Beginners Guide to Living in Bangkok

Ignore the age-old myth “Move to a cheap city and live like a king”. This is not Bangkok and certainly not in 2014. Penthouse apartments, staff, VIP treatment… unless you have big bucks this couldn’t be further from the truth. On a western wage you will be no more than another Farang in Bangkok city. The more sensational blogs are aimed to hype the writer’s own lifestyles. Far from the realities of modern living in Bangkok. That being said Bangkok is an awesome city to live in and you do get plenty bang for the buck. If considering moving here… do. It is worth giving up everything to live here. I did and I never looked back.

Allan Wilson, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Eating Cheap, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, Sukhumvit area Local Bus Travel, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget Sukhumvit area


The Best Things in Bangkok are Free

First off you need to be living in Bangkok for the right reasons. If you don’t agree with the above then you shouldn’t be living in Bangkok. Admittedly most bad rep for Bangkok is from tourists or travellers who fail to see or appreciate the real Bangkok. This isn’t the fault of visitors. They are often rushed past tourist littered temples, boozy backpacker areas and red light strips. All while enduring intense heats. Not so enjoyable. Thankfully Bangkok is a big city and it is the other areas which draw unprecedented appreciation. I can’t highlight this any better than a good friend of mine (and top notch travel writer) Justin Egli at Ikimasho.com who wrote ‘Bangkok from the inside’ after visiting us in Bangkok.

Benjasiri Park, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Bangkok Temples, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Rama 8 Bridge, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area


Benefits of Nice Accommodation

For the digital nomad (like myself) Bangkok is perfect. For travel bloggers I’d say the best base. The photo below shows just one of the benefits of living in Bangkok. I took this photo just now while writing this blog. By paying extra for a nicer condo the condo feels like my own. I have privacy as neighbours live like city workaholics to pay bills. The communal facilities go relatively untouched. I now sit facing the condo infinity pool. Stillness, beer, a backdrop of city lights and mayhem passing on the street below. If I feel like a night out the elevator beside me brings me to the action of Sukhumvit streets. Maybe a beer and roadside barbecue nearby, a walk to Sukhumvit’s famous restaurants and nightlife or I’ll most likely be lazy with a Jacuzzi and sauna. So much opportunity and a whole lot of time.

Evening at pool, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Bangkok Heineken Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Wind Sukhumvit Gym, Buying a Condo in Bangkok Thailand, Southeast Asia


Finding Accommodation in Bangkok

Recently we planned on leasing a second condo in outer Bangkok (Ratchayothin). After 2 weeks of annoyances we give up. Searching for affordable accommodation is frustrating. Finding budget accommodation even more so. What I would recommend is Craigslist. Listings are current and up-to-date and you save a bit of cash by cutting out the middleman. With other Free Listing Websites people often add property, find a tenant, and never return to take down the ads. Adverts can sit for years. Best to check post dates before getting excited. What area to live? I can only advise on Sukhumvit, a favourite with expats living in Bangkok. For prices in the Sukhumvit area the cheapest studios with annual contract will be around $200 per month (6,000 Baht). This is for the lower Sukhumvit areas and includes limited to no facilities and a trek (or motorbike taxi) to the nearest BTS Skytrain line. For healthier budgets I recommend renting through agencies. This removes a lot of the crap. I’ll highlight my property experiences here (to come). You can find some fantastic places for around $1000 per month (30,000 Baht). My condo is similar price. Fancy one bedroom unit, central Asoke area, short walk to interchange station (Metro and Skytrain), city views, infinity pool, gym etc. For me a nice place is essential when living in Bangkok. More so for digital nomads and location independent professions. Get a nice base then cut costs elsewhere. If planning to buy a condo (as I did) check here.

Sukhumvit Views, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, Sukhumvit area Bangkok Condo, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area In the Office, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area


Eating Cheap in Bangkok

Yes you can easily eat on a dollar (30–40 baht) where in fact most local foods cost around a dollar. Food courts, bags of street food, backstreet restaurants. The choice is never-ending. Local foods can be intimidating to newcomers but after a month or two you won’t look twice at a McDonalds. Khao Rad Gaeng; canteen style pre-prepared Thai food are a local favourite. Include two cheap portions of curries on rice (30 Baht+). Food courts are in or around every major building. One of my favourite food courts is at my local mall Terminal 21 (Pier 21). Again Street Food is at every corner and cheap shop house restaurants are easy to find if you dare to look. Isaan Barbecues pop-up in evenings with booze and local banter (foods around 50 Baht). Food alone is worth living in Bangkok but we can all do at times with comfort foods. In Bangkok Big Mac meals cost around $5 (150 Baht) and all the major international Western and Asian franchises litter Bangkok streets and line the insides of every mall. A personal favourite for cheap international food and alcohol is Wine Connection. Great prices for high quality international products. Wine in particular is cheap at Wine Connection (probably guessed from the name) and it makes a top choice for budget, casual romance. If all else fails there’s always the convenience store snacks at 7/11s and FamilyMart.

Cheap Eats, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Roadside Barbecues, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area Isaan Sausages, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area


Boozing and Nightlife

Big beers around $1.50 (50 Baht) at the local corner shop and Local liquors (70cl) like Ya Dong and Blend 285 around $7 (210 Baht). Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s nasty. Again Wine Connection for an exciting and affordable selection of international beers and wines (prices pictured below). For me this is as far as I go with night life. If planning to party then living in Bangkok can become expensive. Using a popular hangout Route 66 (RCA) 300 Baht entry (returned in drink coupons), 1,400 Baht for a bottle of Red Label Johnny Walker and around 150 Baht for beers. It is easy to spend $50+ on a night out. Where to party? Expat hordes on Sukhumvit 11, the wealthy on Thong Lor, a mixed bunch at RCA (Royal City Avenue) and youthful locals at Ratchada Soi 4 (now demolished).

