Cost of living in Thailand

Manage your budget effectively by understanding the cost of living in Thailand, from rent and utilities to healthcare and groceries.

A market vendor stands behind his food counter rolling some kind of dough in his hand in Thailand

By Gayatri Bhaumik

Updated 25-3-2024

Moving to a new country can be exciting but daunting, not to mention expensive. Therefore, as you most likely have to work carefully with your money, especially while settling in, you need to budget effectively to cover all your needs. Indeed, you can only accomplish this if you accurately determine your daily expenses.

By exploring the following topics, you’ll gain insight into the cost of living in Thailand, including housing, transportation, childcare, education, and more:

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An overview of living costs and standards in Thailand

Generally, the cost of living in Thailand is affordable for most expats. For example, a family of four can expect to spend about ฿71,000 per month before rent, while a single person may pay around ฿20,000.

Women with sunglasses walk down the Bangsaen Fish Market between a crowd
Bangsaen Fish Market in Pattaya, Thailand (Photo: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

To put this into the global context, Thailand’s cost of living tends to be lower than in countries such as the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Japan, Singapore, Australia, and most of Europe. However, it is more expensive to live in Thailand than in places like India, South Africa, and Russia.

Aside from its affordability, many expats also appreciate Thailand’s warm climate, relative safety, affordable healthcare, and welcoming locals. However, these positives are balanced by a lower purchasing power index, congested traffic (mainly in Bangkok), and unhealthy levels of air pollution.

Thailand’s standard of living and quality of life are relatively good, though these can vary by different measures. For example, property prices are generally higher than many residents can afford, but rentals are competitive.

Similarly, the quality of public education is inconsistent, but there are reputable international schools. And, while public healthcare exists, the system is largely underfunded and understaffed. However, private health services are world-class and cheaper than, for example, in Europe (i.e., countries without a universal healthcare system) or the US.

A comparison of the cost of living in different Thai cities


Naturally, Thailand’s capital is the country’s most expensive city, yet it is still more affordable than many other major cities worldwide. As such, a family of four can expect to spend between ฿80,000 and ฿90,000 per month without accounting for rent, and a single person around ฿22,000 to ฿24,000.

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Local expert

Jane Evans

Insider tip

Consumables in remote areas, such as islands, are more expensive due to transportation costs, so you should expect to pay more for items that are not produced locally.

As such, the cost of groceries in supermarkets and wet markets is typically lower in Bangkok.

When compared to cities globally (i.e., consumer prices and rent), Bangkok’s cost of living is:

  • 68.5% lower than in New York (US)
  • 53.6% lower than in Sydney (Australia)
  • 47.9% lower than in Singapore (Singapore)
  • 47.5% lower than in London (UK)
  • 23.3% lower than in Tokyo (Japan)
  • 16.5% lower than in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)
  • 11.1% higher than in Moscow (Russia)
  • 24.4% higher than in Cape Town (South Africa)
  • 42.2% higher than in Mumbai (India)

Chiang Mai

This northern city is popular with expats and offers a more affordable cost of living in Thailand. For example, a family of four could live here for about ฿63,000 to ฿65,000 per month before rent, and a single person between ฿17,000 and ฿20,000.

A tuk-tuk driver in Chiang Mai smokes
Tuk-tuk in Chiang Mai (Photo: Matt Hunt/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

This means consumer prices are almost 23% lower than in Bangkok, and rent is nearly 50% less than in the capital. Similarly, eating out in Chiang Mai is about 30% cheaper than in Bangkok, while you’ll pay about 14% less for groceries.

Chiang Rai

Approximately 60 kilometers from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is a much smaller and less touristy community. It is surrounded by forests, rice fields, mountains, and waterfalls, offering one of the lowest living costs nationwide.

For example, consumer prices and rents are around 37% lower than in Bangkok, and you’ll also pay less for groceries (23%) and restaurants (35%). However, residents have a lower purchasing index than in the capital.


