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. Neale March 19, 2012 at 1:28 am #

      I’m right around the same number as you each month, $600 gets a pretty decent standard of living. I recently documented a month at $400 a month on my site, that was hard but doable.

    2. Neale March 19, 2012 at 1:28 am #

      I’m right around the same number as you each month, $600 gets a pretty decent standard of living. I recently documented a month at $400 a month on my site, that was hard but doable.

      • ShannonOD March 19, 2012 at 1:38 am #

        Thanks Neale, I think the real difference comes down to the food you like, and what you consider a good time. I am living here with my niece this year, and am still well under $1000 for two people! Happy to hear others have found the same here….400 must have been a bit tricky though! :)

      • ShannonOD March 19, 2012 at 1:38 am #

        Thanks Neale, I think the real difference comes down to the food you like, and what you consider a good time. I am living here with my niece this year, and am still well under $1000 for two people! Happy to hear others have found the same here….400 must have been a bit tricky though! :)

        • Erick John Ukay August 23, 2012 at 9:29 am #

          hello. just want to ask if i am a tourist there in thailand, im i allowed to find a job or make a small business? thanks.

          • Erick John Ukay August 23, 2012 at 9:31 am #

            pls. rply in this email address: rule_0709@yahoo.com

          • ShannonOD August 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

            HI Erick, if you are a tourist, you are forbidden from working. You have to have a special work visa to do that!

    3. Tomcort123 March 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      We are moving to Sara Buri are there good schools to teach at there?

    4. Tomcort123 March 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      Me and My Son are moving to Thailand in the next 6 months as teachers. We have everything sorted just saving up for visa and flights and stuff. Just wondering what the cost of living is? and what sort of money and things we will need to bring over?

      • ShannonOD March 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

        It’s still really close to what I outlined in my post, double or triple the food budget for two people (and particularly if you think you’ll be eating Western food frequently). I haven’t visited where you’ll be staying, but it has the potential to be really affordable since its not BKK or the islands. As for what to bring, don’t worry too much, anything you forget can be bought here, they have huge malls and stores with just about anything you need :) Cheers and safe travels over here!

      • ShannonOD March 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

        It’s still really close to what I outlined in my post, double or triple the food budget for two people (and particularly if you think you’ll be eating Western food frequently). I haven’t visited where you’ll be staying, but it has the potential to be really affordable since its not BKK or the islands. As for what to bring, don’t worry too much, anything you forget can be bought here, they have huge malls and stores with just about anything you need :) Cheers and safe travels over here!

    5. CMilton March 11, 2012 at 11:45 am #

      Hi Shannon
      I am sooo happy for you and your new life. I have been to Thailand (many moons ago) and would like to have some insight on Chiang Mai. I am a massage therapist (and a nurse) who would like to add Thai Massage and study at ITM. I would be interested in topics like accommodations, cheapest flight into which city as an entry point……my plan is to stay 3-4 weeks….not sure if an apartment or guesthouse is the way to go. I am definately on a budget as I have obligations back in the US.
      I would appreciate any imput……..and thanks for your blog……so inspired by it.
      PS I have a scooter at home, so not a problem for me regarding transportation, although funds favor walking. So a reasonable distance to ITM would be a preferance. Flights seem to be on the high end so any suggestions???????? Thx Cheryl

      • ShannonOD March 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

        I have a few tips for you Cheryl, I did a guide to CM post here: http://alittleadrift.com/2011/08/best-places-in-chiang-mai/ with hotel and restaurant recs. Finding a good guesthouse and renting for 3-4 weeks at a discounted rate is your best bet, if you look around once you get here, you can likely find something great. Here is a longer list of accommodation options: .
        For flights, flying into Bangkok is often the most budget option, check Skyscanner.com for the discount airlines in the region. Also try Hipmunk.com and Kayak.com to perhaps find more budget options getting here. Once here, flying around Thailand though use the discount ones. If you want to be mostly walking distance for the month, making sure you book something near Thae Pae gate is best :) Good luck!

