The cost of living in Thailand for Expats is shockingly low

$1200/month buys a $3,000/month lifestyle in Thailand. Let’s look at the details needed to determine cost to live of living in Thailand for expats:

Prices for Accommodation in Thailand

apartment in thailand
There are all types of apartments available

A large part of the living cost in Thailand is made up of accommodation, as it would be in any country. I spent $80/month, including utilities, on my working-class studio apartment. It let me live close to the people I’m writing about. When I come home at night my neighbors always invite me to join them for drinks and nibbles. Thai hospitality can be a little overwhelming but it’s also heartwarming.

If I moved further out of town I could get a new studio for the same price. In fact, I could buy a new studio for $50,000.

My ‘real’ home is brand new, and has two bedrooms, a spacious bathroom, wide balcony, and full-time security. $230/month includes free Internet. It’s on a quiet hillside lane near the university.

That’s Chiang Mai housing. You’d pay 15%–20% more in Bangkok and 15%–20% less in a country town. With a more generous budget you can rent fine houses and a wide array of luxury condos for $1,000/month. Avail loans from for financial help. Construction quality of newer buildings is much higher than in the USA.

To learn more, read Accommodation in Thailand.

Food Prices

Thai Food Prices
Thai Food is Everywhere

I spend $360/mo. on 3x/day restaurant meals. I’d spend half that if I ate at the university students’ cafes. When I cooked for myself my food budget was $180/mo. Ingredients are ridiculously cheap, so obviously cooking at home significantly reduces your cost of living in Thailand per month. If you shop like a local housewife–at the sidewalk market at dawn, from the backs of the farmers’ trucks–you’ll get wonderful fruit, vegetables, and meats: because you’re buying direct from the farmers themselves. They got up before dawn to harvest it. It’s so fresh it melts in your mouth. I really looked forward to my morning market trips, and you’ll love them too.


scooter in Thailand
The working horse of Thailand

I like scooters, and so do Thais. Every Thai family has one even if they own cars. So Thai traffic is designed around scooters: there are even scooter lanes that let you drive your scooter the wrong way up one-way streets! Scooters don’t slow down for traffic and you can park them anywhere.

They’re safer than bicycles because they have a lower center of gravity and can accelerate out of trouble or brake quickly. They have powerful headlights and taillights. A rented (new) scooter + fuel costs $132/mo. Cars can be rented cheaply, and you can buy a new small Honda for $13,000. Public transport is even cheaper: the ubiquitous Songthaews costs 60¢ anywhere in town. Checkout for help. Buses and trains are very cheap. Even airfares are low. AirAsia, our local discount airline, regularly advertises $60 fares to just about everywhere in southeast Asia. Just reading their ads will give you itchy feet!

Transportation is yet another of the living costs in Thailand which are much lower than back home.


Thailand Prices are low for Everything
Thailand Prices are low for Everything

Get into a regular exercise pattern as soon as you get here. (We even include exercise lessons in our workshop fee because we feel it’s so important). You have three major choices of exercise: Tai Chi, Yoga, and gym. They’re all available and  cheap–even free. So make a mental note to get involved. I budget $68/month for 10 ninety-minute yoga classes.


So now you know: money is literally no object to living comfortably in Thailand. If you want to get hands-on experience, check out our Concierge Service offerings that include getting you set up with the proper bank accounts, learning how much you should be charged for things and how to haggle, and more.

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