If this were a tell-all book then this would be the point where you gasp in shock and awe – she’s going to lay it all out on the line for what it costs to live as an expat in Thailand? Really and truly?

 Okay, perhaps it’s not quite that exciting, but, even my mother last week on the telephone couldn’t help but dig for the nitty-gritty details on how much I pay to live in Thailand. As a traveler, I’ve always heard that it’s so incredibly cheap to expat yourself in the developing world–and it’s true, it’s cheap! I’ve paid rent in both Orlando and Los Angeles, and my Thailand living costs have averaged at least one third of my previous living expenses. Let’s first look at the hard costs, then I’ll go into what each element translates into in terms of what I get for that price! (All prices in USD). At the end of this post I share a huge list of resources for getting started in Chiang Mai — either visiting or living.

Total Cost for a Month Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

These are my baseline costs – or rather more fixed monthly expenses. Not included in this price are the visa runs you’ll need if you’re on a tourist visa. Even with the double entry visa, border runs are necessary every 60/90-ish days. The border runs add to the spice of living here though! Chiang Mai is a great launching point to other areas in Asia for in-depth explorations of Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and other quick flights and bus rides around Southeast Asia. Factor in a quick one-day border run costs about 1300 baht (700b transportation to the border and 500b for a short-term Burmese visa). The international flights bracketing my stay in Thailand were roughly $800 each way, so factor that into my “fixed” costs as well.

Then you have the cost of just unexpected life. I’ve had some medical check-ups, my computer cord broke and had to be replaced, toiletries and that type of thing. My medical expenses are under $100 for women checkups and basic bloodwork and I pay that at Thai hospitals and out of my pocket (and I pay about US$600 per year for annual travel insurance with emergency). These occasional and personal expenses are not included, just the base-line rock bottom costs. Smile

**Alternatively, before you get too far into what this buys, consider that my friends also living here shared their Chiang Mai cost of living for two people living a bit more luxuriously than my budget. They spent under $1500 per month (jointly) and had a beautiful apartment and full kitchen, and also don’t party/drink too much. So, what the heck do I get for that much money? Glad you asked. Now we’ll take a look at the value for living there and what precisely I buy Laughing

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