    6. Bobpalmer47 March 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Thank you Shannon for you information. It coincides with what I have experienced and what four other links have put out. My girl friend, her son (6 years old) and I are considering Thailand for residence. I have been there 5 times for 2 to 4 months. I have done the Myanmar Visa run renewal three times. My girl friend has not been to Thailand.

      • ShannonOD March 9, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

        Your welcome, glad you found it helpful and good luck with the move! There are a lot of expats with children here, particularly if you put her son in an International school, so you will find a great community when you come! :)

    7. Hans February 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

      I just got back from Thailand a few months ago and did not really get to visit Phuket or CM since most of Bangkok outside of the financial district was flooded. The taxi brought me to Pattaya when I ask to go to the beach lol and stayed waiting for the water to run off in Bangkok. I’m looking into Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to see where my money will go farthest and hope to teach English as well. Do you know if Thailand is the cheaper of the three? Also any other cities I should consider for cheap and good quality of life?

      • ShannonOD February 28, 2012 at 1:26 am #

        I think it really depends on what you are looking for– a lot of expats choose Thailand because there is so much access to Western amenities. But as far as teaching English, both Thailand and Vietnam are really great options and both have large expat communities. I have friends who have lived in Hanoi and really enjoyed teaching there. Same thing with here in Chaing Mai, if you have your TEOFL certification, then you could likely find a job here (if you came at the right time while they were hiring for the new school year). There are many opportunities and I think Vietnam and Thailand likely sound like the best options for price and ease of finding a job! :)

    8. Allons-y Tout de suite February 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      Oh, one more question. Sorry.

      I would love to save as much as I can for the next 5 years and then go there to retire. (I’ll be 48 then.)
      I do love Thailand and the food. It’s a wonderfully strange country, friendly, interesting, exciting…


      I’m not interested in going over there to buy a bar girl to be my girlfriend. I’m not interested in meeting someone who just sees me as a wallet and/or a sponsor for her family. I’m sure there are some great girls there but I’ve heard sooooooooooooo many stories of guys going there and getting taken that I would feel like I can never truly trust anybody. I wouldn’t have a problem providing for a girl that I have a real relationship with but I don’t want to be providing for someone who’s going to be working on the side and other nefarious things, if you know what I mean. Plus there’s the language problem that I’m not sure I want to deal with. I’ll learn some, of course, but it would take years to learn enough for real communication and I don’t know if I’m ready to invest that level of effort in the language.

      So, I guess what I’m getting at is, are there any western women over there? Obviously there are, since you are there, but aren’t most of them just dropping by for a couple months? Is there a significant number of long-termers there or should I just resign myself to the fact that bar girls are (and if not, girls just looking for a free ride for them and their families) all that is available?

    9. Allons-y Tout de suite February 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      This is a great post, Shannon. And your diligence in answering everyone’s replies is admirable!

      I don’t normally post on blogs, but Rachel and others have me wanting to ask some questions…

      $200 covers your rent, electricity, water, internet and maid.
      $175 for food
      $65 for scooter and gas
      $50 for evenings out

      If this is accurate, I don’t understand why so many others say you’d need $1000 or even $1500 a month to live a “reasonable” lifestyle. What are they doing?!

      I’ve been living in Japan for the past 15 years in Osaka, which is apparently the 2nd most expensive city in the world.

      This is a rough breakdown of how much I spend (figures in yen, which is currently at about 80yen to the dollar).

      Rent and water, 91,000 (for a pretty good sized two-bdrm apt, one room I use as a classroom)
      Electricity, about 9,000 on average (high because I teach out of my home and need the air con on all the time – it would normally be closer to about 5000 yen if I had a normal job)
      Cell phone bill, 8000 yen
      Gas bill, 5000 yen
      Phone and internet, 5000 yen

      In addition to all this, I budget around 90,000 yen ($1125 US) for all other expenses. That means groceries, eating out, drinking out, meds at the pharmacy when needed, toiletries, public transportation ($5 for a round trip), gas for my motorcycle, AND $300 smoking. (Bad habit I need to quit, I know!)

