A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand (2017)

cost of living in chiang mai, thailand

three on motorbikeWhen I first set out traveling, information was scarce about what it actually cost to live and travel around the world. Nearly a decade later, there’s information, forums, blogs, 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. I first moved to Thailand in 2011 and have been back since then.

But what is life actually like once you live in Thailand? It’s also hard to know the hard and fast costs for living in Thailand. When I first moved here, my family couldn’t even conceive of what it was like. This post demystifies the cost of living in Thailand, as well as covers 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. My cost of living for Chiang Mai came in at $485 baseline in 2011 and about $700 total with all of my quality of life added on top! (Adjusted for 2017, I would say $545 is a better baseline now, considering the rise in motorbike prices and food). And 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 and digital nomads. By 2017, it is a veritable hub of entrepreneurial and digital nomad activity for those looking for a cost-effective place to start their businesses. And, retirees still love it too. It has a huge, varied, and vibrant expat community. I first landed in Chiang Mai in January 2011 with a one-way ticket and discovered why so many other expats and digital nomads so love Thailand. I’ve been back many times since.

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.

(Keen to access this information offline? We offer this as a downloadable PDF for $3.)

What Does It Cost to Live in Thailand?

Living in Thailand comes down to two things: your baseline costs (fixed monthly expenses), and your personal lifestyle, which you add onto the top of those costs. Foreigners will have baseline living costs of USD $485 minimum. That’s in a place like Chiang Mai, and it will cost more to live in the Thai island, Bangkok, or retiree hotspots. This figure is used as a minimum 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 60-90-ish days. Retirees will have their own specific minimum social security and living income they need to prove before they will receive the retiree visa.

Minimums Costs Living in Thailand

Monthly Expense Costs (USD$)
Rent & Internet $160
Electricity & Water $20
Maid $15
Food  $175
Scooter & Gas $125
Evenings Out $50
     Total  $545

For me though, I’m not yet old enough so I do the tourist visas. And the border runs add to the spice of living here! 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 in rent 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 2017; 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.
  • The Tax Book for U.S. Expats: This is well-priced and unique to expats and retirees filing abroad. It gives a granular look at forms, terms, and sorting out exactly how to file — good for those with complicated tax situations. More recently released, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans goes broader and is aimed at younger expats and digital nomads still working and handling how to earn income overseas, pay taxes, and live a nomadic life. It doesn’t explain the terms or niche situations/forms as well as the other book, but instead acts as a guide for younger travelers. Depending on your situation, pick up a copy of one of these guides before you leave so that you will have a tax system in place that maximizes the opportunities to easily file.
  • You’ll also want property insurance once you’re living overseas — I’ve used Clements for many years now.
  • Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America: There are a lot of these general guides. The book above, Better Life is about where is a good culture fit, whereas this is the better of the lot of “move overseas” books that covers the practicalities and very hands-on information you need as someone considering living anywhere outside the U.S. If you’re new all the researching, this can kick-start your process. And if you are laser focused on the retirement topic, versus moving overseas at a different state in life, this retirement guide has great advice.
  • Move to Cambodia: In case you’re weighing the thought of Cambodia, it’s a destination that is hard to find covered online, and this expat’s book is one of the best resources you will find.
  • 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.
    • One ALA reader shared that Huay Kaew Residence is the best wheel-chair friendly accommodation in Chiang Mai (and perhaps the only).
    • 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?

    how much does it cost to live in Thailand?Where 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.

    Want to read this offline? Download as a handy PDF.

    Cost of Living PDF: Thailand
    Access this information offline along with additional information detailing the questions you should ask when comparing multiple destinations.

    It’s all wrapped up nicely in a shiny PDF to make your cost of living research easier.

    Buy the PDF for $2

    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 in Bali, Indonesia

    cost of living costa rica

    mexico cost of living

    thailand cost of living

    Cost of Living Guide for Amsterdam & Berlin

    Cost of Living in Eastern Europe

    panama cost of living

    cost of living Vietnam

    If there is ever anything that I can do to help, please do reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let’s talk about how we can make your travel dream a reality. 

    This post was last updated in January 2017.

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    302 Responses to A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand (2017)

    1. Renee October 17, 2011 at 2:47 am #

      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 October 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

        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 :)

    2. Meancharlie October 15, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      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 October 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

        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 November 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

        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…

    3. Denwalters22 September 29, 2011 at 5:30 am #

      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!

    4. Rogersjed@gmail.com September 11, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      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 September 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

        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! :)

    5. Sheila August 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

      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 August 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

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

    6. TravelingTeacher July 25, 2011 at 1:54 am #

      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 July 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

        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 July 28, 2011 at 6:38 am #

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

    7. Russell Wilkes July 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

      I just happened to stumble across your site today. It’s just what I had been looking for. I don’t want to be thought of as the typical american stereotype that I’ve read about on other sites . Thank you for your honesty and your sincerity. I hope to emulate what you are doing shortly. Fortunately I’ll have a modest income that should prove to be sufficient for the lifestyle you have painted for me. I’m looking forward to making many friends and experiencing the culture of Thailand.   

