Life in Bangkok can come on various levels of lifestyle but for many expats and people living in retirement, it will follow two popular scenarios. This would either be part of a quiet and simple life in the outer parts of the city, or the 24-hour city life in Bangkok’s central districts. The city works well for both lifestyles but the difference in budgets will vary quite a bit. While Bangkok in the past has had a reputation of being cheap; mostly from the observations of passersby who slum it in hostels and starve themselves but, as with any country, there are added costs in actually living comfortably in the city.
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The Simple Life
Living can be cheap for the simple life; located outside of the city centre with many expats managing to get by on street food and simple accommodation. For accommodation small studios can be found from around 5,000 Baht ( $152 USD) / per month up, then for the basics and necessities, I would budget for 300 Baht ($9.12 USD) a day. This tends to be the minimum for living in Bangkok and it follows an almost continuous diet of street food, food courts and when desperate 7/11 food. Price per meal will generally cost around 30 – 50 Baht ($.91 USD – $1.52 USD) at any of these place. So eating can again be cheap but I say 300 Baht ($9.12 USD) a day because of the small costs that you don’t really notice in day-to-day living. This also comes before the utility bills etc. which will come to around 2,000 Baht ($60.78 USD) plus unless surviving without air-con or communication. So in total, the basic budget for living should be around 15,000 Baht ($455.85 USD) per month up. That being said it will be far from glamorous. This is surviving more than living and this budget will not likely afford (unless splurging) a basic meal at McDonald’s, where it’s 150 Baht ($4.56 USD) plus or a Starbucks coffee at a similar price. To live cheap you do have to live local.
Big City Life
Much of Bangkok’s Big City Life will be similar to the simple life, only the main difference in cost will be accommodation, and the luxuries which come in these parts of city. Regardless of where you live in Bangkok, the basics will always be the same; street food and food courts, McDonalds and 7/11s, and taxis and rail networks. So living can still be inexpensive if in the central parts of the city if you can find accommodation which suits a frugal budget. Of course this isn’t always the case, or at least not without negotiating for tiny studio rooms or shared accommodation. That being said there are some great condos to be found near the outer Skytrain stations and 10,000 Baht ($303.90 USD) per month can do well. Add that to the basic cost of living and a better budget would be 25,000 Baht ($759.75 USD) a month. This can quickly rise however with desire to travel but cheap domestic travel routes can bring you to the hills of the North, the beaches of the South or my personal favourite to Isaan in the Northeast of Thailand. Also do factor in VISA runs which will depend on if and when you need to leave the country (VISA Run Guide here).
The Best Things in Bangkok are Free
People watching, street life, local parks, and just immersing in local culture is the most satisfying experience of Bangkok. Admittedly most bad rep for Bangkok comes from tourists or travellers who fail to see or appreciate the real Bangkok. As a diversely multi-cultural city there’s always something happening, holidays, celebrations, festivals and with strong expat and social communities in central Bangkok areas it is quick and easy to immerse and integrate.
This “What Does it Cost To Live for a Month in?” post comes from Allan of Live Less Ordinary, about one of my favorite cities to adventure in, in the world Bangkok, Thailand.