      Remove smoking from the equation because I don’t think most here are including that when they ask how expensive Thailand is and I’m left with around $825 US for the month for all that stuff.

      So, this is where I’m a bit confused.

      Rachel says around $1000/mo for comfortable. I’ve seen other blogs where guys are saying they wouldn’t recommend less than $1500. This seems very high to me.

      I’m spending $825 a month for these expenses, but your list already includes food and at least some going out. If it takes an additional $500/mo to be comfortable, that’s almost as much as I spend here in Osaka!

      Is there something I’m missing? Or when people say “have a life” they actually really mean “go drinking a lot”? I don’t really drink much so I can’t imagine spending much more than maybe $100, MAYBE $200 more than your budget to do everything I want to.

      As for things not included in your budget, such as clothes, I know that you can get lots of great clothes for cheap enough to almost be negligible. (Jeans for $10, t-shirts for $5 — and these were great quality knock-offs. Lasted me ages!)

      Can you (or maybe Rachel and others) show me where the additional $500-$1000 would be needed? Maybe I’m not considering everything properly.

      Thanks for reading!

      • ShannonOD February 28, 2012 at 2:59 am #

        Thanks for including your breakdown for Osaka…I had no idea it could be that affordable! As for prices here, there really is a difference between living a bit more local, and the Western conveniences. I think 1500 per month is awfully high for CM, but you could wrack that much up if you are in a nice apt, eating Western food, and consuming a lot (buying clothes, shopping, etc). Then there are the visa-runs to factor in, which add a bit to the expenses (a quick run to the Burmese border here runs about 700 baht at 30b to the USD, and if you need a Thai visa that could be as much as 2,000 baht or more for the visa alone).

        I eat like a local, and live in a pretty small apartment (and when this post was rented lived with a room-mate in a house). $500 was the base cost, I couldn’t spend less than that. Medical expenses, checkups, more Western food, that sort of thing maybe added another couple hundred, but if you are based here long-term, for a year or more, you could DEF find a way to live well under $1000/month.

        For another post on CM budgets though, friends of mine wanted a nice apt with a full kitchen, and that made living costs sky-rocket in some ways: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/the-search-for-an-apartment-in-chiang-mai/
        On the other hand, you could have a “kitchen” in the cheaper places if you go Thai style with a propane tank and burner. :)

        So yes, there are options, all depending on how long you’re staying. If
        you’re here for three months and plan to party a lot, then $1500 could be
        right on. The better deals on motorbikes, apts, etc come when you’re here
        for a while, and when you find the great local spots to eat and hang out!

      • Whatever April 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

        1.  You’ll need more than $200 to cover your rent/electricity/cable/internet etc.  Just running your air conditioner for the hot months (8 months out of the year) will run you $50.  For $150 you’ll be living in a room…not an apartment.  I’d recommend $300-400/month for rent on the low(ish) end.

        2.  There is NO way that you can rent a motorbike and gas it up for $65/month.  Last year, Jan, the owner of Bikky charged 2000 Baht a month for her cheapest rentals (Honda Wave/Suzuki Shogun) and this year (March) the price was 2500 Baht. Pay the extra 200/month for a better helmet also.  Realistically, you can get by for $100-120/month including gas.

        3.  Western food is more than $3-$4/meal.  A double-cheeseburger at McDonalds is 78 Baht and most western meals (not fancy meals btw) will run you at least 180 Baht.  Forget eating cheese and other western foods while you are there.  Fruit is 10 Baht a serving.  A latte (like the ones that Shannon pictured) is 60 Baht.  Stay away from the fruit “shakes” it’s just a bunch of simple syrup mixed with some fruit and ice.  Sugar overload.  Thai meals will cost you 35 baht and it is primarily rice.  You’ll probably want an order of vegetables also for nutritions sake (another B35).  I’d budget $10/day for food at a minimum including coffee and water.  $10 a day does not include western food or beer/soda. 

