Cost of living in Thailand: Your guide

TransferWise
23.08.17
4 minute read

Expats have long been attracted to life in Thailand, where the climate is great, the people are friendly and the culture is exotic. The relatively low costs of living means that many people on a fixed income now choose to retire in Thailand - but the growing startup scene in Bangkok also means that plenty of expats arrive here for work.

And if life in the hectic capital isn't your thing, then there are lots more fantastic choices. Not only will the pace of life be a little slower, the price tag is lower, too. Life in Chiang Mai, for example, is 31% cheaper than in Bangkok.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating or moving to Thailand for good, it’s helpful to have a picture of what life there will cost as an expat. Here’s a quick guide

How expensive is Thailand in comparison to the USA, the UK, the EU and Australia?

The official currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB or ฿ on currency exchanges).

You can find out the exact value of your money in THB, using an online currency converter - but here’s a rough guide:

  • £1000 = ฿43,974
  • A$1000 = ฿25,900
  • €1000 = ฿38,901
  • $1000 = ฿34,089
Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Lunch for 2 (3 courses, mid range restaurant)Transportation (monthly pass)
Bangkok, Thailand฿20,580฿700฿1000
Chiangmai Mai, Thailand฿11,140฿600฿1000
London, UK฿74,491฿2,431฿5,835
Sydney, AustraliaTHB 67,905THB 2,069THB 4,137
New York, USATHB 102,319THB 2,557THB 4,091

One major factor that adds expense for expats in Thailand, is the cost of converting cash to THB from your home currency. Even if your bank says it offers fee-free money exchange, you can be sure that they are taking out a piece with the exchange rate they are using. To get the best deal, you should use an exchange service like TransferWise, which applies the same real mid-market rate which you could find on Reuters or Google. With a quick service, and low flat fees to transfer your cash, this be a much more cost effective option than just relying on your home bank.

What are the general living expenses for Thailand? How much can you get by on?

The cost of living in Thailand is generally low - although naturally your lifestyle will make a big difference here. If you live, eat and shop like a local you can keep your costs down. However, if you have a higher budget, you can live a very luxurious life for less.

Living expenses in Thailand (excluding rent)Bangkok average costChiang Mai average cost
Single person, per monthTHB 20,043THB 17,443
Single person, per yearTHB 240,516THB 209,316
University student, per monthTHB 12,398THB 11,104
4 person family, per monthTHB 72,678THB 63,300
4 person family, per yearTHB 872,136THB 759,600

What are the average salaries for Thailand?

In keeping with the costs, salaries are on the low side in Thailand. However, in demand jobs pay fairly well - customer support salaries here are sixth highest in the world, for example.

Salary averages for ThailandAverage annual salary
CashierTHB 376,636
Copywriter฿1,166,008
Financial analyst฿1,441,372
Graphic designer฿1,189,642
Mobile developer฿1,144,196
Product manager฿902,657
Receptionist฿547,252
Software engineer฿1,247,409
Teacher฿736,050
Web developer฿1,544,440

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Thailand?

The amount you pay in rent is a big driver of your overall cost of living. Rents in Bangkok are fairly high compared to the other large cities, but still extremely reasonable on a global scale.

Renting in ThailandAverage monthly cost (Bangkok)Average monthly cost (Chiang Mai)
One bedroom apartment (city centre)฿20,580฿11,140
One bedroom apartment (outside of city centre)฿9,024฿6,712
Three bedroom family home (city centre)฿59,579฿23,643
Three bedroom family home (outside of city centre)฿28,530฿14,515
Internet฿613฿615
Utilities (gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment)฿2,760฿2,128

What about healthcare and dental costs in Thailand?

You'll find great healthcare infrastructure in Bangkok and the other large cities. There are public facilities available but expats generally choose to use the private system where doctors often speak English and the equipment and facilities are newer.

Healthcare serviceAverage cost to you
Family doctor check-up฿1,125
Cold medicine for 6 days฿60
Antibiotic prescription฿160

How much is travel and transportation in Thailand?

Travelling in Thailand can be quite an experience. With fairly high accident rates, using public transportation is often a better idea than driving yourself, especially in the frantic and congested capital city.

Transportation and vehicle prices for ThailandAverage cost
Gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)฿27.55
Monthly bus/transport pass฿1000
Bus ticket, single use฿35
Taxi tariff, 8km/5mile journey฿84
Toyota Corolla, new฿790,957
VW Golf, new฿869,000

How much does education cost?

Thailand attracts a lot of international, students looking to experience a different culture while getting a great education. Fees vary wildly - but many public universities publish low fees which exclude other costs, such as textbooks and admin costs. It's worth checking the small print if you're headed to Thailand for study.

SchoolAverage cost
Preschool / kindergarten (monthly fee)฿10,159
Private school for lower grades (annual)฿466,250
University tuition (Chulalongkorn University - top Thai public university)Varies by course, to ฿16,375 per semester for international students
University tuition (Webster University - private Thai campus of an American university)฿198,000 per semester

Whatever your reason for going, Thailand is a fantastic expat destination, for a permanent move or just to spend a year or two exploring somewhere new. While many people pass through on vacations and visits, you can choose to stay for longer and really uncover what Thai life is like for a local.

Good luck with your new life in Thailand!

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