Thailand has a very low cost of living. Several expatriates have been planning to move to the beautiful Southeast Asian country since it offers a whole lot more at very low rates. Thailand is a newly industrialized country and has been steadily showing progress in economic status for over two decades.
It did experience some difficulty during the Asian Financial Crisis but things are definitely looking up at present with the fast growth of industries like trade and tourism. Export projects helped improve the nation’s financial status at an expansion rate of over 4% every year.
Thailand is also very rich in natural resources having the highest percentage of arable land at 27.25%. The country mainly exports rice which comprises a large portion of its overall GDP. More than half of the total available land area in Thailand is used to plant and harvest rice.
Currently, Thailand’s total GDP is priced at almost 600 billion euros which ranks 21st worldwide. The Economist put the country in 21st place in the Worldwide Quality-of-Life index. Thailand is also working together with other economic giants like China and the United Kingdom to further promote economic growth. This “working together” has been elucidated in a post at Thailand Expat Forum made last August 27, 2009:
Basic survival in Thailand is something most of us in the West have the luxury of not having to deal with. No government social support safety net in the Land of Smiles. This directly affects the relevance of friendships – they simply have to be mutually beneficial on a basis other than ‘just getting on well’.
Food and Drinks Costs in Thailand
Food and drinks in Thailand is much cheaper compare to the United Kingdom. The average person spends about 100 euros every month on grocery items and raw food sources like fruits and vegetables. Eating in a restaurant can be cheap or expensive depending on the location and this can be budgeted though finding the right places.
Foreign cuisines tend to be priced higher compared to other local restaurants in the area with the same ambiance and service. A dinner for four in a middle class restaurant can cost only around 40 to 50 euros. There are also a number of expensive restaurants in major cities like Bangkok that charge up to several hundred euros per meal.
Locally produced food and drinks are very affordable. One can spend less than 100 euros a month if purchasing in community markets and fish ports. Rice is one type of food with several varieties. The price would depend on the quality and kind. Meat products are pork and beef along with poultry, eggs and seafood like tuna, marlin and squid. Thailand has several locally produced fruits and vegetables all-year round and all these come at very low prices. Prices however can increase in bigger cities, delis and supermarkets.
Clothing and Accessories Costs in Thailand
Prices of clothing and accessories are relative to the brand and quality. There are night markets and flea shops all over cities where expatriates can find very cheap pairs of jeans, batik, hats, bags and footwear. The quality of course may not be as good compared to the ones sold in department stores and shopping centers. Designer labels are located in the heart of major cities and these are expensive just like most imported accessories averaging at the following prices found here.
Gadgets are imported from Japan or China. The prices also differ but China-made goods are more affordable. Tourists usually flock to shop for beachwear, swimsuits, batik clothing and other exotic textiles. There are also a number of good diving shops along the coastal regions. Most are owned by foreigners and prices tend to be higher. Other commodities like electronics, computers, trinkets and home appliances are usually imported but prices range from moderate to expensive depending on the brand.
Housing Costs in Thailand
Renting an apartment will cost around 100 to 200 euros per month. The usual setting includes a private toilet and bath, one bedroom and a living room. The space expatriates get for their money is actually reasonable. There are also condominium units which include two or more rooms, two or more toilet and baths, a general swimming pool and other amenities.
Prices will increase as more privileges and services come with the rental. Most expatriates prefer to live downtown in a nice condominium while others enjoy renting a house by the beach. Beach house rentals are less expensive although there are resorts which can charge up to 100 euros a night. Another option is purchasing a luxury villa, as prices have been favorable especially in Phuket.
Electricity and water will cost around 100 euros every month. Owning land in Thailand may not be as easy for expatriates since the government prioritizes that only locals get to own property. Some foreigners would marry locals in order to legitimately own land while others would entirely change their citizenship. Housing loans are provided by some Thai banks. Taxes are included in construction and maintenance. There are also agencies that will ensure that the building is properly done as well as document ongoing fees and future costs and value.
Services Costs in Thailand
Small and river buses are available all over major cities especially Bangkok. There are also taxicabs and motorbike taxis. Taking a full circle in the city will cost around 6 to 10 euros. Air and water transportation is also reliable and affordable. Trains are the cheaper alternative to airplanes and they travel between cities daily.
Health care services in Thailand are also state-of-the-art and facilities and personnel are periodically examined by the government to be at the best working condition. The country is currently aiming to improve tourism through medical services so all aspects with regards to the system have been well supported. Both private owners and the government are working together to boost the health care system with the aim to attract foreigners. Expatriates get to enjoy quality medical services plus a scenic and affordable vacation.
The education system in Thailand has also been improved recently since the government wanted all locals to be educated especially in their common language. Literacy rate in Thailand now soars at over 92%. The working force has become more efficient and effective due to the increasing number of skilled and knowledgeable graduates year after year.
Other services costs differ depending on location as shared in Thailand Expat Forum last May 1,2009:
I realize every household is different – some are single, some married and some married with children. If possible it would be helpful if you indicated the size of your household.
Cost of electricity. This will be a major expense as utilities go as most want air conditioner ‘on’ much of the time. Other electrical draws will be for computer, refrigerator and television
Cost of Internet. Does “high speed” Internet readily exist in Chiang Mai? How much for unlimited service per month?
Water. I suspect one does not drink water from the tap so there could be two water bills. One for shower, washing dishes, shaving etc. and another to a company to provide bottled potable water to drink. So I suspect probably two different water bills.I suspect sewer costs are included in cost of water piped to the apartment.condo.
Telephone. Here there are a ton of options including cellular, local dial-up and VOiP service [if you have a high speed Internet connection] If Voice over Internet has anyone tried a MagicJack? You can buy one and make unlimited calls back the US or Canada but need HS Internet. Cost? $20 to buy the thing and $20 for an entire year’s calling to US or Canada – and, yes, from Thailand or anywhere you are. Then there’s Skype and some other services here or coming soon.
Employment Costs in Thailand
More males are working in Thailand than females since cultural heritage still adheres that women are supposed to stay in the home and function as housewives. The number of working women however, has been rising at a rate of over 5% every year. Nowadays, the employment rate in Thailand is at a commanding 98.5%.
The influx of foreign investors has provided more job opportunities for university graduates and other skilled workers. Tourism and export still comprise the bulk of the financial support to the economy. Expatriates are more likely to find jobs in the business, tourism and health care fields. Salary rate is moderate at the meantime.