Is Bangkok Expensive in 2018?

If you’re planning a 6-12 stay in Bangkok or are thinking about moving here indefinitely, you might be wondering how expensive is Bangkok in 2018?

Depending on who you ask, people will tell you that Bangkok is either cheap or expensive.

In this article I am going to break down why people tell you Bangkok is both cheap and expensive.

Bangkok is expensive in 2018

There’s no doubt that Bangkok is more expensive in 2018 than ever before, this should not come as a surprise.

Cities like Bangkok are growing all the time. Tourism is up, expat population is rising and people are investing in the city. Thailand is on the top of every travel, nomad and beach list and Bangkok is the hub to them all-  things are only going to get more expensive as the years go by.

The biggest price jump I’ve noticed is for NEW apartment rentals.

If you were part of my Thailand Nomad Community you’d know that in Thailand, older condos are bigger in size and cheaper in price, than newly built condos that are MUCH smaller in size and greater in cost.

This is because Thais believe that the newer the conder, the more desirable the apartment, even if the room is smaller in size. The age of the condo has a bigger impact on price than size.

To give one example of how bonkers rentals have become, a brand new 1-bedroom at Rhythm Condo in Sukhumvit 36 (built in 2018) will cost you around $758 per month (25,000b) for a 25sq meter room.

A 52sq meter 1-bedroom at Plus 38 condo (built 2005) will cost you $606 (20,000b) per month.

Both of these condos are located on the same street, less than 20 meters apart!

The older condo gives you double the space, is built better (older condos have thicker walls) and is cheaper by $152 per month.

In the last few years, hundreds of new condo complexes have been made, and hundreds more are currently being built.

I think developers tell investors they can get such high rental yields as a marketing ploy to sell units, so landlords mark up their rooms at prices which are bonkers when you compare them to older rooms.

Bangkok taxis cost more than they did 5 years ago, the amount they charge per km went up in 2017 (they are still very cheap).

Entry to nightclubs and the cost of getting bottle service has risen. Each club varies but you’ll end up paying around $110~ for a 1-liter bottle with mixers and ice.

Hotel prices are higher than ever and a good meal at a restaurant is going to cost $30+ per person including alcohol.

Hookers charge more and give you less.

The only thing that seems to have stayed consistent is the price of street food.

In a nutshell: You now need more money to live in Bangkok and have a good time.

Bangkok is still fucking cheap

Yes prices are going up, but Bangkok is still cheap in 2018 for what you get.

Here’s what things will cost you in the most desirable location for single western expats aged between 20-40 (Thong Lor).

A coffee can easily cost $3-6, add a lunch to that and you can spend $15-$25 with ease.

western food in Bangkok

$1-2 for a beer on the street.

$5 for a beer at a nice bar.

$9-12 if you go to a speakeasy or fancy cocktail bar.

The Marriot Rooftop on Soi 57 will charge you $30 for a double Grey Goose.

$750+ for a 1-bedroom 55sq meter apartment with a good view.

A year membership at a good Bangkok gym is anywhere $1,250-$2,000 per year.

A one hour massage at a nice place with tip is $15-$30 depending on what you get.

These are prices for Thong Lor which many consider (and I agree) to the best location in Bangkok for people who are social and live a trendy and modern lifestyle.

If you wanted to live in Lad Prao or Udom Suk (a much cheaper district of Bangkok), you can shave 20-50% off the prices above, but so will your quality of life.

But these locations won’t have the best gyms, restaurants, cafes, clubs and you’ll also be settling for 3rd or 4th best choice of everything, and its a pain to travel to central Bangkok from these locations.

Bangkok is a second world-city

Bangkok is 50% first-world and 50% third-world.

3 of the top 10 restaurants in Asia are in Bangkok, and the #1 restaurant in Asia is in Bangkok.

There are 5* penthouses you can rent for $150 a night.

Bangkok has Axe throwing bars, VR cafes, iMax cinemas, live music events, affiliate conferences, dine in the dark, trampoline centers, float tanks, cyro chambers and online grocery services that get you salmon from Alaska or wild bore from Italy.

Whatever you want – Bangkok has it (almost), and for a much cheaper price than its competitors Singapore and Hong Kong.

If you say Bangkok is expensive you must be comparing the price of Bangkok to the price of Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia or Cambodia.

Good luck finding a single Asia’s Top 50 Restaurant from any of those countries.

Or dozens of apartments western style apartments.

Or a metro system that gets you anywhere across the city in 30 minutes (Bangkok has 3 and are building more).

Or a major international airport with hundreds of flights to choose from.

Or quality gyms and fancy craft beer bars.

Or western food that is easily accessible and high quality.

The reason Bangkok is getting expensive is that the city is providing more options. If you can ignore the pollution, dangerous roads and other things that make it 50% third-world, it very hard to think of a better city in the world that offers you this much value for money.

I know people will mention cities like Budapest, Prague or Lisbon which may be cheaper or roughly the same cost (and yes they are great cities), but they are too small and you’d never compare them against Syndey, London, New York.

Bangkok has well over 8 million people living there.