        4.  Karaoke is one of the more expensive things that you can do in Chiang Mai…unless you are renting a booth at one of the malls (Airport Plaza or Central Kad Suan Kaew).

        5.  Toiletries aren’t cheap.  Especially if you want your western brands.

        6. Cell Phone.  Use True Money sim cards.  1 Baht/minute for calls to the U.S.

        6 You’ll spend much less on Smoking in Thailand than Japan.  Marlboros are 78 Baht / L&M are 58 Baht.

        7. A movie will cost $4.  Bowling is about $1.25/frame

        8 Gym membership (you do want to stay in shape don’t you?) will cost $40/month short term (one month) and $33/month for a six month membership at the cheap places (fitness thailand)  Cali Wow will cost much more.  It’s too hot to exercise outside (not to mention, too polluted).  Thais don’t seem to exercise much.  The women are thin, but they have no muscle tone.

        9 Haircut $5.  Massage $5 hour.

        So, bottom line, there is NO way that you can live in Chiang Mai on $500/month.  I sure can’t and I drink/party less than Shannon.

        Here is my breakdown to live cheaply…

        $400 rent/utilities
        $300 food
        $100 motorbike
        $100 incidentals (toiletries, vitamins, haircuts, phone etc etc etc)
        $100 entertainment

        $1000/month bare minimum… $1500/modestly comfortable

        And we haven’t even touched on medical, visa costs, longer distance travel (or are you just going to stay in Chiang Mai?)

        Source…been there done that.

        Everybody likes to brag about how *cheaply* they can exist in Thailand.

        • ShannonOD April 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

          Thanks for weighing in, I find you right on a lot of fronts, and grossly different than myself as well. Since this is a personal site, I did in fact live on a bare minimum of $500 (which is what I called it and said that visas and medical was not included. And, I stand by the fact that:

          1) 10,000 gets you an entire house with many bedrooms, a one bedroom can be around 5,500b if you look around and don’t go to the expat spots. Very cute studios for 2,500b even if outside the moat.
          2) I left CM last month and STILL paid 1,500b per month and I rented locally, not from Bikky.
          3) Who the hell would go to Thailand to eat at McDonalds? And, simply ask for a shake without sugar (Mrs. Pa at CM gate does great ones and will point you to the naturally sweet fruits so it tastes good!). Also, as I say, I’m vegetarian, enjoy a lot more expenses if you indulge in animal flesh regularly, veggies are cheap and delicious!
          4) The mall, exactly what I mention in my CM post as cheap and fun things to do, did it with friends just last month and it was great fun (and cheap!) 5) Agreed, I try to bring deodorant from home since I hate the selection of liquidy gel stuff.
          6) True sucks for everything other than calls home (which is free on Google Voice), I use DTac
          7) Yep, 4 bucks for a movie, and 2.50 for a popcorn – perfect afternoon! 8) Running is free. Plus, I don’t exercise unless it’s to P90x in my house, so it looks like CM is cheaper for those ppl like me. :) Check out the CM marathon and other monthly races if you want to get involved with the community, a lot of them fundraise for the refugees!
          10) yep, and how many haircuts do you need, I certainly don’t get one a
          month, which is why it’s ridiculous to put that in a montly budget.

          Bottom line, I just left CM after living there for 5 more months with my 11
          year old niece, and though a few prices had gone up (smoothies 20b instead
          of 15, vegetarian dinner is 5b more too) we BOTH lived for right around 1,000 per
          month, so I don’t know what the heck you people are talking about. Get some
          local friends, eat with them, rent from them, and life gets cheaper :)

          Cheers and thanks for sharing what it costs to live a bit more in CM!


          • Tom July 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm #


            I lived in CM and Bangkok for a total of 2 years. I hope you aren’t running on the busy streets of Thailand. If you are, you are inhaling alot of carbon soot that will never come out of your lungs. Have you noticed any decline in your breathing capacity? If so, you have black soot in your lungs, and it doesn’t come out. Fair warning to everyone reading this.

