Cost of Living in Thailand as an Expat: How Much Do You Need Per Month?

“How much do I need to live comfortably in Thailand?”

“Is US$3,000 a month enough to live a comfortable life there?”

These are the types of questions you may have when planning to live in Thailand.

When you search on the internet, you may find many different opinions. Some say they only need 20,000 baht ($667) a month while others need over 50,000 baht ($1,667 USD) a month.

The truth is, there’s no right or wrong answer. Determining the cost of living will largely depend on your lifestyle and how you will spend your money.

In this guide, we list all the fundamental costs — from basic necessities like rent, food, and transportation to miscellaneous costs as an expat in Thailand. You will also learn why the cost of living wildly differs for each person.

Also – it is worthwhile considering annual or one time costs, when establishing a budget – such as initial Visa, Deposits, Joining fees , miscellaneous personal expenses, furniture and similar.

However these items are largely dependent upon individual choice and covered separately outside this article.

*This article uses an exchange rate of $1 USD = 30 baht

If you want to set up your life in Thailand hassle-free and save thousands of dollars, check out our Thailand Starter Kit. Based on our collective decades of experience living in Thailand, the Kit shows you how to get a job, start a business, manage your finances, and make Thailand your new home.

Living Expenses

First things first, prices for every cost category is only the average price. That’s because we can’t give you exact prices for all expense categories since they keep changing all the time.

In addition, many factors such as location come into play when calculating costs of meals and other expenses. For example, a plate of pork fried rice costs 40 baht in Bang Na located in the outskirts of Bangkok. But in popular districts like Silom or Siam Square, the same meal may cost 60-80 baht.

And if you buy the exact same meal in, say, Nan province, it may cost only 35 baht.

That said, you can use the average costs we’ve cited here to determine your living expenses.

Miscellaneous personal expenses such as clothes, personal care, gadgets, and the like aren’t included here as prices for those are vastly different from what you may pay in your home country.

Rent

Rent may be your biggest expense in Thailand, especially when you live in a big city like Bangkok or tourist destinations like Phuket and Pattaya. In fact, many expats spend over 30% of their monthly income for rent alone.

When you ask fellow foreigners how much they pay for rent, expect to hear different answers. Some people pay over 50,000 baht on rent, while some pay 30,000 baht. There are also those that pay around 15,000 baht and some that pay less than 5,000 baht a month.

In other words, the cost of monthly rent varies hugely and depends on factors like location, type of housing, and facilities offered. If you want to narrow down your rent expenses, you may want to answer these questions:

Which province in Thailand do you want to live? Do you want to live in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Hua Hin? Or do you want to live in the city outskirts of the capital? Do you prefer to set up residence in Isarn or some other province?

Do you want to live in a condo or a townhouse? Do you prefer a studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or four-bedroom apartment? Do you want a fully furnished unit or are you buying your own furniture? Is there a swimming pool or a gym? How far is the house from the main streets?

All of these factors affect the rental price. In fact, prices of condos for rent in the same building, with the same size and with the same furniture can be different simply because they’re on different floors.

With all these considerations in mind, how much are you willing to pay for your desired place?

In any case, don’t forget to consider the biggest factors when choosing where to live: area, province, and room size.

A 30 square-meter studio room in Bangkok costs around 12,000 baht to 15,000 baht a month in expat residential areas like Onnut. In business districts like Asok or Silom, prices can go up to 24,000 baht. In Chiang Mai, a condo unit of the same size may cost you only around 10,000 baht a month even in the main city area. In Phuket, the same unit may cost 14,000 baht a month.

house in Chiang Mai
Renting a house like this in Chiang Mai may cost 15,000 baht per month

In Bangkok, if you want to rent a house with a small front yard and backyard, expect to pay around 30,000 baht. But if it’s in a province like Samut Prakan, you may only need to pay 16,000 baht.

However, if you live in a rural area in Isarn, you can rent a 608 square-meter house at only 5,000 baht a month.

The best way to save on rent is to find someone to share the cost with you. You may just save 50% off the cost of the rent, but also electricity, water, and internet costs.

Learn more details about this topic from our in-depth guide to renting in Bangkok.

Electricity

Comprising a huge chunk of the cost of electricity in Thailand is air conditioning. Want to save on your electric bill? Then don’t forget to turn it off before you sleep at night. Some keep it turned on 24 hours a day and 7 days a week — that’s guaranteed to jack up your electricity bill.

