A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living Breakdown in Thailand

Cost of Living Thailand

When I first set out traveling in 2008, information was scarce about what it actually cost to live and travel around the world. Now, there’s a lot more information, forums, and books. So much that it’s hard to know what’s hype and what real. Expats the world over talk about Thailand as an expat and retiree spots. It’s one of the most popular places to expat in the world. And for good reason. It’s wonderful.

But what is life actually like once you move to Thailand? When I first moved here, my family couldn’t even conceive of what it was like. This post will demystify the cost of living in Thailand, as well as cover a range of opinions on what it costs to live in the different areas. This is the hard and fast nitty-gritty details on everything from food to transportation to rent. As a traveler, I had always heard that it’s so incredibly cheap to expat yourself in the developing world — and it’s true, it’s cheap! As with many places, there is a trade off in some areas. Political stability, road conditions, and smog are just a few of the downsides, covered more later.

I’ve paid rent in both Orlando and Los Angeles, and my Thailand living costs averaged a third of my previous U.S. living expenses. I’m not the only one who has found Thailand a reasonable place to live — this place was popular with Western retirees for years. In 2010, a shift started. Alongside the rise in freelancers workers and those building online business, Southeast Asia became a hotspot for entrepreneurs looking for a cost-effective place to start their businesses. I landed in Chiang Mai in January 2011 with a one-way ticket and discovered why so many other expats so love Thailand.

It has that magic combination of low living costs, a rich culture heritage, and a high quality of life. This piece will look at the hard costs of living in various parts of Thailand. Then I drill down into what that price gets you in terms of quality of life. And though I lived in Thailand for a bit more than a year, throughout the piece I share anecdotes from friends and the hard costs they report on what it costs to live everywhere from the Thai islands to Bangkok to Chiang Mai. At the end of this post, I share a huge list of resources for getting started in Thailand — either visiting or living. This post was last updated in May 2016.

What Does It Cost to Live in Thailand?

Thailand Living ExpensesThese are my baseline costs, or rather more fixed monthly expenses. This is used as a minimum — add your own lifestyle on top of it. These estimates do not include the visa runs you’ll need if you’re on a tourist visa. Even with the double entry visa, border runs are necessary every 6-90-ish days.

The border runs add to the spice of living here though! Chiang Mai is a great launching point to other areas in Asia for in-depth explorations of Burma (Myanmar)Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and other quick flights and bus rides around Southeast Asia.If you’ve retired in Thailand, you don’t have to do border runs. And some friends have student visas for studying Thai, and they also don’t do visa runs. The international flights bracketing my stay in Thailand were roughly $800 each way, so factor that into my “fixed” costs as well.

Then you have the cost of unexpected life. I’ve had some medical check-ups, my computer cord broke and had to be replaced, toiletries and that type of thing. My medical expenses are under $100 for women checkups and basic blood work and I pay that at Thai hospitals and out of my pocket. I pay about US$600 per year for my annual travel insurance. The occasional and personal expenses are not included, just the base-line rock bottom costs. If you will need to obtain Thai health insurance, this expat breaks down that process.

When I first moved to Thailand, these stats held true. Over the years, it’s still very low, but you have to search a bit more. The cost of living, and food-related costs in particular, rose over the past few years (around the world, but also in Thailand). As of 2016, I would factor in another $100 per month to your baseline costs. This will account for the rise in food costs, as well as the fact that Chiang Mai is becoming increasingly popular — there is more competition for the budget expat flats.

What’s the Quality of Life?

This section is a close look at what I get for the price of living in Chiang Mai. The quality of life will be similar in other areas of Thailand, it’s just the costs that will change. And the islands, of course, have beaches nearby and some other perks. The north, on the other hand, has mountains, hill tribe cultures, and different foods than you will find elsewhere in the country.

What Do You Get for Your Rent?

Roughly $160 a month pays for my portion of a two bedroom house in the heart of Chiang Mai, within the moat of the downtown inner city (and the $15 maid was provided by my landlord and not optional). I share the house with a roomie and fellow blogger, Jodi of Legal Nomads. We jointly paid 10,000 baht monthly for the house and wifi. The house has tiled floors, one and a half baths, a tiny kitchen (no stove, those are very rare in Thai houses), a sturdy dining room table perfect for working, and a comfy living room. It’s Thai-style; a Western-style apartment will run you a good deal more.

