In Thailand, Location Matters
Th cost of living in Thailand will vary between cities.
- Most expensive – Bangkok
- Phuket will be in the middle
- Least expensive – Chiang Mai
Phuket Location Matters Too
This blog focuses on Phuket’s cost of living! The costs focus on a long term stay in Thailand, not just passing through.
- Cheapest– Phuket Town– Cheaper local food, rent is moderate. Few Westerners live here.
- Cheapest– Kathu– Food is cheap, living is dirt cheap, and options are plentiful.
- Moderate– Patong– Party town! Food costs more, rent varies widely. Options are plentiful
- Moderate- Rawai & Nai Harn– These two areas make up the Southern tip of the island.
- High– Chalong– Higher end communities, lots of great Western restaurants.
Summary of Cost of Living
Here’s a high level overview of renting in Phuket:
The table below summaries all monthly costs, except those related to renting:
A solo traveler living in Phuket will likely spend between $900-$1788. More likely, you will have a roommate or travel as a couple and suddenly rent and utilities are dirt cheap:
A couple can easily live here for $1,265 ($633 each).
Live Super Cheap
You can live even cheaper than outlined above, if you’re really willing to rough it. If you can’t afford the above, I certainly don’t want to tell you Thailand isn’t for you. The above is the range of budgets most people living here for 1-5 years live on as teachers. You can live on less:
Very basic accommodation can be as low as 6,000-7,000 baht ($200-230 USD) a month. By basic accommodation I mean a long term hotel room. One example would be the Sea Breeze in Phuket Town.
You can penny pinch elsewhere too. You can buy dirt cheap (probably covers nothing) health insurance or no insurance at all. The cheapest good meals in Phuket Town cost 40 baht a meal (two meals a day adds up to 2,400/mo) and serve you water for free.
Daily Cost of Living (First 3 Weeks)
For our first 3 weeks I tracked our daily expenses. This excluded stuff like rent, utilities, and insurance. I tracked every penny of our daily living including:
- Every meal
- Every TukTuk ride
- Every beer
- Every toilet paper run
- Every stop to buy something at a 7/11
- This was a huge pain in the butt
The average came out to be about $21 per day ($10.50 each).
We ate 2-3 times per day and bought only a few snacks. We ate well, but at local places that cost less. We indulged in cheap treats like 20 baht watermelon shakes, 30 baht chocolate sticks, and $1 banana crepes/rotee.
Daily Cost of Living (5 months In)
Five months later, our daily expenses consist of mostly just food. look like this (showing individual, not as couple):
Occasional morning coffee: 20 baht (60 cents USD)
Lunch: 40-100 baht ($1.20-3.30)
Dinner: 40-100 baht ($1.20-3.30)
Occasional ice cream: 20-30 baht (60 cents – $1)
Daily Average: 162 baht ($5.22 USD)
Our living costs are pretty simple now that we’re settled in. We own our own vehicles, so we don’t pay taxis. Our food costs don’t vary much because we eat at one of two chicken places for 40 baht each, a vegetable place for 50 baht, or an amazing noodle place for 100 baht each.
One night a week we usually splurge and go out for Italian, German, or Mexican. Those dinners cost $10-20 USD. Add in one weekly gas fill-up on the scooter for 150 baht ($5) and 150 baht a week for cell phone top-ups.
Excursions Cost More
Moving around the island costs money. Buy a scooter to avoid crazy TukTuk prices! For a guide on buses, TukTuks, scooter rentals, and buying a vehicle, check out this guide:
Weekend excursions can be free:
- Scooter up to Big Buddha, that’s free
- Go to Patong and people watch, that’s free.
- National Parks charge a few hundred baht for an entrance fee but once you have a work permit you can often get in cheaper.
- Going to one of the islands many beaches is free!
- Go for a Saturday run with the HHH crew.
- Do Saturday morning beach yoga and beach clean up with the Clean the Beach crew
Weekend excursions can also be expensive:
- Hire a long tail boat for 1,500 to bring you around to all the nearby islands. Rate is fixed, so bring friends and this can be cheap!
- Go to Koh Yao Noi for the weekend. Huge price swings between low to high season: 2,000 baht – 10,000 baht
- Rock climb: About 1,000 baht a day including getting to one of the several locations
- Scuba dive: 3,000-5,000 baht a day
Western Food Can Blow Your Budget
Essentially, you’ll pay similar prices to what you’d pay back home. A burger costs 150-300 baht ($5-10) at a place advertising great burgers. Search around and you will find a few hybrid Thai/Western places that offer a basic burger for 90 baht.
A good pizza starts at about 150 baht ($5) and goes up from there. Most are 150-300 but you can always find a fancy place willing to take more of your money!
Pasta like Bolognese or spaghetti costs 250-400 baht ($8-15 USD) depending on where you go.
If you’re the type to buy fancy coffees and to indulge in Western meals often, we’ve made a guide just for you! If you can’t live without Western foods and drinks, moving to Thailand is probably making you nervous. This guide shows you just what you can expect for Western food and drink options:
Budget For A Few Luxurious Excursions
If getting out of town and staying at a beautiful island resort for a few days is tempting, you’ll blow your budget out of the water but you’ll be getting the deal of a lifetime. We’ve only been on one luxury weekend excursion so far and it cost us $275 total. That includes two nights at the resort, all meals, all taxes/VAT, and all transportation.
Click here for a full review of the “Glow Elixir” resort
Our $80 a night rate was a low season discount we found through Agoda.com and I’m skeptical that we could find as good a deal during the high season (Dec-Mar). Still, if you’re already Phuket, you should realize that Thai resorts are cheap compared to most and, since you’re already within an hour of them, you should try some out! We will keep writing about resorts, as we try new ones.
Further Reading on Thailand Cost of Living
This site is amazing. If you’re tired of reading varied opinions on costs and want to see some aggregated data, this site has it:
Summary of different costs you can expect and some written summary discussing each:
This blog post, on expenses, is written by a teacher living on a budget: