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Cost of Living in Thailand: Cheap or Expensive for a Year?

Cost of Living in Thailand: Cheap or Expensive for a Year?

Extensive research goes into making a move to a new country. Like many other countries, Thailand is a dream destination, popularly visited for its dreamscape beaches and resorts.

However, much research goes into moving to Thailand as a long-term resident. When considering the cost of living and all the details of what money can buy- living expenses can differ depending on budget, location, and criteria. 

You can easily live in Thailand on a budget of $600 (19,843 Baht). This price, however, can increase depending on the proximity to the city center and what location you choose to stay in. With affordable healthcare and minimum costs for food, Thailand is not too expensive compared to other countries.

Let’s look into some popular Thai cities amongst the digital nomad and expat locations. While looking at various factors, you will decide what city best suits your needs and requirements. Furthermore, it would help if you kept specific conditions and health priorities in mind. 

The Requirements 

Living in Thailand can come down to two factors: your budget or baseline cost and lifestyle. This budget means how much money you are willing to leave as an annual, monthly plan. Additionally, the money you will go is separate for your enjoyment or luxury activity.

Foreigners who travel to Thailand have a budget, usually around $600 minimum (1). However, it also depends on the city and location you chose. For example, a populated and luxury city such as Bangkok might cost you more as compared to a place in the mountainous scape of Chiang Mai.

Whatsmore, a spot on the beach waters of Phuket or Pattaya is likely to cost you more than an inland location (1). The figure you decide should be of the minimum amount if there are more expenses. 

You should also caution your visa runs and double entry visa requirements. At the same time, checking in every 60-90 days, paying for those social security incomes and documents (1).

Keeping this in mind, you need to keep an average as a baseline for the specific apartment needs, such as healthcare costs, food, and modes of transportation. 

What Is the Minimum Cost of Living in Thailand?

The minimum cost of living in Thailand per month in 2022 is $650 (21,497 Baht) (1). However, $600 (19.843 Baht) is the baseline cost for expats living in Chiang Mai and is more likely to be $750 (24,804 Baht) for those living in Bangkok. 

Here is an average of the costs above: (1)

Monthly ExpenseMinimum Cost (USD$ and Thai Baht)
Rent and Internet $230 (7,606 Baht)
Food$190 (6283 Baht)
Scooter/gas$100 (3307 Baht)
Outdoor hangings/activities$75 (2480 Baht)
Electricity and water$30 (992 Baht)
Maid$15 (486 Baht)
Total $650 (21,497 Baht)

Therefore, you should expect the minimum cost to live in Thailand for a year to be $7800 (257,964 Baht).

Chiang Mai 

Since 2011, Chiang Mai has become a popular location for travel bloggers to hang out and enjoy the incredible season. Culture, food, and low living costs brought many to come back permanently. Since then, Chiang Mai has continued to lure other digital nomads with the promise of low living costs, good wifi, and a community of other neighbors. Moreover, Chiang Mai also became the hotspot for entrepreneurs to launch their businesses.

In 2022, the cost of living in Chiang Mai will be between $650 to $1800 (21,497 Baht to 59.531 Baht). Living in Chiang Mai can be accessible under a fixed budget (1). You can pay a rough amount of $230 for a two-bedroom apartment. While sharing with a roomie, you can divide that price in half. For example, a foreigner mentions living with a roomie at a joint payment of 10,000 Baht per month for the house and wifi. The place includes half baths, a kitchen, and a dining room with a table (1).

If you are looking for studio apartments, these can cost you between 3,500 to 8,000 Baht per month. These are perfect for solo-independent people who hope to live alone and have a TV or flexible wifi connections (1). You can also go for western-style houses over apartments on the expensive side. However, these can cost around 30-40,000 Baht, which is way over most people’s budgets (1).

Bangkok 

The cost of living in Bangkok is slightly higher than in Chiang Mai. It can cost you from $700 (23,156 Baht) to $3,000 (99,150 Baht). Being in a big city, you should have a realistic look at how much it would cost to live in the center of a convenient and busy location (1). However, the cost also depends on where you live and what type of place you rent. You can even pay as low as $400 for some affordable and sharing rentals (1).

Accommodation in Bangkok can be expensive, especially for those living off a budget. A one-bedroom condo with a pool could cost you around 30,000 Baht per month (6). The prices in rentals decrease the further you move from the central area and proximity to the BTS. This means it can be easy to find a similar rental for a 10,000-18,000 Baht apartment per month. These outside areas are considered the ‘suburbs’ of Bangkok (6). 

You can rent a studio apartment outside the city center for 9,000 Baht or go for a two-bedroom condo off Sukhumvit Road for 47,000 Baht per month (4). The typical price for apartments in Central Bangkok begins at 45,000 Baht for two-bedroom units (4). As for families, you can find apartments between 60,000-85,000 Baht (4). Moreover, other prices to consider include utility bills: the AC, water, transportation, and food and drinks are necessities that you can add to your budget.