To give you a rough idea on how much you need to pay for electricity every month, read this post from reddit. Get some insight on how much other people in Thailand pay for their electricity.

So, if you live alone in a condominium and leave the A/C on every night, you shouldn’t pay more than 1,500 baht a month.

But if you live in a house, use two A/C units turned on every night, your electric bill should be around 2,500 baht a month.

Lastly, if you live in a house with three bedrooms and have 4 A/C units turned on at all hours day or night, your bill may be around 5,000 to 8,000 baht.

Water

The cost of water in Thailand is very cheap. If you live alone, your water bill shouldn’t be more than 100 baht a month.

Internet

At around 600 baht a month, you can enjoy high speed internet at home at 50 mbps speeds.

Note that this internet speed is fast enough to stream shows and movies in Netflix and other streaming platforms, in either HD or 4K.

This is roughly what many people pay in Thailand to get decent-to-great quality internet speeds. It’s the starting price point for your home internet, and the speeds are definitely sufficient for your daily needs.

Phone

Many people we know pay around 500 baht for their phone bill every month. A postpaid mobile phone package in this price point normally comes with 300 minutes of free call and mobile internet with 10 GB of data.

Some opt to pay 1,099 baht a month for an unlimited mobile internet package.

If you want both mobile phone package and home internet, you can choose from a variety of bundles. It’s cheaper compared to buying them separately.

There’s also a way to even pay only 543.46 baht every month, with 300 mbps internet for your home and a phone package with free 300 minutes of calls and 10 GB of mobile internet.

We have more detailed information, but we only offer to them to our supporters only.

Food

The cost of foods in Thailand entirely depends on your choice of food and where you eat.

If you normally eat regularly priced meals at mid-priced places, your food expenses should cost no more than 10,000 baht a month. But if you regularly buy from local sellers, it’s possible to keep your food budget even lower — no more than 6,000 baht a month.

On average, meals cost only 40-50 baht in local food stalls and food courts. At this price range, you get one dish — more commonly, a bowl of noodles or an order of rice with meat and/or vegetables — without any sides.

Thai noodle
This regular noodle dish in Thailand costs 40 baht

If you’re dining at McDonald’s, KFC, or Taco Bell, expect to pay around 100-200 baht per meal.

At a mid-priced restaurant, meals are at 200-400 baht.

Fancier fare like a hotel seafood buffet costs around 1,500 baht per meal. A premium sushi course from Sushi Kanda costs 700 baht.

Coffee

Perhaps you’re a coffee drinker and would like to know how much your coffee budget in Thailand should be.

Here’s a little trivia for you: All over the world, 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed by people every day. You would be pleased to know that Thais also consume a lot of coffee.

There’s a cafe in every corner of the city. The cost of one cup of coffee ranges between 20-200 baht.

It’s 20 baht per cup if you buy a coffee from a vendor on the street.

It’s 60 baht to 80 baht per cup if you buy from a nice cafe. These are the cafes that provide power sockets to charge your mobile phone or computer.

starbuck, century onnut
There are plenty of nice coffee shops in Thailand where you can hang out or even do some work

A cup of coffee at pricier cafes like Starbucks is 100 baht or more.

Brewing your own coffee? You can buy coffee beans from a supermarket at, on average, 229 baht for 250 grams which works out to be 9.1 baht per cup.

Alcohol

Local beer and liquor are cheap in Thailand. But depending on where you’re from,, you may find the prices of alcohol in Thailand to be more expensive than in your home country because of the high import tax.

A bottle of local beer (620 ml) in Thailand costs 49 baht, but then you may pay three times that amount for German and other imported beers.

Health

The cost of healthcare in Thailand is the most unpredictable out of all expenses. Perhaps, in one year, you may be healthy and don’t have to pay a single baht for any medical treatment or medication. And you only need to pay a few thousand baht for an annual health check-up.

On the other hand, you might get hit by a motorcycle (or get into an accident of this nature) resulting in an operation that will cost you over 100,000 baht in total.

Naturally, you’ll want to get an idea of how much you need to spend on healthcare. You usually need to pay around 1,500 baht to 3,000 baht when visiting a private hospital in Thailand.

If you get admitted in a hospital, expect to pay at least 10,000 baht a night for a standard room. Admittance to an ICU costs around 100,000 baht a day.