Elsewhere in Chiang Mai, studio apartments run the gamut between 3,500 and 8,000 baht a month. These work well for solo travelers looking for something nice but budget. Nearly all apartments offer wifi. The internet in Chiang Mai is better than many places, but can wildly fluctuate throughout the day (my house has super speedy internet in the am, but not so much in the evening when everyone watches TV and thus slows the cable internet down to a crawl).

Chris and Angela are a 30-something couple living in Chiang Mai long-term. They report a lovely house rental outside of the moat with good amenities. One of the benefits of living in Chiang Mai is that your money stretches far and you can maintain a very nice life with just a bit more luxurious budget.

Other expats report that Bangkok has a similar quality of accommodation, but the costs of living is higher in the big city. Karsten gave the most detailed budget you’ll find for Bangkok, and he very open about sharing what it takes to maintain his life in the city. It’s a realistic look at what a solo 30-something expat can expect when living in Thailand’s capital.

Rental house in Chiang Mai, Thailand

silver temple chiang mai

thai island life

Tasty Local Eats

I regularly chow down on pad thai and pad see ew from the street stalls around town for about 30 baht a meal (a buck!). I add a fresh fruit smoothie to that for a mere 20 baht and call it a meal – totaling out most nights at less than US $2 for fresh, made to order Thai food from smiling street food vendors.

The occasional Western meal jacks the weekly food costs up quite a bit; a thin crust pizza from a farang restaurant sets me back at least 200 baht. I mostly eat Thai food … but I confess, coffee is a daily habit and ice cream is a weekly addiction. iBerry, a trendy ice cream shop more fitting on a chic corner of Los Angeles than a side-street in Chiang Mai, shakes things up with tangy tamarind sorbet, a spicy roselle, and a cooler full of other flavors. Always different, always worthy of my undying affection.

Update: Food costs across the city rise over time; between 2011-2012 food costs rose about 10 baht per local dish. That is a bit more now. Factor in $50 for general increases as a baseline cost, and adjust more if you have a different standard of living. 

chiang mai food

vegetarian soup from ming kwan



Chiang Mai’s small enough to either walk, push bike, or take local songthaews around town, but I prefer a scooter. The rental was cheap enough and zipping around town makes me feel that much more like a local. Plus, the local Thais burst into giggles when I ride up to the night markets with my roomie on the back. It’s easier for us to take one bike when we’re hitting up the same spots, so we ride Thai-style, with two farang on one bike. And they love us for it.

If you’re moving elsewhere in Thailand, then consider the different types of transport options. In Bangkok, you definitely won’t have to buy a motorbike. It’s easy to catch a motorcycle across town for a buck or two, and Thailand’s metro system is operates across some of the more important areas of town. When all else fails, you’ll just grab a taxi and head across town. Bangkok transport costs can, for this reason, vary a lot depending on how often you go out and need to use the various forms of transport.

Most expats in the Thai islands use personal motorbikes. Although the small beach communities are walkable, it’s often a bit further to get groceries, and you won’t likely live in the downtown areas since the beach communities have gorgeous, quiet communities spread throughout the islands.

UPDATE: Costs on motorbike rentals went up $40 more per month as of 2016; it’s still cheaper if you rent from a local though, instead of a shop. And way cheaper if you sign a longer contract. The best rates come when you rent for six months to a year.

renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai

tuktuk songkranthree on motorbike

New Friendships & The Thai Expat Scene 

Chiang Mai has a vibrant expat scene. This is one of the key reasons I returned again in 2011 with my niece. I loved the mix of expats and locals and how accessible the entire town feels. Chiang Mai doesn’t lack choices for evenings out on the town. The city has a bit of something for any mood: karaoke, dance clubs, quiet rooftop bars, and bowling. In the years since I’ve left, there is also a much more vibrant digital nomad community, which has meant some new trendy bars to cater to them too!

It’s important to note that my entertainment budget for Chiang Mai is conservative. I’m not a party animal, so those who are will definitely find this portion of expenses quite a bit higher if they really like to get their groove on regularly. In fact, add at least $100 per month if you go out 2+ times per week and drink.

