Is Thailand a place you see yourself living in one day? Do you want to come over to work? Travel long-term? Maybe you’re just going to be a here for a month but are curious on costs and have a few questions.
Well, I’ve been living here for about four years. On and off, but mostly on. I surely don’t know everything, nobody ever does, but I hope this answers some of your questions.
The Cost to Live in Thailand and Other FAQ
*Are things like… normal out there? Do they have malls? Real restaurants? Do you live in huts?
Yes. I live in a hut and wash myself using the collected raindrops from the previous night and shave my armpits with a blade from a prickly plant. I also set up rabbit traps to catch my dinner and the only “mall” in the area is in the jungle where people meet up and trade their most precious fortunes for something new that you might be willing to barter with.
I kid, I kid! Things are pretty regular out here in terms of having what I need to live. I have a roof over my head, stores in the area, restaurants, and other such things that common towns and cities have.
I really can’t go into great detail here, because it would take forever, but let’s say that yes, Thailand has everything you could possibly need, just like you have back home (“need” being the key word here). BUT…with that said… once you move out here, like me and many others, you will surely learn to live without many things. It’s a simpler life, unless you have more money to spend.
* Where do you eat?
There are plenty of restaurants and markets galore in this country. All are very accessible and plentiful. They love food. Like… Really love food. It’s never more than a few yards to the next eatery. Their malls often have a food court on every floor.
The local food is yummy and cheap, especially at the markets. Don’t be afraid to eat at the markets. Why do you think all the locals eat there?
* Is it easy to get a job in Thailand?
Sure is, if you have the basic qualifications. Teaching English in Thailand the most common job foreigners obtain.
* How are the people in Thailand? Do they speak English?
Generally speaking, they are amicable. Their English skills could be better considering the amount of tourism they have, but in the bigger cities and more touristy areas, yes, they speak enough English. Always smile, as that goes a long way, and never lose your cool. Here are a few basic rules to live by while staying in Thailand.
*Do I need a visa?
Yes and no. It depends on how long you want to stay. Many countries get a free 30 days, but anything after that you’ll need to pay for a visa. I have more info on that here. Another option for those wanting to integrate themselves into the culture better and wanting to say for a long period of time is to take Thai lessons. Not only will you be learning the language, but enrolling in a class give you an extended visa.
*What’s up with the toilets?
They usually have regular western toilets, but sometimes you come across a “squatty potty.” Essentially it’s a ceramic hole in the ground. Crouch over it and do your business. Yes, you need to take that bucket and use the water to flush the toilet. There’s also a “bum gun” which is often used instead of toilet paper. Don’t put toilet paper in the toilets when it stays to NOT put it in there. The drains can clog.
* How’s the internet situation?
Wifi is everywhere, most guesthouses and cafes have it. It sometimes sucks, but more often than not it is decent enough.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Thailand
* Gimme Estimates on What I Can Expect to Pay for Things…
Here is a rundown of things you might purchase out here and how much they are.
(Prices are an estimate only. The city you are in will make a difference in what you pay and how good your bargaining skills are- don’t be a douche, bargain nicely.)
You can eat a pad thai (fried noodle dish) or a fried rice for about a $1. (at a market)
If you eat these dishes at a regular restaurant, on the beach, or in a high tourist area, you might pay about $2-3+.
Fruit shake (with real actual fruit)- $.60-1.50
Veggies at the market- Pretty cheap. I can come home with a selection of veggies for about $3-4. Example: A head of lettuce, a carrot, some tomatoes, onions, a bulb of garlic, a few small potatoes, a lime, and even 10 eggs!
Fresh Coffee- $1.25+
Western meal- $4-5+ (burger, spaghetti)
Transportation Tip for Thailand:
While you can simply book at the pier, bus or train station, you may want to book ahead for certain legs of your journey to guarantee that you get a seat on the day you need to travel. 12go.asia is the best way to do this. Book your next trip ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about.
An overnight train/bus- average of $15 (depending on the class, could be cheaper/more expensive)
A minibus from Bangkok to Ayutthaya (about 1 hour)- $2
A motorbike taxi a few kilometers away- $1- $2
A bus + ferry ride from Bangkok to Koh Chang (Island about 6 hours away) – $12
Here are more specifics on Thailand’s transportation.
A new dress- $5+
A new tank top – $3-5
Flowy hippy pants – $4-5
Local markets are the best for food and shopping. You will always find cheaper prices there.
