The low cost of living in Thailand is undoubtedly one of the most significant draws. Many people move here to simultaneously slash their living expenses and boost their quality of life.

Realistically, your cost of living in Thailand can be about as low or high as you want it to be. Foreigners generally opt to spend a bit less and live a bit better than they do in their home countries.

If you’re wondering if it’s still possible to live on a thousand dollars a month, the answer is yes – most Thais do it.

We’ve written this article with the intent to help you estimate your cost of living in Thailand, with tips and knowledge from our own learned experience.

Assumptions

If you’re applying this guide to yourself, here are a few things to bear in mind:

This budget is unrealistic for those who want an extravagant lifestyle. If you’re eating Western food every meal, staying in a fancy condo, and spending every night bar hopping, you’ll have to up your budget.

We assume most people are renting and holding more typical Thai visas (Retirement Visa, Education Visa, etc).

Accommodation – $200

Being one of your biggest expenses, the accommodation you choose is important.

Outside of Bangkok, accommodation is reasonably priced. It is essential that you get a rental contract no shorter than a month if you want to save money.

The most common duration contracts are month-to-month, six-monthly, and yearly. The longer the contract, the better the value.

The best ways to find accommodation are by asking locals, checking google maps and just walking around the area and asking staff at different apartment complexes or guesthouses.

We have a complete blog on finding a rental in Chaing Mai, that is relevant to the rest of Thailand.

Food – $200

Alongside accommodation, this will be one of your biggest expenses.

If you mainly eat Thai food, two hundred dollars is a comfortable monthly budget (outside of Bangkok).

Western food is much more expensive than Thai food, and generally not to the standard you’ll be used to. Fine dining costs almost as much as in the West.

Generally, people eat out for most meals. Street food markets and local restaurants are the standard choices among foreigners and Thais alike.

If you want to cook, markets are the best place to shop if you want the biggest range of fresh and local produce.

Transportation – $100

Getting around in Thailand is generally easy. Most either opt to rent a scooter by the month, or take Grabs and songtaews (pick-up truck rideshares) anywhere they can’t walk.

Renting a scooter cost around ฿3500 ($100) per month, plus petrol. Songtaews are ฿30 for shorter trips and Grabs vary but are affordable.

Visa – $90

Visa costs vary a lot, so we’ll assume you’re on the most expensive common visa, the Education (ED) Visa. With classes included, expect to pay around $90 a month.

Most other visas cost around ฿2000 ($60) to apply for, then renew every 90 days. The most notable exception is the Elite Visa, which costs around $240 a month for the 10-year option.

Miscellaneous – $65

This category is hard to estimate by virtue of it being miscellaneous – but for general expenses such as toiletries, gym membership, and an annual dentist checkup, $65 seems fair.

If you’re traveling around, doing extra activities, or going out lots, this can be a lot more.

Here are a few once-off and monthly expenses:

  • Teeth clean and checkup – ฿800 ($25)
  • Appointment with a specialist doctor (private clinic) – ฿300 ($9)
  • One month of daily Muay Thai training – ฿4500 ($130)
  • Monthly gym membership – ฿1000 ($30)
  • Monthly membership at a coworking space – ฿3500 ($100)
  • Men’s haircut – ฿200 ($6)
  • 1kg of bananas – ฿10 (30¢)
  • Insurance – $45

This varies depending on where you are from, your age, and more. For this reason, we’ve given the price of SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance.

If you are living in Thailand long-term, getting Thai insurance is another option that we will explore in a future blog.

The Total

Excluding coworking and Muay Thai, my monthly expenses are around $700.

Assuming that you have less than $300 worth of activities and miscellaneous expenses, it’s safe to say that living on $1000 a month is definitely possible.

The one big factor is location. These expenses are based on living in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. If you’re in Southern Thailand or Bangkok your cost of living might be a bit higher.

Affordable Locations in Thailand

As mentioned, the cost of living will vary depending on where you are staying in Thailand.

The more affordable regions are Northern Thailand and Isaan, however, any areas outside of Bangkok and the main touristy islands can be cheap.

If you want to migrate around Thailand, as many do to escape the North’s burning season, deals can be found on many of the islands as the burning season (March-April) starts around the same time as the low season.

As for particular places, we have an entire blog on the best five affordable places to live in Thailand. If you are budgeting or would just like to keep expenses low, any of these would be a great option.

What is Your Cost of Living?

Naturally, the cost of living varies greatly between lifestyles and locations, this article should give you a good idea of your base cost of living and a few ways to save money.

If you want to learn more, read or Thailand articles or get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help you make the move or make the process easier with our learned experience.

Want to move to Thailand?

If you’re interested in moving to Thailand but are unsure about a few things – visas, banking, safety, scams, dating, accommodation and more.

Check out our comprehensive Thailand guide: The Need to Know of Moving to Thailand

Check it out