Cheapest cities in Thailand

Hello everyone,

Budget is an important consideration when moving to Thailand. Ideally, expats would settle down in a city in Thailand where the cost of living is low but where they could also enjoy a decent quality of life. Would you be able to give a few tips to someone planning a move to Thailand by answering the questions below?

What are the cheapest cities in Thailand?

Why are they cheap? What singles them out as a city where the cost of living is low?

What is the average budget for one person living in these cities?

Is it easy to find a job as an expat in these cities? What is the overall quality of life like?

Are they expat friendly? Would you recommend these cities to someone looking to settle in Thailand?

Please share your experience,

Bhavna

Hello,

I can assure you North of Thailand is the cheapest option, if budget is your primary concern. I know quite a few foreigner working in Chiang Rai as a teacher and manager, also they used to have their own small business like resorts, guesthouses, coffee shop, restaurants, etc..

Chinag Rai and Chiang Mai are your best option in North, another places are too small, you will not find a descent job, unless you open by yourself and if it is the case do not expect a great influx of customers. I personally like Mae Sai (border with Myanmar), quite nice climate, great mountain view, good food, nice and calm people.

Isam, is very noise lately, lots of development, I know some places only as a tourist, can't say much about, but most of my former and actual colleagues are from different parts in Isam and they don't want to live there.

Bangkok, I think there enough information about on this site.

Chonburi (Pattaya) is a tourist area, but a lot of foreign living there permanently, also the port area there is a lot of business going on.
Rayong is little quiet than Chonburi, still nice, lots of factories and a city you find anything you need.
Chantaburi - Beautiful place, amazing beaches, but to quiet for me, not many business going on.
Trat - Well again, just like Chantaburi, except for Koh Chang, it is a big island and there is a lot of foreign working there, but they mostly work for themselves (owners) and not as employee of some Thai company. I use to go there almost all weekends.

Currently living in and working in Hua Hin as Chef - I like this place, I used to visit Hua Hin the time was living in Bangkok. Hua Hin and Koh Chang are very good options to live, if you have a family go for Hua Hin because the infrastructure is much better than Koh Chang. If you are single Koh Chang will be a better option if you like nature, diving, sports, etc.., Hua Hin has one of the largest foreign community in Thailand, just like Phuket. Lot of development going on here, check it out maybe you like.

The deep south I do not recommend to live there due the local problems, personally I like Pattani and Songkla, delicious food, but I have no idea about working in this location.

In resume:
North is the cheapest place I recommend Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. Followed by Isam, cities like Kon Kaen, Ubon, Udon Thani, Nakhon Rachasima, Khorat (growing pretty fast).
Central Thailand: Bangkok and surrounds.
South: Hua Hin, Phuket and Koh Samui, these are the most expensive but of course it depends on your lifestyle, you can find good deals.
Avoid small towns, you will get bored easy and fast, unless you own your business, there is no good deals.

Thailand can be a dream or a nightmare, choose wisely your location, I moved almost everywhere, small towns and big cities. I don't like Bangkok, to noisy for me, but Hua Hin is just the perfect combination, you can find anything here and it is just 2 hours from Bangkok.

Good Luck.

Chiang Mai is certainly reasonable - cheaper than the south - and a great place to live from mid May to late January, but beware anytime from late January to mid May because pollution from farmers burning  forest and field areas in Thailand and neighbouring countries can make the air extremely toxic.  It is an annual problem which this year (2019) made Chiang Mai the most polluted city in the world !  Hopefully the authorities will act to combat the problem before next "burning" season, but certainly avoid March - it is the worst month.  However, outside of the smog season (known as "haze" locally !) the air in Chiang Mai is generally at safe levels and a great place to visit and stay.  I would recommend visiting in the period November to January - the air is clean and the weather not too hot.  The people are friendly and the prices generally very fair.  Compared to the UK it is approximately half price in terms of expenses - whilst food can be very cheap from street vendors.  There are numerous ex pats in the city, some of whom are great people, whilst others are not the best examples of people from their countries so choose your friends there carefully !  The city is very safe most of the time - the biggest danger is the roads as driving standards are not high and rules of the road are seldom enforced.  Would I visit there ? Well I lived there for 4 years and still visit there so go for it !

