How much does it cost to live there #3

July 12, 2019

Finally enough data for semi-meaningful category averages. I’ve compared my first 3 full months here in Caldas da Rainha to the 2018 monthly average in Hua Hin. Some categories are omitted because what I’m spending on is and will be so different than in Thailand. For example, I won’t be making 2 round trips flights from Bangkok to Europe in business class each year.

In the Difference column of the tables below black numbers show higher cost in Caldas, red lower cost in Hua Hin. All prices were converted to Dollars.

It was a no-brainer that housing costs would be much higher. I went from a studio apartment without a kitchen located far enough from the town center that leasing a motorbike was essential to a 3 bdrm, 2 bath apartment in the center. I wanted a 2 bdrm because rooms here are small. Took the 3 bdrm for the location and because it was only €50 more than what was the upper limit of what I’d wanted to pay.

Pellets? What are pellets? The lowest cost way to heat a living space: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellet_stove

Food cost surprised me. Thought it was going to be higher in Caldas. Here I’m getting more animal protein, higher quality produce, bread, and cheese. The cafe portion sizes are substantially larger.

Much better insurance coverage, including my pre-existing conditions, for less in Portugal. Prices are so low that when they’re posted by expats on forums and FB groups, readers in the US think that’s the cost per month, not the cost per year. Prescription drug prices are lower, OTC higher. Both will go down now that I qualify for the SNS (national health system) health card.

Buses and roads are both better and more expensive here. No moto-taxis, Tuk-Tuks or Baht Buses here, so I’ve had to use taxis when buying something too big or heavy to carry home. Living in the center means zero need for a motorbike.

Laundry costs less because the apartment has a washer and 3 clothes lines outside the kitchen window. Spending more on clothes because after years in Thailand, I didn’t need any more shorts or t-shirts. That $23 average came from a single day in Lisbon at Primark (same retail concept as Zara and H&M) For my $69 I came home with 1 pair cotton twill pants ($9), 2 pairs cotton twill cargo pants ($15 each), 3 pairs of what I thought were called ‘boxer briefs’ but Primark calls them ‘hipsters’ ($10), and 6 pairs each of shorty athletic socks and longer, warmer socks. ($20). TMI?

Because this blog doesn’t have enough photos, here is today’s haul ($2.70) from the farmer’s market 200m from my apartment. For size reference, the green cutting board is 15″ wide. The yellowish ones are plums.


Japan Trip: Cost Per Day

October 15, 2013

This was a surprise. So much of one that one day early in the trip I spent an hour double checking the spreadsheet. Just spent another 30 minutes double checking and comparing my spending record to ATM and exchange records. They’re within $27.

So, believe it or not, the trip per day cost, minus airfare and shopping* was 9,380 JPY (~ $94). How was that done? I kept lodging costs within reason. The Okayama and Kyoto base camp hotels were highly rated for value. Both were fully booked while I was there.

Food costs were kept low by eating in restaurants only for lunch. Breakfast, dinner and snacks came from prepared food section of grocery stores and 7-11s, protein from hard boiling eggs in the room’s hot water pot, carbos came from bakeries and onigiri (seasoned rice balls, wrapped in roasted nori, packaged so the wet and dry don’t meet until opening the package. Check out the slideshow.).

*If shopping is added, the cost per day was 12,850 JPY (~ $129). All the shopping was for items not available in Thailand, available as high priced fakes, available but of craptacular quality, or the identical items were easier to buy in Japan than Bangkok. Shopping wasn’t recreation so it doesn’t make sense to include it in the cost per day.


Adriatic Trip: Cost

September 10, 2013

By the time I left Italy it was apparent the trip’s per day cost would be substantially less than expected.

Cost Per Day including everything but airfare – USD $97
CPD by currency, converted to USD:
Kuna (Croatia) – $76
Euro (Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro) – $102
BAM (Bosnia) – $61

If you’re wondering how the average could be $97 despite spending few days in Italy and Slovenia, all the non-trivial pre trip expenses were paid in USD.

Costs were tallied 2 ways, by ATM use and daily expense recording. It was easiest to track ATM withdrawals by currency type. I could have broke it down by country but I did the calculations right after the trip while suffering jet lag so it didn’t seem worth it at the time. Still doesn’t.


