Living in Thailand…What It Costs

I wish I could have made the title longer…more like “Living in a beach town in Thailand and what it costs” – or – “Living at a resort in a beach town in Pattaya, Thailand, and what it costs” because just saying THAILAND isn’t quite suitable. Certainly, remote towns away from tourist areas are going to be cheaper. Living in Bangkok is a tad more expensive, as it is both touristic and commercial, and a CITY. But, we live in Pattaya. Pattaya is a touristy beach town, full of ex-pats and backpackers, families on holiday from Japan and Russia and Australia. It is bustling and yet laid back…no one gets in too much of a hurry about anything at all.

It’s fantastic.

Here in the States, Rusty and I tend to spend quite a lot on food. My guesstimate, including meals out and groceries combined, is $1500 a month when it is just the two of us, and $2000 a month when Seven is here. He works late hours, so making dinner is awkward because he tends to leave for work around 6 or 7. So, we found ourselves in the habit of going out midday to late lunches. To be honest, we would sort of snack around the house, and only eat a true meal once a day. I know that’s unhealthy – and we WERE. We ate too many processed foods, like the majority of other Americans. It’s what we are all used to, whether we realize it or not. Living in Pattaya has opened our eyes in ways you can’t imagine.

So, $2000 a month for the three of us in America, or an average of $500 a week once you add in taxes and tips.

That’s a LOT of money, y’all.

While we were in Thailand, we ate differently. We had three meals a day typically, with a snack of fruit each day. There were some days we shared a few Oreos or chips, but we were very cautious about what we ate. We had a meal out at least once per day, whether it be breakfast at our favorite German bakery (not cheap by Thai prices), a “fancy” Italian dinner at a little Taberna about a mile from our apartment (also more expensive), or, a late dinner in the middle of the Night Market. Lunches we ate well, but in the condo – chicken, rice, and fruit, or ramen that we purchased as Take-Away from the Night Market. Breakfasts were cereal or fruit…nothing too heavy as we were always on the way to the pools and no one wants a full belly in the pool!

What did we spend?

Well, Rusty kept track of every baht. We have to! Now that we have given up our jobs for the most part, keeping track of a budget is a lot more important. I love how it’s changed us – we are very keen not to buy more than we know we will eat, and we are careful not to let anything go to waste. We cleaned our plates – even Seven – because we knew the neighbors across the wall would love to have what we had. So, no wasting. I was proud of that.

Not including the meals we had in the airport on the trip over and back, we spent the following on meals:

  • Breakfasts at Back Fabrik (the German Bakery) – 4 at $19 each – $76
  • Jomtien Night Market Dinner – $5
  • Groceries – $102
  • Favorite Italian Taberna – 2 at $30 each – $60
  • Salotto Dinner (Italian on Beach) – $27
  • Lunch in Pattaya at fancy beach bakery – $35
  • Lunch at Big C – $5
  • Lunch at KISS – $11
  • Lunch in Pattaya at Pizza Company – $22
  • Rompho Night Market Dinners – 2 nights – $13
  • Night Market Take Away Meals – $22
  • Rompho Vegetable/Fruit Market – $11
  • Ice Cream – 3 times – $12
  • Fresh Fruit Smoothies (that were not part of our meals)- $2

TOTAL FOOD for 16 days = $403 (about $25 a day)

Keep in mind, we were eating WELL. We had incredible dinners and breakfasts out. The Italian place we loved? A similar restaurant with similar décor and menu here in Texas (not even in a beach town just a few yards from the ocean) we calculated would have been $90 easily with taxes and tip for the three of us. We paid $30.

Another thing we indulged in were massages. Whether it be foot massages (they end with a few minutes of shoulder/neck/head massage), or full body, the average price per HOUR is $6.

Not a typo.

$6.00 per hour. If you want aloe vera, it’s more. Or some special oil, it’s a little more. But normally it’s $6.

We had 10 hours of massages EACH over the time we were there, and with tips, we paid $150. For 20 hours of massages.

The only other thing we spent money on (apart from furnishing our apartment, but that’s another post!) were taxis to get around town on occasion. We walked almost everywhere, but on days we needed to go to the main part of town, we took a ride. That was about $76. Taxis are not cheap. Or, if they are, and we were supposed to negotiate, well, we just didn’t.

So, total spend for a 16 day trip to Pattaya, including all the great food, the taxis, and TWENTY hours of massage – $629. That’s for three people.

Can you imagine trying to take your little family to any beach town here in the U.S., and only spend $400 on food for even just a week? It isn’t going to happen. Or, go get an hour long couples massage…ANYWHERE. You’re looking at $150 at least, with tip. We pay $12.

The quality of life we are enjoying in Pattaya, for the amount of money we are spending is outstanding. It’s changed us – now that we are back here in Texas, we are having a hard time buying things. We get depressed going out to eat, knowing it’s just money we don’t need to spend. How can three short weeks in Pattaya change us SO much? I don’t know, but it has. We all miss the mile long walks to town, the shared coconut ice cream on Beach Road. We miss tumbling out of bed and immediately putting on our swimsuits. We miss sitting around the table as a family, playing card games and Monopoly; or curling up together at night watching movies on Netflix, or back episodes of Jeopardy. We were such a team there. It feels like there is so much that gets in the way of that here.

We miss the life we were making there, and we cannot wait to return. Seven has declared that we go back next summer, so that’s the plan. In the meantime, Rusty and I will be heading back from January until mid-March. We bought our tickets the night we returned to Texas…we just knew we had to get back. Until then, we will be here in Texas for about four more weeks while Rusty finishes out some poker business, then heading to Canada for a few days, then Virginia, then it’s off to Marrakech from the latter part of September until November. Then we cruise! We have two weeks of sailing around Italy, France, Spain, Malta, and Greece, before heading back to Virginia for Thanksgiving. It’s going to be a full travel docket, and we are looking so forward to it.

Most of all though, we are looking forward to going home.

To Thailand.

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