      • Anonymous July 23, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

        Hi Russell! Thanks for stopping in and sharing your experience; Thailand is
        one of my favorite countries and a great place to be an expat. If there is
        every anything I can do to help you plan, or answer any questions don’t
        hesitate to drop me an email! :)

    8. Stephen June 7, 2011 at 5:25 am #

      Thanks for the price breakdowns. It really is a great place to live and work (via the web) cheaply. I spent less than a week there, got lots of work (writing/publishing) done and spent very little money. I know I want to return to stay longer.

      • Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

        Glad you found it helpful Stephen, CM is a wonderful place to settle and
        because the internet speeds are decent I found it easy to pound out some
        work :) If there is ever anything I can do to help once you move back
        there, let me know!

    9. Federico @ MaiTravelSite May 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

      Probably some of the best value in the world I’d say!

      • Anonymous May 17, 2011 at 12:34 am #

        I would have to second you on that one! Thailand has wonderful value for
        money :)

      • Raj July 17, 2011 at 9:50 am #

        Agreed , great place and you can live the comfortable life here

    10. Willofalaska April 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

      thanks for all your posts. do you recommend any books for more information? and once again you have done a great job getting the word out. retiring in 15 years and was looking for good alternatives

      • Anonymous April 30, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

        Thanks! I actually don’t have any expat book recommendations in particular,
        there are some great travelogues out there, is that what you are looking

    11. yTravelBlog April 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks for this post. We really want to move back to Thailand and are considering Chaing Mai. It is great to get an idea of living costs. As we are a family of soon to be four I’m sure the costs will be a lot more but it’s great to know. I’ve heard so many great things about the medical care there. I’d feel quite comfortable moving there now and having my baby there.
      I’m totally jealous by the way!

      • Anonymous April 29, 2011 at 12:01 am #

        Huge congrats!!! Yay, a new baby :) I don’t think you could go wrong
        coming here, the hospitals in town are clean, and a few of them are
        English-speaking too. Your costs would be higher to be sure, but not by a
        ton. The house Jodi and I rent is 10,000 baht total for a two bedroom and
        the family across from us (same exact house) has exactly your family size,
        little baby, toddler, and a couple – so that’s roughly what you’re looking
        at for a little house or two bedroom apartment!

        Keep me posted if you decide to come here (and the GotPassports are a great
        resource)! :)

    12. Paul D April 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      Love this blog! Thank you so much for posting. I’ve never seen anyone break down the cost of living and what you get for it the way you did. I have been to Thailand on three occasions, and would love to move there for a year or so, but my wife is settled into a very good job in Toronto, so I don’t think it’s likely. Thankfully in Canada we don’t have your worries about health insurance, but cost of living is still much higher than many other places (especially in Toronto).

      As a writer and professional speaker / business consultant, I can do my job from anywhere, so Chiang Mai sounds great! I guess I’ll do so vicariously through others for now. Enjoy your time there! Cheers –

      • Anonymous April 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

        Really glad you found it helpful Paul! It’s the baseline costs to be sure, there is more you could spend, but Thailand is a great place to minimalize and pare down :) You have half of the equation down with your job being location independent, it’s even great for a few month stint if your wife ever feels like negotiating a short sabbatical! :)

    13. feint April 27, 2011 at 6:58 am #

      I loved my time in Chiang Mai. My only regret was that I didn’t stay longer. I was based outside the old fort in the suburbs. It was very chill and quiet and it was nice becoming a “regular” at the local eats.

      • Anonymous April 27, 2011 at 10:04 am #

        That’s about my only complaint too – I have to leave next week and it just
        feels like it’s too soon! I haven’t ventured much into the suburbs, but it
        sounds lovely, being with in local areas and becoming a regular is a
        highlight :)

    14. AccentJim April 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

      This is such a useful breakdown, especially because you’re specifically showing us what you’re getting for your money! Great to see you’re not living as a pauper. I think my greatest concern with letting go of my job and focusing on my own business is the lack of health insurance, but you nicely cut through that fear. Thanks for sharing the details!

      • Anonymous April 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

        Thanks Jim! And glad you found it helpful…you really do get a lot for
        every dollar you spend here! You really can’t beat the healthcare here – and
        for that matter, medical tourism to Mexico is a growing industry too if it
        happens to be closer to you :) Best of luck!

    15. Esther April 18, 2011 at 5:51 am #

      i’m a single parent with a baby on the way. thinking of moving to thailand for a new life. wondering whta are the cost of living there n how do i find cheap rent yet comfortable apartment foe me and my baby. need some advise on that.

      • Anonymous April 18, 2011 at 9:03 am #

        Costs of living would be about the same as what I mentioned in the posts
        since you could probably do with just a one-bedroom that was comfortable for
        you and your baby. Thailand is a wonderful place to base out of and my
        neighbors have two kids (a baby and a toddler) and seem to do well over here
        :) Good luck!

        • Esther April 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

          thats great! thank you..((:

    16. Rebecca April 17, 2011 at 9:00 am #

      Soo cheap, love it! I’m going to be in Chiang Mai in exactly 4 days so good to good to have a rough idea how much $$ is going to be leaving my wallet. Thanks!