 Thai Moonshine, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area International Beers, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area Route 66, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area


Recreation and Sports in Bangkok

If budgets don’t stretch to ‘accommodation with gym’ then affording gym membership is unlikely. Fortunately there are cheap and free alternatives. Bangkok’s parks your best bet. Benjasiri Park (Phrom Phong BTS) is one of the better. Free use of exercise facilities and sports. Basketball courts, skateboard park, Tai Chi and takraw. Another less visited Sukhumvit Park with similar name is Benjakiti Park (Asoke BTS) with a 2 km cycle track and bike rental.

Benjasiri Park, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit areaBenjakiti Park, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area Chatuchak Park, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area


Cheap Travel in Bangkok and Beyond

Skytrain (BTS) and Underground (MRT) will bring you to anywhere you need to go. Prices from 20-40 Baht. Taxis in central Sukhumvit rarely go higher than 60 Baht. Taxis to further areas rarely higher than 150 Baht. Bangkok motorbike taxis help navigate rush hour traffic for 10-20 Baht (local areas). For long distance travel minivans are the quickest route to areas outside Bangkok. Buses and trains are relatively cheap, then AirAsia and other low-cost carriers fly to Southeast Asia’s best destinations. Check here for our full travel guide from Bangkok.

Siam Skytrain, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit areaBangkok Taxis, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Travel in Asia, Cost of living in Bangkok on a Budget, Sukhumvit area


Recommended Budget for Living in Bangkok

$1000US (30,000 Baht) per month. I would put this as bare minimum for living in Bangkok. Ok it can be cheaper when living in squalid accommodation, eating instant noodles and boozing Ya Dong but this is not really living. $1000US is similar to my monthly spending and I own my property. I eat cheap, travel cheap and stay in 5 of 7 nights a week. Living a simple life. Factor spendings on international travel and probable VISA runs and living in Bangkok becomes pricey. Easily worth every penny.

Asoke Interchange, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Thong Lor BTS. Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Nonthaburi, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area


Cost of Living in Bangkok (Free eBook)

For more up to date analysis of costs of living in Bangkok we have compiled a basic breakdown of expat expenditures. As everyone is different, with different comfort levels, and reason for being in Bangkok, we have taken lifestyle and varying budgets into consideration. From a basic living in retirement, to big city life and the so called ‘VIP’ lifestyle. Get the free eBook below and subscription to our quarterly lifestyle and travel newsletter covering Bangkok and Asia.

Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Basic Cost Analysis, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area Cheap VISA Runs, Cost of living in Bangkok on a budget, sukhumvit area

  • Great post, will be in Bangkok in less than a week, starting to freak out a bit, trying to find a place to stay and such. Going in with no clue what to expect and just reading the guides on culture and how to act. Your post really helps, would love to learn more about your experience as I prepare for my own. Thanks for the post and cheers.

    • Cheers Eric. Sorry about late reply. Just back from the sticks of Thai Isan (Northeast Thailand). Culture should be fine. Major faux pas don’t really exist and people are extremely friendly. Maybe just Wai when you meet peers and elders and be respectful of the King and the royals. After years living in Bangkok I’m still having new experiences and learning new things everyday. Hope the move goes well. You’re coming to an amazing city 🙂

      • Just got into Thailand on Friday, in the nether lands of the airport and searching for a new place while I’m in Bangkok, either that or go North for a spell. Any good places you could recommend?

        • Welcome to Bangkok. Admittedly I’m not great with the North. I rarely make it past Chiang Mai. It’s the starting point anyway. Overnight train my preferred option leaving Hua Lamphong or the buses from Khaosan Road. Have a good one 🙂

  • tjclavio

    Really like your article. Seems to be one of the more legit estimates on living in Thailand/Bangkok. I’ve visited the last six years and always stayed in the same hotel. So, I know i have a jaded understanding what the true cost of living in Thailand would be. I have one question if you don’t mind. You say $1000 would be minimum for living in Bangkok. Which is no problem for me. However, you say your Condo cost around $1000. So, did you factor in the other exspenses in you monthly estimate, or, did I misunderstand what you pay for rent. Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind staying in the same complex you mention. Thanks.

    • Hi TJ. $1000 would be bare minimum for anyone considering living in Bangkok – as in don’t consider it on anything less. $1000 would be basic everything. basic accommodation, outside areas, eating local foods and with very few to no luxuries.
      For me I don’t actually pay rent (I own the property). If I paid rent at this condo it would be an extra $1000 (27,000 Baht the lowest I’ve seen rental here). Again if I factor in VISA runs and my obsession for travel my actual cost of living would be closer to $3,000.

      • tjclavio

        Thanks a lot for your quick and informative reply. You seem to give a more realistic answer to the actual cost of living in Bangkok. As I mentioned, I’ve been there the last six years for holiday. But, always stayed in a high end hotel that was included in my vacation package. So, I never really had a true idea on how much and how things would be different living there full time. I don’t think I want to go to the $3000 range. So, I’m going to have to re-access my thinking on living in BBK. Don’t want to live in a Studio, or, to bare minimum. From your experience. What would a decent Condo cost to rent? If I wanted to set a $2000 a month limit on myself. Would I be able to live in BBK? or, have to think about Chang Mai? Thanks.

        • I think $2000 is the right number to live well in Bangkok. You can find high-end 1-bedrooms at lower Sukhumvit Skytrains (On Nut etc) for $600. That leaves $1400 spending money which is more than enough. This should also cover basic VISA runs.
          My cost of living is closer to $3000 because I live very central (Asoke) and I milk my VISA runs. Last VISA run Singapore travelling overland through Malaysia and the Thai islands. VISA run before a week in Bali.
          So maybe a rough guideline of $1000 bare minimum, $2000 living well, $3000 living well with travel.

