How Much Money do Expats Spend in Thailand
Managing your money doesn't matter where you live is important and especially if you're living month to month. If you don't manage your money well it can cause you to stress out. People don't just stress out about money in Thailand either, there's always the dreaded Visa reports and applications that cause unending drama and undue stress. In this article I'll explain how I've applied a fast rule that helps me make decisions about spending money in Thailand.
Before I could create a quick rule on how much to spend on my most basic living needs I wanted to find out how much the average Expat spends every month. Knowing that everyone who lives in Thailand has all different income levels and that Thailand provides an opportunity to live in absolute squalor or five star accommodations when someone asks the question "How much do I need every month in Thailand" giving them an actual figure is near impossible. This is why I'm now changing my thoughts on this and saying that you should be looking at your monthly budget and only spend a certain percentage of that money on your most basic needs.
You can spend 100,000 baht a month but your accommodation expenses will be at least 15,000 baht
You can spend 30,000 baht a month but your accommodation expenses will be at least 4,500 baht a month
That's 15% of your accommodation budget each month
A few months back I posted a Poll on this site to find out how much everyone living here is spending each month. The reason for this is because even if you make a million baht a month but only spend 30k do you really need a million baht a month to live in Thailand?
The results of the poll below
I ran the poll for one week and had 253 submissions. I was quite surprised about the number of people that put down they spend less than 15,000 baht a month. Nearly 20% of expats. This amount leaves little opportunity to go out and party but then again not everyone is into that either.
I thought it would be fun to group people socioeconomically into what I call the Expat Class system). It's totally based on how much you spend each month combined with the data from the poll. It's done just for fun so don't take offence.
The Average Expat
Not surprising is over 50% of respondents claimed they only spent less than 30,000 baht a month. Not all the people living on 30K a month are poor either. There are many guys here earning millions of baht a year but like living cheap so they save more money. Thailand is a cheap place to live and yes you can live on less than a thousand dollars a month however I think it's fair to say that if you spend 50 thousand a month you're probably more comfortable.
The Expat Middle Class
Those people that spend between 30 and 100 thousand baht a month are in what I'd call the Expat middle class you can afford enough luxuries to not feel like your missing out on too much.
The smallest group of people in the pole were those spending between 50 and 100 thousand baht a month. That's the bracket I'd put myself in right now. I'm spending probably 80-90 thousand baht a month between my girlfriend and I. 15% of that budget goes into rent and 10% on food and the rest on entertainment transport visa and grocery stuff. If I didn't go to G clubs and Karaoke i'd only be spending 30-40 thousand baht a month back at the Average Expat.
Like I said you can live in Thailand on pretty much any budget, If I made my g/f work and moved into a 20 sqm apartment with only a fan outside the city I'd probably spend less than 10 thousand baht a month. Or I could rent my own house in a gated community and private swimming pool by the beach and eat seafood to my hearts content for 1oo's of thousands a month. I really do however live a modest life in Thailand and from the stats most expats do as well. If you are spending more than 100 thousand baht a month you're living way different to the majority of people.
Expats Living the dream
The 13% of guys who said they spend more than 100 thousand baht a month while it doesn't seem like a lot that's still more than 1 in 10 guys who have enough money to burn to pretty much do anything they want.
Unfortunately I didn't add a poll for this class. I doubt people from Thailand Tatler read Living Thai anyway.
How much to spend on vacation in Thailand
If you're on vacation in Thailand the amount you spend really depends on how much you want to spend. You can still have a cheap holiday here for a month even on a thousand dollars but likely you'll want more than that. Guys coming here for sex should look at the price of sex in Thailand guide
How much to spend if you live in Thailand
How much you spend in Thailand more than likely depends on how much money you make in Thailand. So I've come up with some quick and fast rules for what your budget should be on certain things. The following list is easy to remember and works at all levels no matter how much you have to spend in Thailand.
Remaining 40% to be used to make your own adjustments to the previous percentages
Cost of Accommodation in Thailand
Accommodation in Thailand is cheap. Right now i'm living in a 4 bedroom house with a private swimming pool that costs half as much as my 1 bedroom condo back in California. My rule is that you should not spend more than 15% of your current monthly budget on accommodation. So if you are making 30,000 baht a month don't spend more than 3000 baht on rent and if you are able to spend 100,000 baht a month then don't spend more than 15% of your money on accommodation. Those who think spending less on accommodation means a lesser standard of living can stand corrected. You can move further out from the city and get cheaper better digs.
Chris and Angela from Tieland to Thailand put down there budget as 45K but that's 30% of their budget so that might appear against my rule but this is two Farangs sharing one budget doubling the accommodation and food budget percentages is necessary. They seem to be spot on.
