Cost of Living

The cost of living varies so widely from expat to expat.

During the first few years of my stay here, I lived luxuriously, when good consulting work was abundant. All that changed around the 1997 crash, and when I hit rock bottom around the year 2000 (when savings had dwindled to the dangerous level) I learned to live almost as cheaply as any expat ever has here. I've rebounded since then, but my experiences for about a year certainly qualify me to preach what I've practiced.

How much do you need to live? Add it up yourself:

Rent: ________ Such a wide range here in peoples' preferences, from a one-room room in a Thai apartment block for 3500 baht to 250,000 baht for a large house with a big yard in a nice neighborhood, but most expats I know take a highrise condo in the 50,000 to 80,000 baht range

Electricity: (costs can be much less if you stay there only at night)

  • 6,000 baht, maybe more, for a house with continuous air conditioning, someone home all the time, much more for a large house
  • 3,500 baht for a large apartment or condo with continuous air conditioning, someone home all the time
  • 200 baht for no air-con, no refrigerator, just fluorescent lights and fans

If you live in a house, make sure there is insulation in the ceiling.


  • 100 to 800 baht, depending upon family size, usage, yard watering, etc.


  • 2000 to 5000 baht = 60 to 160 baht/day for "street food" dining out every day, 3 meals per day
  • 10,000 baht for cooking Western groceries every day, never eating out (need kitchen/ette)
  • 30,000 baht or more for eating out at Western style restaurants every day in the expat areas. Add more for alcohol.

In general, eating out in Thailand at moderately nice places is much cheaper than eating out in western countries. When I go back to the USA to visit, I am astounded by the prices of eating in normal restaurants, compared to Thailand for the exact same if not better ambiance and quality of western food. There are good western food restaurants in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Koh Samui, Koh Chang, and other places where foreigners are in high numbers.

However, if you like real Thai food, the food courts where Thais go are incredibly cheap. You get a plate of rice with scoops of one or two meat and/or vegetable dishes for 20 to 30 baht.

Taxis are also very cheap in Thailand, and they are metered. The rate starts at 35 baht (about $1) and goes up slowly. The skytrain and subway start at 10 baht and go up to 50 baht per trip.

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