          • tjclavio

            OK. Hey listen Allan. Thanks a lot. You’ve been very helpful. Greatly appreciate it.

          • No worries. Best of luck on the move. Easily the best decision I’ve made.

          • As a couple we spend just under $1,000 on accommodation, electricity and internet, and another $1,000-$1,500 a month on all other expenses. So that’s $2,000 minimum, but for two people. If I was single I think I’d live in a similar condo so my accommodation costs would be the same. During my life I’ve always spent more when I was single. So for me $2,000 would be a minimum even being single here. Many websites just show basic costs but never consider extras like visas, clothes, medical costs, travel costs, etc. These are all essential for a happy and healthy life. You could live for a short time for less, but longer-term living in Bangkok requires more money if you want a goof life. So I agree with Allan’s figures above.

          • Have to agree with the happy and healthy part. I don’t see why anybody would go to Bangkok just to survive. Even in my budget I don’t go into health side of things. I have no insurance whatsoever and avoid visits to hospitals etc. at all costs. Travelling on motorbike taxis etc. is always a big risk but these are not things which come into the budget. How I miss the much hated NHS in the UK.

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  • Ruth Rieckehoff

    Good info and photos. Like this type of detailed posts.

  • Tung Mai Le

    Hi, nice blog. Hey I’m wondering how to apply for a long-term visa to stay there. Since I work from home all the time for an Australian company over the Internet, I have no intention of applying for a job in Thailand. What type of visa should I apply for? Tks.

    • Hi Tung. It’s not so easy to get long term VISAs for Thailand. Most people opt for the 60 day tourist VISA with the 30 day extension (in total 3 months). This means a VISA run is necessary 4 times a year. I am currently on a marriage VISA and still have to cross the border every 3 months. Here is an example of one of the better VISA runs from Bangkok to Penang https://www.live-less-ordinary.com/southeast-asia-travel/best-thai-visa-run-to-penang-malaysia

      • Tung Mai Le

        Tks @LiveLessOrdinary:disqus for sharing, I’m holding a Vietnamese passport, thinking of entry under exemption, then apply onsite. But I guess I have to make visa run like you, just don’t have to stay overnight 🙂

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  • The Guy

    Some fabulous tips here Allan. I visited Bangkok twice in the last decade and it truly is a diverse city. It is great to see your insight as to what it is like to live there. Budget wise it seems as though there are many great options. It is clear to see why the place appeals so much to you.

    • Cheers Guy. Problem is it is hard to leave 😉 If it weren’t for VISA runs I’d happily stay put… for a bit anyway.

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  • Adam

    Hello – great post… very useful for me as someone thinking about making the move out to BK! I was wondering: how far would Baht 27,500 go in terms of accommodation? Would it mean I could afford a place with a gym/pool/decent room, etc… or would all that cost considerably more? Thanks!

    • Thanks Adam. 27,500 Baht will get you gym, pool and one bedroom condo unit all high-end in the city centre. Its a good number.

      • Adam

        Thanks for replying (and so fast!) 🙂

  • Chase
    • Hi Chase. We are now in China but always happy to help. Drop any questions here and I’ll get back to you.

      • Chase

        Im starting a Phd program at assumption university this January. Is it best I look for a month to month temporary place, or just go with something close to campus that is 6 months or a year lease. Also, how quickly can one move into a apartment/ studio in Bangkok. I dont need much man.

        • You could move in the 1st week of getting there. 6 month and annual contracts will be quite a bit cheaper and a whole lot easier to find. In the University / Bangrak area it will also be quite a bit cheaper than city centre rental prices as I’ve outlined above. Hope this helps 🙂

          • Chase

            thanks Allan.. let me know if you ever come back to Bangkok. Well written article by the way/

        • Kratai Kanokwan

          Hi.. nice to hear that you are studying in at AU. How is your life so far? If you need any help, feel free to ask me. Actually I am instructor here and also have a room for rent. But it’s near Bangkok University, Sukhumvit Area, it’s so new and great price

    • D.L.M-L

      Hello Chase,

      We have resided in Bangkok for almost 3 years (Canadian family). We live and work downtown (law-firm and international school). If you require any assistance do not hesitate to contact us.

      Cheers!

      • Scott Zaari

        Hi,

        My girlfriend and I are moving to Bangkok from Calgary, Canada in January 2015. I am a veterinarian and got a position there for 1.5 years. I was curious if you could give us on some insight of what districts to live in. Both of us definitely would like to live in an area that can give us the Bangkok experience and while also being low key so that we can relax after the end of a long day. Lastly, should we arrange accommodation before hand or find something when we arrive?

        Thanks So Much,

        Scott

        • Hi Scott. I would always recommend the Sukhumvit area for expats, it’s convenient with the skytrain (BTS) and underground (MRT) and has an exciting range of local and international foods. There are different parts of the Sukhumvit area the more expensive generally in the lower numbers towards central (Siam) and the more affordable closer to the opposite end at On Nut and Phrakanong areas. Thong Lor and Ekamai are also some of the nicer areas, less manic and more international but can be expensive. The back sois of these areas are always less busy and easy to relax. Personally I’d arrange a place before travelling or have a couple of options to pick from short after arrival, stay a week or two in a hotel beforehand. Anyway, hope all goes well and best of luck with the move 🙂

  • rupa

    can any1 suggest a good area to stay in bangkok. we r there for only 9 days. we dont want to spend all our time and money travelling.

    • Hi Rupa. Depends what you like. Sukhumvit tends to be the preferred spot, easy to travel on Skytrain and lots of top food, restaurants and entertainment. Silom comes second and is similar. For luxury the RIverside and for backpackers Khaosan Road. As a tourist I always went direct to Sukhumvit for convenience.

