Minimizing Costs, Living Cheaply

ThailandGuru receives a lot of inquiries by people who wish to live cheaply.

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.


  • 1500 to 3000 baht = 50 to 100 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.

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