I think generally food all over Thailand is reasonable and mostly of a good standard. Medical is well priced with cheaper hospitals in the smaller cities, I currently live in Lopburi and it has good supermarkets and hospitals but is very quiet for an expat and there are not many of us here, hence we are moving and probably to Ko Samui which  has higher rents and property prices but not as high as Bangkok which has skyrocketed over the last few years. Definitely real estate is cheaper outside Bangkok and in the smaller cities. Hua Hin, Ko Samui, Krabi, Phuket & Pattaya & perhaps Chang Mai somewhere in between but all have better ammenities, lots of Expats with better infrastructure so you get what you pay for. Phuket in particular has excellent shopping and super markets like BKK. I think Isaan is fairly well priced and there are quite a few Expats living in this region but it doesn't quite have the infrastructure of the other expat orientated regions. Fuel prices, water and electricity prices dont  vary much country wide. Remember central Thailand including Isaan get extremely hot in March & April with very little rain from December - end of April / May. The coastal region temperatures are moderated by the ocean and get sea breezes so not so unbearable. Lopburi today 43, tomorrow 44 degrees C and no breeze,  thats hot and thats what most of April is like. I believe coastal Phuket has the best climate in Thailand followed by  Surat thani, Chang Rai not bad with cool evenings and mornings except for this time of the year but the days can be cooking.  I hope this helps new comers or those that have not driven all over Thailand. From my experience Thailand is pretty safe but be careful driving as road rules are not followed and roundabouts would alarm even Parisians ! Changing lanes is normally not indicated and crossing the white line by a wheel width or 2 is pretty normal. My recent experience on Samui wasn't to bad but very congested between 4 - 5pm
I think for employment a lot of us buy our selves a job by buying an established or starting a new one,  It is not as hard as people seem to think it is.  If you are in IT, a good chef or a school teacher its pretty easy to get a job.

Paul Baker ex Auckland, NZ

All smaller cities in eastern Thailand (Isaan) are quite cheap. I know Yasothon, Roi-Et etc. But the summer is hot and there are not so much attractions.

Don't waste your time moving to Thailand unless you have a good job that will do all your paperwork and get your visa, the laws have changed twice this year and after over 12 years living in Thailand I am leaving, they only want rich tourists who will pay for expensive hotels and tours etc. What was once the Land of Smiles is now the Land of Rip Off the Farang, behind the smile they hate you and will spit on you.

All the posts were terrific and a majority very positive. I liked Chiang Mai and up North. I would love to to retire there, but due to finances and having X amount of bht in the bank. I can't afford this option. My next option would be to come to Chiang Mai, or there abouts, for 2/3 months in the year. Maybe it is the laser of 2 evils. Any opinions????? Many thanks, Brian

Chiang Mai,...is far more expensive than the Pattaya/Jomtien (near the beach) region of Thailand.

Sorry for hear that. Thailand has changed a lot since the last decade. Prices are rising absurdly, but this is not only Thailand, is pretty much everywhere. You should not care much what some Thai nationals say,  you are not Thai. Rule number one in Thailand, do not get involved with local problems, because they will always blame you for something, choose carefully who you can trust.

I / we live in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and now Bang Saen.
Like i write before we use around the same 40.000 baht pr month.

When i was single living in Bangkok i use around 28.000 baht pr month.
And today with the knowledge about living here, I can still live for that if i was single again. Even so the price have gone up a little bit.

This is our live, Not saying it is cheap or not, But for me it is.
For me coming from Denmark it sure is a lot cheaper to live here in Thailand.

I do have a friend living up in North Thailand with hes wife and 1 kid for a total of hes pension of 26.000 - 28.000 baht pr month, And i think it is great he can have a great live here in Thailand for that, As hes live back home with that kind of money is no fun at all !!!

Of Course Thailand change immigration laws, Do people think that Thailand have to use the same rules for ever ?
Take a look at when they change it last time, I think it might surprise people how long they use the same requirements (talking about long stay using Extension to stay).

And do people think Thailand have to let everyone stay & live here that want to, Without have the funds to support a live here ?
And yes, Thailand set the amount we need to have.

No reason to blame Thailand for it, It come after years and years of foreigner abuse the Immigration law to stay here, Use agent to get Extension without have the funds to live here.
And so many have use Tourist Visa to live in Thailand years after years, Even so that not what a Tourist Visa is for.
So if you want to blame someone, Blame the foreigner.

And yes, I got hit with my Embassy dont make income letter any more.
So i have to use transfer into my Thai bank account in August 2019 to extend my stay here, So have to wait and see how that go !!

Thailand is still a great place to live, That have not change for me in the 8 Years i live here.

Kindly.

Rainmon :

Don't waste your time moving to Thailand unless you have a good job that will do all your paperwork and get your visa, the laws have changed twice this year and after over 12 years living in Thailand I am leaving, they only want rich tourists who will pay for expensive hotels and tours etc. What was once the Land of Smiles is now the Land of Rip Off the Farang, behind the smile they hate you and will spit on you.

this sounds like  a disgruntled expat--he is exagerating thungs... but dont come to thailand if you have minimal funds..
they dont want people that cant properly support themseilves in case of sickness or acciden etc

It's quite obvious to not go live abroad with minimal funds.. but anyway, most expat I know here are not millionaires not even rich, but sure they can support themselves and have a good life. I can't think about a single country that are open for poor immigrants, unless the government have a special program for that.

If you compare Thailand with some countries in Europe or in the Americas, it still very very cheap to live here.

If I were an expatriate, I would never buy real state in a country that do not allow me ownership over the land (Apartment is fine if it is not lease), what is the point to own a house but not the land where it was built on? another important issue is the VISA which the expat will be allowed to be here, some foreign just do not want to marry a Thai national to be here!

Plan a lot before moving to Thailand.

Sorry, but I started laughing when I read that an expat lives very well on 26 K with family, wife and a kid?  Could your friend ever buy a new car, or what if he's getting seriously sick? What about a good school for the kid? An international school is not possible with only a few baht income.

Very important for me is to have insurance with full coverage, times have changed. If you're having an accident and hospitalized, they'll keep your passport until you can pay them.

    I've been in the lower northeast ( Isaan) for the last 16 years and the prices for almost everything have skyrocketed!

  Teaching salaries went down, these days you can see job adds where they offer 22 K for an experienced teacher with a teacher's license.

  The islands are all more expensive because they have to bring all the goods with a ship/boat. Chiang Mai is so polluted that I'd never ever move even close to CM.

Rayong, at the east coast, is so polluted, too many plastics and other factories are killing thousands of people, one of them was a relative who worked in one of these cruel factories near Rayong.

  IMO, it all depends on your lifestyle, many foreigners "can't eat Thai food", that's complicating it a bit.

   Sisaket is a middle-sized town but has all to offer regarding food, car parts, parks, fitness studio, etc..

I'd say that Sisaket is the cheapest option because people here have the lowest pay all over Thailand. But when you go shopping at Tesco's, Macro, or Big C, they all have the same prices.

  When I settled down here, I could rent a small house for 1,500 baht. The same shoebox is now up to 3,500 baht!!

   Pattaya isn't Thailand in my eyes, too many idiots from all countries, including mafia, drugs and more. The crime rate is amazing, not the country, the times are long gone that you can call it Amazing Thailand. That's such a surreal place that it already hurts, look at all the fake ladyboys who rob people! Do you really want to live in a beach city where you can't even swim in the sea because it's too dirty?

  If you have enough money, settle down on Ko Lanta, an island that belongs to Krabi province. But again, it all depends on what you expect to eat, how you live and how much money you have to spend per month.

  I might go back to Europe to make sure that I receive more money as a pension because I don't want to be starving when I'm older.

  I've got around 35 K/month, but if something at my truck breaks down that's more than 5 K, I do have a little problem and saving money is impossible. Anyway, I wish you all a nice life in LOS, no matter where you are. Cheers-

Thai family can have a great live on 10k-15k pr month, We have many Thai friends living on that.
And still some forgenier think we need to have 4 -10 timers that, To have a great live, I never going to understand that !!!

So for you a great live depends on you can buy a NEW Car, Clear that money is big thing for you.
We dont have a new car and we are having a super great live together.
We talk about buying 1 for a long time, But we dont really need one, So why use the money for one.

Not all people can have insurance or having the money if they really sick, But they take a chance to come live here, And take live as it come, Lucky for most people it turn out to be okay, And yes a few get hit hard times.
But that the live they wanted, And for many compare to the live back home, This is what they want, And they love that live.

You might not understand it, or approved it, So what ?
You live your life, And others live their life.

We people have different picture of what a great live is, What we need to be happy.
For you it is a New Car.

For me it is to be with my wife, pay our bills, eat every day.
I dont care about New Car, Mobile phone, and others item, Nice to have, But not important for me, And i found a wife that fell the same way.

