Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

This post “Cost of Living in Chiang Mai: Thailand”, contributed by Gary Orman at Thailand Mentor, is one of the first in our new series of posts on the monthly cost of living in various cities and countries around the world.

Gary, originally from South Africa, has lived in Thailand for 17 years. He is an expert on staying and living in Thailand, and has helped dozens of people to live successfully in the Land of Smiles.



Where is Thailand?

Thailand, formerly known as Siam, and officially as the Kingdom of Thailand, is located in Southeast Asia and has a population nearing 70 million people. The country is bordered by the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to the East, Malaysia to the South, and Myanmar (Burma) to the North and West.

Located wholly within the tropics, Thailand’s landscapes vary from low mountains and hilly forested areas, to fertile plains dotted with rice paddies, to rugged coasts and sandy beaches.  With amazing food, a tropical climate, a fascinating culture, majestic mountains and beautiful beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travellers around the world.

Where is Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and lies approximately 700 kilometres (435 miles) north of Bangkok. Once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and the centre of Buddhism in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a popular destination for expats and tourists.  It has just the right combination of nature and a sophisticated modern city life, it’s slightly cooler than other popular destinations in Thailand, and the people are very friendly and sincere.


Monthly Cost of Living in Chiang Mai: Thailand

Living in Chiang Mai is very affordable, especially by European city standards.

Using the Cost of Living Index Comparison Calculator on the Expatistan website:

  • Cost of living in Thailand is 51% cheaper than in Australia
  • Cost of living in Thailand is 45% cheaper than in United States
  • Cost of living in Thailand is 48% cheaper than in United Kingdom

N.B. The Cost of Living Index shows the difference in living costs between cities. The cost of living in the base city is always expressed as 100. The cost of living in the destination is then indexed against this number.

Cost of living is vital information if you are looking to move to or live for a longer period of time in another country. Overall costs will vary according to the individual, their personal circumstances, and their lifestyle but the basic necessities such as accommodation, utilities, transportation, food and entertainment, will be very similar. On this basis, this blog post will determine approximately how much a person needs to earn or spend, to live comfortably in Chiang Mai.

N.B. The official currency in Thailand is the baht (THB).

So How Much Does it Cost to Live in Chiang Mai?

This is often uppermost in most people’s mind when they are considering whether to come and live in Thailand.  It is relatively inexpensive to live in Thailand, and Chiang Mai in particular (which is cheaper than Bangkok by about a third).

However, there are always hidden costs. So don’t be duped by the entertaining YouTube videos or blog articles that claim you can live here for under ฿10,000 / month (USD$320 / AUD$420). You can and you can’t.

The short answer to what is the Cost of Living in Chiang Mai is: “it depends”. It will depend on a number of things including where you would like to live in Chiang Mai, style of accommodation, and how you want to live. The more you live a Western lifestyle (wine, coffee, desserts, pizza, steak, partying and clubbing, staying in fancy resorts, etc.), the higher your living costs will be.

Want to know more about how to avoid costly mistakes in Thailand? Click here.

Cost of Accommodation in Chiang Mai

If you’re happy to live in a kind of dormitory-style self-contained room (42m² / 450ft²) without aircon and just fans to keep you cool, then you can live very cheaply indeed (with rentals around ฿3,000 / USD$95 / AUD$125 per month).

Managing to live without aircon is difficult at first for a Westerner, but it does mean that you’ll pay a lot less for electricity. Rooms or apartments with aircon units cost more to rent (add ฿1000 / USD$32 / AUD$42 per month per room), and the cost of electricity goes up dramatically too (another ฿1000 / USD$32 / AUD$42 per month per unit that you run).

In general, a modern one bedroom, aircon condo in the centre of Chiang Mai will cost about ฿6000 / USD$190 / AUD$250 to ฿15,000 / USD$470 / AUD$620 per month.