With a tropical, beachside lifestyle and a handful of international schools, the island of Phuket is attractive to expats in Thailand.

However, the cost of living in Phuket is a conundrum – some things are cheaper than other areas in Thailand, while others are more expensive. Having said that, a family of four can live in Phuket on about ฿76,000 to ฿79,000 per month before rent.

While consumer prices are around 8% lower than in Bangkok, rent can be up to 14% higher. Eating out will also cost you more in Phuket.

This city is generally more expensive than Chiang Mai, with consumer prices almost 19% higher, and you’ll pay a staggering 127% more for your rental home.

What are the minimum wage and average salaries in Thailand?

As anywhere else, a person’s income plays a significant role in their cost of living as it dictates what they can afford. In Thailand, salaries vary significantly depending on the location, sector, and a candidate’s skills, experience, and qualifications.

Having said this, monthly salaries in Thailand can range anything from ฿24,000 to as high as ฿430,000, but on average, employees earn around ฿95,000 to ฿100,000 per year.

Below are some of the average salaries across the country:

  • Bangkok and Greater Bangkok area: ฿28,960/month
  • Central region: ฿23,260/month
  • Southern region: ฿21,910/month
  • Northeastern region: ฿18,580/month
  • Northern region: ฿17,720/month

Globally, Thai wages are lower than in countries like Switzerland, the US, Qatar, Denmark, the UAE, Australia, Germany, and Japan. However, they are significantly higher than countries such as Russia, Turkey, Morocco, and Kenya. Within Southeast Asia, Thai salaries are the third-highest in the region, only behind Singapore and Malaysia and ahead of countries like Vietnam and Indonesia.

Housing costs in Thailand

Rental costs

Internationals can expect a relatively affordable cost of living when looking for rental homes in Thailand.

As in other countries, rental prices can differ significantly between cities and regions and by type and size of property. Here is the range of monthly rental costs for a one-bedroom apartment in the center and suburbs of several Thai cities:

CityRental cost for a one-bedroom apartment (city center)Rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment (suburbs)
Chiang Mai฿10,000–20,000฿4,500–10,000
Chiang Rai฿5,000–10,000฿3,000–16,000
Koh Samui฿9,400–20,000฿10,000–20,000

As expected, Bangkok’s rental prices are some of the most expensive in the country. However, other tourist destinations – also popular with expats – are on par with the capital, including Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui.

In addition, within Asia, Thai rentals are cheaper than those in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Indonesia but more expensive than those in Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India.

Property prices

Property prices in Thailand are middling and vary greatly depending on the location, city, neighborhood, and type of housing. If you plan to buy property while living in Thailand, it is important to understand the local real estate market and your mortgage options.

Aerial view of Chiang Mai at sunset or sunrise across the mountains
Chiang Mai (Photo: SPmemory/Getty Images)

To provide an overview, apartment prices in Bangkok range from ฿58,000 to ฿280,000 per square meter, with luxury two-bedroom condos reaching around ฿23 million. Meanwhile, expats opting for a quieter suburban lifestyle might find prices as low as ฿71,000 per square meter.

In contrast, Chiang Rai offers more affordable properties, with houses ranging from ฿20,000 to ฿61,000 per square meter, likely including a garden.

For a glimpse into the property market in Koh Samui, a popular destination for tourists, digital nomads, and expats, one-bedroom sea view villas cost between ฿4 and 5 million. In contrast, two-bedroom villas go for about ฿8 million. Meanwhile, luxury two-bedroom villas can reach ฿12.5 million, and beachfront four-bedroom villas may range from ฿30 to 50 million.

The range of property prices in other cities is as follows:

CityPrice per square meter (city center)Price per square meter (suburbs)
Chiang Mai฿50,000–1,200,000฿30,000–78,000

The cost of domestic bills in Thailand

Utility bills

While living in Thailand, you need to factor utilities into the cost of living. These are generally more affordable than in other countries, but keep an eye on the bills as they increase with inflation.