Ohh I almost forgot, Thailand have many great school that dont cost that much, That can give a good education, My wife and her 2 brothers all go to public school, And later universitet and they all turn out more then good, Same for the friends my wife grow up with.

Kindly.

i agree, i dont know how a family could live on 26,000thb--life would be very frugal and boring.
correct also-- pattaya is  NOT  typical thailand-- however, i can live very well there on 35, 000thb/mth, but i dont pay rent {own my own condo}.. also have seperate funds to cover me in case of sickness or accident--also substantial other income for regular overses trips..

dont come to pattaya if you have an alcahol problem or you are on  limited funds-- stay home....

Never done that  Thai family can have a great live on 10k-15k pr month, We have many Thai friends living on that.
And still some forgenier think we need to have 4 -10 timers that, To have a great live, I never going to understand that !!!

Yes, a Thai family can live on that, but I do not know many foreigners who could. You misunderstood me, the new car was just an example and regarding your non-existent insurance, thank you very much! But no worries, if you belong to this category, I'll also visit you and help you with all I can!

I'm voluntarily working for an organization that helps particular foreigners in emergency situations. Then I've got to take my over a 20-year-old truck, visit them, usually in a hospital and try to find a way to solve his, or her problems.

So for you a great live depends on you can buy a NEW Car, Clear that money is big thing for you.
We dont have a new car and we are having a super great live together.
We talk about buying 1 for a long time, But we dont really need one, So why use the money for one.

I do not give a flying kite about a new car, even when people are always asking me why I wouldn't buy a new one. My L 200 is older than 20, but I keep it technically 1 A. You seem to be talking a lot, but I haven't yet me a Thai woman who likes to talk about things that never happen. Things that better your life, it's not about a new car now, or a new mobile phone! Fragg Fartbook.

Not all people can have insurance or having the money if they really sick, But they take a chance to come live here, And take live as it come, Lucky for most people it turn out to be okay, And yes a few get hit hard times.
But that the live they wanted, And for many compare to the live back home, This is what they want, And they love that live.

  What's wrong with you, I'm certain that you've had health insurance back home. Why do you think that you don't need one here? By taking the chance, did you mean to set up a GoFund Me page when all goes wrong? If so, shame on you.

  I've sent money to two very injured guys after a motorcycle accident, who'd set up a GoFundMe page, I'm a motorbike rider myself and I understand how fast an accident can happen in the "Land Of Smiles." But I'd never sent money again to any of these people, too many people are liars and set such a page up to make a holiday, or similar.

You might not understand it, or approved it, So what ?
You live your life, And others live their life.

My parents in law are farmers whom I love a lot, I help them with my money when I can. They respect me as a full member and I speak their slang. I'm not the Farang in the family who's just a walking ATM, do you get that?

We people have different picture of what a great live is, What we need to be happy.
For you it is a New Car.

Yes, maybe I'm more down to earth and please don't tell me that life with rotten teeth and old worn out clothes is somehow cool? I know quite a few guys where you really feel very unwell ( throw up like) when you see their teeth. Beer and fags seem to be more important than going to a dentist and spending the money on something that makes sense. Who'd like to kiss such an agly mouth?


For me it is to be with my wife, pay our bills, eat every day.
I dont care about New Car, Mobile phone, and others item, Nice to have, But not important for me, And i found a wife that fell the same way.

Good to hear that you eat every day, it would be a shame when you came to Thailand to have food every second/third day. My cell/mobile phone is as old as a dino, but I don't care, because it's just a tool for me. I've just bought a big bike because that's a part of my life and always was. Why should I not enjoy things that make me and my wife happy? She helps me fixing it and loves riding it as well. She's a bit short for an 1100 cc cruiser, but it's okay. It's life for us to breathe fresh air, doing 150 km/h or a bit more.

Ohh I almost forgot, Thailand have many great school that dont cost that much, That can give a good education, My wife and her 2 brothers all go to public school, And later universitet and they all turn out more then good, Same for the friends my wife grow up with.

  Oops, I almost forgot. I've been teaching in Thailand for the last 14 years, I've got a real teacher's license issued by the TCT in Bangkok ( Khurusapha). I've taught all levels, starting from Kindergarten, up to tertiary level and without wanting to hurt you, here's the truth about an educational system that fails in all corners and PERSPECTIVES.

