When I first came to live in Thailand in 2012 I had set myself a monthly budget of $1,000 per month.
Back then $1 was around 30฿ which gave me 30,000฿ per month to spend on Thai hookers blow and the odd night with the air-con on.
I was 24 years old and had never lived alone or spent more than 4 weeks in Thailand before that.
Living on a small budget can be fun
I never experienced anything like Bangkok before.
I got myself a no thrills studio a little out of the centre for 6,5000฿ (M N Place). The window leaked when it rained, sometimes the Internet didn’t work and the soi dogs outside wanted to bite my dick off.
Oh and there were ants, lots of ants.
I went to the worst gym in Bangkok you can think of, the machines were always breaking as you were using them, the squat rack was about to fall apart and there was no air-con.
Sweat all over the benches and the barbel was that old that you had to screw the weights in to use them. My friends used to call it snap-city.
I had no luxuries in life. I could not make a impulse buy for $300.
But this was the first time I ever lived alone and I didn’t give a f*** because everything was new and awesome.
As I was on a tight budget and going out a lot, I couldn’t really afford to eat at too many fancy (or even average priced) restaurants, nor take holidays to places like Samui or Phuket, unless I wanted to stay in a hostel or a dive hotel.
I enjoyed my drink and I went out 3-5 times a month, each night out costing be around $50-$100.
If you’re here on a $1,000 budget and you spend 30-50% of your budget on drinking, there’s not too much more you can do asides from stay in your room or walk about and do nothing.
Things cost more now than they did 4 years ago, so you’ll find it even harder now.
But I was still in the honeymoon period of living in Thailand and didn’t give a single f***.
Seeing huge traffic jams, street vendors, ladyboys (no homo) and different parts of the city were still novel and cute, that I didn’t mind walking 25 minutes in the heat instead of taking a cab to save 40฿.
I remember always spending a good few hours deciding where I would do my visa run to save a few thousand baht off my monthly cost. I’d eat at the food court (50฿ meals that tasted like nothing) and pre-drink in my room before going out.
When I did do my visa runs, I stayed in hotels that were falling apart and barely fit for a women to be raped in.
The novelty wears off
I’m 28 now and the novelty of living in Thailand has long worn off.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love living here, but there’s no way I would want to live the lifestyle I did 4 years ago.
Well a part of me think it’s because I’m older. Living on a budget at 24 and finding your way through life is fun.
But now I’m 28 and I need to get my shit together. There’s no one to help me if I fall.
If today I was the same sewer rat I was 4 years ago, I’d be in deep trouble.
When I’m 35 I don’t want to live like I did when I was 24.
What’s new 4 years on?
Not too much. I actually still spend the same amount as before at $1,000.
However, if we compare the exchange rate to 3 years ago when the $ was at 30฿, today I’m actually spending an extra 6,000฿ every month than before.
And that’s not including my monthly gym membership to a place that has air-con and weights that won’t break your back when lifting.
Also, I’ve pretty much stopped drinking (which was around 35% of my monthly budget before). If you add that in, I’d be around $1,500-$1,700 approx each month.
I stay in a much better room (a room I actually enjoy staying in), I no longer worry about how much a visa run is going to cost me, or spend hours searching on Agoda trying to find the cheapest room.
So what’s your point Harvie?
The moral of the story
Many of you are planning on moving to Bangkok on a small budget and plan to live a simple life.
And that’s great, but be warned that you probably won’t want to do that long-term so come here with a plan of action.
The older you get in Thailand and the longer you’re out of your home country, the harder it will become to reintegrate back home if you mess things up.
Once the novelty of Thailand wears off, so will staying in rundown apartments and continually doing visa runs on the cheap.
Being young is great, but don’t rest on living a simple life because doing so in Thailand may affect you in the long-term.
You’re on your own here.
You have no friends or family to help you. If in 5 years you find yourself in the same life situation when you first got here, you dun fucked up son.
It only takes one medical bill or bad situation for your life to turn upside down and you don’t fit in back home or in Thailand.
If you’re planning to come to Thailand and live on a small budget, awesome, do it.
But just remember that you need to be active and improve your life situation when you’re here or before you know it, you’ll be one of those depressed expats who hates everyone, doesn’t have enough money to do the things you enjoy and end up selling Bangkok sex maps for $5 to get ahead in life.