Cost of Living in Thailand

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Expats can experience an ideal combination of convenience and modern luxuries, while enjoying a sensible cost of living in Thailand that is cheaper than many other expat destinations around the world. 
 
Street food is inexpensive and delicious in Thailand
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, who tend to earn slightly less than more corporate expats, 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 given the low 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 a expat's budget, mid-range accommodation is available. In Bangkok, for around THB 30,000 a month new arrivals can get a townhouse or furnished apartment complete with a swimming pool, an ultra-modern gym and security. 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, studio apartments throughout Bangkok and Thailand can be rented for as little as THB 2,000 per month.
 

Transportation costs 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 the city are low to moderate. Expats could 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 is air-conditioned.

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

Cost of schooling in Thailand
 

Expats who move to Thailand with children will most probably 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 food 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 constituted won’t be too hard on an expat's 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.
 

Cost of living in Thailand 

(Prices vary across Thailand – these are average costs for Bangkok in August 2015. Prices may vary depending on product and service provider)
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 48
Loaf of bread (white) THB 41
Chicken breasts (1kg) THB 102
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) THB 90
Utilities/Household (monthly)
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) THB 1.76
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) THB 660
Electricity (average per month for standard household) THB 2,200
Eating out and entertainment
Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two THB 550
Take-away meal (e.g. Mcdonalds) THB 140
Cappuccino THB 97
Coca Cola (500ml) THB 20
Beer in a bar THB 97
Transportation
Taxi rate per km THB 8
City centre train fare THB 20
Petrol (per litre) THB 25

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