Cost of Living in Thailand: How Much Do You Need to Live in Thailand as a Digital Nomad?

Thailand has become a top destination for digital nomads and remote workers looking to live in an exotic locale with a low cost of living. With lush beaches, mountains, jungles, and bustling cities, Thailand offers a wide range of experiences for every type of digital nomad

From the digital hub of Chiang Mai to the party island of Koh Phangan to the urban luxury of Bangkok, Thailand caters to remote workers seeking a balanced lifestyle and living abroad. 

This comprehensive guide for expats in Thailand breaks down everything you need to know about the cost of living and tips to help you be on a budget.

A woman kayaking in Thailand

Why Digital Nomads Want to Move to Thailand?

Thailand has long been a favorite destination for backpackers and budget travelers due to its affordability. But in recent years, the country has also earned a reputation as a paradise for digital nomads

Here’s why so many remote workers and entrepreneurs are flocking to Thailand to live and work:

Low Cost of Living: You can easily live on $1,000-$1,500 per month in most parts of Thailand. Housing and food are very affordable.

– Modern Conveniences: Thailand offers reliable internet, co-working spaces, and modern amenities even in more rural areas.

– Tropical Weather: With temperatures averaging 75-90°F (24-32°C) year-round, you won’t have to suffer through harsh winters as you would elsewhere in Asia.

– Laidback Lifestyle: Thai culture moves at a slower pace and encourages a healthy work-life balance. It’s easy to avoid burnout here.

– Delicious Food: Thai cuisine is universally adored for its bright, bold flavors. Street food and restaurants are also very inexpensive. 

– Thriving Expat Community: There are established digital nomad communities in cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

– Outdoor Adventure: With lush jungles, mountains, and tropical beaches, Thailand is a nature lover’s playground.

Cost of Living in Thailand Overview

The cost of living in Thailand is highly affordable for Western expats and digital nomads. According to Numbeo, Thailand is over 60% cheaper than the United States overall.

While costs vary between rural and touristy areas, most travelers can comfortably get by on a budget of $1,000 – $1,500 per month. This covers all your basic needs including housing, food, transport, and entertainment. 

The major expenses you’ll encounter are:

– Housing: For a modern 1-bedroom you’ll pay $200 – $600 per month depending on the location. Beach areas cost more.

– Food: Eating out at local restaurants and street food can cost as little as $3 – $5 per meal. Western food costs more. 

– Coworking Space: Expect to pay $100 – $300 for full membership.

– Transport: Public transport is very cheap. Taxis and motorbike rentals are affordable.

– Utilities: Electricity, mobile data, etc will cost around $75 per month.

– Entertainment: Going out for drinks and activities can cost $100+ per month or more if you indulge.

Many remote workers and entrepreneurs manage to spend less than $1,000 per month by being smart with their choices. And it’s possible to splurge on luxuries and spend $2,000+ per month if desired.

Visa Costs for Digital Nomads in Thailand

If you’re gearing up to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle in the Land of Smiles, you’re probably wondering about the visa options. Thailand, being the ever-popular destination for expats and digital nomads, offers a variety of visa options to suit different needs.

  • Tourist Visa: Costs vary depending on your country and the type of visa. On average, it’s around $40 for a single-entry visa.
  • Digital Nomad Visa (LTR): The cost is approximately $1,475.
  • Smart-S Visa: The government fee is 10,000 baht (about $300). However, there might be additional costs depending on your business setup and requirements.
  • Education Visa: The cost can vary based on the institution and course duration, but on average, it’s around 30,000 to 50,000 baht ($900 to $1,500) per year.
  • Muay Thai Visa: A tourist visa is approximately 1,000 THB ($30) and the conversion fee to a Muay Thai visa is around 2,000 THB ($59), excluding any additional fees the gym might charge (membership, training, coach, etc.).