Hua Hin

Hua Hin’s proximity to Bangkok has also attracted more expats and multigenerational communities to the city. It is a Thai beach resort town with very low living costs yet high education and health services standards. Moreover, the city has a rich history of the Royal Family and their summer 1920 palace. 

The average cost of living in Hua Hin is $761 (25,153 Baht). This means it is in the top 34% least expensive cities globally (2). The cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost you $494 (16,325 Baht). You can also find cheap flats which are a bit further away from the city. Moreover, local food, transportation, and groceries are similar to other cities (2).

Phuket 

South Phuket is a traditional and iconic destination. Patong Beach and the island of Phuket are popularly known as the dream sub-regions for those seeking a secluded lifestyle. People are drawn to Phuket for its comfortable and convenient lifestyle. They have the best seafood in the country, imported food, great shopping, and top-notch medical care (5). 

Patong and Kata are famously known as living areas. You can find affordable housing far off from Phuket Town and Thalang, sites recommended for those on a strict budget. In the Thalang area, you can get a two-bedroom and two-bathroom apartment with a pool for just $720 (23,814 Baht) per month (5). Whatsmore, this apartment is a five-minute walk from Surin Beach. However, if you are more than willing to spend more money, you can get fully furnished Western-styled homes at the beach center (5).

Thinking of Retiring in Thailand? 

Thailand has received attention for being a retirement destination. Low living costs can help stretch retirement savings even further (3). The rich culture and cuisine make this opportunity an even greater one- I mean, who wouldn’t want to chill by the beach after their working days? The weather is sunny and hot and perfect for retirees who wish to explore and chill out. 

It costs around $1500 (33,074 Baht)-$2000 (66,149 Baht) to live in Thailand as a retiree (3). Being a reasonable benchmark, you can also live for a lot cheaper depending on the location you pick.

Healthcare

Another factor that comes to play when considering Thailand’s cost of living is healthcare. Everyone must go for their annual health checkups, which can, unfortunately, cost you a few thousand Baht (4). It would help if you had some idea of these costs before you decide to move to their country. 

You typically have to pay around 1,500 to 3,000 Baht at visits to the private hospital. However, if you have to stay overnight at an international hospital under any circumstances, this price can increase to 10,000 Baht for a one-night stay (4). 

In the ICU, you can expect to pay around 15,000 Baht per day. Treatments can be cheaper at government hospitals. However, this option is recommended for people who speak the local Thai language (4). Moreover, you can check your health insurance and apply for an international plan if you need to get local treatment (4). 

Conclusion

By following through with the requirements and making your big move, you should always pre-plan your budget and moving process. Thailand, a tourist destination, can also become your next home. At the same time, the country might seem expensive, that all depends on how you choose to live your lifestyle and what accommodation fits your needs. Utilities, healthcare, and food are all affordable, similar to other countries. The country also serves as the perfect retirement destination in the long run.


References 

  1. Angel, et al. “Thailand Cost of Living ($650) – How Much to Live in Thailand in 2022.” A Little Adrift Travel Blog, alittleadrift.com/living-costs-chiang-mai-thailand/. 
  1. “Cost of Living & Prices in Hua Hin: Rent, Food, Transport.” Living Cost.org, 4 Dec. 2021, livingcost.org/cost/thailand/hua-hin/. 
  1. Derek Silva, CEPF® “How to Retire in Thailand: Cost of Living, Visas and More.” SmartAsset, SmartAsset, 24 Mar. 2021, smartasset.com/retirement/how-to-retire-in-thailand/. 
  1. Insurance, Jantra in Expat, et al. “Tips for Expats: Cost of Living in Bangkok.” Pacific Prime Thailand’s Blog, 8 Oct. 2020, www.pacificprime.co.th/blog/tips-for-expats-cost-of-living-in-bangkok/. 
  1. “Phuket, Thailand: Retirement, Cost of Living & Lifestyle Information.” International Living, 13 Jan. 2021, internationalliving.com/countries/thailand/phuket-thailand/. 
  1. Wilson, Allan. “Cost of Living in Bangkok: Guide for Expats Living in Bangkok (Thailand).” Live Less Ordinary: Bangkok Based Bloggers Traveling in Asia & Beyond, 12 Apr. 2018, www.live-less-ordinary.com/cost-of-living-in-bangkok-on-a-budget/.

Jordan Sully

I'm a Thailand fanatic who has been traveling to the Kingdom since 2017. The country has given me so much, this is my small way of giving back. I hope the articles on this site help you to learn more about Thailand and inspire your next adventure to The Land of Smiles. Thanks for checking out ThaiGuider!

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