Is Bangkok Really a Cheap Place to Live?
The Thai capital has earned a great reputation for being a cheap destination for both those looking to live or just visit there. It is reputed to have one of the lowest costs of living in Asia and often attracts first-time visitors to Asia for this reason. But then again, there are also high-end choices that could add up if you are not careful. Here are some areas that contribute to the affordability of the city and how you can partake.
Living like a local is a big help here as foreign food outlets can be a bit pricey. There is plenty of cheap fresh fruit and vegetables to be had from the outdoor markets and even stores. Food vendors abound and even most formal cafes and restaurants are cheaper than other major cities you visit. If, however, you drink alcoholic beverages while living in Bangkok, you may find the cost of just a few drinks and appetizers daunting at many of the exclusive bars and clubs. Local beer and spirits are cheap, whereas imported liquor can be quite expensive thanks to high import duties. Be sure to read the menu well. You can also order food via several apps like Wongnai and Happyfresh while taking advantage of discount deals to save money.
Traveling around the city and its suburbs is quite affordable here. The convenience and cheap tickets of the BTS and MRT lines means you can get around pretty easily. Many major attractions, shopping venues, restaurants, and bars are within a few minutes’ walk from the stations. If you need to go further, make use of ride-hailing apps like Grab to find good deals on everything from private cars to bikes. Getting a taxi off the street will likely cost more, especially if the driver realizes you are a foreigner.
With the sustained real estate boom that the city has enjoyed these past decades, it has become something of a renter’s market. There are often far more houses available for rent than tenants and you can even negotiate rates with landlords. If you are willing to travel further away from the city and the BTS lines, housing rates become even lower. If just visiting rather than living in Bangkok, you will find there are a wide variety of options at different price points. From hostels to five-star hotels, any budget can be accommodated at rates lower than most major cities.
Here you get what you pay for. When it comes to electronics, anything original will probably be priced close to major western cities like New York and London. Same goes for motor vehicles. They are imports with high duties, forcing even locals to opt for motorbikes instead. Clothing can be cheap, especially in the markets, but tends to only come in smaller sizes and is of low quality. If you are a larger person and looking for lasting quality, you will likely have to shop at the malls that carry western sizes.