My First Months in Bangkok: Easy Living on $1,700 a Month

My decision to move to Thailand was a long and drawn-out process. Would I be able to survive? Would it be a culture shock? Could I handle the spice? Is it worth the hassle?

Of course, we’ve all read how wonderful Thailand is. The reports are not wrong. It is a delightful country. Yet, when one gets to the nitty-gritty of upheaval and moving countries, worries and trepidations are unavoidable. Many people questioned whether I would stick it out. To be honest so did I.

Once I arrived in Bangkok, my worries quickly disappeared. Instead I embraced a new-found sense of awe and adventure that awaited me. This was helped by the realization that the cost of living is so low, I am able to live a quite luxurious lifestyle on a meagre budget.

My rent for a two-bedroom condo in a central location is less than $650 per month. Then there is the food. There are canteen-style meals in the mall for $1 (they taste a lot better than the school canteen); or, if I’m going to a restaurant, I can pay around $7 for a meal, and be heartedly satisfied. The beer is also fairly reasonable—around $3 a bottle when sitting in a bar. If I’m not eating or drinking (a rare occasion), a trip to the movies only sets me back $5. I rarely spend more than $1,700 per month.

There are cheaper places to live in Thailand, yet it is also most certainly possible to be more frugal and still live very comfortably in Bangkok. If it is city living in Southeast Asia you are searching for, there is no better place than here.

The beauty of Bangkok is that, no matter your budget, there is always something to find. From night-markets and malls to temples and museums, everyone is catered for. Each district has its own quirks and it is fun finding them.

Many people have heard of Khao San Rd., the famous backpacker street. It is one that I’d recommend to avoid. Instead, check out more unusual sights like the “Bangkok Airplane Graveyard” in the northern Hua Mak area. In the middle of the city, an abandoned Boeing 747 is occupied by a family who charge you to have a look around. Other more accessible options include the Sukhumvit commercial area, which is popular with expats of all origins. My favorite parts of the city are Thonglor and Phrompong, where a concentration of Japanese expats leads to a mix of great food (not just sushi!) and night life.

Then there are the people. Bangkok has a great expat community here, and it is easy to make friends and get tips on what to do and what not to do. I’ve also managed to meet some Thai people and have started to learn a little of the language. Although it is hard, it is also rewarding to see the looks of the locals when I stumble a few sentences out in the shop.

Indisputably, Bangkok is a massive city and could easily be seen as intimidating. One downside to its vastness is the traffic, yet this is easily circumnavigated by the use of the BTS or MRT (Bangkok’s subway equivalent).

Bangkok’s location in Southeast Asia means it is a hub for many budget airlines flying around the region. You can snag mightily cheap flights for a quick weekend away, whether it be to a beach in Phuket, or a city break in Hanoi.

I love Bangkok and I’m here to stay.

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