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  • Kratai Kanokwan

    I like your photo and story in Bangkok. If you have time to come back again, come to stay at my place which is cheap, new, and it’s located near BTS Ekamai, Bus Terminal to the East. There are so many street foods for you to try and taste and there are so many places which are unseen in BKK. My family would love to welcome nice foreigner friends ka.

    And don’t forget to go to The South sea, beautiful and nice place for scuba diving, too. !! ^__^

  • Neywin

    Well I live 5 min from BTS Bearing and have a nice studio with air con, free Wifi, hot water, night guard, CCTV etc, and the rent is 3,500 THB per month! So one can easily live (well) on 400-500 US$

    • Hi Neywin. Interested where you found an apartment at that price? I am completely new to the Bearing area but it could be handy now on the BTS line. Lowest prices I’ve heard were in Phra Khanong area (5-6,000).

      • ibax

        I think Neywin forgot about the 10 people he shares his 15 m2 with.

    • $400 would average roughly 300 baht a day which is less than any meal on the Sizzler menu. A steak and bottle of wine even at the cheapest of restaurants comes to at least 1,000 Baht. What if you have a date? I think to ‘live well’ varies from one to the next, I only give the opposite side of the coin.

  • Rashad Pharaon

    Great article. I like how you paint it how it is–there are too many posts out there that blur the realities of life over there. What I like about your blog is that it is down to earth and “in your face.”

    • Thanks Rashad. I like the term blur realities as that is what many do. I know expats who have spent long times here can whittle down spending quite low (say $500 a month) but arriving feet first in the city is a whole different story.

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  • Mia

    Hi, I’m thinking of taking up a position at an international school. It pays between 80-90,000 Baht a month. Is this a good salary? Could I afford to live in nice accommodation whilst still saving money to take back to the Uk? It is near victory monument. I do not know Thailand at all, would it be a long commute to nice accommodation?

    • Hi Mia. This budget is more than enough and in the Victory Monument area you can afford pretty much anywhere yet still save money. Victory Monument is on the Sukhumvit Skytrain line so for the more swanky places it maybe best to look closer to Siam. The commute should be simple. A 🙂

  • Magnus

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for a great page.

    Im thinking about moving to Bangkok and Im familiar with Thailand, Thai culture and other aspects to living in Thailand. Serious about my moving plans, dont wanna go there as a “tourist”.

    My only problem is that I dont wanna go there without a job and a job is much needed before I go.
    Do you have any good ideas how to land a job?

    Please mail me,

    Magnus

    • Hey Magnus. I think this is possibly the subject I know least about. Before I moved to Bangkok I saved to buy my accommodation and created online business to pay my bills. If I had to do find a job myself I’d probably network on Linkedin, maybe check social media sites e.g. Facebook which may have helpful pages (e.g. desperately seeking Bangkok) or try Craigslist. That’s about the best I can think of, sorry. Hope all goes well in the search. A

  • suhibi

    great post :wondering is there any off plan condominium projects right now in bangkok .

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  • Jason

    Thanks for the info. Wanted to ask, is it easy to find short term rental?

    • Try Airbnb and Roomarama. I’ve personally used AirBnB and it was quick and simple to organize.

  • RK

    Hi Allan,

    Great post. The first post I clicked on my search from Google. My company is planning to post me in Bangkok for a period of 3 Yrs as an Expat (With family). There have been discussions but I wanted to understand the following:

    a. 2 Bedroom flats – How much do they cost to rent out?
    b. What kind of amenities can I expect to have in such rented flats?
    c. Could you help with some of the good international schools in Sukhumvit area for enrolling my kid?
    d. Is it mandatory to own a car? Considering that I would travel internationally from Bangkok for about 15 days a month
    e. What is the optimum salary one can expect (including taxes) to have a comfortable living in Bangkok?
    f. Any other information that you wish to share, would be greatly welcome

    I will look forward to your response

    Cheers 🙂

    • Hi RK. I think it all depends on level of comfort but I’d say 45,000bt / month as a good number, 2 bed room, central area, full facilities (pool, gym, sauna, security, whatnot). You could probably half that for the less central areas.
      The school part I’m not certain about, I’ve not reached this stage myself.
      Re cars, in 3 years living here I’ve never considered driving, public transport is often the quicker option and taxis are cheap and everywhere. It’s the daily traffic jams which puts me off.
      I couldn’t really say the optimum salary for a family (I’m clueless about costs of kids etc.) but for couples 40,000pp is a good income to live comfortably.
      Hope this helps 🙂 A

  • Marcus

    Hi Allan,

    Great post you have there.

    I am looking for a high-end condo to rent and was wondering whether is there any available unit(s) in the same condo which you bought? And if you don’t mind, can I have the name of your condo? I would love to rent a condo like yours.

    Besides, can you also recommend me some high-end condo in the most accessible district in Bangkok?

    Kindly advise.

    • Hi Marcus. I bought in Wind (Sukhumvit) a sub-brand of Major Development. It is geared more towards smaller units, 1 bedrooms etc, and less familyish. Similar to these would probably be the Ideo and Noble brands among others. Do a search for 1 bedrooms round the Sukhumvit line and you’ll find similar.

      • Marcus

        Hi Allan,

        Thank you very much for your kind help. Will search around along the Sukhumvit line and hopefully, I can get something like yours.

        Cheers mate.

  • Sying

    Hi Allan,
    I am considering buying a resale condo. Getting a lawyer for the purchase would be advisable? With budget of 5.5m TH, which area would you recommend.
    Sying

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  • Jenny

    Hi Allan,
    Like your article the most. Love it.
    My husband and I will go Bangkok in a little over one month. We will need to stay in Bangkok at least 3 years for his job. I would like to know which way makes better financial sense for us to rent a nice place to live, or to buy a condo to live at least 3 years then sell it when we move back home? I don’t know how much the buy/sell commission would be involved in Thailand property transaction. Feel like 3 years of renting could buy 1/3 of a place base on the info of ‘5.5m would do well in most areas of Sukhumvit’, which is your response to Sying a year ago.
    Thanks.