Alternatively, you can go to a government hospital instead if you don’t mind waiting in a long queue.

But this option is only ideal if you know how to speak Thai or if you’ll be accompanied by someone who can.

A good way to control your healthcare expenses is to have insurance. You can read our health insurance for expats article to find out good insurance plan options for you and your family.

Gym

Don’t skip your workout routine while living in Thailand. There are a lot of exercise options in Thailand.

Depending on where you live, there might be a gym inside your condominium, which you can use for free.

Otherwise, you can apply for a gym membership at 1,200 baht to 3,000 baht a month. Prices depend on the quality and quantity of the facilities provided in the gym.

The 1,200-baht-a-month gym may have mostly cardio and basic exercise equipment and bath room, whereas a 3,000-baht-a-month gym comes with spa and exercise classes.

If you are serious about working out, you can hire a personal trainer for 1,000 to 2,500 baht per session.

You can also shell out 7,000 baht a month to get trained by a professional at a Muay Thai gym.

If you are on a budget, you can invest in a nice pair of sneakers, go to the nearest park, and run there without having to pay anything. Some parks even have free outdoor exercise equipment.

Transportation

If you live in Bangkok and don’t have a car, motorcycle taxi, the BTS (skytrain), or the MRT (subway train) are going to be your main transportation options.

A typical commuting scenario involves taking a motorcycle taxi from your condo to a BTS station, and then taking a BTS to your workplace.

You may pay 20 baht to a motorcycle taxi and another 26 baht to BTS for average distances. You may spend around 2,500 baht every month.

Note that 26 baht per trip on the BTS only applies if you purchase a number of “trips” (15, 25, or 50 trips), which you can use for 30 days. This is as opposed to paying full price for specific distances, which can cost over 50 baht per trip.

Bangkok boat
If you don’t mind getting splashed, you can take a boat around Bangkok as well. It costs less than 20 baht per trip.

It’s going to be much cheaper if you learn how to take the bus. Bus fare in Thailand is only around 10-20 baht per trip or around 600 baht per month.

If you regularly take the taxi, then you might have to spend around 6,000 baht per month.

In case you live outside of Bangkok, having your private transportation is recommended. You can rent a motorbike for 2,500 baht a month. Fuel costs shouldn’t be more than 500 baht per month.

Or you can rent a car for 15,000 baht a month. Car consumes 4 times more fuel than a motorbike on average. So, you would need to pay around 2,000 per month for fuel.

Vacation

Thailand is a tourism country because, well, the country is beautiful. The costs of accommodation and transportation are cheap, too. When you live in Thailand, you can keep enjoying this benefit.

Here’s a quick rundown of the costs: it’s 881 baht for a sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (695.5 kilometers). If you take the bus, it would cost only around 600 baht.

The average cost of renting a car in Thailand is 1,000 baht. If you use an eco car, it’s 600-800 baht per day.

You would only pay around 2-3 baht per kilometer on average for fuel, depending on the car type.

If you really want to save money, there are an even cheaper options. For example, you can take the train from Bangkok to Ayuthaya for only 20 baht.

In short, the overall cost of transportation in Thailand is very affordable.

stone park snake mountain
Thailand has a lot of beautiful landscapes waiting for your exploration. And it’s not just beaches and islands.

The only exception would be Phuket where a single trip in a taxi from Phuket airport to Patong beach costs 800 baht.

As for hotel fees, a 3-star hotel may cost 1,200 baht per night. If you don’t mind sleeping in a hostel, you may pay only 90 baht per night at, for example, a hostel in Chiang Mai. That’s only US$3!

When we asked our team how much they spend per day when vacationing in Thailand, they answered somewhere between 1,000-1,500 baht per day per person.

TV

If you love to watch English TV programs in Thailand, you need to get a TV package from AIS. It costs 499 baht a month for access to various English channels including HBO, FOX Sports, and CNN.

If you want to watch sports programs only, you can go for the Premier League package from TrueMove at 399 baht a month.

Both TrueMove and AIS have a package combining home internet, mobile phone calls and internet, and TV together, which gives you an additional 20% discount on your TV and home and mobile internet bills.

Netflix is also available in Thailand. A standard package starts at 280 baht a month.

Movie

There is no shortage of great movie theaters in Thailand. The theaters are spacious and clean, and the screens are huge and sharp. Theater seats are comfortable and there’s usually a great selection of English, Thai, and foreign movies.

