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Is Thailand Living Still Cheaper?


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After having lived in Thailand, BKK more specificaly, for the best part of 20 years and now having been based in Madrid on assignment for 3 months (ie not a tourist but living here) I am amazed on how close the cost of living is between the 2 Capital Cities.



I rent a 125 SQM 2 Bed Serviced apartment 2 minutes walk from Plaza Da Castilla, Madrid equivalent of Ekkamai, bus station and Metro Station here, 1200 Euro / Month which is approx 48,000 THB, I doubt if I could get the same price at Oakwood or Emporium in BKK



Each trip within Zone A here is 1 Euro / 40 Baht either bus or metro but you can also purchase "Abono Transportes" a Travel Pass for 46 Euro / 1840 THB per month or 62 THB / day. I use the bus to the office and back daily, the metro to my local bar and also the metro to pop here and there all over the city, at least 4 journeys / day, basically unlimited travel for just over 60 THB / day



At first I was shocked at 4 Euro / Pint then I calculated it to THB 160, many "Brit Style" Bars in BKK charge 160 or more for imported beers, even more so for Guiness, John Smiths etc so now 160 THB / Pint does not seem that bad. Spirits 7 Euro / 280 THB, but these are not single pours more like a quadruple, pint glass filled with ice then 1/3 rd filled with alcohol leaving just enough room to empty a 10 Floz mixer into it, and I am talking "Top Shelf" spirits not el cheapo well shots.

Last night I took a couple of women from the office out to dinner and we shared 4 bottles of a fairly decent red wine, well I had 2 and they had one each, bill for the booze 8 Euro / 320 THB .... Thats for all 4 bottles not each.


Beer from the Supermarcado 24 Cans of Heineken 11 Euro / 440 THB, cost over 750 THB in BKK, Bottle of Smirnoff Red 10.25 Euro / 410 THB, cost over 700 THB in BKK.


Food (AKA the Subway Index as LK and I know it as)


The Subway Index (SI) is comparing the cost of a footlong Subway sandwich beteen cities, a footlong 3 meats Subway costs 4 Euro / 160 THB here as compared to 220 THB in BKK, A Big Mac and a BK Whopper are both 3.50 Euro / 140 THB approx the same as BKK, I can go to my local bar and order a Pint of Guiness and an 8oz Burger with bacon and cheese for 8 Euro / 320 THB, no way in BKK for that price.




If one stays away from the rip off joints it is possable to get a Short time for 50 Euro / 2000 THB WITHOUT a Bar Fine, in fact my little black book (well iPhone nowadays) has 5-6 contacts who will stay overnight for 50 Euro and I have one booked for tonight.



Bottom line is Thailand, especially BKK, is not as cheap as it used to be, the perception of "Cheap Third World City" is a throwback to yesteryear. Having not spent much time in the west since I took root in Thailand I was surprised to see how much the the relative costs of living have aligned over the years, but as the old saying goes "The Cost of Living may go up but we all keep on paying". I am in the fortunate position of owning properties outright (ie no mortgages) in Thailand and also being able to command a higher then average salary whilst still in my prime (younger than 50) earning years and can hopefully ride out this recession.



If I was choose today where I was to make home base I would not choose Thailand, but I made the choice many years ago and need the courage of my convictions, maybe put off retirement until I am 52 as opposed to my plan of retiring at 50.


Madrid is a great city don;t get me wrong, but I would rather be at home than here, then again I am not the type of person who depends on welfate / social handouts and I get off my backside as and when required, I still have (Hopefully) many more years of living in this abused bady.

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I cant speak for Madrid, but some of the prices in the US would be;


Foot Long Subway $5 or 150bht. So that is more expensive.

(However! Bowl of BahMee on suk $1 or 30bht!!! You just cant do that in the US anywhere I know)


Taxie to Raleigh airport 10 miles away $30 or 900bht That's WAY more expensive than the $1000bht I paid to get to and FROM Bum which is what, 30 miles one way from Suk?


Bottle of JW Black in NC: $45 or 1350bht. That's about the same.


One night at a club, Climax in BKK, = 3 bottles of booze, mixers, entry for me plus 6 = about $200. The same thing in NYC, ATL, CLT, RDU?? about $900 EASY!


Girl to clean your place. BKK, 500bht a clean if you are generous! In the US, two days a week cost me $300.

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From what I hear about Spain it is on the cheaper end compared with the rest of Europe, though I've never been there.


Sunny Melbourne would be as follows - (assuming 30THB/$1AUD)


Accomodation (guessing a bit here since I live in the burbs and don't pay rent) near town $400+/12,000THB a week for an inner city apartment close to the action


Public Transport is renowned for being expensive and unreliable, inner city day pass maybe $10/300THB - or half that for a 2 or 3 hour pass, can be used on bus/tram/train. Taxis cost a fortune.


Booze - varies a lot but generally just under $5/150THB a schooner (400 odd mL) or stubbie (375mL bottle) in pubs, add a dollar or two in most restaurants. Half decent local wine in restaurants start at around $25-30/750-900THB. A case of beer in a supermarket or bottle shop (local) around $35-40/1050-1200THB on special, imported $50-70/1500-2100 THB


Subway footlong about $8/240THB, Big Mac not sure I think $5/150THB, Whopper about the same... Had KFC lunch yesterday and it was $10/300THB


Sanuk varies a lot.... from $50/1500THB for a quick BJ in the back of your car from a Hepatitis infected skeleton with a syringe hanging out of her arm to about $150/4500THB an hour in a brothel, to $500-$2000/15000-60000THB an hour for an over priced escort/model(?)





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While I agree that Bangkok has gotten a lot more expensive, I do think you are off the mark a bit in your comparison of food. Obviously a lot of Western food would be cheaper in the West than in Bangkok.


If you'd compare the price of a meal of local food Bangkok would be far cheaper than most places in the West. When still working from the office I would usually pay about 70-80 Baht for lunch (simple Thai dish + 1 coke) in an airconned restaurant. Absolutely no way I could get any kind of meal for that in Holland.


BTW, I could be wrong but isn't a footlong about 180-200 Baht in BKK? I seem to recall paying 189 Baht for a Italian BMT.




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There is a nice Thai buffet restaurant in The Mall Ngamwongwan with a very good selection - all you can eat 119 baht. Try and find a Thai buffet like that in the west. I can have a decent meal on campus for 25 to 40 baht. Same meal in my neighbourhood 30-50 baht. Went on a mini-crawl after the gathering at Los Cabos night. Happy hour drinks in Soi Cowboy were 50 to 75 baht. Where else can you pay little that to sit and ogle naked young ladies?


Right now I'm paying 8,000 a month for a big house - 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms. I might be asked that much per week in the west for it. Taxi from my house to work - 80 baht. US$2.70 for a 15 or 20 minute ride? Impossible at home.





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