Wondering what the real cost of living in Bangkok is for 2020? 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.
In 2020, Bangkok rose to the 17th most expensive city in Asia, moving two notches above where it was last year at 19th place.
Overview of Expenses
Although rent and healthcare are still cheaper in Bangkok than they are in 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 throughout January and February of 2020.
On average, I spent $2,235 during the first two months of 2020. This dropped $646 since mid-2019, and there’s a good reason for it, which I’ll get into in a bit.
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.
But if you think you can get by with $500 or $600 a month in Bangkok, I’d have to say it’s probably not possible. Not unless you’re willing to sacrifice some real comfort.
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.
Jonathan and Sarah from over at Life Part 2 have a great post on how much you might spend each month in Bangkok as a retired couple.
But as they say, different strokes for different folks.
What’s Not Included
As usual, I didn’t include my visa costs in this article. But I usually pay around $61 every year to renew my marriage visa.
Cost of Living in Bangkok: Monthly Expenses
As I write about my cost of living in Bangkok for 2020, a lot has changed since last year. We moved from a detached house back to a condo, which saved us quite a bit of money.
And in case you’re wondering, here’s a look at my 2019 cost of living in Bangkok.
Below is a more detailed look at my cost of living in Bangkok based on a six-month average.
Grocery Shopping ($879/27,249 baht)
Unsurprisingly, grocery shopping is at the top of my list. Buying food in Thailand for a family of four gets expensive. Especially with two growing kids.
When you shop at these places, though, 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 pick them up each week at a pickup point.
Rent in Bangkok ($420/13,000 baht)
At $420 per month, rent is the second largest cost. But what we get for the money would be unheard of in America.
We have a 64-square meter condo, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big community pool, playground, park, restaurants, and more.
In 2019 we moved into a detached house, and although it was nice to have the extra space, nothing beats living in a condo, at least for us. So we moved back to a condo in November of 2019.
How much you spend on rent each month will be determined by where you want to live and your standards.
Peter from The Thailand Life finely details the average costs of condos in his Bangkok cost of living guide.
Eating Out ($273/8,463 baht)
Our cost for eating out in Bangkok dropped significantly since 2019. I used to work away from home four days a week, so I spent a lot of money buying food outside the house.
Now that I work from home, I rarely buy food outside, unless we go out to eat as a family.
Gas for the Car ($97/3,007 baht)
This is another monthly cost that has dropped more than 50% since I work from home.
Our choice of gas is usually Shell or PTT, and we fill up the tank with 91 for about $38.
Healthcare ($37/1,147 baht)
In the past two months, we hardly went to see a doctor, so this cost includes over-the-counter medicine and first aid goods.
Education ($52/1,612 baht)
Our daughters still go to the same homeschool co-op that they’ve been going to for the past few years. But our education cost has dropped because my wife teaches a few classes at the co-op, and we get a discount on tuition.
Electric Bill ($84/2,604 baht)
We can’t live without air conditioning. It’s one cost I don’t mind paying for. We run our ac units almost all day and night long, seven days a week, and we pay about $84 a month.
How much money you need to live in Bangkok once again depends on your standards. Travel Happy breaks down some of the utilities I don’t use, like cable tv.
Fitness ($90/2,790 baht)
Our fitness expenses went up this year, but only because we enrolled our daughters into gymnastics and ballet classes.
I’ve stopped going to the Muay Thai gym, which made up most of my fitness expenses last year. Now I exercise outside when the air quality permits.
Tolls ($17/527 baht)
Now that I work from home, the monthly cost of tolls also dropped. If we do spend money on tolls, it’s usually on Sundays when we take day trips out of Bangkok.
Cell Phones ($41/1,271 baht)
We still use TrueMove for our cell phone service. For two cell phones, we pay $41 every 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.
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.
Transportation ($16/496 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 ($92/2,852 baht)
My monthly cost for clothing went up quite a bit, but that’s only because we recently took the kids clothes shopping. They do grow quickly.
As usual, we go to the market for clothes they can play 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.
I don’t drink much for entertainment. But if you want a great breakdown on how much you could spend on alcohol in Bangkok each month, check out Allan’s post on Live Less Ordinary.
Internet ($24/744 baht)
We still get fiber optic internet through AIS. I get about 12.20 Mb/s download speed and 10.37 Mb/s upload speed.
When we rented a house, we always had issues with AIS. But at the condo, so far AIS has been great service.
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 cheap in Thailand. Each of us takes multiple showers a day, drink and cook with water only sourced from our filter, and water the plants on the balcony every day.
Our bill comes out to a measly five bucks a month.
In 2019, my goal was to lower my expenses by 10%. Since I spent $2,881 per month in 2019, and I’m now spending $2,235 a month in 2020, that’s a 22% drop in our cost of living here in Bangkok.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure how I can lower my expenses any more than I already have. But I’ll do another update at the end of 2020 to see where I stand at the end of the year.
What to Do Next
That wraps up my cost of living for Bangkok in 2020.
Overcome the challenges of being an expat in Thailand...
...without winding up broke, blacklisted, or bailed out.
Enter your email below and get my best expat advice, delivered right to your inbox.