Thailand is cheap and the further you get away from Bangkok the cheaper it gets, barring the ritzy tourist destinations like Koh Samui.
In Thailand the cost of living is somewhere between a quarter and a half of what it is in Australia, depending on how you live. Groceries are half the cost, rent is less than a quarter of Sydney’s rent and so are restaurants and power costs.
‘Electricity is cheap,’ says Dorothy, our 70 year old English retiree who has been living in Chiang Mai for 4 years now. Bizarrely, it was initially free because she used less than the minimum chargeable amount, but that system has since changed. She uses little air-conditioning, however.
She bought an exceptional a dn large one bedroom apartment in a block with Gym and pool for A$80,000.
Water costs Dorothy about A$3.50 a month, internet A$20 and the landline about A$3.50. She has house cleaners once a week—two ladies for two hours, which costs A$10. The minimum wage is about A$11–12 per day. Dorothy also adds that food is cheap and she eats out most nights.
Although getting around in taxis and tuk-tuks is inexpensive, cars in Thailand are not. In late 2012 Dorothy bought a new Honda Prio for A$14,500 and spends A$50 a month on petrol. She points out, though, that petrol for her motorbike, prior to going the safer route and buying a car, cost her less than A$20 a month.
Godfree, a 73 year old Australian who looks more like 63 and is living in Chiang Mai, told us his monthly living costs are around A$850 a month—which is only a little more than half the current Australian pension.
For this, Godfree gets: a rented flat, including water and electricity, for A$300 a month; food for A$300 (he eats out everyday for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and has daily iced coffees); a new rented moped for A$120, plus fuel for about A$30; his internet for A$20; and he does yoga three times a week, for A$90 a month.
Clearly, there are very few in Australia who can enjoy anything like Godfree’s lifestyle on the old-age pension.
In central Chiang Mai you can rent a 3 bedroom apartment for around $700 a month, go out to a mid priced restaurant for 2 for $17, that’s 80 per cent less than in Australia, beer is 70 per cent cheaper at around $1.40 a bottle while internet is 68 per cent less and mobile phone costs (prepaid) are 90 per cent less.
And if you go for that cheap meal and have a few too many, you can have a taxi waiting for you at a cost of $5 an hour – that’s 90 per cent lower than taxi waiting toimes in Sydney – and the metred fare will be 90 per cent lower as well.