The Cost of Living in Thailand - Food, Rent, Travel + Transport

With the exception of occasional political unrest in certain parts of the country, Thailand is an excellent place for British expatriates to live. Living and traveling in Thailand provides an excellent value compared to other popular expat destinations. Here's a look at standard costs of living and traveling in Thailand.

Housing - Average Rents

As long as you're not living in Bangkok's central business district – by far the most expensive place to live in all of Thailand – you should be able to rent an apartment for just a few thousand baht per month. At the low end, you can get a cheap room with basic facilities and a fridge for 5,000 – 10,000 baht per month. That translates to £96 - £194 per month. Accommodations that more closely resemble western comforts start at around 15,000 baht, or £290 per month. If you really want luxury, expect to pay around 30,000 baht, or £580 per month. Within Bangkok, prices go up the closer you are to a Skytrain or MTR station. Given the horrid traffic in Bangkok, if you plan to commute to a job each day, you'll want to live near the Skytrain. One neighbourhood popular with expats is Sukhumvit. Dotted with Skytrain stops, westerners tend to gravitate to this area especially.

Outside of Bangkok, prices are generally a bit lower, but it depends upon the region. For example, you can find extremely basic, one-room 'apartments' for only 1,000 baht, or £19 per month.

If you're looking to purchase a home in Thailand, find a qualified real estate agent. Also keep in mind that Thailand has different types of laws regarding property ownership and eminent domain, so you might also want to enlist local legal help or a lawyer familiar with Thai law to assist you in the process of purchasing a home. Thai friends are also very helpful when it comes to negotiating and investigating prices. Not only do they know the culture better than you do, real estate agents, leasing agents, and homebuilders are less likely to assume they can take advantage of them.

Utility Bills and Food

When it comes to bills in Thailand, it all depends upon how much you use your air conditioning. Power in Thailand is increasingly expensive, so you can expect to pay at least 400 baht per month, but as much as 4,000 baht if you live in a large place.

When it comes to internet, you'll want to spend extra for DSL. Expect to pay 1,000 – 2,000 baht per month. Mobile phones tend to be pretty cheap in Thailand, but watch out for unfair roaming charges. Thailand's mobile phone companies haven't caught up to the west yet in that regard.

One of the major benefits of living in Thailand is the high-quality food that comes at a very reasonable price. For the equivalent of 60p, you can pick up a hearty meal of rice or noodles from a street vendor. At nice restaurants, you might pay 100 baht for your meal, or just under £2! European food is also available in Thailand, and this tends to be more expensive than the Thai food. When it comes to drinks, a beer should cost around 60 baht, or £1.15. Speaking of drinking, it's a very good idea to drink bottled water while you live or travel in Thailand.

Transportation

The most common form of transportation in Thailand is a scooter / motorbike. If you decide to rent a scooter for the times you won't be taking the Skytrain, or if you live in an area of Thailand that doesn't have much public transportation, you can expect to pay around 2,200 baht per month, plus 700 baht per month in gas. This totals to about £56. You should know that you need an international license or a license from your own country; driving without a license will get you arrested.

Of course, you might be able to live without a motorbike, and just get around on the train, by foot, or by taxi. 'Thai style' driving is a bit frightening, so sticking with the trains as much as possible is probably a wise idea. Insurance will also not cover you if you have an accident on a rented motorbike, even if they claim that they will. This is important information to keep in mind.

In summary, once you arrive in Thailand, you can live or travel very cheaply. The most expensive part of your journey should be the plane ticket itself. Once you arrive, you can live quite comfortably on less than 20,000 baht per month, or £400. Even if you live luxuriously, you can still get away with living for less than £1,000 per month.

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