For the same money as an apartment or condo, you can get a partially-furnished two bedroom house with a small garden in a nice neighbourhood (usually about 20 minutes outside of Chiang Mai city centre). For a little extra (฿22,000 / USD$700 / AUD$925), you can get a nice house in a beautiful, established secure gated community.

Budget Accommodation in Chiang Mai
Budget Accommodation in Chiang Mai

Where to Live in Chiang Mai and the Cost of Accommodation in Different Areas

Cheaper Regions

Some of the cheaper places to live in Chiang Mai are north of the Old City (Chang Pheuak), south of the Old City (Haita, Chang Klang, the area near the railway station, including Nong Hoi, or even further east (Tha Sala in the south or San Sai in the north). Here you can find one to two bed apartments or condos, or even a small house, for around ฿4,000 / USD$125 / AUD$165 per month (add ฿1,000 / USD$32 / AUD$42 with aircon).

Mid-Priced Regions

Mid-priced regions can be found near Chiang Mai University, along the Canal Road, Chang Khian Road, Huay Kaew Road, Suthep Road and inside the Old City, and also along the Ping River. Also, if you want to live in a “moobaan” (gated community) further out e.g. towards San Sai, you can find decent-size apartments, all with aircon, starting at ฿3,000 / USD$95 / AUD$125 per month for a single room going up to about ฿10,000 / USD$315 / AUD$415 per month for a nice two bed condo.

Expensive Regions

If you have a larger budget for accommodation, check out the Nimmanhaemin area, further south of the city towards Hang Dong, and north of the city towards Mae Rim. Here is where you will find well-furnished, sizeable condos or houses from about ฿15,000 / USD$470 / AUD$620 to ฿30,000 / USD$940 / AUD$1240 per month. The more upmarket houses are in secure moobaans, usually with a sizeable garden.

Amazingly, you can find pockets in the expensive regions where there are quite cheap rooms or apartments available. Also, you can of course find a spanking new condo with all the mod-cons (and a gym and pool) anywhere in or around the city if you are prepared to pay at least ฿20,000 / USD$630 / AUD$830 per month.

Regions Outside Chiang Mai

If you go even further out east towards Doi Saket, Sankamphaeng or Saraphi (about 30-mins drive from the Ping River), then you can get sizeable houses starting at about ฿6,000 / USD$190 / AUD$250 per month or around ฿12,000 / USD$380 / AUD$500 for a detached house with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a garden. You can also find a “hor pak” (a row of self-contained studio rooms) for ฿2,000 / USD$62 / AUD$85 or even less.


Additional Costs Associated With Renting / Accommodation

Assuming you’re wanting to come and live in Chiang Mai for at least a year and not wanting to live as a tourist, you will need to consider some initial expenses.

You’ll usually have to agree to a lease for at least 3 months, usually 6… and to get the cheaper rental rates the lease will usually be for one year. All lease agreements usually require a “security” deposit of one month’s rent, plus the rent in advance. Don’t expect to get the deposit back at the end of your lease. It depends on the owner.

The more commercial residential blocks will usually return your deposit after deducting utilities and cleaning charges. For many private rentals, you’ll often find that there will be exaggerated charges for cleaning or repairs and you’ll be lucky if you get any of your deposit back at all.

Most of the cheaper units are partially furnished – a bed with mattress and a cupboard. That’s it. You will want to buy a fridge, table and chairs for eating, plus cleaning and eating utensils, bedding, etc. etc. So allow approximately ฿20,000 / USD$625 / AUD$830 to purchase additional furniture and cooking / cleaning utensils.

Transportation Costs in Chiang Mai

If you are planning on staying longer term, you will also want to get around independently, without always having to rely on rentals, Grab taxis or songtaews (taxi vans). The best way to do this is to get a Thai driving license and buy a scooter if you’re young and active, or If you’re older and / or prefer to travel about more comfortably (and safely), then buy a car..

