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Thailand is known as an affordable travel destination and one of the best places to live in as an expat, digital nomad or remote worker. Cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok are the most popular amongst foreigners, but they aren’t necessarily the cheapest. 

The cheapest places to live in Thailand are:

  • Chiang Mai – $870 to $1,100 a month
  • Hua Hin – $1,050 to $1,400 a month
  • Ko Chang – $1,000 a month
  • Kanchanaburi – $800 to $1,000 a month
  • Chiang Rai – $700 to  $1,000 a month
  • Pak Nam Pran – $700 to $1,000 a month

Thailand is well known among expats and retirees who want to move to a tropical country and reduce their costs at the same time. For instance, living in northern cities is much more affordable than living on Thai islands. You can rent an apartment for $150 to $200 a month and enjoy street food for less than $1.

Thailand for digital nomads, expats, remote workers and retirees

Thailand is a multicultural country that is popular with expats from around the world due to its climate, growing opportunities, low crime rates and low cost of living. Prices in many places in Thailand are reasonably low. But locations with more expats and tourists can be quite high. 

Nonetheless, it’s an affordable country. On average, Thailand’s cost of living is around 60% lower than in the US, and anywhere from 15% to 30% lower than much of the rest of Asia. The rent prices for apartments are only about 16% of the rent in New York City for an equivalent apartment. 

You will have a wide variety of housing options, including renting apartments, buying houses or condos and living in resorts. If you are thinking about buying real estate, Thailand is a great place for that too. 

Expats and retirees can purchase apartments and condos, which cost about 23% of American prices. However, Thailand prohibits foreigners from owning land. Thailand is the 65th costliest place to live in the world.

The cheapest cities to live in Thailand

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai consistently ranks as one of the least expensive places to live in Thailand. Located near the foothills of northern Thailand, and an hour’s flight from the capital Bangkok, the city has become a home for thousands of digital nomads and expats. 

It’s a great choice, especially for those looking for a calmer suburban environment in Thailand, and at an affordable price. It’s not surprising why Chiang Mai is by far the most popular place in Thailand for relocation as a Westerner. 

The one downside is that the city doesn’t have access to the sea. So as long as hanging by the beach isn’t a priority for you, Chiang Mai might be your first choice when moving to Thailand. 

It’s also a compact city, making getting around and traveling very easy for everyone. Furthermore, you will enjoy Chiang Mai’s access to nature and mountains. 

The city also has a perfect size of 1,2 million and plenty of amenities and activities. Chiang Mai is one of the best places in the world for dining out at an affordable price due to its many outstanding restaurants.

You will find all elements of western life such as movie theaters and modern malls. It  also has a JCI-accredited hospital offering quality, affordable medical care. Plus, Chiang Mai has some of the best weather in the country, averaging 77ºF or 25ºC. 

The cost of living in Chiang Mai 

Chiang Mai is known as one of the most affordable places to live in Thailand. 

Rent

A one bedroom apartment goes for $290 to $400 a month, with an average of $370.

Utilities: $30 – $55

Total expenses

The single person estimated monthly costs are from $870 to $1,100. 

Some digital nomads manage to live on as little as $650 a month. Baseline costs for retirees are between $800 to $1,200. 

Other expenses

Necessities like groceries, transportation, childcare and utilities are likewise considerably less expensive in Chiang Mai than places like Bangkok, Phuket and even Krabi. 

Hua Hin

Hua Hin is one of the few affordable seaside towns on our list. The city of Hua Hin attracts more and more western expats and retirees every year. Many of them are lured by the low cost of living and the relaxed beach lifestyle. 

Indeed, this coastal city located near Bangkok is a great place for expats. With an approximate population of only 85,000 people, you can enjoy calming weekdays and make occasional weekend trips to Bangkok. By car or train, it’s only about a 3-hour journey.

Moreover, every element of normal city life can also be found in Hua Hin, like shopping malls, international grocery stores, restaurants, modern bars, pubs and lounges. 

The excellent combination of city life and access to the sea makes it a great destination for digital nomads and expats. In fact, there is already a pretty large expat community.

You will also benefit from excellent Thai healthcare here. Hua Hin has several private hospitals, including the recently opened JCI-accredited Bangkok Hospital. Many of the doctors and nurses are also fluent in English. 

Despite the presence of expats, foreign retirees and digital nomads, the city isn’t spoiled by foreigners and offers a local vibe for everyone. Hence, the cost of living is lower than in some more well-known Thailand locations. 

In Hua Hin, expats can enjoy various activities such as: 

  • tennis
  • badminton
  • yoga
  • Muay Thai
  • fishing
  • bird watching
  • fitness facilities 
  • various watersports including kitesurfing, paddle boarding and surf skiing
  • exploring nearby national parks

Overall, Hua Hin attracts more retirees and older expats, while younger ones are likely to head to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand or on the Andaman Coast.

The cost of living in Hua Hin

Hua Hin is one of Thailand’s most affordable coastal resorts, but it’s still more expensive than some mainland locations like Chiang Mai. 

Hua Hin has great housing accommodations for every budget. A single expat can live in Hua Hin on a monthly budget of $1,100, including rent and food. For rent, you can choose to live in a modest home or rent a condo.

Rent

A one bedroom apartment is between $380 to $650 a month.

Utilities: $47 – $60

Total expenses

The single person estimated monthly costs are between $1,050 and $1,400.

