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Our Bangkok Budget

At last the much hyped and long awaited Bangkok budget! Keep in mind that this budget is for 2 adults and a 2 year old living in what is considered one of the better areas of Bangkok. If you are single or willing to cut back on food and conveniences you can probably get by on less than we are currently. You can also get by on less in other areas of Thailand such as Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya or virtually any of the islands (Phuket excepted). In fact, we are currently planning on moving out of Bangkok ourselves to cut back a bit on expenses. So, consider this an interim budget and look for an updated version sometime in July. You didn’t really think this would be the end of our Thailand expenses did you?

The budget below is set forth in Thai baht so if you want to convert to your local currency you can do so here. Those of you in the US can use a conversion of 30.57THB/1USD as this was what I received on my last wire transfer. Current mid market rate as I write this is 30.795THB/1USD. Keep us in mind and let’s hope for continuing strength in the US Dollar (or weakness in the Thai baht) as it provides us with a raise 🙂

Please note that the budget does not include costs for health insurance, child support and student loan payments as those are all handled out of my US accounts. Those 3 items add $800/mo to our expenses. I typically do a wire transfer to cover 6 months of our expenses here in Thailand and then top up the US account to provide the next 6 months worth. Savings and investments are held in the US, although we have been putting a bit aside here to test the waters of the Thai stock market. More to come on that in future months. This is a very basic expenses only budget and is quite fixed. By that I mean we stick to an exact amount each month and do not go over. If we come in under that money goes into a slush fund that can be used for whatever we wish (so far it’s been travel).

Last, but not least, please feel free to compare our costs with what it costs to live like a king in Bangkok. As you can see we’re not quite there yet.

Category Expense Comments
Rent 28,000 Quite high, lg apartment, good area
Food 19,000 Quite high, been cutting back
Internet 1512 12Mb up/1Mb down. Pretty speedy and necessary
Cable 1583 May drop, not much use (20 hours/mo)
Childcare 7000 May drop when we move, its a good deal though
Electric 5200 Quite high. Too much air conditioning
Water 500 Set amount added to rent
Phone 234 2 landlines, one voice and one DSL
Medical 1000 Emergency fund
Blow Money 18,000 Quite high. See below.

As you can see we are a bit high on quite a few expenses and can make cuts (especially if we get out of Bangkok). Our apartment is expensive, although when you consider the neighborhood and size (193 sqm) it is actually cheap. Similar places in our neighborhood rent for 2-3x this amount.

Food is another contentious area. Honestly we’ve been slowly cutting back on this. When we arrived we were spending more like 26,000/mo on food so progress is being made. In all honesty we should be able to cut this to 15,000/mo or less.

Internet, cable and water are pretty standard fare although we are considering dropping the cable. We watch maybe 2-3 movies a month and I watch CNBC maybe 30 minutes a day. Electric is quite high, but that is due to air conditioner usage. Really I’m not sure how to cut this one as we usually only have the air con running in one bedroom to sleep at night. It’s probable that with a smaller place our electric costs will also drop. It will bear watching in the July update.

Childcare is definitely a luxury expense that can be dropped, but it works well for us now. In addition to caring for our daughter the nanny also does ironing and cooks both breakfast and lunch. In the realm of trading money for time its a very good deal. Add to that the fact that if she wasn’t here we would probably buy food from outside for lunch and net/net its a damn good deal. Medical is an emergency fund that is nearly fully funded so that expense can drop, although we also pay for insurance from our account in the States.

Blow money is also very high, but we use that money for all sorts of miscellaneous expenses. Restaurants, taxi’s, BTS/MRT passes, beer and cigarettes, toys for baby, clothing purchases and pretty much anything else that isn’t in the budget comes out of the blow money. Even so, I usually have 1-2000 left at the end of the month that goes into the slush fund. We also put aside any 50 baht notes we get to add to the slush fund. This usually adds up to 500-1000 per month.

So, there you have it. In total, for a family of 3 we are spending 82,029THB per month to live in the capital of Thailand. Even for a family, this number can be cut back quite drastically and if we wanted to live a more spartan existence I would say we could get by on 45,000THB per month.

What do you all think? Are we living the life of Riley here in Bangkok? If it was you where would you cut back on expenses? Or, where would you be spending more? And how does this compare with your expenses in the West?

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