    • It could work well but of course it takes on a lot more risk. I think 3% is a typical commission on sales price. http://www.acuterealty.com/faq.asp then a tax on gains (if any). I know it can be tricky sending money out of Thailand so be very precise in keeping paperwork etc. I think this is the best I can give on this 🙂 Best of luck. A

      • Jenny

        You are awesome! By the way, I forgot to ask whether do you know any website, which is similar to U.S. Redfin.com or Zillow.com for me to see property listings?

        • The only I know of would be Acute Realty which covers Bangkok then DD Property which (I think) covers all of Thailand, but to date I’ve not had experience with DD.

  • Marian Baker

    Hi Allan, after reading your blog yesterday I have possibly just been shown a condo in your building, the very end of Sukuhmvit soi 11? Do you recommend the building? 🙂

    • We’re actually over on Sukhumvit 23, but if it’s anything like ours then yes I do recommend it 🙂

  • Raghu

    Hi Allan,
    I am an Indian working and living in Dubai past 23 years. last week with family I had a trip to Bangkok and Pattaya and now started thinking of a retirement life in Thailand. there are lot of formalities to get a permanent residency permit over there. what will be your advise in this regard.

    • Hi Raghu. Permanent residency I think will be hard. My wife is Thai and I was just turned down a marriage / spouse VISA last week in Kuala Lumpur (I’m now on a non-immigrant B VISA for 90 days). Retirement VISA could be a possibility depending on your age, savings etc. Employment and Business VISAs also available in given circumstances. Otherwise it may be back-to-back tourist VISAs (90 days) which the govt. are cracking down on. Below is a bit about the VISA run situation I’ve been following. Best of luck and I hope all runs smoothly. A
      https://www.live-less-ordinary.com/living-in-bangkok/cheapest-thai-visa-runs-from-bangkok

  • Although I appreciate your take I have to disagree on the 1000usd minimum. You pointed this out but it all depends on your style of living. I lived near Sukhumvit 42. Paid about $250usd and it’s hardly “squalid”. Sure, it wasn’t a penthouse but safe and fairly modern. I honestly can’t see someone spending $750 usd, after accommodation, in Bangkok without some heavy partying. Accommodation is by far the most expensive part of living in Bangkok. I spent around $1000 and I assure you that included quite a bit of sinning and traveling. Bangkok is one of the greatest cities in the world where your money definitely goes far.

    Appreciate your work and insight.

    • We’re coincidentally working out the bare minimum of living in Bangkok (new post to come). We managed to live a week on street food / 7-11 toasties, and next to zero luxuries, and it came to around 300 Baht / day. Add the usual monthly bills and we calculated $380 (very) bare minimum for general living costs per month. Add accommodation to this. $250 sounds like a great deal, curious, was this a sharing or studio room? I think we all have our own comfort levels and its always better to budget above than below. Many promote Bangkok as a cheap city to live which isn’t reality to those with aspirations, health, family etc. Many turn up and live towards a dead-end.

      • I would agree. Being a young fit male definitely makes life quite a bit cheaper there. If I had a family and such things would have been different. It was a studio with a separate bath and kitchen. Was actually planning to move into a one bed condo closer to On Nut BTS which was renting for $500 all bills included in a fairly nice condo. This was before the visa run stuff hit the fan so we shall see.

        I didn’t factor in the fact it’s two of you either. For a couple, I think you’re definitely right. I’ve also heard how “dirt cheap” Thailand is. In my experience there really are few places like this left outside of India and Cambodia. Vietnam maybe. The dollar just isn’t what it once was.

        • I oddly spent more when single (I’m now a complete cheapskate after marriage). Plus it was a very different lifestyle. Definitely, On Nut tends to be where I suggest, it’s easy to get onto the Skytrain yet a lot cheaper than further up the line and again, the VISA situation is the tricky part. I was refused a marriage / Spouse VISA in Kuala Lumpur just last week. I am married to a Thai citizen, I own my property, I showed sufficient savings and income… but I’m not allowed to apply for 2 back-to-back marriage VISAs, or something… They gave me a 3 month ‘B’ Business VISA instead. Baffling. It’s why I always budget above… these annoyances take their toll.

          • Don’t I know it. As a full time travel journalist i’ve become accustomed to these Visa changes. I’ll be heading to WTM London and have heard rumors the Thai government is announcing huge visa reforms to spark tourism. Hope that’s the case. Baffling that you were denied. Especially since it’s clear you have the means and desire to stay.

            Ubud is a paradise. SHHHHHH Don’t tell too many people. Trying to keep it secret. May see you there. lol

  • J West Hardin

    If you want to live well in BKK you have to choose areas of the city that offer the best value. You won’t always find that if you want the bar scene downtown at Soi 3 Sukhumvit Rd. Prices vary from 3000 Baht for a fairly basic studio…and the skies the limit…but conditions vary from building to building. I pay $740 for a 1400 sq ft 2 bedroom 2 bath….but I choose to live well away from the tourist madness .

    Unless you’re on an expat work or retire visa and are going to stay a year or more and need to settle long term my very best advise is to use Air B&B and see various parts of the city after staying comfortably in an apartment with all the mod cons for a month…..many rent by the day and week. Have fun..see the city….you don’t have to put up with low standards …just travel smart.