Popular Destinations for Digital Nomads and Living Expenses Comparison

Thailand offers spectacular natural scenery and modern conveniences even in the most rural areas. Many smaller towns are now catering to digital nomads, but these destinations have the most established communities:

  • Chiang Mai – The digital nomad capital of Thailand! A great mix of city living and nature. 
  • Bangkok – For those who prefer a bustling megacity. Skyscrapers, shopping malls, and nightlife.
  • Phuket – Thailand’s largest island offers gorgeous beaches alongside amenities. More expensive than in other areas.
  • Pai – Laidback hippie retreat surrounded by jungle scenery and waterfalls.
  • Koh Phangan -Famous for the Full Moon Party. Active expat community in the north part of the island.
  • Koh Samui – Upscale island with a more mature crowd compared to rowdy Koh Phangan. 
  • Koh Lanta – Chilled-out island vibes without the party scene. Great for budget-conscious beach dwellers.
Wat Arun Bangkok
Source: Southeastasia.explores

Cost of Living in Bangkok  

As the bustling capital city of Thailand, Bangkok offers a vibrant urban scene with plenty of amenities and entertainment. The overall cost of living in Bangkok hovers around $1,100 per month for a moderate lifestyle.

Housing Costs in Bangkok

Housing eats up the biggest chunk of change for digital nomads in Bangkok. Although you could opt for a basic apartment on the outskirts of town for $300 per month, most digital nomads will want to be based centrally.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for housing:

  • Basic studio apartment outside of center: $250 – $400  
  • Modern 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: $500 – $800
  • Luxury 1-2 bedroom city center apartment: $1,000+

Many digital nomads choose short-term stays via Airbnb during their first month in Bangkok while apartment hunting. 

Aim for central neighborhoods like Sukhumvit, Silom, Sathorn, Ari, Thong Lor, and Asok when looking for housing to have walkable access to cafes, malls, and nightlife.

Co-working Spaces in Bangkok

Bangkok now has an ever-growing list of coworking spaces catering to digital nomads and remote workers.

Some popular options include: 

  • Common Ground Bangkok: Sleek space with a fitness studio, cafe, and events. Hot desks from $150 per month.
  • The Work Loft: Quiet space with private work pods. Hot desks from $110 per month. 
  • The Hive Bangkok: Vibrant, artistic space with a meditation room and cafe. Hot desks from $150 per month.

Many luxury condos also have their own stylish coworking spaces for residents, so check when viewing apartments.

Food Costs in Bangkok 

You’ll eat like royalty on a budget in Bangkok. Street food and restaurants are highly affordable, while upscale eateries and bars can quickly increase costs.

Expect to spend:

  • Street food meals: $1 – $3
  • Local Thai food restaurant meals: $2 – $5 
  • Western restaurant meals: $5+
  • Markets and night markets: $2 – $4 per meal

Cooking at home can save you money, but many find dining out in Bangkok too tempting to resist. Budget $10 per day minimum for food if cooking half your meals, and $15+ if eating out for all meals and the occasional upscale restaurant.

Transport Costs in Bangkok

Navigating Bangkok is a breeze thanks to the BTS Skytrain, MRT subway system, and major expressways.

Typical transport expenses include:

  • BTS/MRT pass: $20 – $40 per month
  • Taxis: $0.50 – $2 per ride using a meter 
  • Grab/Uber: $1 – $5 per ride
  • Motorbike rental: $100+ per month
  • Tuk-tuks: Depends on the negotiations

Many tourists buy single-ride tickets, but a monthly pass saves you money if using transit daily. Grab and standard taxis are very affordable ways to get around. Traffic makes driving a car frustrating, so transit or two wheels are best.

Entertainment Costs in Bangkok

It’s easy to let entertainment costs get out of hand in Bangkok and can be much more expensive than in other cities, especially in the nightlife category. 

Some typical entertainment costs:

  • Movie ticket: $5
  • Craft beer at a bar: $3 – $5
  • Cocktail at a club: $10+ 
  • Massage: $6+ per hour
  • Gym membership: $30+ per month  
  • Cooking class: $30+ 

It’s easy to spend $100+ per month enjoying Bangkok’s amenities. But you can also opt for free activities like walking around Lumpini Park, people-watching at malls, enjoying live music in the park, living like a local and enjoying time at home, and availing the city’s free yoga and dance classes.