For the rest of Thailand, the community really differs. Bangkok has a much larger expat community. You can find expats of all ages and styles. There are communities of retirees, a startup and entrepreneurial scene, and a good number of digital nomads who want a big city feel. The Thai islands also have a contingent of expats, though I found this scene to have a much smaller community of long-term young expats. There are older expat families and retirees, and then there is a large number of short-term parties in the region for just a couple months.

expat friends also living in Chiang Mai

loy krathong

Why Thailand?

When I moved to Chiang Mai in 2011, I had this suspicion that I could maintain a fun and full life without obsessing about my expenses. To make this travel life work, I needed to lower my cost of living to keep in line with my online income. I’m still building my marketing consulting work, I was paying off student loan and medical debt, and I also wanted the experience of living overseas. I knew that I could move back to Florida and likely save some costs if I pinched pennies, but it’s not an awesome life to live poor in Florida — I did that for 20+ years. Frankly, the best way for me to not go further into debt is to stay outside of the US.

There are other reasons I love Thailand. The country has great hospitals, checkups are affordable, and dental care is on par with the US. In Thailand, I don’t live in fear of getting sick and being buried under more medical debt. Many of my long-term goals are fulfilled through living here and continuing my travels and volunteering. I live in a Thai neighborhood, I volunteer locally, and I eat locally.

I first published this post about living in Thailand back in 2011. Since then, the post went truly viral. Half-a-million people have read it. I know there are others considering a move to Thailand, and everyone’s circumstances are unique. Some are retirees hoping to stretch their nestegg. Others are digital nomads looking to bootstrap a business from Southeast Asia. And others come for the culture, food, or some combination of it all. More than many places I’ve stopped over the years, Thailand has a truly unique range of expats. The community is huge and varies in each region, which means most expats can find something to love and a place they’ll enjoy calling their new home.

Thailand offers great hospitals and an affordable life. Checkups are affordable, and dental care is on par with the US. In Thailand, I don’t live in fear of getting sick and being buried under more medical debt. It’s just nice.

I am a traveler. My stories span the globe and I’ve been traveling and expat-ing steadily since 2008. Though I no longer live in Thailand (I moved to Mexico and wrote a cost of living post about it too! Check out all my Cost of Living Guides here), I return frequently. Since my first visit, I returned to Thailand with my niece for our year of homeschooling and travel.

This page represents my research and experiences over the years. Many of my friend live similar lifestyles in the region. They live and work in the city long-term, and they live simply (and locally) on this budget. It’s about your travel style. I don’t party and I love Thai food, so it’s easy for me to eat cheaply and enjoy the many, many free local festivals that happen monthly around Northern Thailand. It’s a wonderful spot for socially responsible tourism. Thailand has a compelling quality of life and culture. One of my favorite parts about Chiang Mai was the ability to jet off on the weekend for trips around the region.

As a freelancer, I enjoy knowing that Thailand is a wonderful spot to live, work, and play. Below are the resources I have collected over the years to help with a move, living there, researching, etc. Updated last in May 2016.

If you’re still researching various expat spots, check out our other Cost of Living Guides for a look at what it takes to move to the world’s most popular expat spots.

Resources for Moving to Thailand

The Basics of Moving to Thailand

  • Startup Guide Thailand: Hugely in depth guide to starting a business in Thailand — it covers everything you need and is thoroughly researched and a valuable resource (guides for most major Asian countries too). Another classic reader for business owners is How to Establish a Successful Business in Thailand, though it has no e-version so it gets minus points.
  • Thai for Beginners: An integrated program for reading, writing, and speaking Thai. In person learning is best, it’s a complex language, but with the CDs here you can get a good head start before you hire a tutor.
  • Travel insurance: World Nomads is the perfect for insurance for covering your health and belongings while you’re in the transition phase of moving overseas, or visiting to scope it all out. It’s a solid company and the insurance plans are designed for extended stays. I’ve used them since 2008.
  • How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well (for Less) Abroad: A great book to get started on being a retiree expat—good reviews, current, and in paperback and Kindle.
  • Sightseeing: A thoughtful and intriguing look at the two sides of Thailand. The one for tourists and the one plagued with economic and societal issues. If you’re interested in better understanding Thai culture before you move there, start here. The short-story format makes it an easy but compelling read.
  • Private Thai teacher: My niece and I took lessons from Lah in Chiang Mai — she’s great. If you’re learning Thai for the student visa, however, you have to go through a language school.
  • Securing Thai expat health insurance: Once you’re in the country living there, you might want local insurance. This expat laid out a really great guide to getting Thai Health insurance.
  • Finding Long-Term Accommodation

    • For long-term Chiang Mai spots, check out these condominium listings on Chiang Mai Grapevine and consider Chiang Mai House if you are looking for help on a long-term house rental. I also collected a list of long and short term accommodation — all places friends have stayed, I have stayed, or I have seen recommended.
    • In Bangkok, you’ll likely want to find a real estate agent once you arrive, it’s the norm and is affordable. They will help you pick a neighborhood and find something in your price range.

