*UPDATED FEBRUARY 2017
This is a question that comes up so many times and everybody usually thinks that Bangkok is super cheap and you can live on a few hundred bucks. Well you can if you want to live like a bum but you can also live on 10000$ a month budget and spend it all easily if you want.
At the time I’m writing this post the exchange rate is about 1USD = 34THB.
If you are thinking about moving to Bangkok and Thailand in general first look how you live back at home and if you want to keep the same life style it might cost you same or more here in Bangkok. Mostly it depends what country and city you live in now but in general for most capital cities in the west the answer would be Yes, Bangkok is a cheaper place to live.
First thing is you need to choose where do you want to live. This also depends on the fact do you have a job and you need to get to the office every day? Are you retired and want to live a bit outside the city? Or are you a young online marketer who wants to live in the middle of the action close to the BTS and the night life spots? Prices for a 1 bedroom, 1 living room, kitchen and bathroom place can go from 6000-7000THB (200USD) all the way up to 50000THB (1500USD). Now if you have a family and a kid or two then you would start to look at 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom places near a good school. Then the prices can easily go up to 3000USD a month but a nice safe place a short taxi ride from the center with a small gym, pool and security would probably cost you around 15000-20000THB for a 1 bedroom and 25000-35000THB for a 2 bedroom place not that far from the central Sukhumvit and Silom area but also not on the BTS line. Obviously there are smaller buildings without all the amenities where you can sometimes cut those prices in half and also better buildings where you can add another 10000THB on the price. So it really depends what is important to you and your family if they are moving with you.
Most condo owners want that you sign at least a 1 year contract with 2 months security deposit and 1 month rent in advance.
On the other hand if you are single and just want a room to sleep at with a shower you can get them for as cheap as 2000-5000thb a month. But no security guards, pools and usually rooms with air conditioning cost extra. Personally not a life I would want to live and I would return back to Europe if i can not afford a normal middle class condo but there is also this option for those that do not find accommodation that important.
I suggest looking at Prakard.com and browse the area you are interested in.
Internet and TV package from True you can get for about 799THB for a 50MBps package including cable tv with some 100 channels and this can obviously go up to 100Mbps and Platinum package for about 10x that. Another company is AIS that also provides similar packages and i personally use AIS FIBRE package 50/10 for less then 800 baht a month
Mobile phone – There are several mobile network providers like AIS, DTAC and TRUE and all have similar prices. Flat rate internet and calls you can get for around 20$ per month. They have different promotions all the time so you can check for current ones on their websites.
Your water bill shouldn’t really be an issue usually around 6-7USD but the electricity bill can get high specially during the hot months when you use a lot of AC. For me personally I live in a 2 bedroom condominium and my monthly power bill is from 3000thb- 4500thb. You should know that the cheap apartment buildings usually mark up the water and power prices twice or three times the normal rate so your power bill might end up being higher then your rent.
Here are some other random item prices I could think off. If there is something specific you would like to know feel free to email me.
Food (Tops and foodland):
Milk – 45THB
Eggs 12 pack – 70-90THB
Chicken breast 200g 60-70THB
Sliced bread – 60-70THB
Pasta 500g – 50-80THB
Can of coke, sprite, Fanta – 12THB
Beer (Heineken large 500ml) – 60-70THB
Taxi – starts at 35THB and then goes up 2THB every half a km or so. Communication can be tricky so it would be best if can learn your street name and number in Thai or if you stay in a big hotel they should know it.
Gasoline prices right now are from 23.50THB for Gasohol 95-E85 up to 35THB for pure 95 gasoline.
Uber also started their operations and if you don’t want to mess around with non English speaking drivers and don’t mind the 50-70% higher prices I can only recommend it. Within the same app you can use UberX which is the same service but with smaller cars. While Uber black is usually a Toyota Camry or an SUV if you order and UberX you will get picked up by small or medium size car. The good thing is that UberX prices are the same and even lower then normal Taxi fares and you can get them to pick you up at your home/hotel so no need to look for a taxi
BTS/MRT prices currently are from 15THB for one station up to 52THB for the furthest station. Click here for BTS fares. You can also get a 1 day pass for 130THB valid for unlimited journeys on that day.
Clothes: I do not really buy any here in Bangkok as it is a pain to find something in my size (180cm and 95kg) so I just get it when I travel to Europe. But you can get cheap locally made clothes or if you choose brand names the prices would be about same or more then in the west. For bigger sizes i would recommend MBK.
Fun and stuff:
Movie tickets go from 170-240THB all the way up to 850thb for the business like airplane seats and even up to 1200THB and more in the new Central embassy cinema.
Gym membership 1 month is mostly 2000thb and more. Depending on the gym and location. Most popular gym chain in Bangkok is True Fitness.
One drink in a central pub or club 150-300thb. One beer in Gogo bars will set you back 145-180THB
Pack of Marlboro 80-90THB
Lunch in an average shopping mall restaurant with a drink 300-500THB per person
Dinner for 2 in a high end restaurant with some wine can easily be 3000-6000thb and even more in places like Sirocco.
So how much do I need to live comfortably in Bangkok with the same lifestyle or better then I lived at home?
If you are single and live a simple life, live in a studio apartment, drink and eat at the cheaper Thai places you can get by with 30,000THB maybe even less but not sure if this is worth moving to Bangkok for. Maybe something outside a big city would be better for this budget.
If you are single and want to live in a nice place not too central but still close enough and going out on weekends I would suggest around 50,000THB. If you indulge too much in the night life and specially if you like to take some paid company home few times a week then this will not be enough. Night life is not cheap in central Bangkok.
If you are a couple you should probably add another 20,000THB on top of that and if you have a baby maybe a bit more but if you have a school age child then it really depends on what kind of school you want to send your children to and the prices can go up to 10,000-20,000USD per year per child for international schools.
At the end it all depends on your needs. Many Thais get by on 10,000THB or less a month so anything is possible.
If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave those below.