Thailand is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for tourists and expats. Its incredible landscape and culture make it very desirable as well as it being incredibly affordable. Many people are choosing to relocate and move abroad to a multitude of destinations, with Thailand being absolutely no exception.
If you are considering or you're moving to Thailand, this is our guide to the cost to live in Thailand.
Why move to Thailand?
With its breathtaking beaches, incredible food, and bustling cities, Thailand is becoming an increasingly popular destination for expats. This South-East Asian jewel has a tropical climate all year round and has an immersive cultural experience as this exciting community blends modern and traditional. It is popular with a range of expats: those looking to enjoy retirement, work in a new role, or long-term traveling around the country. No matter the reason you are choosing to move, you will need the correct visas and paperwork which can be obtained from the Thai Embassy or your country’s consulate.
Thailand is also dubbed as one of the most affordable countries in the world. The low cost of living is another major reason that Thailand is a popular destination for people to relocate.
You can read our article on the best places to live in Thailand here.
Is Thailand Expensive?
The short answer is no.
As expected in all countries, prices do vary depending on the area of Thailand that you go to, however, throughout the entire country, expect much lower costs of living than in western countries. On average, the overall cost of living in Thailand is 59% less expensive than that in the UK.
Is Bangkok an expensive city to live in?
Bangkok is the thriving capital of Thailand. Known for its juxtaposing architecture, from historical temples to its modern skyline, and its vibrant culture, Bangkok does demand a lighter bigger budget than other areas due to a lot of Thailand’s urban life being centered around this mighty metropolis. Bangkok has a population of over 10.5 million people. However, even though Bangkok does have a higher cost of living, this dynamic megacity is still a lot cheaper than any western city of its size. For example, to get the same lifestyle and standard of living that $10,000 (USD) would get you in New York City, you would only need around $3,000 (USD) in Bangkok.
Expenses in Thailand
Thailand’s accommodation options are considerably cheaper than other countries, both hotels, and housing. As anywhere, Thailand’s housing ranges in price across the country but remains much cheaper than property in the US or Europe. Bangkok is the most expensive city to live in with beach and party destinations, such as Koh Samui and Phuket, being more expensive than mid-size cities (like the popular and peaceful Chiang Mai).
What do you get for your money?
Cheaper accommodation in Thailand tends to be more basic and is finished with Thai-style furniture and kitchens. Thai furniture is less cushioned than the western styles and tends to be much firmer. Additionally, Thai accommodation doesn’t have any kitchens that most western expats would expect, these kitchens often do not have a stove and are comparatively sparse. Any accommodation that boasts a western-style kitchen has usually been remodelled to have an oven, refrigerator, and other amenities. These remodelled properties tend to come with a slighter higher price tag than the more basic housing.
Food & Drink
Famous for its cuisine, there are plenty of choices for food in Thailand, it draws people in from around the world who want to try the rich and authentic flavours that this country has to offer. Food costs in Thailand are much lower than they are in the US and Europe. Local foods, for example, mangoes, jackfruit, and rambutan, are generally very cheap and of a high quality, in fact groceries in Thailand are on average 46% cheaper than in western countries. However, groceries that tend to be less common in Thai cuisine (such as dairy produce) does come with a slightly higher price tag than other groceries on offer.
The streets are lined with markets selling incredible groceries and meals, buying from these stalls as opposed to large international chains saves you a lot of money without compromising on quality. It is worth noting that cooking in Thailand is not always the most cost-effective option as markets sell freshly cooked recipes authentic to Thai culture. Doing your own grocery shopping works out more expensive than eating out, as dining out averages 71% cheaper than eating out in the US and Europe.
Additionally, alcohol in Thailand is somewhat expensive and so it can often be quite expensive to maintain an all-night party.
There is an abundance of transportation options in Thailand due to its rapidly evolving infrastructure. The extensive transportation systems include buses, subways, elevated trains, and in some areas even boats. These public transport options are incredibly affordable and make travelling around the country very convenient.
If you are wanting to drive yourself, be prepared for higher transport prices. Additionally in order to be allowed to drive around Thailand, you will need an international licence or a local licence as foreign licences are not accepted, this can accrue additional costs.
Healthcare & Insurance
Thailand offers some of the best hospitals in South East Asia, where checkups are affordable as well as health and dental care being on par with the US. Also, it does have a public healthcare system which you can qualify for if you have a Thai employer. Many expats rely on their savings to pay for their medical emergencies due to the low cost of healthcare in Thailand and this can often work out more cost-effective than purchasing health insurance which can carry high monthly premiums. However, those who love to Thailand under the long-term residents (LTR) program, need to prove they have health insurance coverage.
In order to make the move to Thailand, you will need to obtain a visa which can be a costly process. You may also need a work permit in order to have the right to work in Thailand, failure to obtain this may lead to deportation or arrest. The only legal way to get a new visa or permit is from the Thai Embassy or Consulate or an immigration office from around Thailand.
Do You Want to Retire in Thailand?
The cheap cost of living makes Thailand increasingly attractive for older expats looking to enjoy their retirement abroad. Although it is a very inexpensive place to live, it is still recommended to have some savings in order to cover you against any surprise expenses. Notably, your state pension will no longer be indexed when you move to Thailand and so will remain frozen at the same rate that you were receiving when you first became an expat. Having savings will also ensure that Thailand remains affordable when the cost of living inevitably increases over time.
The process to attain a retirement visa is relatively straightforward. You qualify to apply as long as you are over the age of 50 and have a pension of at least 65,000 Baht (£1,648) or at least 800,000 Baht (£20,700) to deposit into Thai bank, or a combined pension and Thai bank account.
These visas are valid for one year but can be renewed annually. After you have held a retirement visa for three consecutive years, you can apply for permanent residency.
The cost of living in Thailand
Undeniably, Thailand is a much more affordable country than many other areas of the world. You can curate an affordable lifestyle of meals out, wellness treatments (such as world-class spas and massages), and luxury housing without financial stress. This nation has a tropical climate, a friendly, rich culture, and a beautiful landscape that calls to expats from around the world.
This can be a sensational place to start building your life abroad. From a calm, serene life by the beach to fast-paced cityscapes, Thailand has everything you are looking for at an incredibly affordable price.
Start your journey to your luxury life in Thailand and view the developments we have on offer, here.