A Life of Leisure in Thailand for Just $706 a Month

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that since I arrived in Chiang Mai in January last year I’ve barely left the city. It’s simply because I find it so engaging.

I’m not a barfly (I drink very little alcohol so that barely registers in my budget) and having spent a number of years as a restaurant reviewer I’m no longer attracted to fancy restaurants at fancy prices. I prefer to cycle or walk for the simple pleasure of discovering the more idiosyncratic side of Thai life. I live a comfortable and enjoyable life and don’t feel as if I miss anything that other expats on larger incomes might be experiencing.

By far my greatest pleasure is just getting on my bike and seeing where it takes me. I may go out for an hour for a ride around Chiang Mai and come back six hours and 50 kilometres later. I find the city and its environs endlessly fascinating.

Thai people are very open and I get invited into the most unusual places; a workshop making the outrageously ornate biers that carry the deceased to the funeral pyre, an abandoned tobacco-curing factory where I was invited to share a green curry with the few people who still inhabit this ghost town…and more.

There are no shortages of internet cafés in Chiang Mai but I’ve discovered a few different places to write on my laptop. I’m a member of the library at Far Eastern University so spend a couple of days a week there, at Chiang Mai University there is a small open-air café overlooking a lake which is a beautiful place to get lost in thought, and perhaps one of my more curious places is the cafeteria at Sriphat Hospital. I choose these places because I can feel part of a community as distinct from one of the many thousands of travellers sitting in tourist cafés, with the bonus that I can also get a very decent meal for around 30 baht ($1.15).

My original idea was to stay in a hotel for a couple of months while looking for a permanent home. The fact that I’m still in the same place after just over a year is testament to how our ideas can change to suite our lifestyle. The staff are delightful, my room is cleaned and linen changed weekly, I’m a few minutes’ walk to the centre of town and all my daily needs are at hand. It’s important to me is that I live in a mainly Thai community.

My food and household bills are approximately 11,500 baht a month ($450). For 8,000 baht ($314) I cover my accommodation, electricity, water, WiFi (which is 400 baht, $15.40) and my mobile phone (200 baht, $7.70) There’s no doubt that these savings help me to live a far fuller life in Thailand than I ever could back home.

I wanted to know what my personal budget would be so since I arrived I’ve kept a note of almost every baht I’ve spent so I can now say with some certainty how much my lifestyle costs me each month.

In Chiang Mai I eat out regularly, whether it’s a 40 baht ($1.50) fried rice at a street stall or a 400 baht ($16) splurge in a European restaurant (almost all non-Asian restaurants are referred to as either ‘European’ or farang, foreigner), and you will get a darn good meal for that price. For me, that ‘darn good meal’ would be a huge hand-made burger, chips and a mound of dressings accompanied by an enormous Caesar Salad in a pleasant restaurant two minutes’ walk from my hotel.

All the necessities of life and a few minor luxuries, including a weekly massage (200 baht, $7.70). Having a kilo of my laundry washed and ironed is a treat I won’t give up and don’t need to—it costs just 50 baht, or $2. This, on top of occasional travel, gifts etc. bring my total monthly living expenses to about 18,000 baht ($706) a month.

In most respects the medical service can be quite good, with many Western-trained doctors. Thai hospitals are fee-paying and while general medical visits should cost around 400 baht ($15.40) to see the doctor plus another 200 baht ($7.70) for hospital services, depending if your examination required the use of specialist equipment.

If I look back over the last few years I can say hand-on-heart that the last year has been one of the happiest for a long time. Sometimes, as I’m walking the streets of the old town, I get the feeling that this is exactly where I want to be, and look forward to using Chiang Mai as a base to discover the rest of this beautiful country.

Get Your Free Thailand Report Here

Sign up here for IL Australia’s e-letter and we’ll send you a free postcard e-letter three times a week. We’ll also send you a FREE research report on Thailand: Live Like Royalty in the Land of Smiles.

Each week in these postcards you’ll learn about the best places to retire, travel, buy real estate and enjoy life overseas.

Get Your Free Report on Thailand

We will collect and handle your personal information in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You can cancel your subscription at any time.

Comment section

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *