How to Live in Thailand on a Budget
If you’re feeling the pinch of the downturn in the economy and happen to be pound poor, dollar deprived and bereft of baht, it’s entirely possible to get by in Thailand by on an abridged budget. Here are a few ideas that could potentially shave thousands off of your annual living expenses.
- Electricity Cost: Before you move into any apartment or condo check the amount they charge per unit of electricity. The government rate for electricity is 3.9 baht per unit and no more. However, many rental properties mark that amount up to as high as 10 baht per unit. For example, I lived in a condo where I paid 3.9 baht per unit plus the mandatory taxes directly to the electric company. With air conditioning, my bill totaled around 500 baht per month. I moved into an apartment without first checking what they charged for electricity. Without using air conditioning, my first bill was 1,300 baht. It turned out that they were charging double or 8 baht per unit. If I’d realized this and shopped around, I could have saved 700 baht per month or 8,700 baht a year.
- Eat Like a Thai: These days I eat about twice a day from the local
Thai street food vendors. My average meal runs about 60 baht as opposed to 150 baht for a Big Mac and fries. If you ate like that four times a week, you’d rack up an annual savings of around 15,000 baht.
- Thai Markets: By shopping at the Thai outdoor markets you can save a bundle of baht. If you cook at home shop for items like potatoes, fresh produce, seasonal fruits and eggs there instead of at the higher priced supermarkets. By doing so you’ll realize a savings of say 250 baht a week. That adds up to some 13,000 baht a year.
- Thai Shops: If you’re in need of common household items, don’t head to the giant home center, head to the tiny Thai shop instead. I was recently heading to a chain department store to purchase a new broom and dust pan. Along the way I noticed the items I needed in a Thai shop, less than 100 meters from my door. The price for both items was just 90 baht. The same items of similar quality if I had purchased them where I was initially going would have set me back 300 baht! I saved over 200 per cent. So let’s say you’d save an average of 150 baht a month at the Thai shops. That works out to almost 2,000 baht per annum.
- Buy in Bulk: A neighbor of mine is an insatiable imbiber of beer. On a daily basis he quaffs six or more bottles of Thai beer (usually more) which he purchases from the local convenience store. I suggested that he visit the beverage wholesale shop just down the street to see if his brand of brew was cheaper by the case. It was, he saved about 85 baht per 24 bottles. So if you figure two cases a week (for him) that’s a savings of almost 9,000 baht each year. A similar savings could also be realized if you buy instant noodles, crisps, toilet tissue or whatever in bulk where ever possible.