A shop by the street in Chiang Mai

Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

Nestled among verdant mountains and jungle in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai offers a laidback lifestyle and is Thailand’s top digital nomad hub. Expenses here are around 20-30% cheaper than in Bangkok.

The overall cost of living for digital nomads in Chiang Mai falls around $800 – $1,100 on average. Housing is much cheaper, but the lack of extensive public transit makes transportation costs higher. Here’s a closer look at living costs in charming Chiang Mai.

Housing Costs in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai offers many budget-friendly housing options outside of the touristy old town. Expect to pay:

  • Dorm bed or hostels: $150 – $300 per month
  • Shared house with room: $200 – $400 
  • Studio apartment: $200 – $500 
  • 1 bedroom apartment: $300 – $600
  • 2 bedroom apartment: $400 – $800
  • House rental: $500+

Prices rise the closer you are to the city center and riverside, but even expensive central apartments max out around $1,000 per month.

Coworking Spaces in Chiang Mai

With digital nomad numbers booming in Chiang Mai, so have the options for coworking spaces for remote work:

  • Punspace: Beautiful cheery space. Hot desks from $90 per month.
  • ONE Workspace: Cozy and comfortable coworking space in Chiang Mai. Hot desks from $80 per month. 
  • Yellow Coworking Space: Premium shared office space in the heart of Chiang Mai. Hot desks from $90 per month.

Most digital nomads in Chiang Mai opt for coworking to foster community. But many coffee shops also offer reliable WiFi for digital nomads on a budget.

Food Costs in Chiang Mai

It’s easy to eat well on $5 – $10 a day in Chiang Mai if you stick to local cuisine. Western food costs more.  

  • Street food and food stalls: $1 – $3 per meal 
  • Local restaurant: $2 – $4 per meal
  • Western restaurant: $5+ per meal
  • Smoothies: $1 – $2
  • Craft beer: $2.50 – $3.50 per glass

Grocery shop at local markets for the lowest prices. Overall expect to spend $200 – $400 per month on food unless cooking daily.

Transport Costs in Chiang Mai  

You’ll want to budget more for transportation in Chiang Mai than in Bangkok since public transit is limited:

  • Songthaews (Red truck): $0.30 – $1 per ride 
  • Grab: $1 – $5 per ride
  • Motorbike rental: $60+ per month 
  • Bicycle rental: $20+ per month

Digital nomads in Chiang Mai usually rent a motorbike for long term. This provides the freedom to explore waterfalls and temples outside the city. Grab and Uber are affordable for nights out.

Entertainment Costs in Chiang Mai

There are fewer flashy clubs and bars than in Bangkok, but still plenty of ways to have fun:

  • Movie ticket: $4 
  • Massage: $5+ per hour  
  • Cooking class: $30+
  • Gym membership: $20 – $30 per month 
  • Bicycle tour: $40+ 
  • Dance class: $5
  • Live music: Often free in bars 

Nature lovers can also enjoy dozens of waterfalls and hikes around Chiang Mai very affordably. Nightlife is much more chilled out than Bangkok.

Koh Phangan full moon party

Cost of Living on Koh Phangan  

Koh Phangan has long attracted backpackers for its famous Full Moon Parties. But the island also has a growing community of digital nomads drawn by the beautiful beaches and laidback vibe. 

Here’s what to expect for costs on Koh Phangan:

Housing Costs on Koh Phangan

There are affordable options right on the beach on Koh Phangan. Housing costs:

  • Shared dorm room: $80 – $120 per month
  • Shared house: $150 – $300 per month
  • Simple bungalow: $200 – $400 per month  
  • Studio apartment: $300 – $600 
  • 1 bedroom apartment: $400 – $800

If you want a sea view and beachfront living then budget more. The west side of the island is far cheaper than the bars and clubs in Haad Rin.

Coworking Spaces on Koh Phangan

Dedicated coworking spaces have yet to pop up on the island, but many accommodation options have coworking lounges. Expect unreliable internet at the cheaper places.  

There are also ample cafes to work from along the beach in towns like Mae Haad and Srithanu. Or just be prepared to work from your bungalow or the beach!

