Worried about cost of living? Thailand can cater to any bank account... barely surviving to decadently living!

I am really pleased with the relatively inexpensive cost of living in Thailand, both as a tourist and an expat.


"Retirement in Thailand sounds interesting... but how could I afford it?"

A common question...


My experience with the cost of living in Thailand

Here I am with my extended Thai family. On the left is our granddaughter, my partner and me. On the right are my partner's twin daughters, her sister and her sister's Brit partner.

  • it costs about $1500/month [US $] for me, my partner and her young granddaughter
  • we live in a good-sized, modern, 1-bedroom apartment, with hot shower plus tub bathroom, kitchenette, and 2 A/C units
  • my partner visits the local farmers' market daily and buys fresh ingredients for our meals
  • we eat at local restaurants 3 or 4 times a week
  • we eat at "western" restaurants one time a week
  • we have a basic Toyota vehicle while my partner mostly uses a scooter for moving about the city
    [NOTE: I'm too chicken to ride on a bicycle, scooter, or motorbike in Thailand]
  • we take a 3 - 4 day holiday every 2 months, so I can renew my visa, traveling via VIP buses
  • we rent a van for a day, on those holidays, so we can do "tourist" things, at a cost of about $75/day including driver and fuel
  • we visit the dentist twice a year and each of has cleanings and fillings etc., as required 
  • we pay school fees twice a year
    [our girl goes to a private school that includes English and Chinese instruction]
  • as needed, we go to local clinics or the University Hospital for medical treatment, which averages about $25/visit, including medication
View of Doi Suthep [local mountain] from my apartment balcony in Chiang Mai.

There's an American expat [JC] living in Thailand who spends a lot of his time exploring Thailand and reporting on

  • places to live
  • accommodation costs
  • food costs

and so on...

Click the picture to look at his videos.


A frugal experience with the cost of living in Thailand

A close buddy of mine who lives in Chiang Mai deserves the award for most frugal, yet hedonistic method of living in Thailand.

He and his Thai partner live on $1000 a month.

  • their apartment is one room with bathroom
  • they have no A/C
  • they have no hot water
  • they have no windows

However, the guy is frugal... not cheap!

He and his partner eat breakfast, only, in their apartment. Otherwise, they eat at local Thai restaurants, with twice weekly forays for Indian or Western food.

He supports his partner's 3 sons with university costs: fees, books, computers, board and room, travel and spending money.

He spends a month, each year, at a seaside resort during the off season.

He has a yearly membership at a pool and gym through a local hotel. There they get hot showers, clean towels etc.

They visit a dentist, yearly, for checkups and cleaning. They go to local clinics and hospitals if they are ill.

They travel around the city using song taews. They cost about 80 cents per person per ride.

A song taew is an open bus with 2 rows of facing seats.
"Song" = 2
"taew" = seat

I know a "farang" bloke who gets by with the least cost of living in Thailand that I've seen
["farang" = foreigner in Thai]

I met him at a bar in Chiang Rai and struck up a conversation. He told me he lives on basic Social Security from the USA.

He sleeps in a hostel for under $5/day.

He eats one meal a day using restaurants that cater to Thais, at a cost of about $2.

He has enough money to sling back a lot of beer every night. Each double size beer is $3, if you can find the right bar.

Seems to work for him...



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