Cost of living in Bangkok : How much do you need ?
I know a lot of you think that Thailand is cheap.
And it’s not completely wrong to assume that.
But while it is still cheaper than most major cities in the world, the cost of living for expats in Thailand can quickly increase if you pay for your visa, if you’re more into Western food than Thai food…
And even though the value for money and the lifestyle you have is still great in Bangkok, there’s no doubt that it’s getting more expensive overtime.
The good thing remain the large range of options you have.
For everything you want to do, or buy, you can pretty much choose how much you’re gonna spend.
You can have a great coffee from 30฿ to over 200฿, eat street food or at Michelin Restaurants, have a nice apartment in a townhouse or a studio in a brand new condo…
Question is more, how much you can or you’re willing to pay in each area and what your priorities are.
To give you an idea, here's what my cost of living in Bangkok look like.
Living expenses in Thailand : the 5 main areas
To keep it relevant and short, I’ve break down my monthly expenses in 5 areas that are from far the ones that add up the most as an expat when you live in Bangkok :
There’s a lot more you can be looking at here, like holidays, tech, etc… but that’s for the monthly recurring costs of living in Thailand.
You will find endless options here. From a single room off the main streets at 5,000฿ to a single room in a brand new condo with a Gym, a Pool and probably a nice rooftop starting from 15,000++.
It depends what you’re looking for.
For me, as I don’t spend that much time home and I don’t fancy those big condos with pool and gym, I keep it simple.
I’ve got a friend that rent me an apartment in his townhouse.
The location is great, just 10 minutes drive from my co-working space (20 minutes with traffic ) and it’s close to most of the main hotels and clubs where my customers go.
For over 60 square meters, a large living room and a bedroom, I pay 10,000฿ + 1,000฿ for utilities.
That’s only 11,000฿ per month. Not bad.
You could commute with Taxis, Moto Taxis or the BTS and MRT (the Skytrain and Subway) but unless you’re living close to your work, you’re looking at a lot of time stuck in traffic and at least 200฿ a day.
With over 30° almost all year long, walking long distance is pretty much out of the question so you need another option.
I bought one for 28,000THB and every month I spend about 500THB in gas (only). And I drive every day.
If you add a few repairs here and there, that's an extra 1,000฿ per month. (Especially for me)
And that’s super convenient.
Of course it’s not for everyone, I can understand a lot of people wouldn’t feel like driving here in Bangkok. But honestly, once you get used to it and how people drive, it’s really not that bad.
Oh yeah and I don’t drive when I go out. For obvious reasons. Sometime I also take a cab when I have stuff to carry or when I'm with my friends..
So that's maybe up to 2,000฿ each month, with my motorbike 95% of the time, a few cab rides, some Motorbike taxi and BTS when there’s traffic or I can’t the bike.
Transportation: 2,000 ฿
That’s the part that can easily double or triple from one day/month to another.
In a regular day, I never cook. I get food from 7/Eleven, Supermarkets, Street food stalls and sometime delivery.
When sticking to Thai Food, I’m looking at about 500฿/day max. Roughly. Probably a bit less.
Then a good restaurant about once a week, with Wine or Cocktails, that's about 4,000฿/month extra.
Total for Food: 19,000฿
Party and Drinks
There’s always something going on in Bangkok!
It's great for business and when you got friends in town. Not that much when you're on a budget.
Now, how much you spend is really different from one person to another. It depends how much you drink, the kind of venue...
I can go to Khao San Road and get wasted with a 1,000฿ and end up with enough change for the ride home and ham and cheese sandwich from 7/Eleven.
Or go in bars and clubs in Thonglor, Sukhumvit Soi 11, RCA or even Sathorn and end up spending 3,000฿++ a night. That's if I don't go to an after party.
It will cost me the same for a Pool Party in Bangkok. With one every Saturday, the temptation is pretty high.
Usually my budget there vary from a month to another, depending on how much money I got to spare and how many event we host with MojoSons Events.
In average I maybe go out once a week so that’s another 12,000฿ per month.
Party in Bangkok: 12,000฿
Check my favorite clubs in Bangkok
Visa in Thailand
If you’re an expat, that’s an expense you can’t avoid and that you can’t neglect either.
Between the visa itself and the visa run you’re often looking at over 30,000฿ a year.
I had tourist visas (x2), a Student Visa of 9 months with Thai Classes (25,000฿ + Visa cost + Extensions + Visa Run, total about 45,000฿).
Now I’m on a business visa under my company. I'm basically an employee of my own business.
In total it cost me about 10,000฿ per month for a 12 months visa.
That includes taxes, the cost of the visa itself, the extension and the visa run.
Visa in Thailand : 10,000฿
Breakdown of my cost of living in Bangkok:
- Accommodation: 11,000฿
- Transportation: 2,000฿
- Food: 19,000฿
- Party and Drinks: 12,000฿
- Visa: 10,000฿
TOTAL = 54,000฿
That’s about what I used to spend when I was living in France but in Tours, not in one of the main city.
I know that’s not a big city or Paris. So I guess it’s not bad to be close to the same when in Bangkok, including the visa.
Also, my lifestyle here is way better.
I don’t cook, I could pay someone to do my laundry, I go for a massage every other weeks (in a good place, it cost me around 500฿). I have a great apartment and I can manage to go out quite a lot.
What would the cost of living in Bangkok for you ?
Of course, that only applies to me.
But I would say, that’s the minimum you’re looking at, for a quality life in Bangkok.
Can you live with less? Sure.
But what's the point of living in Bangkok if you can't take part to the events, try new restaurants/activities and make the most of it?
Now honestly, If I was making more money, I’ll probably be spending about 100,000฿ a month.
Basically I would move to a bigger townhouse, in a Thai neighborhood.
Try more restaurants and bars. And probably get wasted way more often.
Above 100,000++ that’s money for travels and savings.
I don’t see how you can spend that much money in Bangkok.
Oh, unless you get that sick penthouse overlooking the city, with a jacuzzi and naked…
Then I guess you can.
Here's a really interesting piece by BK Magazine on how is the cost of living in Bangkok compared to other big cities:
If you've got any question regarding my cost of living in Bangkok or if you're trying to figure out what would be yours, ask me anything in the comments.