Isaan Trip: Cost

July 2, 2011

Total trip cost, starting and ending at my front door and covering everything in between, was 11960 bt (~ $399). That covered 9 nights of lodging with A/C and hot water. Transport was 6 A/C bus rides and 1 with fans and open windows, an overnight train ride in second class and 2 days of motorcycle rental. About 3/4ths of meals were in restaurants, the rest from street vendors.

I knew Isaan was going to be inexpensive before I went, but had no idea that my per day average would be a little less than that of a typical month in Hua Hin. I’ve read the last five years have seen more expats moving to the larger towns in Isaan. In 2005 one received 75 Thai Baht for every British Pound. Today it’s around 49:1. That’s probably the biggest reason there are more expats in Isaan than before.


Looking at Apartments

June 25, 2010

There are things about my place that I don’t like. The sofa is uncomfortable and neither of the two chairs matches well with the height of the desk. The air conditioning causes temperature swings that sometimes wakes me up. I’m also paying about 2500 – 3000 baht ($ ~75 – 100) more a month than comparable places in the area.

Two days hunting confirmed what I suspected. I could get lower rent, a larger room, more storage space and a smaller, inferior bathroom by giving up the pool, view, elevator and walking distance to the ocean. That’s a no brainer decision. I stopped hunting and stashed my notes on the places I liked best.


Satisfying My One Food Craving

June 22, 2010

I love peanut butter but will not eat the hydrogenated kind.  The only non-hydrogenated stuff I found in the Phils had their culture’s usual approach to food: more sugar than necessary PLUS Extra Sugar, so that didn’t satisfy and wasn’t repeated.

Kuala Lumpur had the real deal but I had to pass.  No room in the big suitcase and didn’t want it in my soft-sided carry-on because it might break or not make it through security. 

I expected the local supermarket that carries foreign goodies for foreigners to have real peanut butter.  It didn’t until a few weeks ago.  Sticker shock subsided before I was done shopping.  I gladly paid 225 B ($ 7.00) for a one pound jar with the following ingredient: 100% organic dry roasted peanuts.

The jar is almost empty, but I won’t be buying any more.  It seems that stopping peanut butter cold turkey has cured me of the habit.  Or perhaps the lack of proper substrate (something to spread peanut butter on) has kept my need in check.  But if I ever find Orowheat Wheatberry bread and the same type of bananas sold in the states …


The Cost of Being Mobile

September 21, 2009

Are you curious what it has cost me to semi-wander, semi-stay put in the Phils while staying in hotels and pensionne houses? Me too.

I’ve been tracking my spending for over 20 years, something I’ve done since getting my first hand me down PC with Lotus 123 installed which coincided with being unemployed. After the first six months here I compared the net difference in my checking accounts to how much spending I recorded and they were within $4 a day with the spending record being the lower one.

These numbers are for January through July. I excluded November and December because those numbers included the higher costs of Luzon and me not knowing the ropes. August I kicked out because it was mostly travel in Thailand. Values are average cost per month in dollars.

Shelter 458
Household 9 Kitchen stuff while in the apartelle
Cell Phone 6
Laundry 16
Mail Forwarding 13
Eating Out 193
Eating In 34
Water 18
Visa Extensions 31
Transport – In Town 28
Transport – Between Towns 5 Buses and Ferries are cheap.
Entertainment 90
Dating 86 I’m not saying they’re not entertaining
Medical 58
Misc. 22



That comes to $1095 a month. Yes, US expats live here on just their Social Security.

It cost me less than I expected. Here are some possible reasons.

I lived in a cheap apartelle for a while. Most guys use hotels and pensionne houses while finding a place to rent.

As cheap as beer and rum are here, my not being much of a drinker helped lower the entertainment cost.

It didn’t take very long to confirm what I’d read in the expat forums about dating. There has been no shortage of semi-good (or is that semi-bad) girls who were ready, willing and able to make my life more comfortable if I increased the standard of living of her and her family. My expenses reflect that I have yet to take one up on that offer.

I spent less money in restaurants, probably because I find places that I like that do not cater to foreigners. Seems that one of the things most guys miss the most is western food and they pay the big bucks for steaks imported from New Zealand and US packaged foods like Oreos and Hagen Daz. That may also explain why I lost 10 pounds since I left the US. Gained it all back in Thailand. I think that was because of the big, cheap western breakfasts available everywhere.