    I’ve been banging around Thailand for 40 years this year…..I think I’ve seen most of what it has to offer. My choice is a laid back lifestyle, volunteering in the community…quiet condo….enjoy the great food….and as my Thai friends say about the touist traps…”We don’t go there”. So…pick your battles …you can live life on so many levels in BKK…choose one…it’s a very big city and caters to all tastes and budgets. I’m J West Hardin…novelist, blogger, at Bangkok Living Travel and Food if you’d like a contact page to follow for daily updates.

    • I actually did similar with AirBnB recently (posts scheduled in Dec). One of the places I stayed in (for next to nothing) was directly above the Chao Phraya river at the Nonthaburi river crossing. I lasted 3 days (booked a week), but I did love it. A more relaxed area has always interested me, but I conceded it would be better moving to a rural area, as Bangkok for me is about the Big City life and conveniences in central areas. A better choice would be Chiang Mai for the simple life where prices are always cheap. Isaan I also love and am spending more time in now. Life can’t get more simpler than Isaan 🙂 But it would likely drive me stir crazy in the long term.

      • J West Hardin

        Chiang Mai and Issan wouldn’t be my first choice for a comfortable retired lifestyle…too remote…too inconvenient….too few services….poor technological transfer…social and cultural opportunities limited to impoverished locals and the marginally moral farang who move there to take advantage of them.

        If low cost is the main driver for a person to visit Thailand, the quality and extent of that travelers experiences are predictably poor.

        I would suggest a person ‘up their sights’ a bit and stay a shorter time, rather than try to live on ‘5 dollars a day’. That price range disappeared in the 70’s when a hotel room in Chinatown could be had for $2 bucks a night.

        The bare minimum to live in BKK is ‘ a little less’ than $10 dollars a day for a room and three street stall meals. There are still some buildings in Lad Prau , Min Buri and Chon Buri with studio’s starting at B3000 p/m. You have to pay 3 months in advance and extra for electricity and water….no internet….no pool. An electric fan at it’s cheapest is around B350. …you’ll need it.

        But at $10 bucks a day you won’t be affording any cold beers or trips on the BTS to Chatachak Market on the weekends. You’ll live in total poverty for the short duration of your visa and what will you have accomplished? You’ll never meet the Thai ‘girl of your dreams’ with a budget of 10 Bucks a day…..good luck.

        BTW.. I am the world record holder among all the travelers I know for ‘finding the cheapest place to stay on the planet’. I rented a fisherman’s shack on the beach in Goa, India for 16 cents a day…no running water….beach front crapper…beat that…I double dare ya.

        • We actually have another post scheduled on ‘how cheap you can live in Bangkok’. This takes out accommodation costs. So we tried for 300 Baht a day and we did last a week, but that budget fell flat after a VISA run to KL, and the wife had to travel for Uni exams. But I find that living costs don’t actually change throughout the different areas of Bangkok, other than the price of accommodation. Shop house restaurants and street food will always be the same, 7-11 and Tesco the same, taxi fares the same. The only difference will be in accommodation, which is to do with intended lifestyle. I think most people come for the big city life in central areas, and convenience of Skytrain lines… or at least at first. Then there is the difference between living in Bangkok and surviving in Bangkok. There’s a big difference here and I wouldn’t recommend anyone coming to Bangkok to survive, because as you said, it would be like living in poverty, in an extremely hot city, with no aircon and limited opportunities of social life and relationships.
          Yup, I’m not too fussed for Chiang Mai either. It tends to be the backpacker option.

          • J West Hardin

            Hey Allan. The dreaded ‘visa run’….can vary in cost, depending on which border you cross, how and when. It’s nice when a fare war breaks out between competing airlines and suddenly you’re flying to Singapore for $1 dollar.

            We’re flying to Siam Reap soon for $140 return p/p… It was one of those promotion fares that was online for about 5 minutes one morning and we just happened to be there.

            Agreed…. B300 per day is an ‘uncomfortable’ budget. Having said that… as a kid in the 60’s I made it around the world without a penny in my pocket. There’s a hierarchy of comfort and need that changes with age.

            I’ve slept in parks, in airports, in bus stations, train stations, benches, carried a hammock…slung it between tree’s, slept on beaches, on the street, abandoned buildings, in cars and under idling trucks, house sat sail boats, found a couch here and there at all night parties….met girls who thought i was cool….stayed in shelters, and had the best time you can imagine. So…. if a traveler is sufficiently motivated…. it can be done.

            The last time I was in Chiang Mai I watched a group of Euro trekkers coming back from an overnight village tour. They’d come back lice infested and were in the pool picking nits off one another and flicking them into the water…real classy bunch.

            Best of luck with your writing.

          • I always travel Bangkok to Penang by train for the simplest VISA run. A beer or two on the overnight sleepers. Costs around 1000 Baht each way, no VISA needed to enter Malaysia, and the stamp on entry is small (unlike whole pages elsewhere). That being said, my next two runs are already booked; first to China (Chongqing) and then to Japan. We found AirAsia flights, return to Tokyo, for 7000 Baht… couldn’t say no 🙂

          • J West Hardin

            Love the overnight train to Butterworth ….wife won’t ride the sleepers any more….. first class cabin is very comfortable. But pack your own food for the night….that conductor scam of overpriced cold rice and egg dish is just awful.

            The food stalls outside Hualompong are excellent. Some really good braided chicken on a stick. Lots of pickpockets in the station so don’t carry anything in the back pocket of you shoulder bags….keep everything visible. The crooks work in groups and target farang.

            On one sleeper car trip we did years ago had a super fat Pattaya pig eating a dozen or more hard boiled eggs and then farting all night. …stinking up the whole car. I overheard several people talking about throwing him off between stops.

            Good score on the visa run tickets…that’s what it’s all about. We choose the least expensive visa runs these days without regard to destination.