If you already have a driving license then you will simply be awarded a Thai driving license. If not then you need to sit in a class (in Thai with English explanations), pass a multiple-choice theory exam and a relatively easy practical driving test. The cost of a Thai Driving License is ฿3,000 / USD$95 / AUD$125.

Note: You will need a separate license for car and motorbike. Most people already have a license to drive a car, but passing the theory and driving test for a motorbike isn’t difficult, just a bit time-consuming.


A relatively essential purchase like a decent second-hand scooter and helmet costs around ฿26,000 / USD$815 / AUD$1075 (possibly a lot less, but you should factor in the cost of initial repairs and replacing of tires, etc.). You can then sell it on quite quickly for around ฿15,000 / USD$470 / AUD$620 or so. So the actual cost of owning a scooter for a year is only about ฿11,000 / USD$345 / AUD$455 plus fuel and maintenance. Just renting a scooter will cost around ฿3,000 / USD$94 / AUD$125 per month.

By the way, please please please make sure you buy a proper, full-face helmet of your own – even if you decide to just rent as you go. Thailand is one of the most dangerous places in the world for motorbike riders. And the tin-hat-style helmets won’t protect you at all. You can get a decent-quality helmet for around ฿800 / USD$25 / AUD$33, but for only ฿1,200 / USD$37 / AUD$50 you can get a good full-face helmet that not only protects your face and teeth, but also keeps the hot sun and blinding rain out of your eyes.

If you don’t wear your helmet for the quick trip down the road to 7-11, or forget to tie up the straps, then you may as well not bother at all. It’s not a matter of if you’ll be in an accident, it’s a matter of when and how serious it’ll be. You can fix a broken leg or shoulder, but you can’t fix a cracked skull! Even a gentle fall onto your head at a mere 30km/h is already quite traumatic. Imagine running head-first, full-tilt into a brick wall, like you’re tackling a rugby / football player. The fastest you can run into a wall by yourself is only about 10km/h. So think of how damaging it will be to do the same at 30km/h or more!


If you’re older and / or prefer to travel about more comfortably (and safely), then buy a car. A used / second-hand car including tax and insurance will cost approximately ฿72,000 / USD$2250 / AUD$3000, and the resale value will be approximately ฿40,000 / USD$1250 / AUD$1650.

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Costs of Utilities

You will have your utility bills and phone and internet plan to pay. If you rent in an apartment block then you are likely to pay about double the electricity rate as you would normally pay if you rented a house. If you have long hot showers or use the aircon a lot, then this will dramatically increase your electricity costs. The electricity costs for aircon are about ฿1000 / USD$32 / AUD$42 per month per unit that you run.

The cost of water is based on what you will use for showering, washing dishes, and your clothes washing machine. Water is relatively cheap and will cost approximately ฿300 / USD$10 / AUD$12.50 per month depending on your water usage. A 20 litre bottle of drinking water delivered directly to your home will cost you approximately ฿30 / USD$1.00 / AUD$1.25 with a ฿90 / USD$3.00 / AUD$3.75 deposit.

Propane gas is the most common form of gas used for cooking on a gas stove in the kitchen if renting a house. A 16kg gas bottle costs about ฿400 / USD$12.50 / AUD$16.50 twice per year.

A mobile phone plan with a 5 GB data plan will cost about ฿700 / USD$22 / AUD$29 per month.

Costs of Food / Dining Out

Food is surprisingly expensive. Although Thai food is cheap, it’s not always quite as healthy and delicious as you may think. You may get tired of street food and want to go sit in an air-conditioned restaurant and pay “tourist” prices for something a bit more substantial, better quality and healthier. And as soon as you go to a Western restaurant and order pizza or steaks, and in particular coffee and dessert, or alcohol, then the costs increase dramatically.

N.B. Most of the cheaper accommodation will not be so conducive to cooking for yourself. In addition, you will need to acquire a cooker, cooking utensils, oil and condiments, etc.). For this reason, most foreigners eat out nearly all the time.

