My Cost of Living in Thailand – 2012

A frequent question on expat forums is how much does it cost to live there. Only meaningful answer is it depends on how you live. Before I retired my lifestyle included far fewer toys, gadgets, upgrades, alcohol, expensive entertainments and luxuries then my peers. In retirement that fits right in with many of the pension drawing single men here.

To estimate what it would cost you to live here, first start with a description of your desired lifestyle. Use Google and the expat forums to check costs on individual items. Be sure to ask the expats in different towns because costs vary substantially, easily over 50%. Here is my description.

Hua Hin is one of the most expensive places in which to live a western style life in Thailand. I have a big furnished studio apartment with A/C and hot water. Dine out twice a day. Of those 14 meals, about 4 are in the tourist district, 3 at vendor stands in Thai markets and the rest in the places aimed at the expats. About 4 of 5 meals is Thai food. Imported foods from the grocery store are mostly cheeses, deli meats, peanut butter, jelly, muesli. Weeks usually pass between bringing home a pile of cheese and sandwich meats, otherwise my at home food bill would be higher. Electronics and clothes are replaced when they wear out. Run the A/C at night only, run the hot water just enough to prevent initial shock. Entertainment is nerdy or low cost: Photography, Photoshop (GIMP actually), learning more about both photography and GIMP, learning to play music, reading fiction, being an internet omnivore, walking on the beach, exercise, combining people watching and watching sports (that I’m not interested in) in bars. Medical insurance covers hospitalization only, out patient is out of pocket. I rent a motorbike, putting off the hassles of ownership until I decide to stay here.

Here are the costs for this year (’12) and last two. Numbers are average cost per month in US dollars.

My rent didn’t change, so why the big increase this year? While I was renting an apartment in Chaing Mai during Nov. and Dec. I was still paying rent in Hua Hin.

Last year’s version of this post noted spending per day was well under what it could be and still achieve the goal of not having to tap the retirement account before I hit 59.5 years old. I predicted an indulgent purchase.

That happened, sort of. Tickets and reservations for 2 weeks in Japan were made, then canceled at the last minute because of illness. I’ll attempt to do try harder this year. Already have tickets for 6 weeks in the Western Balkans and Italy. Also I expect to reschedule last year’s Japan trip for this Sept. A desktop computer with a large high resolution screen would be nice, but that’s not going to happen until I get out of the phase where I’m thinking all my photographs suck.

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