    Planning a Research Trip to Thailand?

    thailand-living-costsWhere to Stay

    If you’re moving to Thailand, it’s best to arrive in and book at least a week in a guesthouse. And definitely consider just doing a reconnaissance trip to scope it all out. Before you book long-term, you’ll want to all the options in person.

    What to Do

    Other Essentials

    • Nancy Chandler Maps: These are a must buy for the city you move to in Thailand. They are simply amazing. Detailed, thorough, and essential. I have the Chiang Mai one and it’s all creased and saggy and well-loved.
    • Smog in Northern Thailand in the Spring: Jodi gives her take on a particularly bad smog year. Make sure you time your visit well since you’ll be out and about. And for checking the smog levels right now, go to the Thai government site.
    • Volunteer in Thailand: both short and long term options. Can also search volunteer opportunities and responsible tourism ideass for all of SEA.

    Cost of Living Comparison

    Still researching the right spot to live? Our Cost of Living Guides share extensive resources or all the major expat spots around the world. These guides include thorough breakdowns of the culture, quality of life, vibe, and — importantly — budget breakdowns so you can better plan which spot in the world best meets your needs.

    cost of living guides

    , , , , ,

    • TravelingTeacher

      Thank you for this positive information about living in Chiang Mai! I have spent a few months in the Gulf of Thailand, but have never been to Chiang Mai before. I will be coming to live there very soon and will be working as an English teacher. You wouldn’t believe all the negative stuff that is out there on the ESL Teaching forums, online articles,etc. I was starting to worry! Your information has been very reassuring and helpful. Thank you so much!

      • Anonymous

        So glad this alleviated some of your concerns. The vibe up in the north if
        very, very different than the islands–but a good different in my opinion :)
        I have many expat friends living in CM right now and they are teaching
        English and really enjoying it. I’ll be back there in the late fall myself,
        so get in touch if there is anything I can do to help. Also, there is a
        Facebook group for expats in CM:
        <<Great people on there and you'll be able to meet people right away :)

        • TravelingTeacher

          Thank you so much for the FB page recommendation, it is just what I have been looking for!

    • Pingback: Journey Geek | Blog | Shannon O'Donnell()

    • Pingback: Location-Independent Living: Interview with James Clark of

    • Pingback: Best Spots for Visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand()

    • Thanks for posting this. I just showed this post to my husband.  It didn’t take long to convince him we should move to Thailand.  

      • Anonymous

        I love it when this post has that effect! When you guys start planning let me know and I’ll help where I can! :)


      Hello I’m a retired military member Im very interested in moving an living in Thialand. I’m collecting data on costs an quality of life. In the various areas of Thialand. Also I’m curious about the volunteering in this part of the world.

      • Anonymous

        Hi Roger, thanks for commenting, I really think CM rates high in Thailand for quality of living, and because CM is in the north, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities not only with the local Thai communities, but with Burmese refugees as well. Feel free to send me an email if there is anything else I can do to help! :)

    • Pingback: 33 Useful Resources for Digital Nomads()

    • Denwalters22

      I’ve always wanted to travel after I finish my undergrad. but I’m spectacle about the costs of living and how to pay for it all, but this definitely helped. Adding Thailand to the list!

    • Meancharlie

      Waaaa thanks for the info. I just came back from bangkok last week for vacation and fell in love with thailand. Planned to stay for 2 weeks but extended one more week just because it’s AWESOME :) Plus i met a girl over there and absolutely fell in love with her. Ya, call me naive but she’s 10x better then all my ex. We’ve been talking about opening a restaurant or hostel in CM in the future. Talk about living cost ggrrrrr. I make around $70k a year and it’s not even nearly enough to support the life style here in the US sighhhhhh. BTW know how much will it cost to open a small business there in CM? restaurant, hostels, tailor shop……..building/land cost?

