Cost of Living in Thailand while Living in Chiang Mai

Cheap cheap and cheap!!! Those are the three words you were hoping to read right? If you’ve opened this blog post then you’re probably thinking of making a move out here like we did. The cost of living in Thailand is obviously a major factor in making that decision so you’ve clicked on the right link. Thailand is the obvious choice for a relocation to South East Asia, whether it be temporary or permanent. But is it as cheap as everyone says it is? We think it is and you’ll most likely agree if you keep on reading our costs of living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia’s most liveable city.

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In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

We’ve lived here long enough to be able to give you a full breakdown of our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai

So let’s get straight to it! Remember, these costs are for two people. We’ve also converted to GBP and USD to save you the job. I know, we’re so kind! 🙂

Apartment Rental

Thai Baht – 14000
GBP – £322
USD – $399

Renting an apartment while living in Chiang Mai is our biggest cost of living in Thailand. We live in a fantastic modern condo/apartment development in the Santitham area just north of the old city. For 14000 baht per month we have a 1 bedroom apartment with gym, pool, parking, security and free bicycle hire. Before moving in, we looked at a range of 1 bedroom places from 12000 – 15000. This is enough cash to find something nice while living in Chiang Mai. If you are on a really tight budget then there are plenty of cheaper studio options from around 8000 baht per month.

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

Our Chiang Mai apartment

If you’d like more information on how to find and rent an apartment in Chiang Mai then please read this – How to Find and Rent Apartments in Chiang Mai

The post also includes lots of pictures of our own place so you can see what you get for what we pay.

Utility Bills

Thai Baht – 1000
GBP – £23
USD – $28

Utility bills while living in Chiang Mai include just electricity and water which are paid for separately. This is obviously going to vary depending on how much you use your air conditioning or how many showers you take. We’re two people, taking 1 to 2 showers each a day with the air con on for at least 12 hours a day. On average we pay 900 baht per month for electricity and 100 baht for water. A very cheap cost of living in Thailand when compared to home!

Eating Out (Lunch & Dinner Everyday!)

Thai Baht – 6000
GBP – £138
USD – £171

One of the great things about living in Chiang Mai is the incredibly low cost of eating out. We’re lucky to live in Santitham which is a very local area. With lots of locals comes lots of cheap eating options. It’s cheaper for us to eat out every lunch and dinner than it is to buy food from the market and cook. It’s crazy!

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

Me about to tuck into some tasty street food

No matter where you’re living in Chiang Mai, you’ll have access to cheap street food stalls and eateries. So if you are on a tight budget then food will not make much of a dent into that.

Average eating out costs generally fall into these three categories:

Street food/Market/Local Eatery – 50 baht per main (£1.15/$1.42)
Thai Restaurant – 100 baht per main (£2.30/$2.84)
Western Food Restaurant – 200 baht per main (£4.60/$5.68)

We eat at Street food/Market/Local Eatery 90% of the time so paying just £1 per main each. Often cheaper! The food is great as well. Think chicken Pad Thai, pork stir fries, large noodle soups and spicy seafood salads. Yum!

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

Shelley waiting for our favorite soup to arrive

All Beverages (Water, Coffee/Tea, Smoothies, Soft Drinks & Beer)

Thai Baht – 4500
GBP – £103
USD – $128

We’re hooked on Chiang Mai’s awesome coffee scene and delicious Thai teas. They’re something we’ve tried to cut out so not to effect our cost of living in Thailand too much but we’ve ended up surrendering. Most of our monthly beverage cost goes into buying Lattes and Iced Teas everyday of the week. We’ll probably have no teeth by the time we leave here but it’ll be worth it! There are coffee shops and stalls all over the city so it’s hard to say no.

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

Iced coffee time!