You can find room for $5, $15, $50, and even $500. What are your needs? What city are you in? Here are some averages.
$5-7 will probably get you your own room and bathroom, if you’re in a pricer area, you might be sharing a bathroom.
$15 will get you your own room, bathroom, and aircon.
$50 will get you a really nice spot, probably a view, definitely aircon, maid service daily, and some other perks like breakfast.
If you’re spending $500 a night on accommodation, you’re not reading this blog, that’s for sure.
Traipsing around on foot will find you your best deal, but you can get a preview of places and prices at Agoda.com.
*What About the Cost of Fun Stuff?
It all depends! Here are some examples…
I paid $20 for a half day cooking course in Chiang Mai, $30 for a half day rock climb in Railay with gear and guide, $12 for an Island tour in Krabi, an entrance fee to a national park ranges from $5-$15 or so, and a traditional Sak Yant tattoo will set you back anywhere from $100-$1000. No matter what, a Thailand travel guide can’t tell you how much you’ll spend on this, only you do. What fun things to you want to do and how you do them will all vary and therefore the cost!
*What’s the Cheapest Area?
The north is known for being the cheapest.
*What’s an Apartment like There and How Much?
Not bad actually! I have really liked all my apartments while living here. I was of course on a budget, so yes, you can get much nicer spots, but you will, of course, pay more.
So, How Much Does It Cost to Live in Thailand? There’s No One Price, but…
These are a few of my past apartments…They were located central, south, and north, respectively, in the country. So hopefully that gives you an idea of the different areas and what they offer, too. Prices include my water and electricity (average per month). I used a fan as opposed to aircon to save money as it can get pricey to cool a room, especially when it seeps outside the door and window framing! All places came furnished to some degree and had hot water, and wifi.
– This was a Thai house that was broken into smaller units. $150/ month in Ayutthaya.
I had “two rooms.” There was an entrance room/”kitchen”/ living area, and then when you walked around the half wall, there was the bedroom. I had a closet room right before the bathroom. There was a manual flush toilet (you pour water into the toilet) at this house which was the only small downfall. “Kitchen” meant a folding table and a fridge were included.
– This apartment was very centrally located. $180/ month in Krabi.
I had “two rooms” again. An area where there was a place for a kitchen (aka a counter with a sink), a small living area, and the other room (room separated by a shower curtain) was where my dresser, desk, and bed was. I had a huge bathroom here.
– This one is a house! My own Thai style house! $130/ month in Pai.
The downstairs has a bathroom, a kitchen area, and living space. Upstairs has a small balcony and the bedroom. It came complete with critters like tokays, snakes, and baby geckos that fuck on my ceiling. It’s like living in a Nat Geo special, but I really like this house!
I have had other apartments that were all similar to the one’s mentioned above. Kitchens are not a standard thing. You might get a small fridge. You usually have to supply the hot plate/gas stove, dishes, toaster, and other kitchen supplies. Don’t even think about an oven or stove top, dishwasher, or a proper kitchen in general. You might not even have a kitchen sink. In my first studio apartment, I had to crouch down like a monkey on my balcony and wash my dishes under an outside water-spout. Either that or wash them in the bathroom sink.
Another thing to mention, most of the bathrooms here are actually wet-rooms. Everything gets wet. The toilet, the sink, and the shower are all enclosed in one room and it’s all open. Say goodbye to bathtubs and shower curtains.
Of course, if you’re only willing to live it up in luxury there are plenty of places to choose from. A Bangkok condo will surely offer you the most luxury, but it won’t be on a backpacker budget, that’s for sure! It will also be the most expensive place to live in the whole country. If you just want to visit, here’s a shortcut guide to Bangkok so you can see it but save your money to live elsewhere.
*Omg… Can You Just Give Me a Damn Number? How Much Does It Cost to Live in Thailand?!
There were times where I was living on $10 a day! That’s food and room only.
It would be more like $15-20 if I were to average in random activities.
A Safe Number to Average per Day Would Be $30.
Remember renting a house or apartment will get you more for your money and average less. I would pay nothing more than $6 a day for my apartments and you can’t really get much under $5 at a guesthouse. My places always were way better than a guesthouse room.
Here are some more tips on being budget conscious in general.
Hopefully, this helped in figuring out “how much does it cost to live in Thailand,”and any other questions you may have had, but remember everyone lives differently and different cities offer different prices.
Where will you go after Thailand?
Feel free to ask questions about living in Thailand in the comments!
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!