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

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

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. 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 transport in Thailand

Whether budgeting for a bus fare for a weekend holiday to the beach, or a cab ride around the corner, transport 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 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 and tuk-tuks are good options that charge small fees which 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 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 in Thailand notice 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 streetside vendor isn't too hard on the wallet either.

Of course, plenty of establishments cater to the needs of refined 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. 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 who 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 January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

One bedroom apartment in city centre

THB 21,500

One bedroom apartment outside of city centre

THB 10,500

Three bedroom apartment in city centre

THB 59,000

Three bedroom apartment outside of city centre

THB 27,600

Groceries

Dozen eggs

THB 54

1 litre milk

THB 52

Loaf of bread (white)

THB 43

Chicken breasts (1kg)

THB 85

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

THB 150

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

THB 1.80

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

THB 660

Basic utilities (average for a standard household)

THB 3,000

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant 

THB 810

Take-away meal 

THB 180

Cappuccino

THB 67

Coca Cola (500ml)

THB 18

Domestic beer

THB 65

Transportation

Taxi rate per km

THB 35

City centre train fare

THB 33

Petrol (per litre)

THB 27

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