Cost of Living in Thailand

In Thailand, expats can experience an ideal combination of convenience and modern luxuries while enjoying a sensible cost of living that is cheaper than many other expat destinations around the world. 

What’s more, many expats lured abroad by multinational corporations with offices in Thailand – most likely in Bangkok or in one of the nearby manufacturing cities – often earn salaries that are high by even Western standards, and generally find themselves better off financially once they have moved to Thailand.

Those hired from within the country such as real estate agents, international school teachers and IT specialists tend to earn slightly less than more corporate expats but can still manage a comfortable lifestyle while saving. In fact, even English teachers and low-skilled professionals with a minimal income report a high quality of life because of the affordable cost of living.  

It should be noted, however, that due to the low rate of urbanisation in the country, the cost of living can be quite different from one region to another. The most expensive areas are undoubtedly the main expat areas in Bangkok and the tourist hubs of Phuket and Kho Samui; prices in the more rural regions can easily be two to three times cheaper.


Cost of accommodation in Thailand

Prices for accommodation range quite dramatically throughout the country, depending largely on location. Luxurious beach villas in Phuket or Kho Samui can have high monthly rental rates, and large condos or serviced apartments in Bangkok can be even more expensive.

If prices like these don’t fit into an expat's budget, mid-range accommodation is available. In Bangkok, it's possible to get a townhouse or furnished apartment complete with a swimming pool, an ultra-modern gym and security for a reasonable price. Accommodation of this type can also be found outside the capital city, where more luxury and space can be enjoyed for the same price.

Finally, for those living on a limited budget, modest studio apartments throughout Bangkok and Thailand can be rented at bargain prices.


Cost of transportation in Thailand

Whether budgeting for a bus fare for a weekend holiday to the beach or a cab ride around the corner, transportation costs are among the best bargains in Thailand. 

The cheapest way to travel long distances is by bus or minivan. Trains are a little bit more expensive and they're slower than buses, but they offer greater cabin comfort and a sleeper option for overnight trips. The quickest way to travel is to catch a domestic flight.

Travelling costs within city areas are low to moderate. Expats can use relatively cheap taxis or save even more with other public transport options such as the Skytrain or subway, especially during rush hour. Bus ride prices differ depending on the distance travelled and whether the bus has certain facilities like air conditioning.

Finally, to avoid an uncomfortable long walk on a hot day, motorbikes, tuk-tuks and specially designed pick-up trucks (saongteao) are good options that charge small fees that depend on the distance travelled.


Cost of schooling in Thailand

Expats who move to Thailand with children will most likely send them to an international school. Located almost entirely in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, international schools are recognised for their high standards of education and impressive campuses, but this comes at a price, even in Thailand. 

Some schools may offer tuition for significantly cheaper than others, but the quality of education is often not as good. The proportion of English-speaking staff is less, and the prospect of an expat child being able to be successful in eventual studies abroad might be diminished.


Cost of eating out and entertainment in Thailand

One of the first things expats notice in Thailand is the impressive variety of restaurants and street food. It doesn't cost much to buy a quick snack from a street stall selling BBQ chicken, pork on sticks, papaya salad or some other Thai delicacy. A full meal of rice, meat and vegetables from a street-side vendor isn't too hard on the wallet either.

Of course, plenty of establishments cater for the needs of fine palates. Upmarket restaurants in the expat areas of the main cities or on the islands offer multiple course meals and hotels are known for their amazing international buffets, but these experiences are generally more expensive.

A night out on the town can be very affordable for those happy to limit themselves to locally brewed beers. Wine can be pricey, and expats that favour imported alcohol will quickly find that drinking becomes an expensive habit. As with restaurants, the more upmarket the nightclub, the higher the drink prices.


Cost of living in Thailand 

(Prices vary depending on product and service provider across Thailand – these are average costs for Bangkok in August 2016)

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

Furnished two-bedroom house

THB 100,000

Unfurnished two-bedroom house

THB 80,000

Furnished two-bedroom apartment

THB 60,000

Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment

THB 45,000

Groceries

Dozen eggs

THB 68

1 litre milk

THB 57

Loaf of bread (white)

THB 43

Chicken breasts (1kg)

THB 140

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

THB 100

Utilities/Household (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

THB 2

Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month)

THB 660

Electricity (average per month for standard household)

THB 3,000

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

THB 800

Take-away meal (e.g. McDonalds)

THB 160

Cappuccino

THB 90

Coca Cola (500ml)

THB 22

Beer in a bar

THB 120

Transportation

Taxi rate per km

THB 8

City centre train fare

THB 25

Petrol (per litre)

THB 28