Thailand is a growing economy and a fast becoming a very popular place to live. Unfortunately for expats, living costs aren’t as cheap as they once were, and with the decline of the US dollar the squeeze is on. However, with a budget of $500 per month it is still very possible to live a reasonably good life in Thailand, either in the capital, Bangkok, up North in Chiang Mai, or on one of the islands like Koh Samui or Phuket. Here is our guide to the best way to live in Thailand on $500 per month.
Don’t book accommodation through an agency or via the web because you will pay a premium and be offered the highest rates. Condominium blocks are going up daily all over Thailand and competition for renters is rife. The best deals aren’t to be found online, although, that said, do look on forums and Thai blogs for advice from other expats who know of good local deals in your province of choice.
Pay no more than 5,000 Baht for a studio room in a new block with cable TV and a balcony. Electric, water and Internet access will cost no more than 1,500 Baht, although to save money get a fan and spare the air con (a saving of approximately 500 Baht.
= $200 Per Month
In Bangkok taxis are very cheap, but to save even more money stick mainly to the BTS and MRT train services. Steer clear of Tuk Tuks because they generally rip foreigners off, and only use motorbike taxis for small journeys of 20 Baht or so. Transport should cost you no more than 100 Baht per day.
On the islands and in places like Chiang Mai, you will need to rent a moped. Opt for a semi-automatic Honda Wave. They might be slightly older in design, but they are much cheaper to rent and ultra reliable. Pay no more than 3000 Baht a month (2500 in some areas).
= $100 Per Month
Food and Drink
Eating is really cheap if you eat from the food stalls. Everything you need is available. Fresh fruit, organic vegetables, BBQ chicken, rice, pad Thai, and if you like spicy then you are in luck. Alternatively, Tesco offer some great prices on vegetables and things like chicken breasts and eggs. For 100 Baht you can buy 2 chicken breasts and a mixture of five packets of vegetables. Steer clear of alcohol because this will suck your money. Water costs 1 Baht per litre from machines and is very cheap by the bottle. Buy a 2-litre bottle of water per day for 14 Baht. With this plan you will need about 200 Baht for food and drink per day.
= $210 Per Month
Total Monthly Living Cost = $510
Okay, so we went $10 over, but with a fluctuating exchange rate it’s roundabout $500. As you can see, for this sort of cash you don’t get much of a social life, but then you don’t need much money to enjoy yourself in Thailand; it’s one of those places where a simply stroll through a market or meeting outside with friends is entertainment enough. However, if you can muscle up another $200 you will be able to afford a couple of nights out and some shopping treats here and there.