Other expenses

Necessities like food, transportation, childcare and utilities are more expensive than in Chiang Mai. Consider budgeting around $300 a month for groceries and $200 for eating out. 

Ko Chang

Ko Chang is Thailand’s second-largest island. With about 5,000 permanent residents, it’s not the most populated place. Tourists and expats have however increased over the last few years. 

Ko Chang is still far away in regards to its popularity among foreign tourists. Therefore, you can enjoy an authentic Thai island experience to the fullest. It’s truly one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands with long white sandy beaches. 

Ko Chang is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including a good selection of birds and snakes. So if you’re looking for untouched flora and fauna, this is the right place. 

Getting to Ko Chang is relatively straightforward as it’s only a five hour bus ride from Bangkok. Despite it being on a tropical island, digital nomads can enjoy fast fiber optic internet connection and mobile 4G. Moreover, all small coffee shops, bars and restaurants have free wifi.  

The cost of living in Ko Chang

As a tropical paradise, Ko Chang can be quite expensive, especially in the high season. But you can reduce costs by arriving in a low season and planning your trip ahead of time. 

The accommodations in the high season are especially pricey. But outside the peak season, many western-owned resorts will offer you monthly rates. This might cost from $450 per month. 

A single expat can live close to the beautiful white beaches of  Ko Chang on a monthly budget of $1,000, including rent and food. 

Rent

A one bedroom apartment or bungalow is between $300 to $500 a month.

Utilities: $40 

Total expenses

The single person estimated monthly costs are $1,000.

Other expenses

Necessities like food, transportation and utilities can be more expensive on the island than on the mainland. 

Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is a small city not too far away from Bangkok–only 123 km to be exact. With a population of 64,000, it’s the perfect location if you want to be in quick proximity to the capital, which is less than two hours away. 

Residents of Kanchanaburi can enjoy natural sites such as the Erawan National Park. It also has an active community of retirees and professionals, such as English teachers. For expats looking for a more traditional Thai experience, Kanchanaburi is the perfect place to live in. 

It’s also worth noting that Kanchanaburi is less humid than many other locations in Thailand. 

The cost of living in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is much more affordable than Thailand’s capital. 

Rent

A one bedroom apartment is between $200 to $300 a month.

Utilities: $50

Total expenses

The single person estimated monthly costs are between $700 to $1,000.

Chiang Rai

Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Rai shouldn’t be confused with Chiang Mai. It’s a much smaller and quieter town 62km from Chiang Mai with around 70,000 residents. Nonetheless, it has some beautiful and historical sights, such as the majestic White Temple

This northernmost province of Thailand also provides a stunning landscape as it’s surrounded by forests, rice fields, mountains and waterfalls. 

Chiang Rai attracts much fewer tourists and digital nomads than Chiang Mai, so you will enjoy a lower cost of living and some good bars and restaurants to explore. People can also experience a range of adventurous activities in the diverse landscape surrounding this city. 

Chiang Rai has also experienced steady growth in recent years. The city has a shopping mall, a hospital and many restaurants. You can choose from a wide array of affordable housing options, including condos and apartments. The downside of the city is that it lacks a well-established expat community.

Cost of living in Chiang Rai

Rent

A one bedroom apartment is between $150 to $250 a month.

Utilities: $50

Total expenses

The single person estimated monthly costs are between $700 to $1,000.

Pak Nam Pran

Pak Nam Pran is an up-and-coming region in southern Thailand’s Pran Buri province. It has a relatively small expat community, but is slowly attracting younger expats who are investing in its development. Many expect Pak Nam Pran to become a key Thai destination in the next few years. 

The local industry is heavily focussed on ecotourism and sustainability. Residents are actively engaged in activities such as organic communal gardens, farmers’ markets, artisan trade and outdoor activities. 

The cost of living in Pak Nam Pran

The cost of living in Pak Nam Pran is low, and the area appeals most to retirees.

Rent

A one bedroom apartment or bungalow runs between $150 to $300 a month.

Utilities: $50

Total expenses

The single person estimated monthly costs are between $700 to $1,000.

Cost of living in Thailand

All in all, the cost of living is low in Thailand. Estimated monthly expenses for a family of four are $2,305. For a single person, it’s $1,107. The minimum cost of living in Thailand in 2021 is $650. 

Living in Thailand comes down to your baseline costs, also called your fixed monthly expenses. And of course, your personal lifestyle adds to those costs. 

A baseline for digital nomads starts at $650 and includes rent, utilities, basic food, internet and occasionally eating out. 

However, this budget applies to places like Chiang Mai. Living costs will be higher if you choose to live on a Thai island, Bangkok or a retirement hotspot. Plus, you need to calculate visa runs when staying on a tourist visa. 

Here are examples of the minimum monthly expenses included in the cost of living in Thailand:

Monthly expenseMinimum cost ($)
Rent$200
Internet$30
Utilities$40
Housekeeping$15
Food$190
Scooter & Gas$100
Eating out$75
Total$650

Move to Thailand with a remote job 

Are you thinking about moving to Thailand and working remotely? Then you will need a suitable job and an employer who is compliant with the fact you are living abroad. 

Here at Support Adventure, we’re known as the expat outsourcing company because we hire talented people from around the world who want to work online from anywhere. 

We mostly have positions open for helpdesk support and occasionally admin assistance and other roles. So don’t wait and apply for a remote job with us here

Categories: Lifestyle