Movie tickets are reasonably priced at 200 baht, on average.

However, popcorn, snacks, and beverage prices are overpriced like in many cinemas around the world. In fact, a popcorn-and-softdrink set costs, on average, 220 baht, which is even more expensive than the price of a movie ticket.

So, you should expect to pay around 420 baht for a movie, popcorn, and drink.

Maid

You can hire either a full-time or part-time maid in Thailand. A full-time “live-in” maid (one who lives in your house) salary is 15,000 baht, on average per month.

When you hire a full-time maid, she can cook, do laundry, or even take care of your kids.

If you’re hiring a part-time maid, expect to pay 600 baht every week for a few hours of cleaning — including sweeping, mopping, and washing dishes — on a per-day basis.

If you go this route, you may spend around 2,400 baht per month.

Laundry

The laundry service cost in Thailand is calculated either per piece or per kilogram. It costs 20 baht per piece or 49 baht per kilogram, on average.

Laundry services include washing, ironing, picking up, and delivering your clothes/laundry items.

You can buy a laundry service as a package. For example, 700 baht a month for 40 items.

Laundry service is available at almost every apartment and condominium in Thailand.

In addition to laundry service, you can use a coin-operated washing machine. It costs 30 baht per usage. But for this option, you need to have your own detergent and fabric softener.

Education

Life is a lifelong learning. You shouldn’t stop learning even if you are retiring in Thailand. You can even take a Thai language cost to help make your life in Thailand much easier.

It is going to cost you 3,000 baht per month on average when you take a Thai course. In case you want to take online courses, then it’s around 500 baht a month.

Haircut

A normal haircut for males costs 100 baht to 200 baht at a local barbershop. Nicer barbers cost somewhere between 300 to 400 baht.

And if it’s a popular, fancier barber, the cost of a haircut can be over 500 baht. The cost of a haircut for females is a few hundred baht more.

local barber in Bangkok
A haircut at a barbershop like this one costs 120 baht

Visa

You need to pay for a visa and other related fees when living in Thailand. The cost itself isn’t bad. You can pay 1,900 baht per year for a single-entry visa or 3,800 baht a year for a multiple-entry visa.

But the cost of a visa will get more expensive if you’re unable to get a long-term visa like a business visa or a retirement visa.

An education visa, for example, needs to be renewed every 3 months. It costs 1,900 baht fee per renewal, excluding the necessary transportation costs.

If you have a tourist visa, you may need to extend your visa every 60 days for another 1,900 baht or fly out of Thailand to get another visa. But be careful if you plan to renew your tourist visa, as living in Thailand long-term on a tourist visa is considered illegal. You may get banned from re-entering Thailand when caught.

You should note that being denied entry at the airport even if you hold a Thailand tourist visa is not uncommon.

So, if you plan to live in Thailand, it’s best to get a proper visa.

Average Cost of Living

As you can see, it’s quite challenging to come up with the average cost of living in Thailand due to various factors.

Karsten Aichholz, the owner of the site, spends 80,658.58 baht a month living as an entrepreneuer in Bangkok.

On the other hand, John Joseph, spends 78,465 baht a month to take care of his family of four — that’s around 19,616.25 baht per person.

Richard MacCully, who shares a space with his girlfriend, spends 95,000 baht a month on his expenses in Bangkok. However, the cost of his accommodations is higher than usual since he bought a condo here. It also means that once his condo is paid off, his accommodation cost will significantly decrease.

If he had rented a condo instead of buying one, his cost of living would have been only 35,750 baht per person.

Foreigner Joe has a video on YouTube where he shares how his living costs came to 71,739 baht a month while retiring comfortably in Thailand.

On the other hand, a blogger, Mark Wiens, only spends 6,700 baht a month on his “barebones” living in Bangkok. And he has a roommate to share the rental fee.

How Much Do I Need, Then?

The short answer is: it depends on your lifestyle.

If you want us to give you some numbers, 30,000 baht (~$1,000) a month should be enough to live in Bangkok, Pattaya, and Hua Hin.

With this budget, you can rent a place, eat local food and some special meals at a restaurant, and travel on a budget.

But if you want to have a comfortable life, you need at least 40,000 baht a month. Many retirees in Thailand are spending that much every month to live comfortably.

If you live in Chiang Mai, you would need 20% less than in Bangkok. But if you live in Phuket, you can slash 20% more off your budget.