Local Cuisine

As a ballpark figure, if you eat at a local, Thai restaurant (i.e. one that opens directly out onto the street) then the cost of a meal will normally be ฿100 / USD$3.20 / AUD$4.20 per person. But if you go to a slightly more upmarket Thai restaurant, then it tends to average around ฿250 / USD$7.85 / AUD$10.50 -฿300 / USD$9.50 / AUD$12.50 per person.

There are several hotels that provide a substantial Thai / Western buffet lunch, which will only set you back around ฿300 / USD$9.50 / AUD$12.50 which is excellent value. Another alternative is to eat to your heart’s content at a “moogata” (similar to Mongolian barbecue). The quality of food isn’t that great, but it’ll only cost you ฿200 / USD$6.30 / AUD$8.30 per person (plus alcohol). If you have a glass of wine, or coffee and dessert as well, then add another ฿150 / USD$4.70 / AUD$6.20.

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Western Food

If you decide to go to a typically Western (French, Italian, American) or Japanese restaurant then you’ll easily spend around ฿600 / USD$19 / AUD$25 per person, or ฿1000 / USD$32 / AUD$42 with coffee / desert or alcohol. You can of course spend a lot more, as there are plenty of special, haute cuisine restaurants or hotels.


If you go shopping at Rimping (a supermarket chain selling mostly Western or upmarket food) or Big C Extra (used to be Carrefour), the cost of Western products like bread, cheese, cooked meats, pesto sauce, olive oil or vinegar, pasta, nuts, chick peas, couscous, chocolate, cereal, etc. etc. is around 1½ times to double what you’d pay at home for the same products.

Thai / Western Buffet Lunch

Miscellaneous Costs

Don’t forget that there’s always those little (and not-so-little) hidden expenses. Extra batteries, a new phone cover or repairing a cracked screen, SD cards, a new headset for your Zoom calls, an emergency raincoat because you forgot to bring that expensive one you already bought… Fixing a puncture or having to buy a new tire, sun cream or medicine for when you have a touch of food poisoning, or a migraine from the unexpected noise that assails you, etc. etc. These costs could be anywhere from ฿10,000 / USD$315 / AUD$415 (for new phone, iPad repair, fixing your scooter after a minor accident, buying an air-purifier for the smokey season, etc.) to ฿30,000 / USD$940 / AUD$1240 (for dental treatment, a new laptop or tablet, etc.).

Personal Items

A typical, run-of-the-mill Android smartphone costs around ฿4,000 / USD$125 / AUD$165, a decent Windows laptop can be got for around ฿17,000 / USD$530 / AUD$700. Samsung and Apple computer and devices are a bit more expensive than what they might cost back home – but if you order them directly and ship them to yourself in Thailand then it will cost the same, once you add shipping costs, import duty and sales tax.

N.B. You can usually sell some of your items when you decide to leave.

Thai Language Classes

If you’re going to spend more than a few months in Thailand, than you will want to learn Thai. Many Westerners live in a kind of “expat bubble” and only frequent the more upmarket restaurants and coffee shops with English menus. So it’s no wonder that they easily spend double what it might cost if they could get by in Thai. If you have a Thai partner then you may get to experience some of the Thai lifestyle and hidden treasures, but it will usually be the more upmarket venues. (Why would your Thai partner take you to a cheap Thai dive if she/he can enjoy living it up a little at your expense, after all?)

Thai is actually very easy to learn. The trouble is that it’s taught very badly and most teachers or schools will start teaching you to speak Thai using a kind of approximated phonetic transliteration scheme that’s fundamentally flawed. This just makes things even more complicated. It’s better to start to learn to read Thai as soon as you can, even before coming to Thailand. Look up the Rapid Method for a minimalist, Western approach to learning Thai.

Once you can read, you can immediately start to pick up vocabulary directly from your surroundings; and know how to enunciate Thai words accurately. The conventional “phonetic” approach to speaking results in your developing a mangled, Western dialect of Thai that most Thais can’t understand anyway.