In 2018 you can almost make a good argument for comparing Bangkok to top world cities like London and New York in terms of what the city offers in pleasure experiences and activities.

Can you live in Bangkok for $1,000 per month in 2018?

So how much money do you need to live in Bangkok in 2018?

Even in 2018 you could easily live in Bangkok on $330 per month which one person did a few years ago, you can read about it here.

For that you’ll get a basic 20-25sq meter studio in an undesirable location yet a totally safe area of Bangkok, eat only street food and that’s $400 per month.

Thais live on around that, so there is no reason why you cannot do it. You really would not want to live on $400 for more than a few months as you’ll end up hating your life.

You’d have no hobbies and wouldn’t go out at night. You’d probably not feel good either mentally or physically eating street food that much. When I ate a high street food diet, I would crash a lot and take naps because my body just didn’t process the food that well.

For $1,000 per month in Bangkok you can get a 30sq meter studio in a non-central location and if you cooked at home or ate at really cheap restaurants you’d be okay. If you’re good with budgeting you could also throw in two good nights of partying.

If you averaged out my monthly spend in the last 12 months living in Bangkok it would be around $1,500 per month. I don’t have a budget – I spend as I wish but I have a minimalist point of view and never end up spending a lot.

What does $1,500 per month get me in Bangkok?

A 52 square meter 1-bedroom apartment in Thong Lor, what many consider the best area to live in for expats. Within a 1km distance, I am next to 5 western supermarkets, 3 shopping malls, 5 gyms, 4 clubs and dozens of cool bars and restaurants and 5min walk from the BTS.

I live in an older condo building so I got a great price and the location for my lifestyle could not be better. I pay $670 per month (22,000b). The condo has a rooftop pool and condo gym (condo gyms aren’t great in Bangkok, free weights go up to 20kg and no squat rack or barbells).

I have a one-year gym membership at one of the best gyms in Bangkok which costs $50 per month.

One massage a week at $15 with tip.

3-4 restaurant meals per week, and a very healthy fridge which is mostly full of Paleo Robbie.

I’ll do the whole movie experience with popcorn and good seats which is about $20 for two whenever there is a movie I’d like to watch.

I play soccer once a week which is $5.

I guess in travel fees I pay $20 per month, as I live so close to everything I usually walk or get a motorbike.

That’s what I get for $1,500. That does not include drinking or hookers.

I’m not really into clubbing or drinking right now as I want to focus on other areas of life, so that saves me between $300-$500 per month.

Bangkok is not a city where you can find healthy food easily, almost everything you eat outside is unhealthy and often laced with sugar, MSG, reused oil or pesticide infested produce. This includes western restaurants.

They do have the fancy gluten-free, 100% organic concept restaurants if that’s your thing, but the people who eat there trigger me so much that I cannot go inside without hitting someone.

For that reason, I cook most of my own food, which probably saves me $100-$400 per month. If you don’t like to cook and will eat out often, that’s going to cost you $300-$900 extra in costs depending on what you consider good and healthy food to be.

If you want to live the playboy lifestyle dining out, partying a few times per week, dating pretty girls that’s at least costing $2,500 per month if you do it right living in a nice room in a nice location.

You could live a playboy lifestyle with a $1,200 on a strict budget, but it would only be a cheap imitation and involve you pre drinking at home, almost never getting bottle service and lying to girls about why your room is so small and crappy. Been there done that.

With a $3,000 per month budget in Bangkok, you could live like someone who was given $10,000 per month in London, Singapore or Hong Kong.

Can you budget?

I’ve always been good with budgeting because I came here with $9,000 and had to make that last.

I’ve been here long enough to have found my go to bars and restaurants for good value food, where to get 50% off movie tickets, happy hour beers and more.

This dish below contains home-made egg noodles, crab meat, duck breast, pork belly and shrimp dumplings with pork broth soup (out of the picture) for $3 served inside a restaurant.

Whether you’re a noodle person or not, for the quantity of meat and produce (homemade noodles) $3 is fucking cheap. Bangkok is full of amazing value if you know where to look and are open to trying places and are open to seeing the odd cockroach or bug inside.

If you’re not good at budgeting and plan to move to Bangkok and live off $1,000 or thereabouts, chances are you’ll end up spending a lot more than that, even more so if you have vices like women and sex.

I’ve seen friends who told me they were going to budget on $1,200 spend as much as $3,000-$4,000 per month and have no idea where it went (it went on girls and booze). I’m certain in the comments below people will tell you their stories of overspending without knowing it.

Bangkok is the master of parting a fool with his money.

So is Bangkok cheap or expensive in 2018?

I think Bangkok is a great value city and best suited for people who plan to spend $1,500 or more per month.

Yes things are getting more expensive but the options  the city provides you are well worth the cost. If you’re not into clubbing, eating at good restaurants and are fine to commute to most places, you can live outside Central Bangkok for $1,500 and your money will go real far.

If you plan to have a lot of fun and have a low tolerance for commuting – you’ll need to spend more to get the lifestyle you achieve.

Do you think Bangkok is expensive in 2018?

If you're thinking about moving to Thailand and need help or advice, check out my Online Nomad Group by clicking here.

20 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *