chiang mai monthly budget

I can barely believe it, but somehow I have been living in Thailand for a month. A MONTH.

In honour of this milestone, I’ve OBVIOUSLY been having multiple spreedsheet-gasms today; compiling all the financial data from my previous four weeks of living to produce some spectacular Excel epiphanies.

It is interesting to note that I am terrible at maths and lack anything remotely resembling numerical competence; and YET, I am obsessed with facts, figures and data. Go figure.

Get excited, guys; I am. I’ve made freaking PIE CHARTS and everything. My nerd nipples are erect.

So, I am ready to give you some mad averages and answer my golden question: How much is my monthly Chiang Mai budget?


Chiang Mai budget: Week 4

But first, let’s look quickly at what I spent this week, a whopping £110 ($168USD).

Though £67 ($102) of that was my birthday present from my family: a bicycle. Thanks!!

So if we deduct that one time expense (that I will hopefully make back by selling when I leave, and that will pay for itself in saving me from taxis) then my costs this week sit at £45.

Still a lot, for me. But yes, I did allow myself a few birthday splurges… especially the next day when I couldn’t move after the previous night’s ‘excesses’ of THREE glasses of wine.

Alcohol, you are dead to me.

Monday 29th ฿ £ $AUD $USD
Coffe + sandwhich 75 £1.44 $2.88 $2.21
Chicken + salad 75 £1.44 $2.88 $2.21
Chip 55 £1.06 $2.12 $1.62
Electricity bill (1 month) 49 £0.94 $1.88 $1.44
Water bill (1 month) 28 £0.54 $1.08 $0.82
Total 282 £5.42 $10.85 $8.29
Tuesday 30th ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
Water refill 10 £0.19 $0.38 $0.29
Coconut soup 50 £0.96 $1.92 $1.47
Glass of red 120 £2.31 $4.62 $3.53
Street food meat 30 £0.58 $1.15 $0.88
Total 210 £4.04 $8.08 $6.18
Wednesday 1st ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
Bunch of bannanas 30 £0.58 $1.15 $0.88
Coconut water 36 £0.69 $1.38 $1.06
Burmese lunch 75 £1.44 $2.88 $2.21
Total 141 £2.71 $5.42 $4.15
Thursday 2nd ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
Bicycle 3500 £67.31 $134.62 $102.94
Massage 200 £3.85 $7.69 $5.88
Burmese lunch 35 £0.67 $1.35 $1.03
Iced chocolate 75 £1.44 $2.88 $2.21
Italian birthday dinner 320 £6.15 $12.31 $9.41
Total 4130 £79.42 $158.85 $121.47
Friday 3rd ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
BLT brekky 130 £2.50 $5.00 $3.82
Snacks 200 £3.85 $7.69 $5.88
Laundry 180 £3.46 $6.92 $5.29
Beast burger 100 £1.92 $3.85 $2.94
Total 610 £11.73 $23.46 $17.94
Saturday 4th ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
Chicken + rice 45 £0.87 $1.73 $1.32
Salad 39 £0.75 $1.50 $1.15
Water refill 10 £0.19 $0.38 $0.29
Latte at work space 65 £1.25 $2.50 $1.91
Total 159 £3.06 $6.12 $4.68
Sunday 5th ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
Noodle soup 30 £0.58 $1.15 $0.88
Italian dinner 170 £3.27 $6.54 $5.00
Total 200 £3.85 $7.69 $5.88
Week #4 ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
TOTAL 5732 £110.23 $220.46 $168.59

The more observant among you will note that I had my first set of utility bills. How laughable must they seem, coming in at about £1.50? It is worth noting that I unplug everything, do not use aircon, no longer use my fridge, and am barely ever at home.

I had a few wonderful friends treat me to birthday meals this week… and a yoga class (thanks Nadia!), so if you think I don’t eat much, trust me, I really do.

You will also see that I had my first massage! Yay!