The cost of learning to read is ฿10,000 / USD$315 / AUD$415 (so add this to your initial set-up costs) and then you should engage a private Thai tutor (to learn to speak-through-reading), about twice a week. This will cost roughly ฿500 / USD$15.50 / AUD$21 per lesson. So add another ฿2500 / USD$78 / AUD$103 to your monthly budget.

Travel / Holidays Costs

You are in Thailand! An exotic place, far from home. You won’t want to be stuck at home for your entire stay. You will want to travel and explore a bit outside of town, or explore neighbouring towns. Even if you travel cheaply, you’ll still need to pay for daily accommodation (around ฿500 / USD$15.50 / AUD$21 to ฿700 / USD$22 / AUD$29 per day, or around ฿2,000 / USD$63 / AUD$83 if you stay at a resort) and eat out and drink alcohol, coffee and cake!

Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

Visa Costs

Also, don’t forget that you’ll probably need to extend your visa every three months (if you have an ED visa, say) – and that’ll cost an extra ฿2,000 / USD$63 / AUD$83 each time. Before (and after) Covid, you’ll probably also need to do a “visa run” if you came on a tourist visa or visa exemption. That’ll add ฿15,000 USD$470 / AUD$620 to your expenses every three months.

Retirement Visa

As a retiree (anyone over 50 can apply for a retirement visa), you will also need to have a lump sum of ฿800,000 / USD$25,000 / AUD$33,000 deposited permanently in a Thai bank account, or have your official pension or annuity payments (minimum ฿65,000 / USD$2000 / AUD$2700 per month) transferred from overseas into your Thai bank account. There are no shortcuts for this. It’s a substantial amount of money, but it’s the most convenient and worry-free way of living in Thailand.

If you are married to a non-Thai, then one of you (whoever is over 50) can apply for the retirement visa and your spouse can then “follow” you, without the requirement of having separate incomes or two lots of ฿800,000 / USD$25,000 / AUD$33,000. However, in the case of death, the spouse with the “follow” visa must leave Thailand within 7 days and re-enter with a new visa.

If you’re (male and) married to a Thai person or have a Thai child, then the financial requirements are reduced (฿500,000 / USD$15,600 / AUD$20,700 lump sum or a monthly overseas income of ฿40,000 / USD$1250 / AUD$1650). Women in the same situation are exempted, by the way.

Education Visa

Add ฿35,000 / USD$1100 / AUD$1450 if you’re going to sign up at a school to be eligible for a 1-year Education Visa.

Cost of Travel / Medical Insurance

Keep in mind that you should at least have travel insurance to cover you in the case of accidents or illness, so add that in to your monthly or initial costs. (Note that you are usually NOT covered for scuba diving, rafting or rock climbing with most plans – so if you intend to engage in these activities then it will cost more!)

Typically, travel insurance cover within Thailand and SE Asia for a 40-year old will set you back around ฿1,000 USD$31 / AUD$41 to ฿2,000 / USD$62 / AUD$82 per month, depending on the amount of cover and benefits and deductibles, etc. It gets more expensive quite quickly, the older you are. Once you hit 60, it’s about triple the amount for a 40-year-old. And it’s almost impossible to get insurance at age 70 or over.

Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

Medical Care Costs

You are likely to get ill or have to get treated at a clinic or out-patient’s department at some point. If you are prepared to go to a government hospital (you cannot rely on English being spoken so it’s always advisable to go with a bilingual Thai friend) then it won’t cost much. If you don’t have insurance, then allow for at least ฿20,000 / USD$625 / AUD$825 for a serious illness that requires hospitalization; and maybe ฿60,000 / USD$1900 / AUD$2500 if you need an operation (although some operations, like a hernia operation, say, needn’t cost more than about ฿20,000 / USD$625 / AUD$825). An MRI scan will set you back ฿10,000 / USD$315 / AUD$415 each time. An emergency heart operation could cost as much as ฿300,000 / USD$9,400 / AUD$12,400 at a government hospital.