            • ShannonOD July 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

              Thanks for pointing that out Tom, the smog this past year was really intense, and it did have health effects on me at the time, but from most of the research I found, it’s chronic exposure to smog that causes the serious issues. The research studies I found showed that your lungs and immune system can recover from just a season or two in it. It’s most unfortuante for the residents, who are exposed to the smog annually for months at a time. It is something to keep in mind, and I kept a mask on my face when the levels were particularly bad.

        • Wes Nations January 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

          I have to argue: a $50 monthly rental for a scooter is pretty common. $100 per month on haircuts and toiletries sounds ridiculous but maybe you have 10 times more hair than I do and need to braid your back hair.

          My rent for a private room with bath was $140 per month. I personally visited Shannon and Jodi’s house and it was *sweet* — I was quite envious. A friend had a place for 170US that included wifi, AC, cable and maid service, all within the Old City walls.

          Shannon drinks about 1/100 as much as I do so her monthly costs are significantly lower than mine. But your claim of 1500 US per month to be ‘moderately comfortable’ is ridiculous. I partied like a rockstar and still came in under 1100 US per month. (total does not include cost of liver transplant)

          I suspect you’re what I call a “Get off my lawn!” — an expat who likes to do nothing but complain about the place they have chosen as a home and how much better it was 10 years ago.

          Don’t like it? Go home. And take your neggy peggy horseshit with you.

          • ShannonOD January 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

            Thanks for weighing in Wes (and for defending the costs!). And good to know that even with a lot more nights out drinking, it is truly affordable. You definitely are able to include more of the costs if you go out a lot more but still hunt around for a good deal on the apartment. I never made it to your abode, but I know it was near the old city, internet, close to food and reasonably priced. Couple that with you being able to dink regularly for under $1100 a month and you have me convinced all over again that we should move back there and hang out some more! xo

    10. Rachel February 22, 2012 at 6:45 am #

      I think while you can live on $500 a month in Thailand (not Bangkok!) temporarily, it’s just not possible full-time.

      I’ve been in Thailand for 11 years and can get away with $800-1,000 a month in Bangkok and that’s a comfortable lifestyle. But, if I wanted to do any traveling or go out much at nights, or to nicer restaurants, that would easily rise to $1,300-$1,600.

      Plus, the dollar is set to fall even further, making $500 a month just about impossible, unless you have two or three roomates and never eat western food :)

      IMO, $1,500 a month is the perfect salary in Thailand. It allows you to have a life, travel and pay for the dreaded visa runs. I wouldn’t recommend much less than that long-term (and btw, I’m female so don’t have a Thai girlfriend to also take care of :))

      • Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 7:24 am #

        Agreed, it’s not possible on just $500, but this truly is my base costs for being here in the North (not BKK), without visa runs and without frequent Western food (which I don’t do except for a couple times a month). I’d say that budget wise and as NOT a heavy drinker/partier I *easily* spent less than $1000 per month and still enjoyed my days, that was mostly just working and hanging out with friends though! :)  

        Glad to see how it can vary if you spend money in different areas (and definitely varies if you have a Thai gf, as you noted! :)  Thanks for weighing in on this with your expenses, it helps to have a wide range of people’s experiences here. 

    11. zly February 15, 2012 at 7:59 am #

      well living story

    12. Tom February 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Im not from US but I wanna living in Thailand. Nice nature, girls, good costs of living, great nightlife :) 

      • Anonymous February 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

        No worries, there are expats from all over here, with all kinds of interests :)

    13. Beenthere February 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      50 bucks per month entertainment?? what do you do?? put 50 bucks down the toilet and see which way it spin’s?? 50 buck’s get’s jack sh’t in Thailand …

      • Anonymous February 4, 2012 at 12:12 am #

        If you’re a frequent blog reader you’ll note that I’m not a big partier and preder a night of bowling or karaoke over sinking a lot of money into alcohol, so 50 bucks a month bought me a few beers with friends each week, which is quite enough for me. By all means, factor is a lot more if you have a different lifestyle, my intention was to give baseline costs for consideration. If you like to flush money down the beer-toilet, then by all means quadruple that number for sure. :) Cheers.

