How To Live Like a VIP in Bangkok for $285.06 Per Month

By Mark Wiens 157 Comments

This is Part 4 of the “Foundationology of Migrationology” series.

Living in Bangkok
My apartment in Bangkok, Thailand

I’m going to be honest, I don’t live in a luxurious apartment nor do I drive a Mercedes (or drive anything other than my laptop).

I do however live in a safe and quiet neighborhood, enjoy quite speedy internet (most of the time), and dine on world class Thai street food – everyday!

I live in an a studio single bedroom apartment that’s shared among a few in-and-out permanent nomads. It’s more of an open studio room with pads, a place for any of us to crash for the night.

Our apartment complex is brand new, it is clean, in a safe neighborhood on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand.

We are blessed with a huge fresh food market about 5 minutes away and an overwhelming supply of Thai street food that never gets boring.

Here’s my budget cost of living in Bangkok for a month:

I normally pay half the rent – we split these monthly expenses. We have NO hot water and NO kitchen, just a single room, a bedroom, bathroom and a small balcony.

Balcony in Bangkok
Balcony in Bangkok

Total Apartment = $131.36 (4000 THB) split by 2 = $65.53 each

Total Everything Else = $219.53 (6700 THB)

Grand Total = $285.06

(2000 + 6700 = 8700 THB)

1. Internet (400 THB) – $13.10

I pay for the internet by computer, the price is 200 THB per computer per month. It’s apparently an 8 mb connection, but upload speeds are closer to an 1/8 of this. I’m not complaining, for everything I need to do, it’s quite sufficient.

2. Water (90 THB) – $2.95Bathroom

My apartment has NO hot water. I do take showers, flush the toilet and wash a few dishes here and there. Our apartment is on the 5th floor and the water pressure isn’t too strong (could this be a water saving blessing?).

3. Electricity (210 THB) – $6.88

I’ve never used the air-condition, and my body has adapted to the tropical humid degrees in Bangkok. There’s a fluorescent light in the main room and a small bulb in the bathroom. My computer and a pair of speakers are connected most of the time. I also power a water heater for coffee and two small fans.

4. Transportation (903 THB) – $29.57

My apartment is not located in the center of Bangkok, but it’s only about 10 km away. I don’t live directly on the convenient inner city train links (BTS or MRT), but I live about a 5 minute walk from a bustling major street with cheap buses that flow past constantly and very frequently. I can be to the center of Bangkok in 30 minutes with no traffic.

Buses in Bangkok cost 6.50 THB at the lowest, up to around 20 THB for a ride on buses that take the expressway and use air-con. An average bus costs me 8 THB, old clankers with character and open windows.

Thai street food
Typical all-out dinner in Bangkok
Fruit in Bangkok
Fruit in Bangkok

5. Food (3837 THB) – $125.66

I guess from my budget, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what my passion and priority is; I love to eat. Thai street food is what I dine on 9 times out of 10, but there are the occasions when I make involuntary culinary purchases that comprise of either international cuisine or some kind of classy dining.

For breakfast I eat a selection of tropical fruits and usually supplement them with some oatmeal (don’t like it too much, but it’s cheap, healthy and filling). I then go into feasting mode, often dining on som tam (green papaya salad) and sticky rice for lunch and branching into an extensive street food smorgasbord for dinner. I try not to eat an entire roasted fish by myself every evening, but I do almost every other night. Check out how much food you could eat for $10 in Bangkok!

I do buy water, fill up bottles of filtered water for 1 THB / liter. Usually costs me less than 100 THB per month.

So even though food is cheap, it happens to be my biggest cost of living in Bangkok.

6. Mobile Phone (400 THB) – $13.09

I buy scratch cards to load money onto my mobile phone. I do talk on the phone a fair amount (with my girlfriend), but calls made to the same mobile phone supplier at night are very cheap (I think it’s less than 1 THB / minute).

7. Entertainment (710 THB) – $23.25

My girlfriend is not a big party goer or drinker, and I guess one could say that that is a great thing for my budget. I do go out to meet friends at night on occasion (perhaps once per week), but I don’t go crazy. I tend to just hang out with friends, relax, and chill out.

My entertainment budget is low due to the fact that I consider food as my premiere form of entertainment. I guess one could say that I would prefer to drop $3 on a massive stomach pleasing lavish meal (including an entire grilled fish) than a single bottle of beer.

8. Miscellaneous (850 THB) – $27.84

Soap, Tylenol, toothpaste, a photocopy – I don’t really know, but there are always a few unexpected random things that need to be purchased and it can fluctuate differently every month.

Do I live a deprived life?

On the opposite spectrum of deprived, I consider myself very well-off. I have yet to be dirty, lose sleep, or even come close to being denied of food.

Here are a few random things I do without breaking the budget:

This budget cost of living in Bangkok, Thailand, is just a taste of living possibilities. I understand that we all have differing priorities, lifestyle comforts, wants and needs – but if you really want to make something happen, it’s feasible.

We each have our own levels of comfort and it doesn’t need to be compared to others.

No matter what anyone else says, I know I’m living like a VIP for $285.06 per month.

I’d love to hear your questions or comments below.


This is Part 4 of the Foundationology of Migrationology series.

Don’t miss the next article (2 August 2011): Migrationology: Living With Future Intentions

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