The other day, I posted about how much we spent in Pattaya. I broke it down into meals, massages, and taxi fares. That’s HONESTLY all we spent money on, save for buying Sev a couple of soccer balls for the pool, and a snorkel mask. We are not big shoppers, really – we don’t buy things just to buy them. We don’t do souveneirs really either, except Seven likes to grab a keychain from each new place, I can handle that.
But, some of you have asked…WHAT are we eating? And how much does it REALLY cost?
Well, luckily, I happen to take pictures of food a lot. It’s a hard habit to break. No, no, I did not photograph every single meal. I merely took pictures of things that impressed me. So, I’ll share those photos with you, and let you in on what each one cost. Personally, I am fascinated by things like that. If you aren’t, I’m sorry!
Breakfast at Back Fabrik
As I mentioned in the other post, Back Fabrik is our favorite spot for breakfast. It’s about a mile from our apartment, on Second Road. It’s cool, comfortable, and priced right, with a LOT of options for each meal. My go-to was always the Ham & Cheese Croissant meal. It comes with a housemade croissant, filled with butcher ham and gouda, a scrambled egg (or your choice of egg), a fruit plate, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a cappuccino (or soda, if you prefer). It costs 195 Baht, or, roughly $6, including all taxes and tip.
Rusty and Seven would tend to order the same thing each time as well. They would get two pastries each (usually a Pain au Chocolat and a delicious cream filled Danish), a bowl of yogurt and fruit, a glass of juice, and again, cappuccino or soda. That meal is 225 Baht, so, about $7.
Anywhere else, with taxes and gratuities, these meals would be $18 each, I would guess. Especially in that type of environment, and only a block back from the ocean.
Dinner at “Made in Italy”
I do wish that weren’t the name, but we noticed that MANY businesses in Thailand just aren’t that keen on good names, especially when written in English. Despite the meh name, I am SO glad we found it. The décor leads you to feel as if you are at any nice Italian bistro, with stone walls and dark wooden shelving, a charcuterie cooler, a fridge full of Italian pastries and cannoli. It’s a small place, cozy and charming, and the food is SPOT ON. As many meals as I have had all over Italy, this little restaurant ranks up there with the best of them.
The most impressive dish, to me, was the Spaghetti Bolognese. Yes, true to the way it should be, the sauce does have carrots in it. While not inexpensive by Thailand prices, the dish, including bread, tax and tip was 260 Baht. That’s around $8.50. It would be $22 here in the US for that quality. The other pasta I tried, with a white sauce, truffles, mushrooms and Parma Ham was the same price, and equally delicious. They also serve brick oven pizza (about $7 USD), and a very nice bruschetta topped with fresh tomato and mozzarella for about $3.
Dinner at Rompho Night Market
Rompho Market is where we did nearly all of our shopping, both for fruits and vegetables, as well as take-away meals. The vendors set up nightly in a large lot, bringing a few tables and chairs for people to dine at. Food is VERY fresh – for example, we watched as one vendor pulled a giant fish out of the tank it was swimming in, and prepare it immediately. I don’t eat fish, but it doesn’t get much fresher than that!
One of our go-to staples was skewers of chicken and pork. They were cooked, and grilled using nice sauces. We would buy 3, and Rusty and I would each eat a skewer and a half. 3 of these cost 30 Baht – so just under a dollar. Seven preferred the fried chicken breast skewer. Each one was 10 Baht – 30 cents or so. We took several of these home with us to eat for lunch the next day, because they travel well and reheat well, too. We would add a bag of prepared white rice (enough for the three of us) for 10 Baht, and fresh corn on the cob (two ears were 30 baht). On average, a meal for the three of us at the Market ran about 120 baht with a drink each and a fresh fruit smoothie for Sev.
On one occasion, Rusty and I had Schwarma Kabobs (gyros, basically)for dinner. Quite delicious, and very big! Each one was 60 Baht, or $2. You can also get a large plate of chicken fried rice (one of my staples) for only 50 baht. Duck is very under priced, and widely available in many forms, all parts of the chicken are for sale, there are pork ribs and turkeys, fresh fish, insects (yes really) and so much more.
Ice Cream at Branch Beach Coffee
We stumbled across this beachfront gem one day while looking for another massage parlor, and just HAD to stop on our return home. Branch Beach Coffee is on First Road (this is the road the beach is on) with a clear view to the palms and waves. It’s essentially a food truck, under a huge banyan tree. They’ve set up tables and comfortable seating, and it’s very charming. For 80 Baht (about $2.50) you can get a huge banana split, or, my favorite, coconut ice cream served in a fresh coconut. The flavors are SO fantastic, and you cannot beat that price. If you just want ice cream in a cup, sure, you can get that too…it will run you a little over a dollar. Definitely worth the paltry amount to sit and enjoy watching the surf and the people as they pass by.
Fresh Fruit Smoothies
We found these first at the Jomtien Night Market, but they are everywhere. You’ll see the stands right away: clear plastic cups half full of fruit. Watermelon, papaya, mango, strawberries, bananas, you name it. You tell the owner which cup you want, and while you wait, they will mix the fruit with ice and water and blend it for you until it’s super smooth. We had some great combos, from Kiwi Strawberry to Blueberry Grape, Orange, and Lime. All were really good, and at only about a buck (often less) it was hard to pass up in the heat of the day.
THESE prices are one of the many reasons we can’t wait to get back there. We know we can eat, and eat WELL, on less than $300 a month. That’s with several nice dinners out as well as weekly breakfast out, too. The remainder of our bills there are incredibly low – electric is about $15/month, water and trash are included, and high speed internet is $18 month. We do not NEED to purchase it, as we do have free wi-fi in our complex, but it gets sketchy sometimes, and we rely on it to do our work as well as watch television. Our condo is fully paid for, so we have no mortgage, and we have already paid our yearly maintenance fee of $450 (this covers the water, trash, sewer, wifi, and maintenance/landscaping). So all we owe is what we eat and those few dollars worth of bills. SO, if you want to break it down, our cost of living in Thailand (and living a very good life) is about $370/month, or, $185 each.
Getting the VISA so that we can stay year round is a lot trickier than just money, though, so for now, we will just have to be content with staying up to three months every 180 days. 6 months a year is plenty for us, anyway, because we do want to have Seven as much as possible, as well as see our families. Plus, we can always add a country here and there in between times as we wish. I think it’s going to be a very exciting endeavor!
So…who wants to move to Thailand with us? In all seriousness, there are only about 20 units still available at our gorgeous complex, out of over 1600. While not CHEAP, you can pick one up for less than a fancy new SUV – and they will give you a year to finance it. Something to think about, so if you have questions, of course, email me!