The rest of the cost is buying the cheapest bottled water from the local store, soft drinks and of course a cold beer now and then at a bar. We are kind of on holiday after all! 🙂

Average cost for each of these items are:

Coffee/Tea/Smoothies from a coffee shop – 50 baht (£1.15/$1.42)
Coffee/Tea/Smoothies from street stall – 20 baht (46p/57c)
6 litres of bottled water from a store – 20 baht (46p/57c)
Can of soft drink from a store – 15 baht (34p/42c)
Small bottle of Chiang beer from a bar – 60 baht (£1.38/$1.71)
Large bottle of Chiang beer from a bar – 90 baht (£2.07/$2.56)

Always time for street food snacks. In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

There’s always time for cheap street food snacks

Groceries

Thai Baht – 2500
GBP – £57
USD – $71

The only food groceries we buy are breakfast items as this is the only meal of the day that makes sense to eat at home to keep costs down. We try to eat healthily at breakfast so just buy the following items which we found to be more expensive than in the UK:

Milk – 45 baht per litre (£1.03/$1.28)
Yogurt – 50 baht per large pot (£1.15/$1.42)
Corn Flakes – 90 baht per 375g (£2.07/$2.56)
Museli – 180 baht per 1kg (£4.14/$5.13)
Large banana bunch – 55 baht (£1.26/$1.56)
Pineapple – 30 baht (69p/85c)
Melon half – 50 baht (£1.15/$1.42)

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

I like a big bunch of bananas

Transport

Thai Baht – 400
GBP – $9.20
USD – $11

Thanks to our awesome location we don’t often need to take public transport. We have everything we need on our doorstep and are able to walk to most other areas in less than 30 minutes. Yes with all the walking we probably have to wash our sweaty clothes more often but we like the exercise. However there are times when a tuk tuk or songthaew (shared truck) is needed for longer distances.

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

Hanging umbrellas in Chiang Mai Old Town

The average costs for a tuk tuk or songthaew to and from anywhere in the city are:

Tuk Tuk – 100 baht  (£2.30/$2.84)
Songthaew – 20 baht (46p/57c)

Broadband for our Apartment

Thai Baht – 700
GBP – £16
USD – $20

It’s important that we have wifi in our apartment since we are working on our blog most of the time while living in Chiang Mai. For just 700 baht per month we had 5G broadband installed by a company called Sinet. It’s fast enough for everything we need including watching Netflix and other on demand services.

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

One of the city’s most well known street food stalls

Mobile Phone Local Sims

Thai Baht – 500
GBP – £11
USD – $14

Like at home, there are a few mobile providers to choose from in Thailand but they are all pretty much the same price. They all offer monthly tourist tariffs which you can terminate at anytime. We both went with AIS and pay 250 baht each a month for 1GB of 4G internet data and a bit of free phone credit. Obviously the more 4G data you need the more expensive it gets. Most providers offer data packages of 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, 8GB and 12GB. The most expensive coming in at around 1200 baht. So far we have not needed to buy any extra data or phone credit so the cheapest plan has been fine for us.

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

Coffee stall right outside our apartment

Entertainment

Thai Baht – 1300
GBP – £30
USD – $37

Living in Chinag Mai isn’t all about work work work for us (sorry for putting Rhianna in your head). Of course we get out of the apartment and do things now and then. We’re not that boring. Thankfully there are lots of free things to do while living in Chiang Mai like visiting temples, museums, browsing markets and hikes in the surrounding jungle. That’s why we don’t spend a lot of money on entertainment so therefore doesn’t effect our cost of living in Thailand very much.

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

One of many Chiang Mai markets

We do like a good film so go the cinema every week. We were pleased to find the state of the art SFX cinema in nearby Maya shopping mall which shows the latest English language film releases. Seats are just 100 baht (£2.30/$2.84) each on Wednesdays and not much more at other times.

Medical and Dental

We’re not going to add this to our total monthly cost of living in Thailand because visiting the doctors and dentist is not something we do monthly. However we have already visited both while living in Chiang Mai so thought we’d share those costs as it’s something most expats in Chiang Mai will need to do during their stay.

Hospital Visit

The other week I went to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital to get my left eye checked out. We were a bit concerned that something wasn’t quite right with it. A full eye examination by a professional eye doctor and a general health check came to 544 baht (£12/$15). We’re pleased to say that there is nothing wrong with my left eye!