Below, you will find an indication of monthly prices for basic utilities, which will vary depending on your location, property size, and household:

  • Electricity: ฿500–4,000 (฿3.99/KhW)
  • Gas: ฿300–500 per canister of LPG
  • Water: ฿100–200 (฿10.20–21.20 per unit)
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Local expert

Jane Evans

Insider tip

It is worth noting that apartment building owners charge more per unit for electricity and water, which can make a big difference to monthly utility bills, especially with air-conditioning running costs.


Another important expense to add to your cost of living in Thailand includes telecommunications, specifically a mobile phone and home internet. The country is well-connected and offers numerous mobile phone plans, internet connections, and cable TV options.

Generally, you can expect to pay between ฿260 and ฿600 for a monthly phone plan with airtime and data. In addition, the cost for a home internet connection will range from ฿400 to ฿850 per month, depending on your chosen plan. If you opt for fiber, this internet connection can set you back between ฿1,200 and ฿2,000 per month.

For entertainment, many expats opt to get cable TV at home, with the leading provider being TrueVision.

Typically, you need to pay a deposit of around ฿2,000 for installation and a decoder box. You will also pay a monthly subscription fee, rating from ฿300 to ฿2,000, depending on the entertainment package you take.

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Local expert

Jane Evans

Insider tip

Your building or location may restrict your internet options. For example, TOT provides excellent fiber optic internet packages and IPTV with English language options. However, the service may not be available in older residences or areas outside urban centers.

Healthcare costs in Thailand

Although Thailand does have public health insurance for citizens and permanent residents, expats do not qualify for this.

Therefore, internationals can access public healthcare facilities but will need to pay much more than local citizens – sometimes up to twice as much for the same treatments. For example, a visit to a doctor at a public hospital can cost between ฿200 and ฿500, while a consultation at a private hospital ranges from ฿700 to ฿3,000, depending on the treatment.

For this reason, most expats choose private health insurance and should factor the monthly premiums into the cost of living in Thailand. It is always a good idea to shop around for an insurance provider that best suits your needs, and you may want to consider one of the following expat-friendly companies operating in Thailand:

Private health plans will also enable you to access the country’s private healthcare facilities, which generally offer a broader range of services and care.

Monthly premiums vary significantly, depending on your insurance provider and the type of coverage you choose. Still, comprehensive plans, including maternity care, inpatient and outpatient treatment, and dentistry, could cost anything from ฿2,000 to ฿3,000 per month.

What can you expect to pay for childcare?

Childcare in Thailand is more affordable and accessible than in many countries in the Global North.

For young children and toddlers, daycare and nurseries are popular options. These might cost around ฿9,000 to ฿15,000 per month, depending on the number of days, half-day or full-day care, and the child’s age.

A baby sits on the floor playing with a colorful tool, an adult sits behind them
Photo: NeoPhoto/Getty Images

Furthermore, many international families choose to hire domestic helpers who agree to include some hours of childcare as part of their duties. However, it is also possible to hire dedicated nannies – their average yearly salary ranges between ฿22,000 and ฿64,000, depending on their experience, qualifications, hours, duties, how many children they look after, and the location of the family.

What does it cost to study in Thailand?

Some expat families in Thailand may send their children to international schools or higher education institutions to study further. As such, they need to include the tuition fees in their cost of living budget. These can be very expensive but are significantly cheaper than equivalent schools in Europe, for example, and other Asian countries like Singapore.

Education costs can vary depending on the child’s grade and type of school. For example, for a primary student at an international school, you could pay anything from ฿67,000 to ฿805,000 per term, while a secondary school student’s fees can range between ฿81,000 and ฿904,000 per term.

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Local expert

Jane Evans

Insider tip

Government-funded institutions in Thailand charge significantly lower fees compared to private international educational facilities, with private schooling and higher education costs far exceeding those of public counterparts.

Similarly, Thai universities are generally more affordable than those in other parts of Asia, Europe, and the US. For example, an undergraduate degree at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University would cost approximately ฿76,000 to ฿106,000 per semester, depending on the type of degree. In addition, a graduate program costs between ฿89,000 and ฿135,000 per semester.

