Cost of living in Thailand with family

Cost of living in Thailand

What is the cost of living in Thailand for a single and a family with children? Is there a universal budget you can live on? Is Thailand actually as cheap as they say? 

The answers depend on who you ask, because as many people, there are so many different experiences. With my post you will be able to estimate the cost of living in Thailand by yourself, taking into account your needs, family situation, lifestyle and financial capabilities.

What impacts the cost of living in Thailand

Family situation

Family status makes a huge difference to the cost of living and this is much more apparent in Thailand than in Poland. The cost of living in Thailand for a family with children is significantly higher due to the costs associated with education and healthcare.

If someone says that living in Thailand is very cheap, more than likely they do not have children, or they are not yet of school age or studying in a different system.

Lifestyle and standard of living

It has been known for a fact that some people are satisfied with basic shelter above their heads, while others need to have marble on the floor. One may eat street food every day, another likes trendy restaurants.

f you want to maintain a western lifestyle, by which I mean buying certain foods and renting a western-style finished property, then the cost of living will be higher.

Salary in Thailand

Before moving on to expenses and costs I will present some data on earnings.

According to data provided by BOI the minimum daily wage in 2022 is 320 - 354 THB/day depending on the province. The average salary nationally in 2022 is THB 14,892.27, in Bangkok THB 22,274. In contrast, the statistics office reports that the average monthly household income in 2021 is THB 27,352, while expenditure per household was THB 21,616.

Read more about earnings in different industries at wagecentre.com.

How much does a foreigner earn in Thailand?

Salaries obviously depend on the type of work, industry, experience and position, but typical salaries for foreigners are in the range of THB 50,000 - 120,000. Experienced professionals and senior executives naturally earn more, even around 400,000 THB.

In addition to salary, some companies offer as part of the contract a bonus in the form of a relocation package to cover moving expenses. Other bonuses include school subsidies, housing subsidies and the provision of health insurance (rather basic).

Some say that with an income of around THB 40,000 per month one can already live very comfortably in Bangkok. But is such a salary enough for everyone to live comfortably? And what does comfortable living mean? It is time to move on to discuss expenses and the cost of living.

All prices are in THB. 

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Work in Thailand, where and how to find

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The cost of living in Thailand - rental cost

One of the major expenses having a significant impact on the cost of living in Thailand, especially for families with children, is property rental. 

Prices of condos and houses vary widely and are in the following ranges:

  • 1 bedroom: 5,000 - 15,000 THB
  • 2 bedrooms: 15,000 – 35,000 THB
  • 3 bedrooms: 20,000 – 90,000 THB
  • 4 bedrooms: 30,000 – 120,000 THB

These are only averaged ranges, as you can find cheaper accommodation than the lower ranges given as well as much more expensive. For example, you can find a 3 and 4 bedroom flat even well below 20,000 THB, a matter of what and where you are looking for.

hen it comes to setting a budget, I would advise against just going by the prices quoted by people on forums, since in the internet you can easily and quickly find out for yourself how much you will pay to rent a flat that suits you. For checking prices, I recommend the website and app DDProperty and marketplace and Facebook groups for expats.

Living in Bangkok
What is it like to live in Bangkok?

Interesting facts about condos in Bangkok

What makes up the price of housing

Rental prices in Thailand, as in other countries, depend on a number of variables:

  • location
  • standard of finishing
  • type of property
  • size/number of bedrooms
  • building age

Location

The price of rent is, of course, influenced by location. Property prices depend on the region and city where you want to live and on factors such as proximity to the beach, proximity to the metro, etc. It will practically always be more expensive in towns, neighbourhoods and islands popular with tourists and expats.

When we moved out of Bangkok and were looking for another place to live, we considered Koh Samui, Phuket and Hua Hin. After analysing housing and school prices, we eventually chose Hua Hin although this was not the only reason.

Standard of finishing

Western-finished appartments and houses with fully equipped kitchens (oven, gas or induction cooker, hood, microwave) are of course more expensive. In the case of houses, the garden and swimming pool add to the price.

In contrast, many cheaper flats have a kitchen equipped simply with a sink, fridge and microwave. Typical Thai homes often even have an outdoor kitchen.

Many of the properties look good in the pictures, but in reality it can be really different, such as very poor finishes, thin walls, old air conditioning, the smell of damp and fungus.

Type of property

Properties in Thailand are generally divided into:

  • detached house or villa
  • town house
  • condominium 
  • apartment
 
A condominium (condo) and an apartment building is simply a flat in a multi-unit building, but the difference is fundamental, especially when it comes to buying a property. However, even when renting, you can sometimes feel the difference in utility costs.
Usually houses are the most expensive, but this is not a rule and of course it depends on the location. In Bangkok it was more cost-effective for us to rent a condo, whereas in Hua Hin it is more beneficial for us to rent a large villa. 

