil (500ml) – ฿199
Litre of Pepsi Cola – ฿20
Oreos (standard pack) – ฿30
Heineken (490ml can) – ฿59
**Prices sourced from Big C & Topps supermarkets. Please note that as with any country, supermarkets are competitive and pricing varies for different items, albeit by a few Baht.
The cost of food in Bangkok is 56% cheaper than New York
The following condo rental prices are averages based on a pool of property listings for Bangkok, and on condos within walking distance to an MRT/BTS station.
Modern 2 Bed 2 Bath Condo, 65 Sq. m (central Bangkok) – ฿40-45,000
Modern 2 Bed 1 Bath 65 Sq. m (4 stops to central – ฿17-20,000
Modern 1 bed, 50 Sq. m (central Bangkok) – ฿30-35,000
Modern 1 bed, 40 Sq. m (4 stops to central – ฿12-20,000
Modern studio, 30 Sq. m (4 stops to central – ฿8,000-9,000
Modern studio, 30 Sq. m (central Bangkok – ฿13-16,000
Utilities, 1-month, 2 people, 65 Sq. m condo – ฿2500
Internet – 16 MB (True) – ฿799
Cleaner (per month, 3 x per week) – ฿3,000
The cost of rent in Bangkok is 67% cheaper than London
1 pair Levi 501 jeans– ฿3,790
1 summer Maxi dress in Topshop – ฿3,550
1 pair of Nike Air Max ฿2,000- 5,700
1 tailor-made business suit – ฿3,000-8,000
The cost of clothes in Bangkok is 53% cheaper than Sydney
1 litre of premium gasoline – ฿41
Public taxi trip (8 Km) ฿180 (Base rate ฿35)
Uber Black taxi trip (6.5 Km) ฿158
Monthly train ticket: BTS – ฿1,100 (Rabbit card) – MRT – ฿1,499
The cost of transportation in Bangkok is 37% cheaper than Berlin
Deodorant, Nivea roll-on, (50ml): ฿92
1 box of 16 tampons (Laurie Slim): ฿75
Gillette Mach 3 Sensitive (4 blades) ฿459
Hair shampoo 2-in-1 (400 ml ~ 12 oz.): ฿89
Tube of toothpaste (large Colgate standard): ฿55
Nappies: 64 Pc (Mamy Poko medium) – ฿669
Toilet rolls (Scott 6 roll pack) – ฿79
The cost of personal care in Bangkok is 73% cheaper than Bern
Lunch for 2 (Black Canyon café): 2 coffees, 2 main meals – ฿400 Baht
2 adult tickets to the movies – ฿360
1 cocktail drink in downtown club – ฿250
Grande Cappuccino in Starbucks – ฿120
1 beer in neighbourhood bar (500ml or 1pt.) ฿100 Baht
1 month prepaid mobile tariff with 3GB (DTAC) – ฿399 + vat
1 month gym membership at True Fitness (Asoke) ฿2,099 (dependent on sales rep and promotions)
1 package of Marlboro cigarettes – ฿90
The cost of entertainment in Bangkok is 39% cheaper than Paris
So How Much Do You Need To Live In Thailand Per Month?
From my own expenses living in Bangkok, I’d say that presuming you enjoy an average standard of living in Europe or the US, Canada or Australia, you will need the following amount(s) to maintain that standard in Thailand:
– Single male/female in Bangkok – ฿50,000
– Couple in Bangkok – ฿75,000
– Couple with baby under 2 years old in Bangkok – ฿80,000
This includes rent, food, Internet access, gym membership and going out socializing once/twice a week.
If you plan on living up country somewhere, you may be able to shave as much as 30% off these amounts.
If you plan on living in Koh Samui or Phuket, then you can expect to spend about 10-15% less, depending on your drinking habits. In my experience, you pay less rent on the islands, but eating can be a tad more expensive and you tend to spend more on socializing.
I haven’t lived in Chiang Mai for some time, but when I did I found rent to be about 25% cheaper than Bangkok, with the exception of the high-end rentals in central Bangkok, which are somewhat of an anomaly when looking at the country overall.
A Final Note On Living Costs
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Man, I thought Thailand was a lot cheaper”, don’t let these numbers put you off.
If you don’t mind living in a 27 Sq.m studio apartment, travelling that little bit further into town and aren’t fussed about eating street food and generally living frugally, you can get by on B30-35, 000 a month. There are many teachers living in Thailand on such a salary.
If you’re smart, though, you can make cut backs doing things like buying an Internet phone package and tethering to your computer to save money on home WIFI. You can buy fruit in bulk from the market instead of buying daily from stalls, or choose to take the Baht bus instead of taxis. There’s always ways to save money, and at the end of the day, many Thai people live reasonably well on a salary of 20-30,000 Baht.
The way I map out my expenses is by working out what’s required for my family to be happy and enjoy a convenient life. For example, we live within walking distance of a tube station, and have the luxury of a restaurant on site at our condo block. That said, my apartment is a few stops out of central Bangkok – mainly because I wouldn’t want to live in Sukhumvit – but the money we save allows us to take regular holidays and stay in nice hotels.
It’s about finding a balance that works for you.
I don’t drink or smoke, so I save money on buying beer and fags. This money I am able to invest in always having good food at home, which is where a lot of my money goes. I used to spend a fair bit on the gym, until I found one for less than 2 quid a year. Read more here.
I have a wife and a daughter, so of course I pay things like medical insurance and life insurance to protect them and give us peace of mind.
So work out what’s important to you; what are your “must haves” and “can do withouts”.
If you’re retired with a tidy pension and savings account, then keeping a tight ship might not be on your agenda. But then it does makes sense to be smart with money if you have kids or other dependents that will need a nest egg when you walk through the pearly gates.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that expenses do pop up here and there, and you’ll need to make provision for these. Think visa run/renewal expenses, travel/medical insurance, replacing a broken phone or computer, etc. So make sure you have some back up savings for emergencies.
Think I’m way off the mark? How much does living in Thailand cost you? Leave your comments below.