The cost of food and drink in Thailand


Groceries are generally quite affordable in Thailand. However, you can expect to pay a premium for imported products.

Therefore, expats can usually expect to pay less for groceries than they would in places like London, New York, Singapore, or Sydney. To give you an idea of the cost of living in Thailand when buying food, here are the prices of essential grocery items:

  • 1 liter of milk: ฿42–95
  • A loaf of fresh bread: ฿32–100
  • 1 kg of rice: ฿20–80
  • A dozen eggs: ฿48–100
  • 1 kg of chicken fillets: ฿45–177
  • 1 kg of bananas: ฿20–90
  • 1 kg of potatoes: ฿30–75
  • 1.5-liter water bottle: ฿12–25


One of the best parts of the cost of living in Thailand is the affordable food and drink. Thailand has an incredible food culture, from humble streetside stalls specializing in local cuisine to international fine-dining restaurants.

Two women tasting street food in Thailand
A street food stall on Khao San Road in Bangkok (Photo: staticnak1983/Getty Images)

Popular street food stalls are very affordable. However, even the fanciest restaurants in Bangkok will be cheaper than similar eateries in Europe or the US.

On average, a meal at a casual diner or streetside eatery in Thailand may cost around ฿45 to ฿200 per person. For a mid-range restaurant, you can expect to pay between ฿500 and ฿2,000 for two people. At the most expensive places – such as the Michelin-starred Le Du – you can expect to fork out around ฿3,900 to ฿4,500 per person at a minimum.

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Local expert

Jane Evans

Insider tip

If you go to a restaurant and order seafood, it will often be priced per kilogram (kg). You can ask about the price before ordering so you don’t get a shock when it’s time to pay.

As with everything else in Thailand, you will find the most expensive restaurants in Bangkok and places that are popular with tourists. Eateries in other parts of Thailand are generally more low-key, with reasonably priced meals.

Beer, wine, and spirits

Like many consumable products, alcohol is generally relatively cheap in Thailand. This is especially true for local beers and spirits – imported alcohol will always cost more. For example, a bottle of domestic beer like Singha might cost ฿40 to ฿80, while an imported beer might be around ฿50 to ฿150.

As most wines are imported, these items are more expensive, ranging from ฿350 to ฿900 a bottle.


In Thailand, coffees can vary significantly in price depending on where you buy them. For example, you can get a local coffee served in a plastic takeaway cup from a street stall or 7-Eleven for around ฿20 to ฿50.

International chains like Starbucks usually charge about ฿125 for a tall cappuccino. The country also has a plethora of chic cafés (such as Audrey) that offer coffee and food at similar prices.

Transportation costs in Thailand

Public transport

Thailand has a robust public transport system. This comprises the BTS Skytrain, a metro system, taxis, buses, songthaew, and more.

Generally, public transport in Thailand will be cheaper than in many other countries, though service levels and ease of use can vary.

As an expat, you will most likely use the BTS and metro, though if your language and navigational skills are up to it, you may also be able to use the buses and other transport modes.

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from ฿10 to ฿50 for a one-way trip on a train or bus. However, if you want a monthly travel pass, this may range between ฿600 and ฿2,000, depending on the type.

Taxi tariffs typically start at around ฿35, and you can expect to pay between ฿23 and ฿50 per kilometer for the ride. Likewise, songtaews can charge between ฿10 and ฿30 for a fixed route, depending on whether they operate in a quiet rural village or a busy tourist location.

Private transport

While it is easy to get around on public transport, many expats choose to buy a car while in Thailand. Some prefer to drive, but having a chauffeur is also quite common.

Therefore, if you plan on owning a car and driving, you must factor maintenance and fuel expenses into your cost of living budget.