If you want to be treated at a private hospital, then the typical cost is around ฿10,000 / USD$315 / AUD$415 per day. Treatment for a traffic accident might land you in hospital for a week or two. You can easily calculate what it’ll cost you. If you get dengue fever (not uncommon), then you will need to spend one week minimum in hospital. That’s ฿70,000 / USD$2200 / AUD$25900 at one of the top private hospitals (where you always get a private room), but only around ฿3,000 / USD$94 / AUD$124 in a ward in a government hospital. Even if you want a private room, you’d only pay around ฿800 / USD$25 / AUD$33 per day extra in a government hospital… so a total of ฿7,000 / USD$220 / AUD$290 for a week’s stay.

You will also probably want or need to go to the dentist. This won’t usually be covered by travel insurance, but it’s probably worth paying the extra premium for dental treatment. A typical filling will cost you ฿1,000 / USD$31 / AUD$41, but anything that requires a root canal will set you back around ฿20,000 / USD$627 / AUD$825 per tooth, minimum!

Additional Costs Based on Family Situations

Schooling / University Costs for Children

If you’re a couple, then your budget is not quite double that of a single person. But if you have children, then costs can be considerably higher, depending on how important education and schooling is to you. Most private or “international” schools will set you back around ฿200,000 / USD$6,270 / AUD$8,265 p.a. per child. The top international schools, such as PREM, cost around ฿600,000 / USD$18,800 / AUD$24,800.

There’s also a number of strong home-education communities in Chiang Mai, and also a few “unschoolers” or Waldorf schools (but they’re not really conducive environments for most kids, so be wary). Montessori is gaining popularity in Thailand and, in fact, I help manage a Montessori foundation for home schooling families.

For university studies, Payap University has a range of courses in English at around ฿250,000 / USD$7,850 / AUD$10,300 p.a.


If you’re a single person, then you will probably end up in a relationship with a Thai person, so your “entertainment” expenses will rocket. Very likely, you will also find yourself supporting your Thai girlfriend or boyfriend. I provide confidential coaching and advice about this – for a start, even if you are well-off, don’t inform your partner that you have an income much more than, say, ฿60,000 / USD$1900 / AUD$2500 max, and don’t be too lavish in your lifestyle. Also, don’t “sponsor” her (or him) more than ฿10,000 / USD$315 / AUD$415 per month. That’s what they’d earn anyway if they worked full-time at minimum wage. In fact, even ฿6,000 / USD$190 / AUD$250 is usually sufficient as an “allowance” if she/he is living with you as all other living expenses are already covered.

Don’t think that Thai men can take care of themselves financially. If you’re a single, usually older woman, then you will inevitably meet a Thai “boyfriend” (your Grab taxi driver, usually) who will be needing to “borrow” money from you or will make an arrangement to fetch and carry for you – and be happy to sleep with you occasionally and be your companion. (He may very well already be married, btw, but may say that he’s separated and/or still has to take care of his children…) It works both ways, don’t be fooled by what you see or read about older “farang” men and their younger Thai companions!

Care Homes for Those 65 Years +

For those that are a little older (0ver 65 or so), then you may want to consider a completely different option. There are care homes (e.g. Suansawan in Mae Rim) where you can live in a beautiful resort – in your own private chalet – and have all your (Western, restaurant) meals and utility costs covered for a single amount… usually around ฿50,000 / USD$1570 / AUD$2070 per month. You will still want to budget a bit extra for shopping, travelling, alcohol, the occasional gadget or extra clothing. This is an ideal arrangement if you’re worried that you might deteriorate in your old age (particularly the dreaded Alzheimer’s) and need others to keep an eye on you or even take care of you. The care resort can even assign a 24/7 nurse to monitor and assist you, usually for an extra ฿20,000 / USD$625 / AUD$830 (for two nurses).

Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

Overall Monthly Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

Overall Monthly Costs of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand – Budget Lifestyle

Let’s first start with what it would cost for a reasonably comfortable and enjoyable time in Thailand under the following conditions:

  • staying in budget accommodation
  • eating Thai food maybe half the time and only basic Western food for the rest of the time
  • drinking moderately
  • using the aircon sparingly
  • occasionally exploring other parts of Thailand

Most of the cheaper accommodation will not be so conducive to cooking for yourself. In addition, you will need to acquire a cooker, cooking utensils, oil and condiments, etc.). For this reason, most foreigners eat out nearly all the time.

First month’s rent plus Security Deposit (refundable, but not always)12,000 / USD$375 / AUD$500
Additional Furniture & Utensils20,000 / USD$625 / AUD$830
Scooter (used) (resell value ฿15,000) + Tax + Insurance26,000 / USD$815 / AUD$1075
Car (used) (resell value: ฿40,000) + Tax + Insurance72,000 / USD$2250 / AUD$3000
Thai Driving License3,000 / USD$95 / AUD$125
TOTAL SO FAR฿61,000 / USD$1910 / AUD$3030 OR ฿107,000 / USD$3345 / AUD$4955
Rent + Electricity + Water + Internet5,000 / USD$155 / AUD$205  to 8,000 / USD$250 / AUD$330
Mobile Phone Plan with Internet700 / USD$22 / AUD$29
Food (incl. Groceries & Toiletries)12,000 / USD$375 / AUD$500
Entertainment, Eating Out and Getting Around (variable)4,000+ / USD$100 / AUD$115
Travel and Out-of-Town Accommodation (say, 2-3 days per month)5,000+ / USD$155 / AUD$205
Miscellaneous and Contingencies3,000+ / USD$95 / AUD$125


Travel Insurance฿30,000 / USD$950 / AUD$1250 to ฿50,000 / USD$1550 / AUD$2050 
Visa Extensions or Visa Runs (three times, every 3 months)฿6,000 / USD$190 / AUD$250 or ฿45,000 / USD$1400 / AUD$1860

In summary, the cheapest you could probably live (comfortably), either outside town or in the less fashionable parts of the city, without aircon, eating mostly Thai food and occasionally going out to eat a Western-style buffet or a night out on the town, would cost about ฿30,000 / USD$950 / AUD$1250 per month.

Maybe a bit less… but there will always be unexpected costs, so on average, you should make sure you have at least this amount each month.

Overall Monthly Costs of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand – Middle-Class / Western Lifestyle

Here are the monthly costs of living a slightly more middle-class, mid-range Western lifestyle:

Rent + Electricity + Water + Internet14,000 USD$440 / AUD$580
Mobile Phone Plan with Internet1,000 / USD$32 / AUD$42
Food (incl. Groceries & Toiletries)20,000 USD$630 / AUD$830
Entertainment, Eating Out and Getting Around (variable)8,000 USD$250 / AUD$330
Travel and Out-of-Town Accommodation (say, 3-4 days per month)10,000 / USD$315 / AUD$415
Miscellaneous and Contingencies5,000 / USD$155 / AUD$205


Travel Insurance฿30,000 / USD$950 / AUD$1250 to ฿50,000 / USD$1550 / AUD$2050 
Visa Extensions or Visa Runs (three times, every 3 months)฿6,000 / USD$190 / AUD$250 or ฿45,000 / USD$1400 / AUD$1860

This gives a total cost of approximately฿58,000 / USD$1815 / AUD$2400 a month living a very comfortable middle-class Western lifestyle.

N.B. More detailed costings can be found under the relevant headings above to further assist you to ascertain your ‘real cost’ per month.

<<<Author Bio>>>

Gary Orman has lived in Thailand for seventeen years… Bangkok for seven years and Chiang Mai for ten years. His business Thailand Mentor provides Skype consultancy services and coaching to advise expats on the best way to navigate Thai culture and avoid the hidden landmines in Thailand.


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