Wondering what the real cost of living in Bangkok is for 2019? You might be surprised to find out that despite popular belief, Bangkok can get costly if you don’t know how to manage your money.
Although rent and healthcare are cheaper in Bangkok than in other Western cities, other monthly costs do add up.
To show you how much they can add up to each month, I’ve tracked my monthly costs from January to June of 2019.
On average, I spent $2,881 per month. This has been the most I’ve spent per month since moving to Thailand in 2014. As my income increases, so do my expenses—go figure.
If you have a smaller budget, it’s possible to get by with less: a cheaper house or condo; buying local, non-organic food; eating out less, and so on.
Also, keep in mind my monthly costs cover a family of four. I have more mouths to feed, more bodies to clothe, more heads to keep a roof over, more of just about everything.
If you come here alone or as a couple with no children, you can get by on far less than $2,881 per month. But as they say, different strokes for different folks.
Overview of Expenses
As I write about my cost of living in Bangkok for 2019, I am transitioning to a new job. So at the end of 2019, when I update this article, I suspect a lot of these numbers will change. Some for the better, some for the worse.
What’s Not Included
I didn’t include my visa costs in this article because I’m due to apply for a new non-immigrant O visa (marriage visa) in September. The visa usually costs me about $61 a year.
Cost of Living in Bangkok: Monthly Expenses
Here’s a more detailed look at my cost of living in Bangkok based on a six-month average.
Grocery Shopping ($715/22,165 baht)
Unsurprisingly, grocery shopping is at the top of my list. Buying food in Thailand for a family of four gets expensive. But to be honest, we don’t buy cheap food either.
We shop at either Tops, Central Food Hall, or Villa Market, which all tend to be on the pricier side. But you get better quality meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, and more. Plus you can buy Western foods. Although Big-C is raising their standards, too.
We also buy organic fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s co-op and have them delivered each week.
Rent in Bangkok ($642/19,902 baht)
At $642 per month, rent is our next biggest cost. The house we rent would probably cost four times as much in the US. We have four bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs and a dining room, living room, playroom, maids room, bathroom, and kitchen downstairs. Outside we have a driveway, backyard, and small front yard. In the community, we have a swimming pool, gym, basketball court, lake, and more.
Eating Out ($372/11,532 baht)
Eating out comes in third on our expense list. We pay around $40 to go out to a decent restaurant. This average also includes the cost of eating out when we go on day trips or if we’re out just kicking around.
Gas for the Car ($207/6,417 baht)
Unless you live in the heart of Bangkok and can take the BTS or MRT everywhere, you’re going to need a car if you’re living in Thailand with a family. Almost every single expat I’ve met who has a family also has a car. On average it costs about $38 to fill up the tank.
Other ($198/6,138 baht)
This category is for random things that don’t fit into the other categories. Things like furniture, stuff for the house, electronics, and so on. A few months ago we bought a vacuum cleaner that ran us about $180. Last month I bought adjustable legs from IKEA to make a standing desk. Those cost me about $240.
Healthcare ($121/3,751 baht)
This category includes doctor visits for my wife, my children, and me. It includes vaccines, medication—even bandaids from 7-ELEVEN. In 2019 we haven’t spent too much on healthcare. I think 2014 and 2015 were our biggest years for healthcare costs. In 2014 my wife had minor surgery that cost us roughly $1,613, and in 2016 our second daughter was born, which cost us about $1,677.
Education ($101/3,131 baht)
You might be wondering how we educate our children for just about a hundred bucks a month since schools in Thailand, especially international schools, cost a lot of money. And that answer is simple: homeschool. Our children go to a homeschool co-op a few days a week, and that makes up the most of this cost. The rest of the week we educate them at home. If you send your son or daughter to an international school, your cost of living in Bangkok will go up.
Car Repairs ($89/2,759 baht)
Our car is about 10 years old. My wife bought it right before she moved to America. When we moved to Thailand in 2014, it still ran well. So we’ve been using that. I’ve been avoiding buying a new car for as long as I could. So I don’t mind paying for minor repairs every month. And when something does break, labor is cheap in Thailand, roughly $7 per car part changed.