Number of bedrooms and size of the flat

The number of bedrooms has a significant impact on the cost of renting. In our experience of searching for flats in Bangkok and Hua Hin, the price varies by leaps and bounds between two and three bedrooms. If we could fit in two bedrooms, we could pay half of what we do now on rent.

Age of a building

While it is possible to rent a rather nice flat in a new building if you have 1-2 bedrooms, for us, with 3 bedrooms it was more profitable to rent flats in older buildings. 

For the same price as in the new building, or even for much less, we were offered huge flats (190-200 m2) with 3 bedrooms, 3-4 bathrooms and a maid's room, which in our case served as a storage room. In a new building, in the location we were interested in, 3 bedrooms were out of our reach.

Cost of living in Thailand - bills and utilities

Electricity bills in Thailand

The electricity bill can come as a big surprise, and it's not a positive one. Well, air-conditioning can chew up electricity like crazy, but that's not the only reason for high bills. Thailand has specific electricity rates, which can be found at MEA

The basic rate, known as the government rate, is around 4.5 THB/kWh. However, some apartment building owners set their own rate, under the guise of a charge for common areas, and this rate can then be as high as 7 THB/kWh. Watch out for this and always ask about the electricity rate before renting a property.

We may assume that in an average flat the electricity bills will be between 2,000 - 4,500 THB/month. In large flats and pool houses this amount can be higher, even above 6,000 THB.

Water bills in Thailand

Water bills are ridiculously low, we paid an average of 500 - 1,000 THB per month. The water tariff, which depends on consumption, can be found at PWA.

It is worth including the cost of drinking water in your budget. You can buy water in bottles at the shop, or you can order a weekly supply of drinking water in water bottles. At Sprinkle operating in Bangkok, 12 vouchers (12 cans) cost 840 THB. Our family (5 people) used 3-4 bottles of water per week.

Another option is to install a professional filtration system for drinking water. The investment cost is quite substantial, we paid 22,400 THB, but the convenience and ability to drink tap water is priceless. Then there's the maintenance cost, which includes replacing the filter cartridges min. 2 times a year and replacement of the UV lamp once a year.

Gas for cooking

No municipal gas network exists in Thailand so gas cookers run on gas from cylinders. A cylinder with home delivery and installation costs about 300 - 400 THB. A cylinder will last 3-4 months with daily use.

Internet and telephone cost in Thailand

The cost of phone and internet is relatively cheap and the price depends on the type of package. An example of DTac's subscription price list with a 5G package:

  • 349 – 449 THB (20 – 30 GB)
  • 499 – 599 (40 – 50 GB)
  • 699 – 899 (50 – 80 GB)
  • 1,099 – 2,199 (unlimited internet)

Tourist SIM cards can be purchased from 149 THB to 599 THB depending on the package (tourist SIM cards).

Internet in Thailand is generally very good and quite cheap. You can have an internet package for as little as 1,000 - 1,400 THB per month. Sometimes the cost of internet is already included in the rent.

Cost of living in Thailand - medical care

Pracowanie i płacenie podatków w Tajlandii nie gwarantuje bezpłatnej opieki zdrowotnej obcokrajowcom. Żeby się leczyć można korzystać ze szpitali publicznych lub prywatnych, w obu za opłatą. Więcej o tym jak wygląda leczenie w Tajlandii napisałam w artykule Opieka medyczna w Tajlandii.

In public facilities, there are several thresholds depending on the foreigner's residence. Tourists and pensioners fall under the highest threshold, thus paying the most for services. Those working in Thailand pay the least. In private facilities, on the other hand, medical costs can be sky high. It is therefore really worth taking out health insurance.

Various sources state that the average annual insurance cost per adult is $1,200-2,000. For a family, the cost can be as much as $10,000 per year. Thus, it can be seen that medical care is a significant factor in increasing the cost of living in Thailand for a family with children.

To give you a better insight into what treatment costs are involved, here are some example prices from our experience of private clinics and hospitals:

  • Visit to a paediatrician or internist without examinations, vaccinations or medication: 500 - 1,500 THB
  • Visit to a paediatrician or internist with additional tests, with medication, with vaccinations: 1,500 - 6,000 THB
  • Dental check-up: 500 - 1,000 THB
  • Wound stitching, 3-5 stitches: 12,000 - 21,000 THB
  • Surgery with a day stay in hospital with a carer: 85,000 THB
  • Ultrasound-guided fine-needle biopsy: THB 56,000

Cost of living in Thailand - schools and kindergartens fees in Thailand

Koszt życia - szkoła w Tajlandii

This position came towards the end of the list, and in fact is usually the biggest expense in the cost of living for a family with children in Thailand.

Just like housing cost, there is no single amount that can be used to close the topic of spending on kindergartens and children's education. It all depends on the school chosen. 