Food Costs on Koh Phangan  

While beachfront dining is pricey, street food and local restaurants remain budget-friendly. Expect to spend:

  • Local Thai meal: $3 – $6
  • Western meal: $6+
  • Pizza or burger: $5+
  • Smoothie bowl: $5 
  • Beer: $2+
  • Restaurant dinner with drinks: $15+

Cooking yourself cuts costs considerably. A barebones food budget is around $150 per month if cooking often and not indulging in Western fare.

Transport Costs on Koh Phangan

Most digital nomads rent a motorbike on Koh Phangan for around $50 – $100 per month. Other transport options include:

  • Taxi: $10+ per ride  
  • Songthaew shared taxi: $1 – $5 per ride
  • Longtail boat: $30+ between beaches

Taxis are very limited and pricey. Be prepared to get stranded late at night when partying in Haad Rin; always take your motorbike.

Entertainment Costs on Koh Phangan

Known for epic full moon raves, the island offers a lively nightlife. But you can party as much or as little as desired:

  • Big night out: $50+ 
  • Grab some beers: $5 – $10 
  • Yoga class: $8 – $15
  • Massage: $6+ per hour
  • Live music: Often free at beach bars

Aside from partying, enjoy low-key fun like beach cricket, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking to waterfalls, and floating around lazy lagoons.

Sunset from the beach in Phuket

Cost of Living in Phuket  

Phuket remains one of Thailand’s most popular vacation destinations. The island offers the best nightlife and amenities outside of Bangkok but for a higher cost.

Here’s a realistic budget for living in Phuket:

Housing Costs in Phuket

Phuket is Thailand’s most expensive island to live on, but cheaper options exist away from the resort towns. Expect to pay:

  • Dorm bed: $150 – $250 per month  
  • Shared house: $200 – $400 per month
  • Simple apartment: $300 – $600 
  • Standard 1 bedroom condo: $400 – $800  
  • Upscale 1 bedroom condo: $800 – $1,500+

If you want a sea view, pool, and facilities then budget more for housing costs. Opt for a condo in the off-season to negotiate better rates.

Coworking Spaces in Phuket  

Phuket has started to see more dedicated coworking spaces spring up to cater to digital nomads:

– Let’s Work: Comfortable seats, excellent coffee, weekly business & social events Hot desks from $130 per month. 

– Grind Time: Nice and clean coworking space with table tennis table, pool table, and VR glasses. Hot desks from $80 per month.

There are also numerous cafes with WiFi throughout the island suitable for working.

Food Costs in Phuket

Phuket has higher prices for both local and Western cuisine than elsewhere in Thailand. Expect to pay:

  • Local food stall meal: $3 – $6 
  • Thai restaurant meal: $4 – $8
  • Western restaurant meal: $8+
  • Pizza or burger: $6+
  • Coffee: $2+ 
  • Beer at a bar: $3+

Budget at least $300 per month eating out frequently at local joints. Enjoying Western cuisine and restaurants will increase food costs quickly. 

Transport Costs in Phuket

Private transport is the easiest way to get around Phuket. Options include:

  • Motorbike Rental: $60+ per month
  • Grab/Taxi: $10+ per ride
  • Songthaew: $1 – $2 per ride
  • Bus: $1+ per ride

Renting a motorbike provides the freedom to visit Phuket’s many paradise beaches like Surin, Nai Yang, and Mai Khao. Taxis and Grab are quite limited outside of the main towns.

Entertainment Costs in Phuket  

Phuket offers abundant nightlife, beach clubs, and activities:  

  • Night out at a beach club: $50+
  • Evening at a pub: $10 – $30
  • Gym membership: $30+ per month  
  • Yoga: $8 – $15 per class
  • Scuba diving: $30+ 
  • Cabaret show: $25+
Woman picnic on the beach
Source: Thailand.explores

Typical Cost of Living Per Month

To give you a better idea of a realistic budget, here are typical costs for digital nomads in the popular locations of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket:

Bangkok

  • Rent: $500 – $800 for a 1-bedroom apartment
  • Coworking space: $150 – $250
  • Utilities: $75
  • Internet: $20
  • Food: $400
  • Transportation: $50 – $100
  • Entertainment: $150