Electric Bill ($84/2,604 baht)
Electric in Thailand is inexpensive compared to the US. For $84 per month, we run one air con downstairs almost all day and one in my office when I’m working. At night time we run two air cons, one in our bedroom and one in the kids’ room. April tends to be the hottest month and the most expensive for electricity. The electric bill rises to over $100. But for the most part, it floats around $84.
If you rent a condo you may have to pay more per unit of electricity you use. Property managers tack on an extra few baht per unit, which could add up. I knew one guy whose electric bill was as much as his rent one month.
Fitness ($67/2,077 baht)
Housing and healthcare may be cheap in Bangkok but gyms aren’t. Up until June, I trained at a Muay Thai gym, and it ran me roughly $67 per month to train four days a week. This was at a discounted rate because I knew the owner. If you go to an indoor fitness gym, prepare to pay just as much. Since leaving the Muay Thai gym, though, I’ve started to run—which is free.
Tolls ($42/1,302 baht)
I used to travel a few days a week on long-distance trips for work. A one-way trip from Bangkok to Chonburi ran me about $3 in tolls. Last month I changed jobs, so I suspect this number will drop by the end of the year.
Cell Phones ($41/1,271 baht)
We use TrueMove for our cell phone service. For two cell phones, we pay $41 per month. In the US, before we moved in 2014, I think we paid $160 for two cell phones. For $41 we have unlimited internet, wifi tethering, and 400 minutes of call time. But I don’t think we’ve ever put a dent in 400 minutes in any given month.
If I have to call family back home, I use video calling on Line app. Once every six months, I have to call the bank in the US, so I opted for a 1-baht per-minute international calling add-on. But I only get charged for the service if I use it.
Gifts ($32/992 baht)
Once in a while, we have to buy gifts for birthday parties. We usually go to Toys “R” Us at Mega Bangna.
Transportation ($31/961 baht)
This cost includes taxis, BTS, MRT, and the occasional Grab. Since we have a car, we don’t use public transportation much. When we do use public transportation we park at one the car lots along the BTS, then take the BTS into the city.
Clothing ($27/837 baht)
At the end of 2018 we did a big shopping for children’s clothes. So far in 2019 our costs have been low. But when we do need clothes for the kids we usually go to the market for stuff they can bang around in and Mega Bangna for quality clothes.
Entertainment ($27/837 baht)
Entertainment costs are low. I would imagine that this cost could be in the hundreds for someone in Bangkok who’s single or comes with their partner. But for us, we rarely do anything at night that’s considered entertainment, especially with two young children. This cost, then, includes tickets to movies and money spent at arcades. Woo-hoo.
Cleaning Lady ($25/775 baht)
Once or twice a month we have a lady, P’Air, come over to help us — er, help my wife — clean the house. What P’Air does for this cost is nothing short of amazing.
Internet ($24/744 baht)
We get fiber optic internet through AIS. As I type this I’m getting an average of 12.20 Mb/s download speed and 10.37 Mb/s upload speed. To be honest, I don’t know if those numbers are good or bad. I just know that the internet service we get is perfect for working from home.
Stationary ($20/620 baht)
Stationary includes everything we need for homeschooling and working from home: paper, paints, pencils, erasers, hole punchers, whiteboards, and so on. We go to B2S and OfficeMate for all our stationary.
Haircuts ($9/279 baht)
Not much to report on about haircuts. But we spend roughly $9 a month getting them.
Water Bill ($5/155 baht)
Water, like electricity, is also cheap in Thailand. My wife waters the grass, plants, and trees each morning, except for in the rainy season, and we shower a few times a day—especially when it’s hot. We also get our drinking water from the tap through a filter. We also do at least one load of laundry every day.
Cooking Gas ($2/62 baht)
Cooking gas comes in last. It’s not that we don’t cook a lot. In fact, we cook three meals a day almost daily. It’s just that cooking gas, or propane, is inexpensive.
We paid $30 for a full tank of propane. When it runs out, which after three months of using it, it hasn’t, we have to pay $10 to swap the empty tank for a full tank. That $10 includes delivery and installation.
Keeping a budget has been a good exercise in personal finance. After seeing what I spend every month, I’d love to cut the total by 10 percent by the end of 2019. When I update this article at the end of 2019, let’s see how well I do.
What to Do Next
That wraps up my cost of living for Bangkok in 2019.
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