How much does it cost to live well in Thailand?
There are lots of articles out there that go over a budget in Thailand where you can get by for 20,000-30,000 Baht per month. Since many Thai’s don’t even make half that as a salary it’s certainly possible to live on that amount. But who cares? OK so it would cost 20,000 Baht not to be homeless or starve, but who wants to come to Thailand just for that? I think the more important amount is how much would it cost to actually LIVE WELL in Thailand. Obviously it’s a very broad and general topic because Thailand is a large country and there are different prices throughout. Everyone also has their own opinions on what would be considered living well, and some people have more baggage than others. I will go over a budget that I personally feel is enough to live very well on. I’m not including any prior financial burdens you may have such as children or previous medical conditions. And I’m also not including any monthly savings in the picture. This is a budget that is specifically just for one man to live on in Thailand.
There is no room for waste within this budget. I know people who spend double this amount and live like crap because they don’t spend with any caution. Chris and I are constantly updating this site with effective money saving techniques in Thailand so there is no excuse for waste. And just because you have more disposable income available than is required in this budget does not mean you need to waste it. You have no business spending a single Baht more than it takes you to live well. Save and invest any extra money rather than blow it; you’ll be glad you did with the massive global inflation coming over the next two decades
Entertainment/Going out – 20,000
Rent - 15,000
Electric - 900
Haircuts – 250
Bank fees- 700
Cleaning - 1200
Toiletries – 600
Internet – 1,000
Electronics – 2,000
Cable TV- 300
72,000 Baht per month
After living in Thailand for 6 months, your need to splurge on boos and girls every night should subside somewhat. By then you’re probably shacked up with a girlfriend, so as long as she’s not taking you to the cleaners you shouldn’t need anymore than 20,000 Baht per month for your entertainment and going out budget. It’s enough to have one or two big nights per month (Gogo’s, disco’s) plus plenty of chances for dining out, massages, movies, bowling, drinking with friends, and a couple of bar fines here and there. 15,000 on rent should guarantee you a spacious and comfortable spread pretty much regardless of the city you live in. This is not to say that you should waste 15,000 on a place a Thai would get for 8,000. If you search long enough, 15,000 will get you a really comfortable place to live in. I know many people who rent spacious houses or impressive apartments in good locations for that amount. I also know people who spend 40,000 for nothing special, but as I said we’re not including any waste into the budget. Prices are different in Bangkok and in Phuket, but generally speaking 15,000 is enough to live in a great place in Thailand.
I’ve set a sizable travel budget that comes out to nearly 150,000 Baht per year. As long as you put the time into finding good deals on flights and hotels, this is enough for a trip home every year and a few exceptional trips within Thailand. Setting aside 2,000 Baht per month for electronics should be enough for you to get a good phone, a decent TV, a tablet, and a laptop whenever yours craps out, provided that you aren’t addicted to Apple and you order your tablets and/or laptops from outside of Thailand. TV’s, laptops, and tablets should last you for years so I think it’s a reasonable budget. The rest of the expenses are self-explanatory and include a once per week cleaning lady, a gym membership, a motorbike, and all the little things.
Could easily cut:
Gym – Cut 600 leaves 0
phone- Cut 200 leaves 300
internet –Cut 300 leaves 700
medical- Cut 1,000 leaves 400
traveling- Cut 3,000 leaves 9000
Ent./going out- Cut 3,000 leaves 17,000
Electronics- Cut 500 leaves 1.500
Misc.- Cut 1,500 leaves 4,500
Rent- Cut 4,000 leaves 11,000
Total cuts- 14,100
Budget after cuts- 57,300
All it would take is a onetime investment on some home gym equipment and you could cut the gym right out of the budget. As long as you’re using True Mobile, you really can get away with spending 300 baht per month on your phone calls not including mobile internet. And speaking of internet, affordable Wifi plans are becoming accessible in more and more places, so you can get by with spending less on your mobile and home internet as long as you don’t work online. If you’re relatively healthy you could cut out a large chunk of medical expenses. A Medical checkup and a trip to the dentist aren’t going to cost you very much and neither is getting what you need at a pharmacy. A budget of 9,000 per month on travel still affords you the option of going home for a visit once per year plus a couple of small Thailand trips. As you settle in and you get to know the best deals for restaurants, bars, and girls, shaving a little off the top on our going out and entertainment budget won’t be noticeable. 150 Baht per day should be enough for the Misc. category. There are decent enough places available for rent at 6,000, so at 11,000 you’ll still be perfectly comfortable as long as you put enough time into your search.
There will be people who think these budgets are too low to live well and there will be people who think they’re excessive; it’s too broad and general a topic for me to win with everyone. I know a smart guy who spends about 5X the budget and he’s not just living well, he’s living like a King. He has the money and his quality of life is through the roof so good for him. I also know some younger guys who live well for about half of my budget; men in their twenties or early 30’s don’t necessary need any luxuries to live well, so more power to them. But all in all I think the budgets above are a good starting point for a man who is thinking of moving to Thailand, or a man who is currently living in Thailand inefficiently.