        • Suanprig February 20, 2012 at 9:12 am #

          i agree with both of you. it depends on how you live. Ive lived in cm for many years and I have thai friends with 30,000,000 baht plots (US 1M) then again i know monks here who own and earn nothing.

          • Rachel February 22, 2012 at 6:47 am #

            Got to agree with $50 a month getting you nothing.  That’s only 1,500 baht. So, maybe five or six nights out over the month, and that’s it.

            Of course, if you go with a group of friends for dinner to a Thai restaurant you could stretch that to about 10 nights out. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough for anybody who likes a drink. One beer is 50-70 baht.

            • Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 7:18 am #

              Gotta say, 5-6 nights out is about right, I think I noted in the piece that I go “out” about once a week at the time, and that includes karaoke nights, where beer is the backdrop to simply hanging out :)  

      • Mac February 28, 2012 at 10:24 am #

         Very few people will save money by spending less, it’s just not human nature. You may get more for what you spend, but you will not ‘save money’ or ‘live cheaply’. In fact, you will end up spending as much as you did in the country you immigrated from.

      • Tim February 28, 2012 at 11:19 am #

        He gets 1ea.-bar girl for 50.00 a month.  LOL  You need about 4,000.00 a month (Minimum), unless you like sitting in your room alone for 30 days at a time.  If you pay cash for a condo and then have 4,000.00 USD a month for spending money, you will have a great time there.

      • Chris March 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

         You don’t need much if you don’t party like a rockstar, I’ve been living in Chiang Mai for 3 years and my monthly budget on entertainment is about 10,000 baht.

        • ShannonOD March 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

          Thanks for weighing in on that Chris, I was taking a bit of flack on that one :) Cheers and good luck living here!

      • Neale March 19, 2012 at 1:32 am #

        Obviously if your idea of entertainment is getting wasted and all that goes with that daily … $50 dont get you a lot. 2000b gets me a whole lot of entertainment. My Idea of what is entertaining is probably different to yours though :-)

      • Neale March 19, 2012 at 1:32 am #

        Obviously if your idea of entertainment is getting wasted and all that goes with that daily … $50 dont get you a lot. 2000b gets me a whole lot of entertainment. My Idea of what is entertaining is probably different to yours though :-)

    14. BadDude January 21, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

      Hope someday, I can visit thailand.

    15. BadDude January 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      wow is cheap to live in thailand, and still have money saving.

    16. Laszlo January 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

      “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 January 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

        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! :)

    17. Anonymous January 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      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 January 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

        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 January 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

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

    18. Jthieme23 January 9, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      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?

    19. Jimskid January 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      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 January 6, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

        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 January 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

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

    20. Susan December 27, 2011 at 5:30 am #

      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 December 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

        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 January 6, 2012 at 10:48 am #

        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!

    21. Eugene December 12, 2011 at 3:36 am #

      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 December 13, 2011 at 12:11 am #

        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 :)

    22. Bruce December 11, 2011 at 4:58 am #

      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 December 13, 2011 at 12:08 am #

        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! :)

    23. Brittany December 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      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 December 8, 2011 at 1:10 am #

        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! :)

    24. Pascal December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      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 December 8, 2011 at 1:06 am #

        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!

    25. Bruce Kendall December 1, 2011 at 7:29 am #

      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 December 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

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

    26. Ben Pablo November 14, 2011 at 7:29 am #

      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 November 15, 2011 at 2:35 am #

        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!

    27. Devon Johnston November 9, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      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 November 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

        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…

    28. Erumdo November 2, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

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

      • Anonymous November 2, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

        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 January 1, 2013 at 2:56 am #

          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 January 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

            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 :)

    29. Anonymous November 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      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 :)

    30. Anonymous October 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm #


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