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Cost of living in Bangkok for an Expat Family


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You will find that the cost of living in Thailand for a family is significantly lower than the western country where you came from. This is one of the things that make it so attractive to live here. One thing about the place, you can find all sorts of food on the street or in food courts that is very easy on the wallet. Here is a summary of costs to live in Thailand for its capital city, Bangkok.

Cost of Housing in Bangkok
The price of housing in Bangkok, like other cities, depends on if you live in the central part of the population center or on the outskirts. For a three-bedroom apartment, you are looking at paying between 25,000 and 45,000 THB per month if living close to the center. Away from the city center you are looking at between 9,000 and 24,000 THB per month for an apartment with the same number of bedrooms.

Cost of Utilities in Bangkok
Utilities have a minimal impact on the cost to living in Thailand. Of course utilities are something that varies from month to month depending on how long you are home and how much you run the air conditioning. Look to pay between 1,000 and 3,000 THB each month for electricity. Water is a lot less and will run you around 200 THB per month depending on your usage.

Cost of Food in Bangkok
There is no shortage of food in Thailand. The cost of living in Thailand and eating well can be cheap or expensive depending on what you treat yourself to each day. Figure that if you eat in western-style restaurants and shop at grocery stores such as Villa where products are imported that your grocery bill will be significantly higher. In a local grocery store such as Tesco or Big C, you can expect to pay reasonable prices for groceries. Some example price ranges for grocery items are:

Bread 30-50 THB
1 doz. Eggs 40-70 THB
1 kg chicken breast 80-140 THB
1 kg apples 60-80 THB
1 kg potatoes 30-50 THB
1 kg cheese 300-900 THB

Restaurants in Bangkok 
As mentioned before, there is no shortage of street food vendors and food courts here. If not cooking at home, these are your best bets for finding economical food to eat. On the street, you can find such treats as barbequed pork or chicken on a stick, noodles, rice meals, coconut deserts, and sliced mangoes. Barbequed meat is priced by the stick and you can expect to pay between 5 and 10 THB per. Other stands serve noodles known as “guay teaw” and charge around 30 THB per bowl. The rice meals are stir-fried right at the outdoor venue and charge you between 40-50 THB.

If eating in a Thai restaurant, it depends on where it is located and the level of service it offers. For example, in an outdoor Thai restaurant located away from the central part of the city you can expect to pay between 200 and 300 THB per person. On the other end of the spectrum, if the restaurant is located towards the central part of the city, you can expect to pay between 600 and 1000 THB per person.

There are plenty of western style restaurants such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC in Thailand. Their prices are high in comparison to Thai family and fast food restaurants and can impact your cost of living in Thailand if you frequent them often. For example, a typical McDonald’s meal of a burger, fries, and soft drink will cost you between 130 and 150 THB per person.

Cost of Expat Schooling in Thailand
Expat families living in Thailand usually send their children to international schools and the price varies. On the low end of the spectrum, tuition costs around 100,000 THB and can reach up to 500,000 THB annually. Expect to pay additional fees for such things as registration which can be as much as 75,000 THB. Your child’s grade also determines the price with older children having higher tuition. So, basically, you have to shop around for the best school for your child. Some expat families, who arrive here as part of a home country employer package, might get their schooling paid by their company.

Cost of Transportation in Bangkok & Thailand
Every time you get into a taxi, the base rate is 35 THB. Taxis are quite affordable but if you can reach your destination another way it is probably more economical. Another type of taxi is the motorcycle taxi and prices vary by distance but can be as little as 10 THB.

A popular mode of transportation in Bangkok is the BTS Skytrain and MRT Subway. Fees are affordable and based on distance. For the BTS Skytrain, the maximum fee is 55 THB if going all the way to the end of the line from a remote origin. Most pay between 20 and 40 THB to get where they need to go.

There are plenty of city buses, both air conditioned and without. The red buses are actually free but you may find them quite crowded. Expect to pay about 8 THB for a bus without air conditioning and 12 THB for a bus with.

With a family, you might consider purchasing an automobile only because of the convenience. Sometimes on rainy roads it is quite difficult to flag down a taxi. If you buy an automobile, you can look to pay between 650,000 and 1,000,000 THB.

Cost of Leisure and Entertainment in Thailand
If you like movies, practically all of the new releases hit the theatres here at about the same time they do in your home country. It costs between 120 and 200 THB to see a movie depending on where the cinema is located.

Gyms and fitness centers are rather expensive here. However, if you utilize them consistently, they pay big benefits in terms of health plus they have some of the finest equipment available. You can expect to pay monthly fees between 800 and 2,000 THB however many of these centers ask for annual renewals so the cash outlay could be rather significant.

And, if you enjoy social drinks, the prices vary as well. If you gather in British-style pubs, you can expect to pay at least 100 THB for a small bottle of local beer such as Singha, Leo, or Heineken. Imported beers will cost about double.

Your Lifestyle Determines the Cost of Living in Thailand!
The cost to living in Thailand with a family in Thailand can be just as expensive as it was in your home country or it can be refreshingly affordable. It all depends on the lifestyle that you can live with. In other words, if you seek out only imported products and find entertainment in tourist venues, you will pay higher prices. Those who have learned to enjoy Thai food at local restaurants and live in predominantly Thai neighborhoods enjoy a lower cost yet comparatively higher standard of living.

All the possible prices variations are impossible to list in one article. However, you will find that you can get by affordably here in Bangkok or any other city in Thailand. After you have been here for awhile, you will start to learn your way around and find the best places to keep the cost to live in Thailand for a family reasonable.

Most of the people I've met that live in Thailand are retired and enjoying a higher quality of life than they ever could have enjoyed. I know a guy living on $800 USD per month in the Phuket. I know a guy living on under $600 per month here in Bangkok.

Keep track of what you spend so you can see where it is going and what you are buying unnecessarily. Though your trip should be enjoyable and not crippled by obsessive budgeting. Many foreigners tell of spending so much money because Thai money is like Monopoly game money. It's multi-colored, and it doesn't really feel like spending real money as you give it away.

Bargaining for some items is expected in Thailand. Anything from a market is fair game, but keep it real when trying to get an extra few baht discount. Room prices can be negotiated, especially in low season or for longer stays.

Edited by RetiredGreg
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