- Download our Moving to Bangkok Guide (PDF)
Famous for its vibrant street life, cultural landmarks and red-light districts, Bangkok is Thailand’s only cosmopolitan city among small towns and villages. While the general cost of living in Thailand is sensible, the cost of living in Bangkok can be expensive depending on how expats choose to live.
The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living survey ranked Bangkok as the 105th most expensive city for expats out of the 227 cities surveyed. Fortunately, expats working in Bangkok earn high salaries and can enjoy an excellent quality of life while building a solid nest egg.
Cost of accommodation in Bangkok
As is the case in most major cities, the closer to the centre one lives, the more expensive accommodation will be. Bangkok is well known for its traffic jams, so commuting may not be an attractive option for many. Owing to this, most expats live in serviced apartments in the city centre and the areas and suburbs close to public transport hubs. These typically come with cleaning services and sought-after amenities, such as gyms and swimming pools.
Non-serviced apartments are also available at more reasonable rates. Expat families generally live in Western-style suburban gated communities on the outskirts of Bangkok, but this option is significantly pricier. Expats will also need to account for utilities, which can add up quickly due to Bangkok’s hot weather and the need for air conditioning.
Cost of transport in Bangkok
Bangkok boasts an efficient and extensive public transport infrastructure. Expats will have access to the BTS Skytrain and MRT at fairly reasonable prices. Expats may also purchase the reloadable Rabbit card to reduce their commuting expenses. Taxis are abundant and are a cost-effective way to get around Bangkok.
Expats who can brave Bangkok’s congestion and erratic driving can save by hiring or purchasing a motorbike. Those looking for a more adventurous mode of transport should look no further than the tuk-tuks and songthaews. That said, tuk-tuks can be quite steeply priced as they are mainly geared towards tourists.
Cost of groceries in Bangkok
The cost of groceries in Bangkok will largely depend on an expat's individual preferences. Expats who opt to buy imported Western brands will have to shell out quite handsomely for them, while those who go for local products will have a fairly low grocery bill. It can also be quite cheap for single expats to buy street food rather than buying groceries monthly.
Expats who have some money to spare can visit shops such as Gourmet Market and Villa Market, which sell high-quality and speciality fresh produce, cheeses and wines. Tesco Lotus and Tops Market offer a wide range of groceries at more reasonable prices.
Cost of eating out and entertainment in Bangkok
Bangkok is a foodie’s paradise, with an abundance of street food markets and fine dining restaurants. The Thai capital is most famous for incredibly cheap and tasty street fare. Still, expats yearning for a taste of home will be catered for with more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants serving cuisine from around the world at a slightly higher but still largely affordable cost.
Thanks to Bangkok’s three red-light districts, revellers will not be disappointed in the city’s nightlife and lifestyle options. Expats can find everything from budget bars to high-end clubs offering pricier drinks and entrance fees.
Cost of healthcare in Bangkok
Bangkok, and Thailand as a whole, boast modern and relatively affordable healthcare services. As such, medical tourism has become one of the biggest industries in the country. Expats who are legally working in Bangkok can access the public healthcare system using the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS). The quality of care at public healthcare facilities is generally adequate, but can vary throughout the city.
Expats who can afford it typically purchase private health insurance to access private hospitals and specialists while avoiding long waiting times. This option is still relatively cheap in Bangkok but can vary depending on coverage level, age and health status.
Cost of education in Bangkok
Thailand, and Bangkok in particular, boasts an exceptional public education system. The only downsides are that public schooling is not free for expat children, and the language of instruction is Thai. For that reason, most expat parents send their children to expensive international schools. Some expats may be lucky enough to have this cost included as part of their relocation package, those who don’t will need to budget carefully.
Cost of living in Bangkok chart
Prices vary depending on the product and service provider. These are the average costs for Bangkok in September 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)
|One-bedroom apartment in city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment in city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of bread (white)
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average for a standard household)
|Eating out and entertainment
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Local beer (500ml)
|Taxi rate per km
|City-centre train fare
|Petrol (per litre)
►For more advice on financial matters in the country, check out Banking, Money and Taxes in Thailand
What do expats say about living costs in Bangkok?
"The cost of living in Thailand is way cheaper than in France. Even though Bangkok has become significantly more expensive over the years, it’s still cheap compared to other countries. The prices for food, accommodation and utilities have risen quite a bit lately, but in my case, it’s still a lower percentage of my income than it would have been if I was living in France. The only things that feel more expensive in Thailand are going out, alcoholic drinks, festivals, concerts and some activities." Read more from Matt, a French expat living in Bangkok.
"Bangkok is an expensive city these days, but if you know how the system works and don’t demand Western comforts, you can still live pretty cheaply. Things like cheese and booze are expensive no matter where you go." Read our interview with Canadian expat Greg to learn more about life in Bangkok.
Are you an expat living in Bangkok?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bangkok. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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