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.
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 living||1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)||Lunch for 2 (3 courses, mid range restaurant)||Transportation (monthly pass)|
|Chiangmai Mai, Thailand||฿11,140||฿600||฿1000|
|Sydney, Australia||THB 67,905||THB 2,069||THB 4,137|
|New York, USA||THB 102,319||THB 2,557||THB 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.
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 cost||Chiang Mai average cost|
|Single person, per month||THB 20,043||THB 17,443|
|Single person, per year||THB 240,516||THB 209,316|
|University student, per month||THB 12,398||THB 11,104|
|4 person family, per month||THB 72,678||THB 63,300|
|4 person family, per year||THB 872,136||THB 759,600|
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 Thailand||Average annual salary|
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 Thailand||Average 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|
|Utilities (gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment)||฿2,760||฿2,128|
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 service||Average cost to you|
|Family doctor check-up||฿1,125|
|Cold medicine for 6 days||฿60|
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 Thailand||Average 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|
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.
|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!