A new car usually sets you back between ฿700,000 and ฿2 million in Thailand. These are for vehicles such as a Honda City or Toyota Corolla Sedan. Of course, other models and brands can cost a lot more. Vehicles that are not manufactured in Thailand are subject to extremely high import taxes.

For fuel, you can expect to pay between ฿35 and ฿48 per liter. Remember to consider other driving costs, such as regular maintenance and car insurance. If you choose to have a driver, their monthly wage might be between ฿16,000 and ฿47,000, depending on their experience and how often their services are required.

How much does clothing cost in Thailand?

In Thailand, finding off-brand clothing in very cheap malls and shops is prevalent. These might include, for example, the Chatuchak Weekend Market or MBK Center.

Of course, it is also possible to find high-street brands common throughout the world, such as Zara, H&M, and Nike. High-end malls like Emporium and CentralWorld offer a range of premium local and international designer brands, such as Jim Thompson and Louis Vuitton.

A vender sits at his stall with a child and a woman standing nearby at Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market (Photo: Nathalie Jamois/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Generally, well-known high-street and designer brands are slightly more expensive than in places like Europe or the US simply because they are imported products and are subject to more tax and shipping costs. Below are the price ranges for some everyday clothing items:

  • One pair of Levi’s jeans: ฿500–3,000
  • One summer dress from Zara or H&M: ฿500–2,500
  • Nike running shoes: ฿1,500–4,800

Leisure activities in Thailand

Thailand offers many leisure activities, from sports and concerts to cinemas. Below are prices for some of the more popular recreation in Thailand:

  • Monthly gym membership: ฿900-3,000
  • Tennis court rental: ฿150-500/hour
  • 18-hole round of golf: ฿1,000–6,000
  • One cinema ticket (international film): ฿150–350

Taxation and social security in Thailand

Like many countries, Thailand levies several taxes, and expats may want to consider this when working out the cost of living in Thailand.

Depending on your situation, you may need to pay the following while living in the country:

  • Income tax
  • Corporate tax
  • Inheritance tax
  • VAT

For internationals, it is useful to know that Thailand has double taxation agreements in place with several countries, including:

  • Australia
  • Most EU countries
  • Singapore
  • UK
  • US

As an international resident, knowing how to file your income tax will be the most relevant and should be a priority to understand. Income tax in Thailand can apply to regular income from employment – including self-employment – bank deposits, dividends, and rental income. However, the first ฿150,000 of income is tax-free. After this, you may pay between 5% and 35% tax based on your declared earnings.

Below are some other taxes and rates you may encounter in Thailand:

  • Capital gains: Standard income tax rate of 15%
  • Land and building: 0.15–3% of property value
  • Inheritance: 5% for ascendents or descendants, 10% for other heirs, only on estates valued above ฿100 million
  • Gift: 5% on certain types of gifts that exceed a particular value
  • Corporate: 20%, 0% if profit is less than ฿300,000, 15% if profit is between ฿300,001–3 million)
  • Import/Export: Varies between 0–80%

Social security

International residents who pay 5% of their salaries into the local social security system are eligible for these benefits, which is important to consider when calculating the cost of living in Thailand.

Here are some of the social security benefits available and their basic rates:

Unemployment30% of wages for 90 days or 50% for 180 days, depending on the reason for unemployment
Sickness50% of wages for 90 days, up to 180 days/year, or 365 days for chronic diseases
Disability30% of wages for 180 months (฿3,000/month) for minor disabilities, or 50% for the rest of your life for severe disabilities
Old age (pension)Varies depending on contributions
Funeral฿40,000 plus up to 50% of wages
Maternity/childcare฿1,500 for pregnancy care, ฿15,000 for a newborn, 50% of wages for 90 days of maternity leave, ฿600/month for children under six

Is there any support for living costs in Thailand?

In September 2023, the Thai government announced new measures to help residents battle the rising cost of living. According to reports, each citizen will receive a ฿10,000 payout to help ease the burden of expenses.

Additional measures include:

  • Delaying debt repayments for farmers and small businesses
  • Lowering energy and fuel prices

Useful resources