There are people who used to be in love with Thailand out there that have morphed into something ghastly. Generally, these people have failed at a business, had their heart trampled on by a mischievous bar girl or they just have grown bitter as they have gotten older. Regardless, they will tell you that living in Thailand is anything but paradise.
The fact, however, is that living in Thailand is just as awesome now as it was 10-years ago. If you are sitting back home in your home country reading this and have the slightest feeling that you would be happier living abroad, you should make the jump.
People will throw a number of figures at you about the cost of living and staying here full-time. The issue with their quotes is that they are designed for the way they are living their lives, not necessarily for the way you live yours.
Someone asked if it was possible to stay in Pattaya with a 10k baht per-month budget (visa costs not included). While many told them that they were crazy and that it isn’t possible, in reality, it is.
Before anyone disagrees, just have a look at the thousands of Thai nationals who are working for 8k to 10k baht per month as a normal wage. They do it, which means a farang can do it as well.
Most of the Thais in Pattaya do not originate from Pattaya. They travel in from all over the country to be a part of the tourism scene and they live within their means in order to send money back to the family.
Firstly, your accommodation plays a big part in you being able to live comfortably. Many Thais live in small rooms with only a fan to blow the warm air around. Some don’t even have toilets with a button and you have to fill a bucket in order to flush. Rooms such as these can be found to rent for as little as 3,000 baht per month.
The more modern amenities that you require, the more expensive your room will be. If you are the type of person that uses your room only to rest your head at night, why would you need a giant penthouse condo?
Thai style rooms are definitely rugged living. You can find some with more modern style amenities such as flushable toilets, hot water and air conditioning for only a few thousand more per month.
Water and electricity are sometimes included in the cost of the room because there is no air conditioner to constantly run up the bill. Some of the renters of the Thai style rooms also save electric by not having hot water.
“No air conditioner?” Thailand is hot, true. Pattaya is also a city right on the gulf. For the most part, there is always a cool evening breeze that rolls in off the water. Provided you have a fan to move the air around, you will find that you quickly become acclimated to living in a warm room and the fan will feel way cooler than the air conditioner you don’t have.
“No hot water?!” We know how it sounds, but you have to remember that you are only 15 degrees north of the equator, it stays warm enough outside for tank tops and shorts year-round for the most part.
The next thing that you need to take into account is obviously food. Living in paradise is pointless if you don’t have enough money to feed yourself. Luckily for you, this is Thailand and food here has a tendency to find you even if you aren’t looking for it.
The number of street food vendors that offer amazing meals is hands-down one of the best things about living here. Feeling like a piece of watermelon? Wait around for five minutes and a piece will probably walk right by you.
Meals from food vendors vary in price but if you are not a heavy eater you can walk away full after spending less than 50 to 80 baht per meal. You will want to steer clear of foreign food places as they will eat away your budget rather quickly.
Let’s say you eat 3 x 60 baht meals per day. That brings your cost for food up to about 5400 baht per month. Add in the cost of your accommodation and you are at 8400 baht so far spent with 1600 leftover for any little expenses that come your way (I.e. gasoline, cigarettes, phone minutes etc).
Some quick examples of 60 baht meals would be chicken kebabs, Thai papaya salad (Som Tum, typically 40 baht), steamed or fried chicken with rice (khao mun gai), various types of bbq, and other amazing Thai dishes that are all less than 100 baht per meal.
Surely you will need to get from point A to point B occasionally when you live here. Another great thing about living in Pattaya city is that you don’t need to own a motorbike to get around. Most of the things that you need to do are all located centrally from supermarkets to shopping centres and even most of the attractions and markets.
For the most part, if you have two feet, you can get where you need to be. For those people that don’t feel like walking, Pattaya has an extensive network of public transportation in order to help you get to where you need to be.
Baht Buses (Song Taos): Unless hired by someone for a particular destination (at increased prices) run a specific route. Once you get here and learn the streets you will find that nearly every street is accessible via your feet or a baht bus route. So long as you hop on the vehicle that drives a route near your destination, you will only pay the regular fee of 10 baht per person.
Yellow Taxis and Mini-Buses: These vehicles will run you a little higher price but are available and great when you are pinched for time and can’t wait for the baht buses to stop every block to pick someone up or drop someone off.
City Buses: Pattaya has two large bus stations that offer bus trips to different locations. The buses run constantly throughout the day on average and the cost of fare is extremely cheap. A ticket from Pattaya to Ekkamai in Bangkok, for instance, is only roughly 130 baht.
Motorbike Taxis: Sometimes terrifying but mostly reliable. The motorcycle taxi is a great person to have in your pocket. He will be there to get you home when you aren’t quite sure where home really is yet just by looking at the condo card.
Some people say that living with a budget that low is no way to live. That decision is wholeheartedly on the individual doing the living, however. The overall point of the explanation is simply to show you that living here is really only as expensive as you make it out to be. If you need a fat fancy condo with all the bells and whistles and a different mistress for every day that ends with a “Y” you will end up needing a budget that is well above what is discussed here.
If you move to Las Vegas and you are a chronic gambler, you will more than likely lose yourself. The same thing goes to Pattaya. The people that move here and don’t get lost in the madness nightly are generally the ones that stick around long enough to tell the tale of the people that did get lost along the way.
Just because Joe Pattaya’s prerogative is banging a different bird nightly and racking up a ridiculous body count while watching his bank account drain does not mean that everyone will have the same goals (as inspirational as his goals might be).
Most of the individuals who are here for the long-haul are not out stalking Walking Street nightly. Some believe they can do it, but they eventually end up making drastic life changes for health or sanity reasons at some point, or they go broke or end up in the monkey house (Thai jail).
Provided you have your visa all sorted out to be living in Thailand legally, it’s ultimately up to you how much it costs you to live in Pattaya. If you are disciplined and the goal is to stay here for a long time and you budget yourself wisely, you could indeed stay here for 10k to 15k baht per month should you choose to live without all of the amenities that you would have back home. (clearly not the way that everyone in Pattaya would choose to spend their time).
It is not an easy thing to do to up and decide to quit your job, sell your assets and decide to move to a new country but making the leap is the hardest part of the decision. Once you have broken free from the machine that is western society and are living a happy, slow life, it will become the best decision you ever made. Provided you have some type of income, you can accomplish what you want to accomplish and get away from it all.
Or, you could always sit at home and continue to slave away so that someone else can get rich off of all of your hard work at a job where nobody really appreciates you and where you get paid exactly enough money to pay your bills and buy food paycheck to paycheck. The choice is ultimately up to you. Don’t let the naysayers keep you from living the way you want to live.