The ordinary school is nothing else than brainwashing. The majority of Thai English teachers can't even have a conversation with an English speaking person, not necessarily with an NES. Are you okay with a Thai teacher who hits your child at primary school? Do you like it when a male teacher touches a little girl in a very perverted way, of offers better grades when they do some sexual favors?

Some teachers cut big parts of hair off when they believe hair is too long, I almost cried when I saw my son many moons ago, but told him to tell his teacher to never do that again, or I'd do the same to him. It never happened again. Why do students have to go down on their knees when visiting the teacher in the office? It's  a very sick system id lost faces, not more.

My ex-neighbors, three gay Thai teachers, always raped high school students in their lunch break right next to our house. I wanted to go to the cops, but my wife told me not to. I felt so stupid, but there's nothing I could do.

What you're calling a "good education, is a big joke! Until March, I've taught grade 12 students at the best school in the town in an IEP set up, only a few could speak more than the obligatory "I'm fine, thank you and you? bla bla. All students pass, IMO around 92 % of all students would have failed. But would I fail many students, I'd kick myself out of that school, where students copy from textbooks into notebooks, they copy their homework from a bright kid who actually did it.[/color]

Some teachers here are child molesters but it's better not to talk about it. Nobody wants to go to the cops, it happened at a school where I almost freaked out, but the cops were not interested that an 11-year-old girl got molested over a period of two years!

  Students who've done one year abroad are usually very bright. If you can do that for your kid(s), you'll open them a much better future. Enough, one final question.

   What would you fo if you got hit by a speeding pick up driver, being heavily injured and the hospital bill's 3 million baht? It freaking happened to me when a speeding Kathoey hit my truck sideways. But I've got my social security that already paid a few thousand times more from what I've paid in. I hope that you get my point and don't come with a nasty answer.

It might time to wake up. We're all getting older and we tend to get sick. I had to visit people thru my organization I wouldn't even talk to when meeting on the streets, some of them do not have insurance, but believe that they are special and go to a first-class hospital, set up a GoFundMe page and let others pay who'd worked hard for their money.


    Kind regards.

Take me, In Denmark my live was nothing, In my apartment 24/7 for nearly 8 years, Because of pain i have to take so many pain killers, That i was not able to do anything.
On a trip to Thailand after a few days/week, I was back to "normal" like before i got sick.
To choose between a live with insurance in Denmark and one without insurance in Thailand, Was so easy for me.

Because some people dont have insurance, Is not the same as the have no money.
We save up what we can, And take things as they come.
8 years now here and that alone have being worth the move for me.
I probable have taking my own live if i stay back home, As it was not a good live.

The education in Thailand are fine for Thailand, They get the people they need to do the job the need people to do, Sure it not same as back home, But hey !!
Thailand is a 3th world country, And mine is a 1th world country, So there is no reason to compare the 2 country, imo.

Yes you right, we so lucky in the west that our kids never get hurt by a teacher or other grownup.
Come on man, That happen all over the world.
In Thailand it "normal" for the part involved in things like that to make a deal and keep it out of the court system, I am not saying it is right.
Again you might not like it or understand it, But that the Thai way, And we are living in Thailand.

For me i can say, I didnt need to give money to my Thai family before i was part of them.
Like my father in law say the first time we meet and talk about everything.
when we have that talk in the start, As i back then believe the crazy story from foreigner about one have to give money to Thai familie and he told me.
A Man take care of hes own familie and take care of the wife and him self, The wife familie is NOT the Man job to take care of.

And i can say today, Like i write before, I only know of 1 Thai man that give money to hes wife familie 2.000 baht pr month, And that even so a lot of them make more money then many foreigner have.
Other Thai Men / couples give money to who every parents help take care of there kids.
Many simple dont have more to give.

And after we got married, Father in law gave us this house to live in.
So one dont need to give familie money to get respect / accepted buy our Thai familie.
It is a bar stole story that one need to give them money.

But if you like to do, That fine.

No, Not time to wake up, I know what i did before moving here, And have zero regret about it, And i dont worried about what might happen or not in the furture, Like many Thai, I live here and now.

Kindly.

jana611 :

Chiang Mai,...is far more expensive than the Pattaya/Jomtien (near the beach) region of Thailand.

You can't be serious.

Well .. quite harsh
no need to start a fight here.
some guys here are talking just like communists!
I think I got enough from this thread.
Wish good luck for you all.

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