If you have someone to share your expenses, it’s possible to live here for less than 20,000 baht a month ($667).

However, if you live in a rural area, it’s possible to spend even less than 10,000 baht (US$334) a month.

To calculate your estimated cost of living in Thailand, you can use our cost of living calculator. You should be able to come up with a good estimate of how much you need every month based on your lifestyle.

6 comments
  1. Bangkok is the type of city where you can pretty much carve out any lifestyle and live on any budget if you are willing to accept certain comprises.

    I am mid 60s and live a very nice middle class lifestyle for about 36,000 a month excluding medical and travel. Add in insurance and general medical and it goes up to 50,000.

    I have had to make tradeoffs though. I can’t afford to live in the heart of expatland but that is OK. I like living mainly around Thais because it gives me a more unique experience. Some of the areas with fewer expats are also a little quirkier which is another plus for me because I can still venture into the heart of the city for the more upscale experiences and to socialize with other expats. After all, retired, I don’t have a dearth of time. If I was still working full time that would be different.

    Middle class Thais have largely been priced out of Central Bangkok, something that had has also happened in places like Budapest and Lisbon too. A Thai has a great job if he or she makes 50,000 a month. A family making 100,000 is not very common. The rents in expatland are high mainly because of foreigners especially Japanese salarymen. Compared to Tokyo 75, 000 for a small 2 bed apartment is nothing.

    From my experience, few Thai families will pay big baht rent or buy a big condo. A young family will usually live in a one bedroom condo until they have the money to purchase a home farther out.

    I also chose to cook most of my meals so I can control the quality of food ingredients but I have friends who eat every meal out and or pay more in rent than my monthly budget.

    As mentioned in the article prices plummet outside of Bangkok. Expats and Thais are also friendlier in those places but you lack the buzz of Bangkok so it comes down to the right tradeoffs.

    1. Since you are in your mid-60s similar to me, would you mind telling me who you get your medical insurance from? That is a very reasonable price if you are paying 14000 baht/month. I could not find that deal myself.

  2. Nice. A large topic. Currently lots of expatriates report rising prices of most things especially in Bangkok, although this is possibly a world trend right now. With the rising baht the amount of money you need after tax for a reasonable lifestyle in Bangkok is starting to approach developed country levels when priced in AUD, UK pounds, or USD, but then Thailand continues to progress.

    In general Thailand still offers better living generally and at much cheaper than most developed countries. However if you want a spacious trendy apartment in inner Bangkok, you eat at upscale/fancy/’nice’ restaurants and you like going to party most evenings, you would need a developed country wage after tax to be comfortable.

    For readers information ajarn.com has LOTS of first hand answers on this topic from Expatriate teachers in Thailand, worth a look even if you are not a teacher !! From memory the average statement by these teachers si that 35,000 would be bottom for an existence and Bangkok, and 50,000-70,000 is estimated by Expatriate teachers to be a more comfortable salary to live in Bangkok without existing. However some teachers in the regions live simply in Thai country towns on remarkably little per month.

    1. I noticed a few years back that BANGKOK rents are now on par with major German cities. The difficult commute forces people to live more central, making the problem worse. On the other hand, job opportunities outside of good old teaching English have increased a lot, making it more attractive for recent graduates.

  3. To me , Health costs and Health Insurance costs are the most important factor. If you are older and retiring in Thailand these are essential. Even if you are younger because you do not want to get stuck without insurance. For me (over 60) I did a quick check and it was expensive about $1500 (US$) per month if I want a good plan. Still I can live in Thailand for about the same cost compared to living in US.

    I was wondering if anyone knows if US Medicare can be used in an overseas country like Thailand? Probably not.

  4. I live outside the city in Chiang Mai, around 4km on the way out to Bo Sang, renting a modern home in a older Mooban. My rent and electricity are bundled together and on average is 20-21,000/ month depending on the time of year. We go to several local markets during the week and average around 20-300 baht a day for food, fruit, milk, prepared food and such. Water is negligible, 200 baht or so, combined mobile bills are 800 baht. Petrol is 150-200 baht a week, we work from home so it’s basically trips to the markets and cruising around, pointless to own a car right now. Add various sundries, 1-2000 a month and that’s basically it, neither of us drink or smoke so that’s a bonus..
    Rounded up, it’s around 35,000 and I think very are very comfortable with that..

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