Total: $1,100 – $1,600 per month

Chiang Mai

  • Rent: $300 – $500 for a 1-bedroom apartment or houseshare
  • Coworking space: $100 – $150
  • Utilities: $50
  • Internet: $20
  • Food: $300
  • Transportation: $100 – $150
  • Entertainment: $100

Total: $800 – $1,200 per month

Phuket

  • Rent: $500 – $800 for 1-bedroom apartment
  • Coworking space: $150 – $200
  • Utilities: $100
  • Internet: $20
  • Food: $400
  • Transportation: $100 – $150
  • Entertainment: $200

Total: $1,100 – $1,600 per month

As you can see, outside of housing costs, expenses for things like food, activities, and transport don’t fluctuate dramatically between areas. Bangkok is the most expensive for amenities while more rural areas are cheaper.

Tips for Saving Money as a Digital Nomad

Managing finances while hopping from one place to another can be a tad tricky. But don’t fret! Here are some friendly tips to help you keep those bahts in check:

Online Banking is Your Best Friend: Gone are the days of visiting brick-and-mortar banks. With a smartphone in hand, you can manage your finances from anywhere in the world. Opt for digital banking solutions that offer low exchange fees, especially for transactions in foreign countries. 

Budgeting is Key: You need to know where your money is going. List down your essentials like accommodation, transportation, visa fees, and, of course, those delicious Thai dishes. 

Work a Little Extra: The beauty of being a digital nomad is the flexibility. If you find that you’re running a bit low on funds, take up an extra gig or two. Websites like Upwork or Fiverr can be goldmines for short-term projects or start your career as an English teacher in Thai schools

Stay Updated: The digital nomad lifestyle is ever-evolving. Join online communities, attend local meetups, and always be on the lookout for tips and tricks from fellow nomads. 

Safety First: While Thailand is generally safe, it’s always good to be cautious. Keep your finances secure, be wary of scams, and rules, and always have a backup plan.

Enjoy the Journey: Lastly, remember to enjoy every moment. While it’s essential to manage your finances, don’t forget to soak in the beauty, culture, and experiences that Thailand offers.

Final Thoughts

Thailand offers an ideal blend of stunning natural beauty, modern conveniences, and affordability for today’s digital nomads. With the ability to live comfortably on $1,000 – $1,500 in most parts of the country, it’s easy to make a life here without breaking the bank.

Do your research to pick the right spot that suits your priorities. For city life and amenities, consider Bangkok or Phuket. To get more value on housing, check out Chiang Mai. Or live out your island dreams on Koh Phangan. With a little planning, Thailand can be your paradise for working remotely.

FAQ: Cost to Live in Thailand

How much does it cost to live in Bangkok per month as a digital nomad?

Living in Bangkok as a digital nomad can be quite affordable compared to many Western cities. On average, a digital nomad might spend anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 per month, encompassing rent, food, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses. 

Is Chiang Mai cheaper than Bangkok for digital nomads?

Yes, Chiang Mai is generally more affordable than Bangkok for digital nomads. While both cities offer a range of options catering to different budgets, Chiang Mai’s cost of living is lower, especially when it comes to rent and local food. 

Are there any coworking spaces specifically for digital nomads in Thailand?

Absolutely! Thailand, especially cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, boasts numerous coworking spaces catering to the needs of digital nomads. These spaces offer high-speed internet, comfortable working environments, and opportunities for networking.

How does the cost of street food in Thailand compare to dining in restaurants?

Street food in Thailand is not only delicious but also incredibly affordable. You can enjoy a hearty meal for as little as $1-$3. In contrast, dining in mid-range restaurants might cost you anywhere from $5-$15, depending on the location and cuisine. While street food offers a genuine taste of local flavors, restaurants provide a broader range of options, including international dishes.

Are there any communities or groups for digital nomads in Thailand?

Certainly! There are several communities and groups dedicated to digital nomads in Thailand. One notable group is the “Digital Nomads Thailand” on Facebook, which has over 18.9K members. This group is all about the digital nomad life in Thailand, offering news, updates, and networking opportunities. Joining such communities can be a great way to connect, share experiences, and make new friends.

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