Updated: Mar 7
Thailand is a popular spot for expats working abroad here and a popular travel destination. Why is it so popular? To answer simply it is because the cost of living and the lifestyle here. In regards to just the pure cost of living here that is why Thailand is so enjoyable for me. I don't have to worry about my expenses, I can go out, I can treat myself with trips, buy souvenirs, clothes, try out lots of restaurants, go out drinking for a night, gym memberships, and island getaways to name a few.
I come from the USA and expenses are generally higher in the United States and it is certainly much higher than the cost of living in Europe as well. I grew up being used to things like Americans will have loans, debt, high costs for health care, high rent, going on vacations are expensive, the high cost for women's products, and the list goes on and on. I did my research before moving to Thailand a year ago and read that the cost of living in Thailand is low. Once I arrived I was shocked and pleased. I was living a life of comfort and financial security.
What is the true cost of living then in Thailand?
The cost of living would be different for everyone because not everyone has the same lifestyle. I can tell you though that the expenses everyone will pay are very similar though. Generally if you teach English you can expect to make anywhere from 30,000 baht to 35,000 baht 967 USD to 1,130 USD as a native English speaker from the UK, Australia, or the USA. This might sound low to you but let me break it down for you. In Thailand you can live very comfortably by using 20,000 baht of your paycheck. This would be at the higher end of living more luxurious, but this is doable. These expenses include food, rent, food, phone bill, transportation costs, and hobbies or trips. I certainly spend a lower amount and it is because I live outside of Bangkok and away from the touristy spots. The cost of living in Bangkok is a bit higher and can vary due to your lifestyle, and if you live in places like Krabi, Phuket other beach towns they offer much more luxurious housing and condos that can really vary in price. I have spent as low as 12,000 baht for my monthly budget and as high as 15,000 baht personally. When I spent 15,000 for a month I paid for rent, phone, food, a couple weekend trips, night out drinking, special restaurants, and bought various things at the malls in Bangkok too. Essentially all of your expenses as an English teacher are affordable to you with your income in Thailand.
1 month expenses break down
Rent average cost 3,000 -5,000 baht (96 USD to 160 USD) for an apartment one bedroom most include all utilities, water, electric, laundry machines on site, and some include wifi
Food average 5,000 baht (160 USD) per month (each dish averaging at 100 baht each, this is a higher estimate)
Phone bill 500-1,000 baht (16 USD to 30 USD) the cost really depends how much data and calling you wish
Transport tuk tuk rides outside of tourist places 40-80 baht (1 USD to 2.50 USD), taxi in the city meter starts at 35 baht (1 USD) and is 5.50 per 1/km, sky train is 40-100 per trip or they have day passes or you can buy monthly passes to save. There are songthaews which is a truck that transports all around and are extremely cheap (also crowded) it costs anywhere from 8 baht to 40 baht (.25 cents to 1 USD) wow! In the cities there are many modes of transport like buses and trains, but as you can see it is all very affordable.
Doctor visit with no insurance 300 baht - 1,000 baht for a general check up for cold, sore throat, flu, dengue fever checks at a government hospital (noted in tourist hotspots it is more expensive and harder to give an estimate.) In really touristy places they assume people have insurance. Also, the international hospitals vary significantly in price and the region. Cost is still extremely low compared to the US prices.
Cost of hotel one bedroom per night 500 to 1000 baht 16 USD to 30 USD
Hostel stays around 100 to 400 baht 3-12 USD per night in a dorm style
Cost of alcohol. A cocktail will be anywhere from 100- 300 baht ( 3 USD to 10 USD) and a Chang or Leo beer will be 70-100 baht ( 2 USD to 3 USD).
When I lived in the USA I worked full time while attending college at some points and had little money for extra expenses like hobbies, concerts, traveling around the US, and the list goes on. My lifestyle wasn't the most ideal, however I didn't know of anything different. I had never experienced a more affordable lifestyle and it is not to bash the US, but just to show you that the Thai lifestyle has brought me to a more financially secure spot. Whilst living in Thailand I also had to pay back my student loans and I could still pay my loan payments, go on weekend getaways, eat any food I wished, go to the gym, and visit the city.
The low cost of living is why Thailand is such an enjoyable experience for me and I know a lot of other expats here feel the same way. Hopefully travel will return to a more normal state and if you wish you can make this your reality too.