      • Anonymous April 18, 2011 at 2:26 am #

        Will you really! You have to let me know when you get here and we can get
        lunch or dinner! :)

        • Rebecca April 21, 2011 at 1:45 am #

          That would be great! Flying in later today and we’re planning to be there for 4-6 days at this stage. Let me know when suits you!

    17. Sonya April 16, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      Lately, I’ve heard about so many travelers going or moving to Chiang Mai. Thanks for the great tips!

      • Anonymous April 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

        You’re welcome Sonya! If you ever find yourself here, let me know :)

    18. Islandmomma April 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

      I’ve heard so much about the cheapness in the last couple of years, but never seen a realistic breakdown like this before, even close friends who’ve spent time there haven’t explained it, and now, of course, I understand. I thought I did quite well here, but your total costs amount to around half of my rent/internet! Yet, I rent a two bedroom apartment, and for almost the same price my son, who moved to England last year, rents what is basically one room in a house share. Prices vary so much around the world!

      • Anonymous April 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

        It really is amazing how much it varies in what you can buy with the same amount of money in various places. As long as you can afford your lifestyle, and enjoying it, then it really comes down to preference! Enjoy island life (would love to make it to the Canary Islands someday soon!) and thanks for stopping in and commenting :)

    19. Brady Stump April 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      Enjoyed the blog post!

    20. Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Thank you so much for the kind words – and yes, your blog sounds like it’s needed out there to empower women to travel :)

    21. Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks for weighing in Justin, several people have mentioned New Zealand in the comments here and I’m intrigued! And the lack of a language barrier can be a real plus :)

    22. Adam April 15, 2011 at 4:31 am #

      I went to Chiang Mai last summer and it was one of the best times of my life.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:25 am #

        So glad to hear you enjoyed it Adam! CM is such a wonderful and friendly city – lots to do and see so I can understand why you had such a good time :)

    23. Tanya April 14, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      I’d move to Chiang Mai in a heartbeat if my sig. other’s job was location independent, too! I’m embarrassed to say how much I spend on rent in Singapore… let’s just say my *apartment* costs more than 10x your house!

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:24 am #

        Wow, I had no idea Singapore was such an expensive city! Maybe in the future the travel gods will look your way and give you a way to branch out and try Thailand or some other Asian cities! :)

    24. DanaiyaInspire April 14, 2011 at 3:30 am #

      Shannon, having read your article I am confident to continue my blog. I encourage Woman to Travel, so they can explore the world and definitely live an enjoyable life. Your words confirm all that.

      Thank you for your sharing.

    25. Jeannie April 14, 2011 at 5:24 am #

      I’ve heard whisperings of the advantages to Chiang Mai and you’ve brought the reality to light. Can I say it’s even better than anticipated?!

      Your reasons are sound, it’s all about moving towards the life you want and why not build it somewhere that’s fun and full of friends? Yes! :)

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:23 am #

        Thanks for weighing in Jeannie! It really is an appealing city on all fronts :) And the friends and community here are the reason to stay, for sure! You coming this way at some point?! ;-)

    26. Jason April 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

      Sounds great Shannon. Looks like you’re getting quite a good deal for everything. With the Aussie dollar the way it is at the moment on it’s record highs, I bet the Australians living in Chiang Mai are living it up. Informative post, as well as a little seductive. Makes me want to come over.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:21 am #

        No doubt the Aussies are loving it now! I have an American friend heading to Perth next week and he was none-to-pleased by the fact that the Aussie dollar is so high! But with that being noted – when are you coming this way then, sir?! ;-)

    27. Ryan | PauseTheMoment.com April 12, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

      Excellent post Shannon. I’d say your prices are right on target as I spent just a little bit more there during my month stay back in Oct/Nov 2010. As a matter of fact, due to the prices and the quality of living in Chiang Mai, even Thailand in general, I hope to spend 3-6 months there next year. Thanks for the reminder of how great Chiang Mai really is!

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:19 am #

        Thanks for seconding the prices Ryan! :) And I don’t think you can go wrong with coming back here, the community of other bloggers is just so amazing. And who knows – we could just cross paths here again later this year ;-)

    28. Michael Hodson April 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

      really great breakdown — I love posts like this that get into the day-to-day details of living abroad. Well done and congrats on having a great time.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:17 am #

        Thanks Michael! I really have been floored myself by how affordable it’s been to be here in CM for a few months – now we just have to get you out of the Middle East and over here! :)

    29. Bluegreen Kirk April 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

      What a great break down. I don’t party much either but would increase the food and gas expenses for myself. The living accommodations seem really reasonable.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:16 am #

        Thanks Kirk! As a guy, you might do well to add a little bit to the budget, most guys do tend to eat a bit more than me, but to be fair, my roomie is a meat-eater and she spends about the same on food, so it has that going for it! :)

    30. Anonymous April 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      Head exploding. Bags packed.(For someday, cause you never know.)

      • Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 11:14 am #

        Come Margo, come! We would have a great time being Travel Belles here in Chiang Mai :)

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