How Much Will I Need to Live in Thailand Comfortably?

Posted on January 2nd, 2010 By Under Thailand

I get this question a lot. I received it in the Ask Away Round 2 post, as well, so I figured I might as well make a post about it to welcome in my first post of the new year.

When I came to Thailand over 3 years ago, I came as an exchange student. I was lucky enough to be placed with a host family that took me in, cared for me, and paid most expenses (food, shelter, fun, etc). That year, the most expensive thing I bought was an iPod. Other than that, I didn’t spend much money. A few dollars a day tops. Lunch at my exchange school was less than a buck per day, and phone service was pay as you go (pre-paid sims) cost me a couple dollars a day. I was easily living off less than $100 a day.

When I started going to college, besides my tuition expenses, I still wasn’t paying a lot for anything. I was outside of Bangkok, so that certainly lowered rent rates (I lived in a couple places in my time there, both under $200). Food there is cheap as always. Most of my meals were 1-2 dollars. I’d spend $3-4 on a burger meal if I really craved it. During this time I was a freelance writer, and that made me about $1000 a month (I was lazy; didn’t write a lot). In this case here, I lived off about $800 a month, give or take some.

I moved to Bangkok, before I really started balling, and things got a little more expensive. My room got smaller and stayed around $200 per month. Luckily, I lived next to a few mom and pop restaurants, which provided me food at around a dollar or two per meal. I also lived within walking distance to my school cafeteria with lots of different Thai and international food. 7/11 was around the corner and I’d spend a couple of bucks there everyday. Bangkok, however, has many more attractions. Night clubs, shopping, better restaurants and transportation. I started spending a lot more to go out with friends. I was over the $1000 mark now. Probably around $1500.

And now, well, I’ve got a two-bedroom condo, party a lot more, eat at better restaurants, order in often (thanks to ChefsXP.com), and generally throw away my money at stupid thing because I can. I worked hard for that privilege though.

So how much do you need to live comfortably in Thailand? Well, thats all based around location and what you plan on doing. Living outside of the “farang” infested areas will keep your comfort level pretty good at under $1000. Chiang Mai and Hua Hin might be good examples for that. Stick to Bangkok if you got a little extra to blow. I’d say depending on whether or not you plan on partying a lot, buy a ton of hookers and blow (ick), and if you can stomach Thai food or just have to have your daily fix of Starbucks and Burger King, you could live with $1500 – $3000 a month.

There are farang that live here off less than that, and I used to be one of them, so my statement here is just a typical observation.

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Post Comments


  1. Wilco says:

    Thailand is still on my top-3 "to visit" list.. I have been there for a couple of days on my way to Sydney, and like you're writing: It was SO cheap! The 6 months I lived/traveled in Sydney/Australia cost me ± 20k USD, so approximately 3500 USD a month.. Still my favorite destination though :-)

  2. The Guy says:

    Dude, I thought in Thailand or China the government would chop your head off if you did blow or got caught with it? Risky business for a fast high…

  3. shawns says:

    ha, yeah, ever seen brokedown palace? no way I'd ever get close to drugs in thailand.

    how much does broadband internet cost?

  4. Finch says:

    That's crazy low prices.

    Even when I was in my full time job, paying no rent at my mum's house, I'd still spend over £1400/month (about $2200) just going out in London.

    We're paying about $2500/month between us on rent at the moment in my current house. Plus a shit load on bills and the cost of living when I go out.

    I might have to move to Thailand.

  5. Martynez says:

    Why you guys love to go Thailand instead of Malaysia ?

  6. itchy says:

    Justin's right you could easily do thailand form $1k a month up including all expenses. thats the basics then scale upwards from that depending on how much you want to party/drink/live it up. i'm running at about $1.5k a month down on the islands but i run a 4 bedroom house, 4×4 and like a drink with my mates.

  7. Justin Dupre says:

    @The Guy – Yeah, that was a joke. I'd never want to get caught with a large amount of drugs on me. I'm pretty sure you can get out of having a tiny bit of weed on you if you can bribe the cop, but I don't mess with that stuff. Too much drama!

    @Finch – Do it. We affiliate bloggers gotta party. Lol.

    @Martynez – I was in Malaysia for a few hours, just at the airport, but I wasn't very impressed by it. No jetways, for one, looked even more unorganized than here, and Thai girls are cute :p. I'm sure Malaysia has it's own shine, but that certainly isn't anywhere near the airport.

    @itchy – When you gonna come back up to BKK and show me what you were working on ;)

  8. Kevin says:

    It's great however be careful, HIV is extremely rampant there. My advice to anyone is to stay the fuck away from gogo bars unless you're there just to look and not touch.

  9. Diana says:

    thanks for the tips on being an expat here.

    very valuable for someone like me who just moved here

  10. NoneZero says:

    I'm Thai and work as an affiliate marketer like you guys. Normally I spend $300 a month (not include accommodations). I would recommend you to visit south of Thailand, there have a lot of beautiful beaches and islands. I hope you will come here once in your life.

    @shawns : It's cost about $20 a month for 3m ADSL with unlimited data transfer.

    @Kevin : That's true. You will be safe as long as you keep away from that place and protect yourself.

  11. Joe says:

    Always good to read how others to things in Thailand.

    From my experience out in Bangkok I reckon 50,000 baht a month would give you an ok quality of life and double that would give you a good quality of life with money left over for the odd holiday or trip.