Dentist Visit

Last week Shelley went to the dentist for a check up and full teeth clean which came to 600 baht (£13.81/$17.11)

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

It’s coffee time, AGAIN! Overlooking the Ping River

Other Non Essential Costs while Living in Chiang Mai

These are not essential costs while living in Chiang Mai but is useful to include for those potentially moving to the city.

Massage – Up to 300 baht for 1hr (£6.90/$8.55)
Laundry – 35 baht per KG (80p/$1)
Moped hire – 1000 baht per week (£23/$28)
Mens Haircut – 200 baht (£4.60/$5.70)
Gym Membership – Up to 2000 baht/month (£46/$57)

Our Total Cost of Living in Thailand while Living in Chiang Mai

So here’s our total monthly costs at today’s exchange rate on 10th October 2016.

Thai Baht – 30,900
GBP – £712
USD – $884

Considering this cost is for EVERYTHING, for two people, we think it’s very cheap. Even at today’s shocking GBP conversion rate due to the rapidly sliding pound. Thanks BREXIT!!!

In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

One of the big weekend markets

If you wanted to, you could even bring this total cost of living in Thailand while Living in Chiang Mai down if renting a cheaper place and cutting out certain items like daily coffee shop visits. To compare to living in our hometown of London, it would cost double this amount for just the rent alone in many parts of the city.

 

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In this post we fully breakdown our monthly cost of living in Thailand while living in Chiang Mai, South East Asia's most liveable city.

13 thoughts on "Cost of Living in Thailand while Living in Chiang Mai"

  • Jessica Smith says:

    Loving your blog guys. Really good guide to the full living costs in Chang Mai, as if the pictures weren’t enticing enough!
    Glad to see you enjoying the city. x

    • FindingBeyond says:

      Hey Jess! Good to hear from you and glad you’re loving the blog and pictures. Hope you and Chloe are doing well.

  • Dick says:

    First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to
    ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find
    out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.
    I have had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting
    my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just
    seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips?
    Appreciate it!

    • FindingBeyond says:

      Thanks for your nice comments. You’re not alone with your difficulties of beginning a piece of writing. I go through the same difficulties myself. Mostly because I’m too aware of how important the first paragraph is. The best piece of advice I can give is to not over think it as you can always go back and re-write the beginning later. I often do that. Also make sure to introduce the main topic of the piece at the beginning, or close to it, so the reader knows what to expect. That often guides me on how to open a piece. I hope this is at least a little helpful? Thanks.

  • Andreas says:

    Hi guys, great post! I have lived in Chiang Mai for about 2 years total, mostly around 2010-2011. I would often pay up to 4 000 baht per month for my electricity bill – mostly due to the aircon being on for up to 18 hours per day (all night + whenever I was in the apartment – which could often be most of the day). You write that using the aircon for 12 hours per day cost you only 700 baht. As far as I remember, the standard rate for electricity is either 3.5 or 8 baht per unit. Do you recall what you pay per unit? I am not sure how to make sense of this huge difference in price. I stayed in 3-4 different condos and the price I paid per month was fairly consistent.

    Regarding your dental work, I recently had a checkup and cleaning at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital which costed 1425 Baht, about double of what you paid, although there were no complications whatsoever with my dental health. So I am curious about where you did yours.

    You also wrote “A full eye examination by a professional eye doctor and a general health check came to 544 baht”. A bit surprising that it was that cheap. Recently, my wife went to a hospital in Chiang Rai to check her blood, as she was having fever, sore muscles etc and we were concerned it could be dengue fever. The bill (most of it comprised of the lab analysis of the blood) was 1 800 baht!

    • FindingBeyond says:

      Hi Andreas. Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting to hear the major differences in some of our costs and useful for readers to read your comment.