      • Anonymous

        The transition back home is a tough one once you’ve been to Thailand, it’s one of my favorite places :) Chiang Mai is a wonderful city and there are a a lot opportunities for expat restaurants and shops. I am not sure about the business start up costs, but I know that once you come back you will no doubt be able to find some of the local expats and they will give you candid details on the ups and downs of owning a business there! Also check expat forums and that sort of thing to find current Western business owners :) Good luck!

      • Seeker

        Ah, another farang newbie with Jasmine Fever… Do your homework grasshopper, before you turn your life upside down for someone you just met… No matter how well she treats you, now…

    • Renee

      Would love some advice. Coming for three months with my foster daughter from Ghana so she can do a course at a Thai massage school and although I have been to Thailand twice over the years, wondering what is our best option for housing. Been searching the apt/guest house sites and really want a place we can cook too. Any suggestions? I will be doing some yoga and whatever classes may take my fancy, some dental work and medical. We will do a  little traveling too. Would love to chat with you.

      • Anonymous

        Have responded in email, but for general purposes to have the information handy, I really prefer to find a place in CM once you get there — book a guest house for several days and then do some hunting and you will find great deals :)

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      Thank you for sending that link, though I am not at the retiring stage, it is helpful to have that information here. Cheers and thanks :)

    • Erumdo

      Dude. 3 months does NOT make you an expat. But a backpacker with a rental apartment. 

      • Anonymous

        Cheers and thanks for the feedback and for (not) reading so closely…lived there for five months actually (and am not really a backpacker at all so much anymore), and I am currently living here for another six months at least, in my book, that makes me an expat but you’re entitled your opinion! :)

        • Andrew Mitchell

          Sounds like Erumdo is a traveler snob. I love those people. As in “you’re doing it but you’re not doing it as well as me.” I’ve surfed in a bunch of places around the world and there are all of these foreigners (guess what, we’re all foreigners) who have declared themselves the “locals” in all of these surf spots. It’s like “oh, you should have been here ten years ago, you missed it.” OK, whatever. We’re all trying to do it the best we can. As long as you go somewhere and are respectful to the natives and their culture, then you’re doing it right.

          • ShannonOD

            There are people for whom it will always be a pissing contest and this post has brought out a bunch of them! I appreciate you sharing your own experience Andrew. The world is dynamic and changing, and if you love a spot now, right now, then that’s the time to be there–that “10 years ago” argument frustrates me too! Good luck with the surfing, I have always loved passing through the beach communities that spring up around the great surf spots. Safe travels :)

    • Pingback: The Search for an Apartment in Chiang Mai()

    • Devon Johnston

      Loved reading your story. I am getting ready to retire on $1400 a month, Yikes! Can you imagine how I will live in the US on that! I’ve been making around $100k a year for the last 20 years so I am used to living well. (Would have lived less well and saved more if I had understood the reality of retirement)
      Thailand is one of the places I have admired from a distance and considered as my retirement place, but making the move without knowing anyone, it is scary, although I did read about the expat clubs there so besides you, there are plenty of English speaking folks around. I would not want to move without my daughter and grandson, which would mean she would need to find work. Things have to be considerably different there, so doubt you can answer this, but what are the chances for a home-improvement expert and artists to make money there?
      Thanks for the great articles,

      • Seeker

        Sorry to burst your bubble, but Thailand has very restrictive work permit visas rules and / or foreign business investment regulations… Your daughters best option for employment would be as an English teacher in the Thai school system, as long as she has a 4 year degree in something and a TEFL certificate…

    • Ben Pablo

      Typed in “cost of living thailand” in Google and your entry popped up as the highest-ranked non-sponsored one, and I was glad I came across it! Moving there has always been in the back of my head, and it’s mainly because of the affordability. The baht isn’t far from Philippine Peso, and I don’t make much, being only a few years fresh out of college. But I’ve been there and I like the culture, so I’m definitely going to explore the possibilities. Thank you for the details and the insights :) And feel free to ask me about anything at all if you plan to visit my country.

      • Anonymous

        Glad you happened upon the post! I know of other Filipino expats here so I think you are right, it’s comparable and doable with the exchange rates…when you’re close to moving here, let me know if you have any questions, likewise, I will definitely send you an email when I visit the Phillipines :) Cheers and good luck planning your move!

