Tee and I have been living in Chiang Mai on and off since the end of September. Here is a little peak into our cost of living in Chiang Mai.
|Our new place is very open, empty and full of natural light.|
Rent: 3,500 baht/month ($106)
We currently stay in a 3rd floor room in a guesthouse about 5 minutes south of the old city. It has a small balcony, air-con, a wet bathroom, free cable and we pay an additional 100-150 baht/month for electricity. There are inexpensive places in the old city as well. Previously we rented a room in the southeast corner of the old city for 2,500 baht/month. It was much smaller, but had fast wifi for an extra 100 baht/ month. Guesthouse rooms do not have kitchens so we do not cook at all. No grocery shopping, no cooking, no dishes, darn!
Tip: Many local guesthouse owners do not speak English so learn what a “for rent” sign looks like in Thai and take a Thai speaking friend with you to help with the important details. Places geared towards westerners are often 3-4x more expensive and don’t offer much more than a “dry” bathroom.
|We eat noodle soup at least once a day.|
Food: 6500-9800 baht/month($200-300)
Thai food will cost you about 30-50 baht/meal ($0.90-1.50). Western food will start around 90 baht ($2.75). We generally eat Thai food, lots of noodles and rice, but will splurge on croissants, dim sum or western food a couple times a week.
Tip: For the best Thai food, follow the locals. This has worked for me since day one.
|Rambutan, langsat, and mangosteen.|
Fruit: 900 baht/month ($27)
When I first arrived in Thailand mangosteens, rambutans and longans were in season. Each morning I would go to the market, buy a kilo of fruit and stuff my face. Well, I hurt my stomach with this regime so I had to slow down my consumption. There are still plenty of bananas and citrus in the market, but the novelty has worn off a bit and all my favorites are out of season.
Tip: Buy fruit that is in season. For example, mangosteens in season 30 baht/kilo ($.90), out of season 120 baht/kilo.
|My first week in Chiang Mai, I got a massage every day.|
Massage: 1600 baht/month ($49)
We usually go for massages once a week and generally pay between 180-200 baht for a 1 hour Thai massage. There is a temple in the old city that offers great massages for just 120 ($3.65) baht.
Tip: Go early in the day. Masseuse’s work long hours and you are more likely to get a less energetic massage later in the day.
|Alas, the hedgehog was not helmet compatible.|
Haircut: 120 baht/month ($3.60)
Tee and I, though we go to separate places, get our hair cut for just 60 baht. The woman who cuts my hair is very nice and trims my crazy eyebrows for me too.
Tip: Once again, follow the locals as a western salon will easily cost 10x more.
|Motorbikes are a very popular and inexpensive mode of transportation.|
Petrol: 200 baht/month ($6)
Tee owns a motorbike so our only expense is fuel and repairs. The government just lowered the price of petrol so we pay about $1 a liter, which lasts close to a week.
Tip: Walk as much as possible, it’ll save money and help improve the horrid air quality in Chiang Mai.
|Never has my laundry been folded so nicely.|
Laundry: 400-600 baht/month ($12-18)
We drop off our laundry once a week and it come back smelling fresh, even though it is air dried on the side of a busy street, and folded. I really get a kick out of putting away my little pile of folded underwear.
Tip: Drop off your laundry early if you want it back the same day.
|My 3 year old Samsung Galaxy is hanging in there mostly thanks to the ballistics case I wisely invested in.|
Cell phone: who knows?
I just had my cell phone unlocked (500 baht) and got a Thai SIM card. The $5 that I loaded onto the SIM card has lasted for several weeks though it helps that only about 5 people have my number.
Tip: Get an unlock code from you cell phone company before leaving the states. This is often only possible if you are out of contract. I did this, but for some reason it didn’t work.
|Luckily my laptop survived a flood and my camera survived a mud bath.|
This is not at all a comprehensive list of our expenses because there are many unknown/irregular expenses each month: motor bike repairs, toiletries, birthdays, weddings, traveling, visa runs, impulse purchases at the night market, excessive fruit consumption, SIM card refill, mailing goodies home for the family, books, smoothies, etc.