When I moved to Thailand, I hoped to have a great life experience and maybe save some money too. Unfortunately, the latter did not happen.
The first huge chunk of money I had to spend was on my apartment. I lived in a 28 floor building in Bangwa. It was conveniently near the Bangwa BTS Skytrain station and there was a shopping mall about 500 meters away. I had to pay a deposit of 25 500 Baht when I moved in. Thereafter, I had to pay 8500 Baht each month. My electricity and water bill was never more than 400 Baht combined and my internet service cost 599 Baht per month. Some of my friends who lived in more modest apartments told me I could save at least half that amount if I could learn to rough it a bit and move to a less luxurious apartment. But as somebody who enjoys being home at least 50 percent of the time, it was important for me to have a cosy home.
My apartment had a small kitchen with a stove, kettle, washing machine and fridge. I had a small tv room which was separated from the bedroom by a sliding door. There was also a shower and toilet, of course. It was great that it came fully furnished, except for some cutlery and crockery. There was a pool, sauna and gym on the second floor. I though the price I paid was totally worth it.
Although I had a small kitchen with a stove, I hardly ever cooked. I usually ate street food from my local street food vendors or sometimes I ate in the food court at the mall near my place. That kind of food was much cheaper, usually from 40 to 80 Baht per meal. Every month I made sure I had some essentials at home such as, bread, butter, milk,cheese, tea, cereal, eggs, fruit and vegetables, toiletries, cleaning stuff etc. This roughly came up to 1 500 Baht each month. Sometimes, I got tired of eating Thai food so I would spoil myself by going to a western restaurant. That was slightly costly, from 150 Baht upwards. So I would say I spent about 3500 Baht on food, toiletries and home stuff each month.
I was very fortunate to live close to the BTS station. It only took 5 minutes on a motorcycle taxi or 15 minutes by bus to get to the station. I spent about 700 Baht on transport, 500 Baht on my BTS Skytrain rabbit card for the month and 200 Baht on trains, ferries and motocycle taxis.
Of course I also spent quite a lot on travelling and having a good time. But that’s a story for another blog! I noticed that whenever friends from back home came to visit me in Thailand, I ended up spending much more money because we did a lot of expensive touristy stuff together which worked out cheap for them having the stronger currency, but cost me an arm and a leg. Ofcourse that didn’t take away from the wonderful times we shared whenever they came to visit. You cannot put a price on experiences with loved ones.
It’s also worth mentioning that another thing that costs money is when you have to do visa runs and extend your visa at the Thai immigration offices. I was in Thailand 6 months before I obtained a work permit. I went to Chaeng Wattana twice to extend my visa, it cost 1900 Baht each time and I also did 2 cross boarder visa runs. The one to Cambodia cost 2500 Baht and the one to Laos cost about 4ooo Baht. There were also some costs involved in getting my work permit, but I can’t for the life of me remember the exact figures.
All in all, I can attest to the fact that the cost of living in Thailand is low, compared to my home country, South Africa. However, when you start earning in Thai currency, you have to stop comparing prices to what you would pay back home because that can be very misleading and it can cause you to live way above your means. That was my downfall, and the fact that budgeting has never been one of my strongest points.