    • Pingback: Where Can a Writer Live Well? « Literati Writing()

    • Bruce Kendall

      Here is my budget when we move to Thailand in March 2012.
      But we will be living in Pattaya, on the Dark Side.The house is already paid for.Internet                                       $50

      Cable TV                                    $10

      Water (we have a pool)                $40

      Electric                                      $40

      Food                                         $250

      Truck and Gas (truck
      is paid for) $100

      Evenings out    (4
      times)             $200

      Travel    (2 times)                       $400


      Total                                        $1100If I can keep it to this I will living Phat!

      • Anonymous

        That looks doable Bruce! And great that you have a plan in place; though I haven’t been to Pattaya, good luck! ;-)

    • Pingback: Essential Reads for Digital Nomads: Blog Edition()

    • Pascal

      Hello Shannon, thanks for your great articles. Is it a good idea to move in thailand with my wife and my 3 kids? Can I find good school? How much to rent a 4 – 5 bedrooms house?

      • Anonymous

        I think it depends on what you are looking for, but there are many other expats with families living here, and numerous high quality international schools that give an excellent education. The family
        lives here and you might be able to find some inspiration on their site!

    • Brittany

      I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog! I’m also from Orlando, actually living here now. Just got back from living in Switzerland for a year, and I’m ready to head back out there!  What do you do in Thailand, job wise?

      • Anonymous

        Hi Brittany! I’m envious of that year in Europe, I would love to find a way to spend a year traveling around their affordably :) As for work here in Thailand, teaching English is probably the easiest way, but there are also a whole lot of NGOs and similar type work too. I work online, but this type of work is what many of my friends do to get visas and live here long-term! :)

    • Pingback: 18 Reasons Why Chiang Mai makes a Perfect Digital Nomad Headquarters()

    • Bruce

      I enjoyed reading your blog.  I live on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.  We have the highest electrical rate in the nation.  Our mountain ridges receive more rain than any other place in the world.  You would think we would harness the hydro and go green but the so-called enviornmentalist fight the Hydro Power.  So we burn fossil fuel to make electricity… Go figure!  BTW my electric bill runs about $400 a month, milk is $5 a gallon, etc….

      I’m building a new home, I am way over-budget.  One of the guys working on the house is married to a girl from Thailand.  They just finished building a home in Thailand.  It is comparable to my home on Kauai.  Their home cost them $50,000, I don’t even want to tell you how much I have into my home.

      Long story short, my friend and his wife are encouraging me to sell everything and move to Thailand.

      I googled Americans living in Thailand and found your blog…

      Mahalo Nui Loa!!!
      I plan to move to Thailand,


      • Anonymous

        Hi Bruce, glad you found my site and perhaps a little bit more inspiration to perhaps move abroad, the cost of living is so much lower here than in the US it’s scarcely even comparable. That’s one of the best parts of moving abroad, keeping your quality of life, but scaling down the costs so you can enjoy your time :) There are so many other things to consider here (foreigners cannot own land directly), politics, and visas, but overall, if you can make the move work, and you like spending time in Thailand you could definitely be living for a fraction of the cost. If there is ever any questions I can answer, just shoot me an email! :)

    • Eugene

      Hey Shannon. Thanks for this post and for giving us an insight into your life in Thailand. My wife and I will be going there again on holiday next April which I just found out is the hottest time of the year. :-r

      I’m still working on convincing her to agree to sell everything and go and spend at least a few months there but she’s not biting yet. Our child (a rabbit called Coco) might not cope with the heat though so
      for now we’ll leave him with a sitter and enjoy the holiday. She’ll be happy to hear that there’s some decent coffee and ice cream in Chiang Mai though and I’ll be using this info during the next round of our negotiations.

      • Anonymous

        April is a tough time to travel here for sure, it’s baking hot and in the north, were they do crop burning the air quality can be pretty bad. But, it’s also not the high tourist season, so there is something to say about that! If you visit Chiang Mai you will be amazed by all of the Western comforts when you need them…ice cream is plentiful and coffee is often mediocre, but there are a few pretty decent spots! Let me know if there is any way I can help once you plan to come this way, I should actually be here in April :)

    • Hi Shannon!

