Cost of living in Chiang Mai

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Last edited: June 29, 2024 at 02:17:14

Chiang Mai is arguably one of the cheapest places in the world to live in. You can get a local meal on the street for just 50 baht (approximately USD 1-2). On the other hand, if you tend to be attached to some Western hobbies and food which need to be imported, you may pay a higher than expected bill. So all-in-all, it all depends on what goods and services are in your basket.


Here's an indication of cost estimates for 3 different kind of budgets.





monthly budget
(in USD)
  USD 400-800   USD 800-1335   USD 1335+
monthly budget
(in THB)
  THB 15,000-30,000   THB 30,000-50,000   THB 50,000+
housing Thai style apartment
or basic condo
THB 2,000-3,000/month
THB 5,000-8,000/month
better apartment, condo or house THB 8,000-12,000/month luxury apartment, condo or house THB 12,000- 25,000
utitlities (water, electricity) usually 5-8 baht per unit THB 1,000/month   THB 1,500-2000/month   THB 2,000+/month
phone subscription basic line + internet THB 500/month more Gbs THB 650/month more Gbs THB 900/month
internet subscription none 0 internet in the house THB 650/month faster line THB 900/month
transport rent none 0 scooter rental THB 200/day none none
transport buy bicyle THB 1,000-5,000 2nd hand scooter THB 25,000-35,000 car THB 400,000+
food, coffee basic THB 200-400/day moderate THB 400-600/day luxury THB 1,000+/day
entertainment   THB 1,000-2,000/month parties, drinking THB 2,000-4,000/month indulging THB 4,000+ /month
healthcare & insurance basic THB 25,000/year   THB 30,000/year well-protected THB 30,000+/year
visa 1 year non-immigrant visa
+ extensions
THB 25,000/year   THB 30,000-40,000   THB 50,000+
trips none 0 some domestic
some international
THB 20,000 per trip
THB 30,000+ per trip
  THB 100,000
clothes, necessary purchases   THB 2,000/month   THB 2,000-4,000 / month    
memberships     fitness membership
co-working space membership
THB 1,500/month
THB 3,000/month
golf membership THB 4,000+/month

Of course, this is just a very rough indication of what an average spender would need, but in the end, everything depends on your own life style. I know many foreigners who live in a simple, Thai style apartment of THB 3,500 a month, and they spend less than THB 20,000 in total every month. I'd say it's not much fun, but you can survive.
At the same time, some guys keep a separate budget for fun things like drinking, going out and buying girls, which can add another few ten thousand baht a month.
Some newbees make it a sport to try to live on as low a budget as possible, and I can guarantee you: in Chiang Mai you can, but I'd rather be proud of an achievement to earn a lot of money than of one that saves a lot.

Living cost at very cheap levels in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai resident proud to live on USD 7 per day

The truth however is that the vast majority of local Thai people are probably living off a budget of less than THB 15,000 per month, to put things in perspective.

Overall, for probably the majority of foreigners living in Chiang Mai a monthly budget of up to THB 15,000 is considered moderate, up to THB 30,000 is fair, and any figure above that is comparative luxury.

Cost of living in other places in Thailand

Similar budgets for Pattaya, Bangkok and Phuket are probably higher by some 50%, 100% and 150% respectively, compared to Chiang Mai. In Bangkok you'll spend much more money on a decent place to live, on transport and on reasonable food. In Phuket nearly all prices are much much higher than in Chiang Mai.
Other places in Thailand such as Chiang Rai, Udon Thani etc. are probably at about the same cost level, at least they can't be much cheaper because the market isn't as competitive and you may pay even more for imported goods.

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What do you think about this article?

Steve Posted on June 28, 2024 at 12:38:43
The cost of living drops the further you live outside of Chiang Mai city. It's possible to live a very comfortable life in the surrounding mountains for those that can handle being an hour away from 'civilisation'.
CM Locator Posted on October 08, 2022 at 07:56:15
@Erik: There are still Thai style apartments, very basic without aircon at THB 2000 per month. For THB 3,500 there are better and many Thai people stay in such apartment, including foreigners who need to save money.
As a foreigner, living off USD 500 per month it wouldn't be much fun, but it's certainly possible. We don't recommend it, though.
Erik Posted on September 30, 2022 at 20:15:52
Please update this article as it was last edited in 2017. I'm sure you're all busy, but if someone has an opportunity, this article could definitely use an update. In my experience, the lower category is so rare or nonexistent that it's not accurate anymore, for example: rent at 2,000 THB/month would be very rare indeed. But living in CM on less than $500 USD per month would be impossible for most Westerners.
Thank you
Cricri76 Posted on September 24, 2021 at 15:38:39
Merci pour toutes ces infos sur Chiang mai, c'est une ville que j'aime depuis 35 ans, et nombreux séjours aussi dans les ethnies des montagnes.
Merci pour votre travail, plein de choses à aller découvrir.
Hung Tran Posted on May 21, 2019 at 08:45:50
how do I get there from Bangkok. I need a local partner from day 1.
Bob Posted on May 19, 2019 at 06:45:59
I will be looking for a female partner
Rondo Posted on December 26, 2018 at 11:33:57
Good info - Informative and most important relevant.
Dave Posted on July 29, 2018 at 06:07:23
I found this very Informative, good reading :)
rashid Posted on October 05, 2017 at 12:06:00
quite informative and wel calculated calculations
RB Posted on December 10, 2016 at 09:02:20
I would atleast double the amounts. Living in luxury with 30K baht...what a joke!