Cost of Food in Thailand
Food is tricky to evaluate because everyone has different diets. I can't live without a few Australian steaks every week and one of my mates is vegetarian, we're both going to have different budgets. As a general rule though make sure you have 15% of your budget on food. If you're on a super budget I honestly recommend cooking your own food. It's pretty easy to cook yourself 3 meals a day for 60 baht or less.
Travel expenses in Thailand
Even if you live here you gotta get around. From Taxis to Tuk Tuks to gas for your bike and car there are always travel expenses in Thailand I'm pretty sure people walk less here than even California you're going to have to pay something. If you have more money to spend then you're probably paying for plane rides and taxis. As a general rule do not spend more than 10% of your budget on transportation.
Nightlife Expenses in Thailand
I say nightlife but if you're more likely to do stuff during the day then really this should be called entertainment expenses. Your entertainment expenses are likely to be high in Thailand. I recommend a good 20% of your monthly budget be spent on Entertainment. That's higher than your accommodation expenses! This is Thailand live it up and enjoy yourself. Even if your not into drinking there's plenty of other stuff you can do.
If you found this article useful you might like to read one of my books which is packed with information to help you live in Thailand:
Hey Chris, thanks for the mention. We are hoping to renegotiate our rent sometime in September, but if we can’t we are considering a move. Not that money is tight, but that we know we can probably find a better deal…so why not try, right? I definitely think the 15% rule is a good rule to follow. Nice work.
I like the idea of a townhouse but most I’ve seen are pretty run down you must have a nice one for the price you’re paying.
It is brand new, so we are the first to live here. It is big, clean, and private for our location, but we still think we shouldn’t be paying over 10K a month for it. We will see what happens in September.
Is that B 10k per month? Unless this is in the sticks – i.e. it is in Bangkok, jai or central, it is a cheap price. B 10k is what a normal simple [Thai] apartment cost in Bangkok per month, while town-houses go for 35- 70 k / month here.
Great insight into how much others spend living here in Thailand. I can’t imagine living on 15k per month. I am sure I wouldn’t die, but I don’t think I’d be enjoying myself much. I see quite a few bloggers claiming to live “well” on 15k per month, but I have a wildly different view of what “well” means than they do.
I live on about 45k per month here in BKK. 12k on rent, though I could cut that in half if I moved away from the BTS. As it stands, I can walk there in five minutes. I also live in a pretty new building and have a flat screen, kitchen area, refrigerator, microwave, balcony, swimming pool, etc.
Food hits my budget pretty hard. Some people can live off of 30 baht meals, but like you, I need some red meat and Western food in there as well. I just grilled up a couple of pork chops on my balcony, much more satisfying than eating another plate of Khao Man Gai, which I really like.
Partying is really where my budget takes the hit though. When I go out to RCA with my friends 1,000 is a tame night. A good night of partying usually leaves me with 2-3k less than I had the day before. I can burn through the large majority of a 15k budget in just a few weeks if I am hittin it hard. I think the people living on 15k are probably not big drinkers. if I cut out booze, I could probably skate by fairly well on 30k per month.
It would also be interesting to know where the people live in this survey. I would guess the 100K guys mostly live in Bangkok, though I’m really curious how many people in the 15K range live somewhere off of the grid.
Great stuff as usual, Chris.
I think it depends on the individual needs or likings. For me it is ok to spend 30% for Accommodation. The same percentage was also “normal” in my home country.
I missed that pole – anyway I’m on about 70/80 but most expats I know are 50/70 but i don’t include overseas trips in my calculation and I travel a few times a year. I have always thought:
15,000 : basic but livable
30,000 : get by with some extras
50,000 : average with some to burn
70,000 : living well an able to burn when mood takes you
100,000: live the rich life and do what you want whenever you want
Reading this post makes me wish I was good at math. Why don’t I know how to break things up into percentages? Guess it’s cos I didn’t pay attention in math!
It also depends on other factors such as dependents. I currently make about 40,000 a month, though I live like someone making 20,000 cos most of my salary goes into caring for my son. Also, I have an unusually high electricity bill. My first month in my current apartment cost me 3,000 just in elec! I have managed to get it down to about 1,800, but that’s only by sweating my ass off through the days and only using air con at night. Basically, the landlord adds his own charge to the government electricity rate. On the plus side I live within walking distance of my school, so no travel expenses.
I think all people living in here should strive to have various income streams. I do content writing, though it’s pretty hard work for little reward. I also have my blog with the affiliate adds, but I don’t get enough traffic to make that work. I am working on an eBay shop now, though I don’t have enough money to buy products yet!
I have a bunch of ebay products and ebay setup kits if you want to get going, contact me.
I would like to have a look at your ebay products and setup kits mate.
If you’re in Chiang Mai send me an email.
Hi Chris, ate you still around? Are you able to help me with this.
Email me it’s easier.
BKK on 45-50k per month.
I live well IMO.