            I’m wondering if the visa free days of Malaysia are coming to an end. Many friends who have lived in Malaysia for years are telling me that the government is clamping down on the 90 days turnaround visas that allowed people to stay as long as they wanted..some for years.

            One lady I know had been there for 10 years, leaving every 90 days and was stopped at the border being told she could no longer renew…but they gave her 14 days to put her affairs in order out of compassion and get out…she was barred entry. Others have had their foreign drivers privelages revoked and they must conform to Malay law. There is a new ‘My Home Malaysia’ program that is shaking out the weary temporary travelers…some who went to Malaysia to escape the crackdown in Thailand.

            Since 911 visa restrictions have been getting more restrictive around the world…in the West…in Europe..and in Asia. The Thai visa run situation has changed dramatically in the past few years….they’re clamping down hard…and a recent issuance bu the new head of government announced a further crackdown on all tourism and related tourist areas…tourist businesses throughout Thailand.

            Many back packer travelers who used the bus run across form Phuket to Georgetown are finding themselves refused entry after their second visa extension. The times they are a changin’.

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  • disqus_RGOQQI2lQJ

    I have an offer to work and live in Bangkok, so can you please tell me is 40.000 baht enough for two to live normal?

    • Hey Kacja, I think you should be fine. I’m guessing the work means no Visa runs and killing time in work hours. Depends on where your work is based as well but if it were me I’d try base myself outside of centre, near work, and look for a place around the 10,000 p month mark.

  • ak

    Hello,I’m an architect from Lithuania and I got a proposal for a job in Bankok. Probably just your site helped to understand a little bit about living in Bankok and I would like to try to live and work just I would like to know your opinion: the office offerred 25000-30000 salary monthly…probably this is very low-having in mind that I have enough expierence and Master degree. I would be very grateful for a comment!

    • 25-30K is maybe average or above average for an office job in Bangkok. A lot depends on the exact job though. I know Thai people with a Masters degree that earn less than that. Many expats can live on 25-30K per month, but many can’t. You’d need to get a condo outside the central area. So maybe 10K for condo and 15-20K to live on. The average Thai person on that salary probably live at home or rents for 5K or less. It all depends on what sort of lifestyle you expect. What area is the office located? And do you have any idea where you’d like to live or what sort of place? Alan will probably have some good advice as well.

    • Hi ak. Similar to what RT says. My wife studied architecture in Bangkok and the starting wage is 15,000 Baht from graduation. 30,000 would obviously be the better. It will be tight but you’ll get your foot in the door in Thailand which is great and there’s not likely need for expensive VISA runs. I’d always recommend giving life in Bangkok a go at least once and if you fancy sticking around then try negotiating a better wage later. Best of luck. A

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  • Nitish

    Hi Allen,
    I am Nitish from india completed Masters. I got a job in Bangkok(klongtoey) as software engineer with 30000baht/mo. Can you please tell me is this sallery sufficient to live and save enough. Do I get indian food there at cheap price? And which one mobile sim carrier is cheap.. And what are call rates?

    I will really appreciate if you could give me basic idea.. So that I can decide to go or not…

    Thank you.

    • Hi Nitish. Sorry for my late response. I’m just back from an intensive stint in Japan plus your questions are hard. With 30,000 you maybe okay in Khlong Toie. Depends on the comforts you’re looking. I’m not very knowledgeable about the area other than knowing there’s an MRT line and the traffic is crazy busy at times. You should be able to find a cheap studio (around 8,000) but with not many thrills attached. Unfortunately Indian food isn’t cheap here when compared to neighbours in Malaysia, Myanmar etc. and it’s something I complain about a lot. Please bring some with you 🙂
      Re phones. I don’t actually own a phone (they annoy me) but when I did I used Dtac. Most people these days go with True. I think it’s best to do a quick comparison once here.
      Hope this helps and best of luck.
      A

  • Bashar

    Hi Allan,

    Thank you very much for this article!

    I got an offer with 100000 baht per month, the office location is 4 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 2. I am married and my wife is pregnant. and this job offers medical insurance.

    Would this salary be enough for a 2 persons and hopefully soon a baby? my job is on sales which requires doing a daily sales calls as well.

    can you suggest areas near the office to rent my apartment with reasonable prices?

    Thank you very much!

    Bashar

    • 100,00 is more than enough. a swank 2 bedroom condo would work well. Sukhumvit Soi 2 is close to the Ploen Chit station so is easy to get around. Anywhere in the lower Sukhumvits would work well for here. soi 2 sounds fine if you can find it. you may want to avoid the adjacent soi 4 however it’s the sleazy part of town. opposite(ish) is soi 3 which is middle east street. i lived here before and enjoyed it. up to sukhumvit 11 is a nightlife street and onwards to asoke is all quite nice. you’ve got your pick of any really. best of luck. A

      • Sagar W.

        Hell Allan,
        Your information is really very helpful.
        I am Sagar W. from India. I got an offer to work in Bangkok for one year. My office location is Tampol Klongnung, Amplur Klongloung, Pathumthani, 12120, 12120, Thailand.

        I am planning to take my family i.e. wife and one and half year old daughter along with me. My offer is somewhat close to Bashar. Can you please guide me on below.
        1. Can I get good house in good residential area with good amenities like park, children clinic, bus, metro station etc.

        2. Indian grocery and vegetable market.
        3. Will I be able to save something on monthly basis after all the expenses. I want to live above average life in Bangkok.

        Your inputs will be really appreciable.

        • sagar w.

          Sorry for the typo. Please read it as Hello.

        • I’m a little bit confused, as Bashar mentioned above that his office is in Sukhumvit, but you say your office is nearby in Pathumthani, which is outside Bangkok. There isn’t a metro that far out so you’d need to get a bus into Bangkok, which would take 1 hour or more. I don’t know of much Indian food in Pathumthani because it’s mostly a Thai area as far as I know. Perhaps you can clarify what you mean when you say location is near Bashar.