The most expensive educational institutions are accredited top international schools. The cheapest are public schools, for which foreigners have to pay. In between are all kinds of private schools. The good news is that when enrolling siblings, schools offer discounts.

You can read more about schools in Thailand in the article School in Thailand, how it looks and which to choose.

Nursery and kindergarten fees in Thailand

Preschool fees depend on the type of institution and whether it is a branch of an international school or a separate institution or so-called daycare. 

Nursery school fees can range from THB 70,800 to THB 569,000 per year. Additional fees such as non-refundable registration fee, meals, uniforms, transport (school bus) often have to be added to the tuition fee.

Tuition fees at primary and secondary schools in Thailand

The choice of schools in Thailand is vast and you can pick and choose between programmes; from democratic schools to boarding schools. The limitation is usually the amount of tuition fees and the queue for top-tier schools. 

Due to the many offers, it is difficult to determine an exact price range, but I will give a range for guidance. School fees range from 72,000 THB to 1,034,000 THB per year.

Examples of prices for schools and kindergartens in Thailand

To illustrate how wide the price range is, I have selected as many as six different types of schools and pre-school departments from across Thailand. These include a top international school and a Thai school with an English programme.

These examples show that determining the cost of a school depends on the choice of institution and there is no good answer to the question 'how much does a school in Thailand cost'. The best thing to do is to sit down and research the school yourself to suit your own budget and requirements.

For more prices of schools in Thailand, see the database of international-schools-database.com and edarabia.com/thailand-school-fees/

Nannies, domestic helpers and domestic workers

Nanny in Thailand

Many working parents choose to employ a nanny, and it is worth including this item when estimating the cost of living for a family in Thailand.

There are two options to choose from, a 'live in' nanny and a 'live out' nanny. A 'live in' nanny is a nanny who lives with the family and who must be provided with separate accommodation and sometimes some meals. Many houses and condominiums have special rooms for this purpose. There are nannies who, due to the lack of their own corner, prefer this type of work exclusively. As a rule, a live-in nanny earns less than a live-out nanny. Live-out nannies are nannies who come to work at specific times.

The nanny's hourly rate is around 125 - 150 THB, depending on duties and arrangements. The monthly salary depends on the working hours, but most often full-time nannies earn between 18,000 - 24,000 THB. Part-time nannies earn THB 6,000 - 10,000. 'Live in' nannies often earn less than THB 18,000.

Domestic helpers

Domestic help, known in Thailand as maid, helper or cleaner, is a very popular domestic cleaning service. Some domestic helpers also offer cooking. 

The hourly rate is about THB 100 - 125. Some domestic helpers prefer to work on an hourly basis for several families, while others prefer to have a full-time or half-time job and make up the rest on commission. For a half-time job, such a service costs around THB 6,000-9,000.

Cost of living in Thailand - groceries and household products

Koszt życia w Tajlandii jedzenie

The cost of grocery shopping in Thailand varies depending on the size of the family and its culinary preferences. 

Cooking at home doesn't come out expensive if you use local produce and buy it at the markets. At the local market, I spend between 500 and 1,000 THB at a time for three large bags of fruit and vegetables.

However, if cooking with imported products or even a diet rich in dairy products is involved, then the expenditure will be greater. I have collected the prices of some examples of basic products that can be bought in larger markets (sorry, for know price list is only available in Polish).

I will give an invaluable tip for estimating the cost of grocery shopping in Thailand. We used this method ourselves to calculate how much we would spend on food and household goods. The larger shops in Thailand have online shops. Just go to a shop's website, such as Tesco Lotus, and shop virtually without paying. There is no better method, I assure you.

Cost of transport in Thailand

The cost of transport in Thailand depends on the mode of transport and the location. While in Bangkok it is possible to get around efficiently by public transport, in other locations it is cheapest to have your own vehicle.

  • scooter rental:
    200 – 350 THB/day ,
    3,000 – 5,500 THB/month
  • car rental:
    1,000 – 1,500 THB/day,
    13,000 – 30,000 THB/month
  • fuel: 34 – 43 THB/l

In some locations, song-taew runs regularly on certain routes, with prices in the range of 10 - 30 THB. Transport in Bangkok costs 16 - 60 THB per stop (price depends on distance of stops).

Eating out in Thailand

Thailand is one of those countries where eating out can be much more financially favourable than cooking at home, especially if you eat street food. Eating in street food costs between 20 and 70 THB per dish.

In local restaurants, prices will be slightly higher, but are still in the order of 70 - 200 THB per dish. It is correspondingly more expensive to eat in Western or high-end Thai restaurants. There, you can expect to pay from 250 THB for a dish such as pizza or spaghetti.

Prices in restaurants can easily be checked at FoodPanda.

To jak? Tania, czy droga ta Tajlandia?

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