      I know I’m this is an older post, but I have had it bookmarked for months in preparation for my own move to Chiang Mai! I’ve been here for over a week now and scored a pretty cool apartment on Nimman Road. I was wondering if you could tell me where you rented your scooter. I haven’t found any places with rates lower than 3000B. Did you have a native Thai speaker help you?

      Thanks so much, 

      • Anonymous

        Nimman is such a great area, very lively and some of my favorite restaurants are over there! Will send you a message about the bikes :)

      • Skycop15

        Scooter rentals are everywhere, around 200 baht. You give up your passport until return, get insurance please. Good luck you can get hurt and or killed! Thai’s do not stop!

    • Pingback: What location to choose for your lifestyle independence life?()

    • Jimskid

      hi there, ive done homework about working in thialand but ive seen nothing of the legality of an expat working in Thailand.  once i start the journey, what is a good staging area, maybe with a cheap pensione or youth hostel?
      thank you so much for your help
      jim, dallas texas

      • Anonymous

        That’s a tough one Jimskid, it is completely illegal to work here in Thailand without a visa, so I can’t really recommend you do that, but yes, some hostels might let you exchange accommodation for work if you ask around. That being said, there are a lot of teaching English jobs here, and you could take a contract and save up money, and then leave, not sure what your travel plans look like, but there is definitely work to be found (both legit and not) all over SEA for backpackers simply asking around :)

        • Jimskid

          it was so nice to get a fast response, thank you

    • Jthieme23

      Hi Shannon. im actually looking into teaching ESL in Thailand in the next few months. I was wondering about Health insurance there. I have Insurance here till June and then I have nothing, but after that Id have to figure something out. If my job doesnt offer it can i get insurance there?

    • Anonymous

      What a generous spirit you are! I have enjoyed reading your blog and it is one of the first ones that piqued my interest in Chiang Mai. Reading about your adventures has been really inspiring. I have a question for you related to visa expenses; my husband is a telecommuter and we have decided to take a “personal development year” in Thailand. My husband will work remotely and I will be finishing a novel and perhaps volunteering. My question: If we want to stay in Thailand for a year or so, is it advisable to sign a year lease on a house or apt?  If so, what expenses can we expect to incur over a year to keep a valid Visa? I have been searching online, but haven’t found the answer to the question “What is the least amount of visa related expenses we would incur in order to stay in Chiang Mai for a year?” Thank you in advance for your time.. I know you are busy with your niece. ;-)  Would love to meet you and your niece when we get there.
      Peace out,
      P.S.  I also really resonate to your Joseph Campbell quite..

      • Anonymous

        Hi Loree! Thanks for getting in touch and congrats on the move to Thailand, I am pretty partial to the country :)

        As for visas, that is one of the trickier parts of staying for a year. You will have really just a couple options since I don’t think you’re at retirement age yet (totally different visas!).

        The double entry visa: Gives you two entries, each on 60 days and each entry can be extended by 30 days…so this is about 6 months. Then you would have to leave and get a second double entry visa. With this visa, you have to leave the country every 90 days and at least cross a border. All told about 6,000 baht to buy it and then cross a nearby border). (Apply for your first double entry from home!)

        The second kind is a year visa but it’s multi entry (so you can come in and leave as many times as you want) and you get 90 days each time. I haven’t done this one, but friends have and it’s the ideal between the two. Call your closest Thai consulate and see if they would issue this one…it’s worth the fees.

        Also, for some more living here type posts and help: This family has some great resources.
        And as for the house, renting a house can be cheaper, but there are allll
        kinds of apts here in Chiang Mai, and just a bit outside the moat you can
        get a pretty great house for the same as an apt in the city, so it really
        depends on what you want (check out the link above, they also have a
        housing post!). Consider, if you do a apt and commit to 6 months, then you
        can easily get out of it if you decide to try out living elsewhere in

        Cheers and good luck on the move, if you’re here in the next few months we
        can definitely meet up! :)

        • Anonymous

          THANK YOU Shannon!  Soooo helpful!! I look forward to reading about your latest adventures.

    • “The best way for me to not go further into debt is, frankly, to stay outside of the US.”

      Sad, but true! I’m seriously thinking to live there with my 2 little girls and My wife!
      Thanks for sharing!

      • Anonymous

        I couldn’t agree more! It’s gotten so that even a modest income puts you at the poverty level, whereas you can live a really nice life over here in Thailand for that amount. Good luck with the planning! :)