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I have decided to publish this entry as a permanent page because it will be updated with the latest outcomes as I continue to record my living expenses here.

The Question

What is the cost of living in Thailand for someone leading a “normal” (non-tourist) lifestyle? We all know it is cheaper than back in Australia but what would a monthly budget look like here?

Well that was one of the main questions I had in coming over and one of the reasons I wanted to stay for an extended time.

My first couple of months in Thailand were not representative of a normal lifestyle so I wasn’t able realistically gauge costs. I had six weeks in Phuket at the start my trip much of it with friends and family visitors. I was forced to put in the hard yards taking them round restaurants and bars, renting beach chairs and umbrellas etc etc. Phuket may also be the most expensive place to live in Thailand.

The next two weeks were spent in Isaan where Gaun’s family provided much of the food we ate so once again I didn’t feel that keeping a record of expenditure was too useful.

It is only since I have been living in Chiang Rai that I have been able to start recording what we are spending every day pretty well down to the last baht.

If you want to see what a shopping expedition to the local markets looks like and the prices paid for each item converted to Australian dollars then please go to this blog entry “Our Shopping Basket”.

And the Answer is……PERIOD 1

This outcome is a pretty accurate record of the expenditure we made for the four weeks 15 August to 11 September 2013.


Food – excluding eating out $185.00

Non-food household expenses $46.00

Alcoholic drinks (home) $92.00

Eating out and coffees etc. $209.00

Other expenses $284.00

Total $816.00

Additional information:

Food includes both local market shopping and Western supermarket shopping (at Central Mall – Tops Supermarket)

Non-food includes things like toiletries, pharmacy, cosmetics (not mine!), and laundry/kitchen liquids.

Alcoholic drinks includes a “set-up” purchase of a bottle of gin and vodka, both still with plenty to go ($12.56 each!)

Eating out isn’t just “sandwiches” type affairs but a sit-down meal including alcohol sometimes (not breakfast) and comprises the following for two people:

Breakfasts x 5

Lunches x 6

Dinners x 6

Coffees sometimes with snacks x 7

Other expenses includes some unusual costs involving 4 nights accommodation at a guesthouse in Chiang Mai and higher than normal petrol costs as I have been commuting between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai (a 180 km trip each way) for dental work.

Other expenses in this category include a large gas bottle refill for home $12.50, a one hour massage for me x 4 (if you are a Thai massage lover I hate to tell you that it costs $9.00 for the hour here) and some other minor items – donations to temples, flowers.

You would have a house full of fresh flowers at $3.70 for this arrangement.

You would have a house full of fresh flowers at $3.70 for this arrangement.

Not included:

Electricity isn’t due to be paid until the end of my lease so hasn’t been included in actual expenditure. After reading the meter the four week cost is around $20.00 (no air conditioning required this time of year so lower than average).

My rent for a very comfortable two bedroom house (see separate blog entry) is $650.00 a month (off season). If living here long term you can get a large three/four bedroom house over 200 sq mtrs for around this cost.

My Nissan car rental is costing me $550.00 a month unlimited mileage. I would own a car living here as 75% of road deaths in Thailand are those involving motorcycles. It is often wet here too and the umbrella on motorcycle just isn’t a Tony look!

I obviously haven’t included “normal” living costs that I’m not paying for in my current semi-holiday mode. I can get a super high medical insurance scheme with benefits way above what I get in Australia for $100 a month. A replica of the mid-cover I have at home would cost me around $60.00 month.

I haven’t costed car insurance.

Satellite TV would be a must if you wanted some English speaking viewing. Broadband would be a must. Neither costed yet.

And the Answer is……PERIOD 2 (added 22 October 2013)


Food and household – excluding eating out $230.00

Alcoholic drinks (home) $18.00

Eating out and coffees etc. $185.00

Other expenses $536.00

Total $972.00

Additional information:

Eating out includes $110.00 in expenses as a result of us visiting Chiang Mai, which requires us to eat out.

Other expenses includes:

Petrol $162.00 – higher than normal as we did two trips to Chiang Mai in this period.

Accommodation $126.00 – 5 night’s accommodation in Chiang Mai.

Clothes $108.00

Massage x 4 $60.00

Take away the Chiang Mai trip costs and the total expenditure for the four weeks is perhaps around$700.00.

Excludes electricity, rent insurances etc.

The next report will have car insurance and the some of the regular longer term rental included. I can also report on the electricity costs for the 10 weeks we’ve been living in Chiang Rai.