    Anything western out here is pretty expensive including clothes and food.

  12. Hmong Yang says:

    I was born in Thailand and moved here to the USA in 1996. And yes, living in the Bangkok is like living in Vagas here the USA. My dream is to live like you back in Thailand. Hopefully the next 3 years I could live like you in Thailand. Keep up the work.

  13. Don't talk about banned substances. You never know who is monitoring this blog. You can blow lots of money in Bangkok in one night if you go to an expensive disco. And if you go 4 to 6 times a month, it can be as high as 2-3K. Of course there cheaper places for party too. Bangkok is for everybody. You can live comfortably for about $2,000

    But I hate the Bangkok Summer. It is just so too hot. Cannot go out anywhere during the day. I wonder how Justin, from Minnesota, can stay there in the Summer. Well, I think you get used to once you start living there.

    I think I will alternate between USA and Thailand. Go to Thailand when it is snowing here and come back to Chicago when it is hot there.

  14. Jess Webb says:

    Hi Justin!

    Love this post about Thailand! Haven't been there yet, but my partner and I have been talking about it, so it's nice to hear an inside scoop on what it can cost, etc. :)

  15. dearn lite says:

    Stay out of Thailand, we dont want you here. You wont have to listen to us, only hear the truth. Thailand is unbelievably hot, I mean to the point of making you sick. The misquitoes will bite you on your eye balls so forget ever being without them, even indoors. The food in Thailand is beyond what you think is hot. I can eat Thai peppers raw in America, not the same damn hottness used in Thailand. AIDS is abundant, as is yellow fever, malaria, and typhoid fever.

    Lastly, go to a 5 star hotel, fill the bath with water and see if you want to wask yourself in brown water that they say is clean.

    Been there, done that, smarter for it. Don't walk, run.

    • Justin Dupre says:

      Bad experience with a ladyboy, right?

    • jay says:

      LOL You must be the only person i have ever met who has been (if you indeed have) and say this. The comments you have made are simply not true. Brown water? I had a house built in Chaiyaphum and before it was completed we used to wash with water from an open natural Well and it was crystal clear! You are talking rubbish. AIDS is not rife either as you have stated.

  16. Jay says:

    I stay there for 5 Months a year and it can be done very inexpensively if you can follow a certain plan. Number one don't get involved with a bar girl. They will drain you of as much cash as possible. 2 Eat where the Thai people do. At markets & from the street. 3. Rent an Apartment on a Monthly basis. 7,000 baht should get you a very nice one with Internet connection and a lockable (exterior padlock) door. Stock up your fridge with water and beer from the Supermarket instead of paying more for it from the 7/11's. I can speak Thai very well and that makes a difference to how much i pay for things sometimes also. so try to learn some basics.

    Shop around for the best exchange rate when you change money. Don't be scared about trying some of the off the track places like Chaiyaphum or Udon, Buriram etc. Udon is the biggest NE City and is a great place to go and its very cheap!

  17. Lena says:

    Hey there!!! My mom just finished building a house in Thailand to retire in but she won't be retiring for another 5 years. I have decided to move move there for 6 months and just chill. I was born in Thailand and grew up in California but I was 10 since I was last there. So I am not too familiar about living and costs. Have of course asked my mom but her expenses are out of this world, so it's not relevant to me unfortunately.

    So my question is, for living there in Ratchaburi (central Thailand), free housing and no bills. Basically food per month and eating out a little here and there, how much should I expect to spend a month to be able to live comfortably? I am talking about basic living. I don't need to live the life. I love being in nature so I can find lots of stuff to entertain me.

    I look forward to a reply. Thanks so much!

    • Justin Dupre says:

      I can't imagine there is a lot to spend money on in Ratchaburi. There is the floating market, but you're still 80 – 120km outside of BKK depending where exacctly you live. You could easily live there off 1k usd a month, but probably less.

  18. Colin says:

    Hey, yeh – one of my friends is moving out there to teach English tomorrow. I hope to be going on a visit in the next few months when she's settled. Can't wait – see a bit of Vietnam as well at the same time, Hong Kong and possible Japan depending on time. I'm thinking of moving there myself so we could maybe hook up for a pint :)

  19. johnny says:

    justin your a legend,,a true gent

  20. Sindre says:

    You should fix your link to the LP store in this post, since it's one of your "popular posts" :)

  21. Crocodile says:

    It's kind of sad but bottom line is that thais hate farangs (foreigners). Some thais may pretend otherwise if it's good for their interests atm. Propably some brainwash thing, feeded to them in early age. Money = Good, Farang = Bad.

    As long as you keep spending they might keep pretending. I'm not talking prostitutes here. Actually in that sector someone may actually like you 99% don't. (And no, haven't had any "heart problems" in thailaaand)

    You will realize this sooner or later. If you're drunk or stoned all the time I think it's ok. It really doesn't matter much then where you at.

    Land of smiles = land of sad clowns.

    Wider the smile, bigger the problem you're in.

    Good place for a holiday, gives your brains a rest, since it's impossible to think.

    There's better tropical destinations available. Thailand sucks ass.

    Just a heads up that it's not what you think it is.

    • Justin Dupre says:

      You sound like one sad little chump. You\’re definitely hanging out with the wrong people at the wrong places if you feel like everyone hates you.

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