BKK Living

The Average Cost of Living in Thailand 2016

โพสต์ ตุลาคม 3, 2016


Thailand is one of the most popular destinations around the world for retirees and digital nomads to live. In order to save costs, experience a near culture and live in another country, they flock to Thailand. The cost of living in Thailand is very cheap. However, many people assume that the cost of living means enjoying a very comfortable life as an expat. This results in most of them running out of money in a foreign country with no job, and no friends or family to turn to for help.

The advantage is that the cost of living is far lower than in countries such as the United States, Germany, Australia or the United Kingdom. However, you still have to spend money and establish a budget, limit expenses and handle daily financial chores. There’s a need to understand the financial system and also the new currency if you just moved to Thailand.  

In 2016, the average cost of living in Thailand about 43% lower than in the United States for all cities (not including rent) while rent in Thailand is about 62% lower than in the United States. There are many provinces aside from Bangkok that are popular places to retire. To further explain the details for each province, we will cite Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai as some of those areas popular with expats.

Bangkok Cost of Living

According to research, Bangkok has the highest average cost of living in Thailand compared to those other 3 provinces we mentioned. The capital city provides a lot of things to an expat used to the basic necessities back home. Top on the list of living expenses is groceries, next is rent and then food and entertainment. Bangkok apartments come in different prices so this will all depend on the type of accommodation you prefer to stay. To give comparisons, presuming you enjoy an average standard of living in Europe or the US, Canada or Australia, you will need these average amounts to stay in Bangkok.  

For a single male/female in Bangkok – ฿50,000, for couples – ฿75,000, a couple with baby under 2 years old in Bangkok – ฿80,000. This includes rent, food, Internet access, gym membership and going out socializing once/twice a week. It’s also worth bearing in mind that expenses do pop up here and there, and you’ll need to make provision for these. Think visa run/renewal expenses, travel/medical insurance, replacing a broken phone or computer, etc. So make sure you have some back up savings for emergencies. Keep in mind that these amounts are given to compare similar average standard of living in other western countries.

One of the reasons expats would choose Bangkok is convenience. The choice of international schools, hospitals and even overall entertainment and lifestyle. Although it is worth it to mention that many are becoming tired of the constant traffic and pollution in the city.

Phuket Cost of Living

The island paradise comes at a cost that might be too much for some expats relying only on their retirement funds. However, if you don’t mind not being that close to the beach area, then cost of living in Phuket is affordable. For example, you would need around ฿35,000 in Phuket to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with ฿50,000 in Bangkok (assuming you rent in both cities). When it comes to fast food, Phuket has the 1st most expensive McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal), restaurants in South-Eastern Asia out of 26 cities). This might be because of the high number of expats and tourists who come to the island.

Similar to Bangkok, Phuket’s cost of living ranks groceries/markets as the most amount people spend for in a month. The second one is rent and then transportation. Since Phuket is an island, it is very important to have your own transportation. Many people rent motorbikes or cars, but it is cheaper to buy second hand transportation or even a brand new one because of the option to sell it if you need to leave Thailand.

Pattaya Cost of Living


This resort city on the east coast of the gulf of Thailand has the reputation of being the sex capital of Thailand. This might be the first reason to not choose this city to find a home, however, when you get out of the main city, you’ll find Pattaya has more to offer than bars and pubs. It also has quiet beaches, a growing number of cultural and action-packed attractions and international restaurants. It is also only about an hour away from Bangkok, so the convenience of going to the capital city is also an advantage.

The cost of living in Pattaya is about 12% lower than in Bangkok. This means that you’d need about ฿44,000 to live in a lifestyle similar to what ฿50,000 you would spend in Bangkok. Pattaya has the 2nd least expensive chicken breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg) in the world. Similar to Bangkok and Phuket, markets/groceries is the most expensive expense, followed by rent and then transportation.

Chiang Mai Cost of Living

Living in Thailand means you get to have the best of this tropical country. It might be known for its beautiful beaches, but the northern part offers amazing weather, natural sceneries and cheaper cost of living. Chiang Mai is one of the most popular cities in the north of Thailand for expats to retire and live. The cost of living in Chiang Mai is about 6% lower than in Pattaya. That means that you would need about ฿40,000 compared to ฿50,000 in Bangkok to enjoy similar lifestyle. Research shows that Chiang Mai has the 7th least expensive meal, inexpensive restaurant in the world (out of 599 cities). Similar to all the previous cities, market/grocery is the top expense followed by rent and then transportation. It is also important to note that many expats love Chiang Mai because of its weather. The cooler climate is definitely a big advantage compared to the middle or southern part provinces.

As with most cost of living estimates, we can say that the amounts we have listed is very generous already. If you are single and living in one of these cities, there is even a possibility of living with significantly less amount than what we mentioned. It all depends on what kind of lifestyle you would prefer. The cost of living in Thailand is still generally cheaper than most countries, and with fascinating culture, amazing food and beautiful sceneries, it is a great place to call home.

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