Apartment with all mod cons with free wifi and pool + gym for 8k. 10 min walk to BTS.
3 nightsout or dates a week. Don’t do bar girls though.
Mix of Thai food and food at nicer restaurants (Western / Japanese / Korean etc)
Few beers most nights.
Pay to have my room cleaned and laundry done.
Transport costs are low as most days don’t go far and will walk to the BTS. Have a card for the BTS to save money. Only take taxis at night when no other option.
Here in Laos it about 20,000B a month for an average person because salaries, houses, and fees are slightly cheaper. But you’ll cry when you buy things here, because they’re mostly imported from other countries. Petrol is at least about 40B/L and snacks all doubled prices. But I don’t go to bars that would cost me at least doubled prices, I’d rather get some Beer Lao (it’s really tasty) myself at a shop which costs about 30-40B/bottle.
I like your articles and website, good job! In my past two areas I’ve lived on around 15000 baht a month, but I live in Isaan. One part stuck out and related to me, which was the part that we are living in Thailand, so don’t worry so much and live it up. I’ve been working a lot lately, so I haven’t been out a lot. But now I want to get out more and enjoy the nightlife and have fun and just live!
I spend about 100.000K /month in Bangkok. I expect that to go down as I have spent quite a lot getting set up. I also pay about 30K in rent and utilities, so there goes a good chunk. Then I spend about 10K a month on health insurance because I have yet to get local Thai insurance. Add electricity, true television (will quit that once contract runs out), couple of trips for visa purposes and we’re easily into 50-60K. Partying and western food and before you know it is 100K. Not difficult at all. Personally, I can’t live in Bangkok on a budget. The city is noisy 24/7, polluted and very hot, so to offset that it costs some money.
Now, if I lived near the ocean or in a smaller town, I would probably get by on half. But a living standard comparable or better to the west in Bangkok costs money. I can easily understand younger guys in their early twenties living on a much smaller budget, I’ve done so myself, but I’m getting lazy and comfortable here in my 30s, so don’t feel like roughing it anymore, particularly since I worked hard to have some good income.
hi there this last year i have spent a lot of time in Thailand, as i met my gf in England and she has now gone home, and i am thinking of moving there, what is it that you do for a living, if you odnt mind me asking
I run a network of websites that generate income from affiliate sales.
down in Pattaya last week I said ‘sawasdee krap’ to 16,000 😛
How many days?
im moving to Thailand chaing mai in November with the wife looking for somewere
to live central our budget monthly is 40.000 baht hope its enough till we start a business
I lived in Thailand for a year and lived relatively comftably on 30 000 Baht. I went to 3 South East Asian countries and had some of the best times of my life. Look it is like what you said “Budget, budget and budget. Easy to understand you earn income and depending how you spend that income will determine if you will end up in the s**t or not . Each to their own but I pretty much lived on a shoe string all my life having all what I needed.
The problem that Farangs(whites or foreigners) encounter is that they fall for the act by the beautiful Thai women. Yes Thailand has some of the most beautiful women in the world and they certainly know how to use their beauty and sexuality to get what they want hence burning the Farangs bank account but then not all Thai women are the same.
My advice is don’t fall for the first Thai beauty that calls you Lao mak mak(Very handsome) rather assess the situation and go for an average middle age Thai woman who will be a great companion. I found them there but I have seen most of my Farang mates get burnt badly going for the top range Thai beauties.
Another thing is eat local, Thai food is great and much more cheaper than Western food. Western food is quite expensive in Thailand but once in a while treat yourself out. Alcohol is expensive is most parts of Asia. Accommodation is a third of the cost of what it is in my home country South Africa and even cheaper if you compare that to Western Europe and North America(US and Canada.)
However Thailand is an amazing country to travel with some of the most friendly people I have ever met. Sex addicts watch out, it could become your worst nightmare and cost you dearly in the end lol.
I taught English there for a year and now I’m heading to China for a new experience but I certainly will be back in Thailand again.
Just my experience I’m sharing but please do enjoy.
Thanks for the comment, I thought most of your advice was solid, except for the middle age woman comment. Personally I don’t fuck anything over 21.
I live in Bangkok, support my wife, her aunt, her mom (who stays in an assisted living home) and a daughter in international school and our budget is about 240k a month. We own our place but condo fees, Internet and electricity plus a part time maid can run 20k a month. I supply my wife with a 40k allowance per month, food runs at 30k a month, school plus activity fees is another 30k a month. Another 20k a month for miscellaneous expenses like going to the gym and fun money and then the big line item of 100k a month for domestic and international travel as we are big travel junkies. Other than that life is pretty tame as I don’t drink and keep to a vegan diet. We don’t have a TV, I read a lot, like to invest and exercise and work on building up a side business in addition to normal working at a full time job. I don’t think it’s a super glamorous life but it is comfortable and rewarding.