          • sagar w.

            Thank you Renegade for the reply. I said my offer i.e. salary is like Bashar. However my office is in Tampol Klongnung, Amplur Klongloung, Pathumthani, 12120, 12120, Thailand.
            So this place is not in Bangkok ?? Can you please suggest me good residential place near to my office location. I have mentioned what kind of apartment I am looking for. Please suggest as I am unaware about Thailand. my main conern is good house and Indian food i.e. grocerry and vegetables.

            Thank you very much in advance.

        • Hey Sagar. You’re a fair bit out of center so it’s not an area I would know. I do think you’re near Rangsit however, so I’ll use it as example. These areas are relatively well developed area with local malls and whatnot e.g. Future Park, Rangsit.
          You’ll be living well on that budget and I’d personally look at some of the local gated housing communities. It maybe a good idea to ask the company you’re working for nearby ideas. There are many out in that directions.
          Transport will be limited however, no metro or skyrtains, so you may need a car, or get used to buses and minivans towards Victory Monument in the centre. Actually taxis would work with ur budget 🙂
          I’ve no idea about Indian markets, but I’d guess they’re hard to come by there. You may have to make do with the Indian shelves of the local Tesco Lotus or Big C. Or Tops Supermarket in Future Park mall etc.
          Living average you should be able to save a bit.
          Hope this is of help.
          Allan

          • sagar w

            Thank you very much Allan for the inputs. Today I got the correct office address, here it is – 33/4 The 9th Tower Grand Rama 9, Rama 9 Road, Huaykwang, Bangkok

            Now can you please tell me about below queries.

            1. Can I get good house in good residential area with good amenities like park, children clinic, bus, metro station etc. What can be its rent / month (aprx.)

            2. Indian grocery and vegetable market.

            3. Will I be able to save something on monthly basis after all the expenses. I want to live above average life in Bangkok.

            Thank you in advance.

          • Your right in the center then in a potential CBD the way it is growing. Your not far from Sukhumit and next to an MRT underground line at Phra Ram 9 Station.

            To be honest I’m uncertain of houses and residential options in this area but the condos and new developments maybe a better option. Rent will depend on what your sqm etc but ur making enough to do well.

            Park I would probably hop up a few stops on the MRT to Benjakiti Park at Queen Sirikit Station.

            Central Plaza Grand Rama 9, the main mall here, pretty much next to you will have all groceries etc. maybe a clinic.

            Considering the average wage etc u’ll be living above average and you’ll be able to save.

          • sagar w.

            Thank you Allan for the valuable information…m looking for a house for 3 persons ie my wife, my daughter n me. Not so big but comfortable enough. So can u plz give me some insights as to what would be rent….

  • ANn Ievy

    Reading your article is very informative. I got an offer and I would like to ask your recommendation for an affordable condo for rent between 10,000-12,000BHT near Hilton Sukhumvit area. Appreciate your help. Thanks! -Ann

    • Hey Annie. That will be tricky for the area. The Hilton is on Suk 24 and is very central. I’ve lived nearby, on Suk 22, at a place called House by the Pond http://www.housebythepond.com/ but it’s probably pricier these days. Boss Tower I think maybe an option, out on Rama 4 Road.

      • AE

        Thanks Allan! I’ll check online for that. How about the area ON NUT? How far is it from the area I prefer?

        • Three stops down the line. An easy commute (if near the skytrain) convenient and affordable 🙂

    • Check out Rompo Mansion. It’s on the other side of Rama 4, but only a 10 minute walk from Sukhumvit 24. Studio apartments are something like THB 10,000 / month and it comes with a sauna/swimming pool/fitness.

  • AE

    Reading your article is very informative. I got an offer and I would like to ask your recommendation for an affordable condo for rent between 10,000-12,000BHT near Hilton Sukhumvit area. Appreciate your help. Thanks! -AE

  • Rajeev Kumar

    Hi Allan,

    A slightly off-track question from my end. I have been offered an Expat job in Bangkok for THB 100,000 per month. I will be relocating in a few weeks time and later arrange for

  • andrew

    Hello there,
    I found this site by accident and am very impressed by the articles as well as the comment; I’m a divorced Englishman in my early 50’s, children grown up long ago blah blah blah…. anyhow, I’m taking early retirement on health grounds next year when I’m 55 and want to leave blighty to start afresh – I’ve been to Thailand a number of times before and love the quiet, laidback approach to life and the happy smiling people. I’m selling my house, cashing my pension and will end up with a sizeable lump of dough to fund me.
    I think I’d like to avoid buying at first, whilst I get used to the country, areas etc, so would look to rent.
    I like to socialise, go out, eat out and to feel safe….. I don’t know which parts of Bangkok fit that bill, so would appreciate guidance and suggestions…… I can generate a monthly income of 100,000-120,000 Baht to cover rent, living, fun etc…. I’d want to take 3 flights per annum back to the UK to visit family so need to factor that in. I’d keep on top of this about cash 8,500,000 Baht to eventually buy somewhere.
    Just a note; I’m not looking to find myself a Thai bride! Just socialise, make friends and enjoy the culture.
    Any advice or guidance would be brilliant.
    Thank you.

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  • Joe

    Anyone ever tell you that you look at lot like Nick Kroll?

    • Definitely a first. I get Mr Bean a lot but so do most. I actually get told I look more Arab or Indian even, when I say I’m from the UK. I’ll prefer to go with James Bond 😀

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  • alexis

    I lived outside of Bangkok proper and I would say my monthly budget, a baby was about $700, for rent, daycare, diapers, clothes, food, random spending. But obviously I was not going out drinking… ever… and I was the one of very few foreigners around. We are moving back on Monday and I can’t wait!