      Electricity – Wow that is quite a difference to what we are paying! We’re shocked at your 4000 baht bill. This is our first rental in Chiang Mai so cannot compare to other experiences. I’m looking at the bill now and I can’t see a per unit rate. Just the total of units used. The bill came from the Provincial Electricity Authority. We only use 1x air con unit at one time. Could that be the difference? It’s also a small apartment. We seem to be paying a similar amount to our friends in the same Condo. Could our Condo potentially be part subsidising our electricity? I don’t think so as we would have been told this by our agent and landlord. We’ll have to see how our future bills turn out and I’ll update this blog accordingly.

      Dental work – My Wife used a very local Dentist Clinic in Santitham. We compared prices with a couple of others and it was the cheapest but still a busy, clean and professional clinic.

      Hospital Appointment – I’m not sure we can compare these costs as our appointments were for very different conditions. I’m sure the cost varies depending on equipment and doctors used. The lab analysis of blood must have been the reason for your higher bill.

      Thanks! 🙂

    • Doug says:

      Hi Guys
      A helpful article for newbies but sorry I cannot understand the quoted cost for electricity either. I have lived in CM for 4 years now and I would never use the aircon for 12 hours a night, more like 8 hours. I only use it in the bedroom at night and I pay over 1,000 baht a month. This is a private house so there is no loading on the rate as there is in an apartment. So I find it hard to equate your cost!!!
      I must agree though that the cost of living in CM and the atmosphere of the city is what keeps me here, but unfortunately it is getting more like Bangkok every day so it is losing it’s charm and special nature

      • FindingBeyond says:

        Hey Doug. Thanks for your comment. We’ve now changed the electricity figure to 900 baht since we’ve had a new recent monthly bill which was that amount. I have no idea how Andreas was paying 4000 baht a month though. We don’t know anyone who pays anything close to that.

        We don’t use the air con for 12 hours a night, we use it for 12 over a 24 hour period. Like you, about 8 hours overnight in the bedroom and then use our living room unit for up to 4 hours in the day as and when we get too hot. It’s starting to cool here now so we’re finding we’re not needing it on as much in the day anymore but still leave it on all night as our bedroom gets hot being on the top floor of our condo.

        4 years is a long time! Like you say, you must have seen a lot of changes. Where in CM do you live?

  • Paul says:

    Hey guys, love your blog, i find it really informative as im planning (possibly dreaming..) to come to Chaing Mai myself in a few years once ive got things straight back in blighty.. My plan is to have 3 flats by then which id rent out on an interest only mortgage giving me around £800-1000 per month. What id like to know is.. If your monthly spend comes to around £700 for a couple, how much could it be reduced if it was for a single person living a similar kinda lifestyle?!
    Tia

    • FindingBeyond says:

      Hi Paul. Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you have a plan in place. Having a bit of an income before setting off is a good idea. In hindsight, we now wish we did that. You can rent condos for half as much as we’re paying. You’d get a studio room for that. There are lots of single expats here and most we know pay around 9000 baht for a studio in a popular area of the city. On your own, you could easily get your spendings down to £500 per month with the same lifestyle we have but with smaller accommodation. Possibly less! We hope that helps Paul.

  • Kate M says:

    I think it’s important to note that the cost of living in Thailand, especially in bigger cities, can vary. I don’t have a good grasp on rental prices in Chiang Mai, so I’m basing my assumptions on Bangkok (I know that Chiang Mai is usually a little cheaper). Sometimes it really has more to do with what you can live with, and more importantly what you can live without. The difference between a 5,000 baht apartment, and 10-12k apartments can be significant if one wants certain comforts (air conditioner, small food prep area). It is also pretty easy to make the jump from 35-45 baht a meal to 300-3000 baht. I think, just by looking at some of the numbers posted, that salaries have, for the most part, stayed relatively similar, while things like beer and rent seem to be (on average) a little higher than posted. I’m not discounting the possibility that people do come here and save a ton, live very cheaply and come out in decent shape, but I’ve also witnessed people come here and blow through their salary and previous savings in short order.

    • Thanks Kate. We’ve seen that too. We’re still not at a point where our earnings are covering all our expenses so it is easy to get carried away if you’re not careful. Chiang Mai is the cheapest destination we’ve discovered so far so is a great option for those in the same situation.

  • Mao says:

    Really helpful! Thanks so much.


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