I opted for a Thai one, my first ever, and I found the experience to be in equal parts hellishly awkward and blissfully peculiar. I was literally bent like a pretzel, and in between trying not to kick the poor girl in the face when I inadvertently learned I have a ticklish right leg (just the right one, mind), I preoccupied myself with trying not to giggle or let out an enormous and ill-timed fart.

I happen to be quite flexible, and I believe my pint-sized friend took this as a personal challenge, as she set about with glee to turn me into human origami.

Still, I will probably go again; because although I cant quite articulate why, there is a certain curious delight in letting a tiny, freakishly strong Asian crawl on you for an hour. For £4.

I love this country.


Chiang Mai monthly budget: Month 1 totals

Drumroll please, here we go.

My total monthly outgoings (calculated as four calender weeks) were… £334.77 ($512USD)

TOTAL WEEK #1 8368 £160.92 $321.85 $246.12
TOTAL WEEK #2 1396 £26.85 $53.69 $41.06
TOTAL WEEK #3 1912 £36.58 $73.15 $55.94
TOTAL WEEK #4 5732 £110.23 $220.46 $168.59
MONTH 1 TOTAL 17408 £334.77 $669.54 $512.00

Now what is interesting to note is that I deemed a $500 per month budget to be too high in my original post but obviously I need to admit I was wrong.

Or do I?

Because whilst this has been my first month’s total cost, I do not believe it will be the budget every month. Far from it, actually.

Let’s look at some averages and some spending categories, and I’ll show you why, in actual fact, I believe I can live off just £250 ($386 USD) per month, all in.


Chiang Mai monthly budget: Spending categories

So I can work out where my money is going, and so you can be extra nosey, it is worth breaking my spending down into categories.

I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, and opted for the following blobs of expenditure, which pan out as below:

chiang mai monthly budget

Note: Next month might have to include one solely for coffee. Everyone wants to know about iced lattes, after all?

So most of my calculations are going to be in GBP, because I am British after all, and most of you guys are too; but here are the less than pretty stats in AUD (G’Day loved ones) and USD (Whats up, America?).

Item type ฿ £GBP $AUD $USD
Rent 3925 £75.48 $150.96 $115.44
Utilites 527 £10.13 $20.27 $15.50
One-off items 5184 £99.69 $199.38 $152.47
Food 4184 £80.46 $160.92 $123.06
Water 152 £2.92 $5.85 $4.47
Social 3095 £59.52 $119.04 $91.03
Personal 341 £6.56 $13.12 $10.03
Total 17408 £334.77 $669.54 $512.00


So, my total spending this month breaks down into the following:

chiang mai monthly budget

To clarify, social includes coffees, hobbies, clubs, nights out… basically everything non-essential.

Personal is things like deodorant, toilet roll, shampoo and laundry…. I came out here pretty well stocked, so that’s low right now.

You will note that my rent is low, only for three weeks (usually it will be 5200 baht), but as I moved into my apartment on the 8th not the 1st, this is just how it is. Still, this budget covers four weeks of living costs exactly as they happened, as my rent for this upcoming month I actually paid in my FIFTH week here, my current one.

One-off items includes big purchases such as my fan, swimming goggles, bicycle, etc; and was my SINGLE BIGGEST expense. Hopefully, there will not be any next month, now I am all set up; so this is hardly representative of a real month-month budget. But you get the idea that there is more outlay at the beginning.

I predict from this that next month I can save £100 (no bike, fan, camera charger, swimming goggles to buy), thus reducing my entire budget by almost a third to £230.


Chiang Mai monthly budget: Month 1 averages

This is all very illuminating, but I wanted to take it further and look at what this works out to be day-to-day.

Based on my above categories, the figures for daily spend look like this:

Everything 580.27 £11.16 $22.32 $17.07
Everything, less one-off items 407.47 £7.84 $15.67 $11.98
Everything, less rent & utilities 431.87 £8.31 $16.61 $12.70
Food + water only 144.53 2.78 5.56 4.25
Rent only 130.83 2.52 5.03 3.85
Food, water, social & personal only 259.07 £4.98 $9.96 $7.62


Let’s get pretty with this:

chiang mai monthly budget


So I have lived here this past month, all in, for a total daily cost of £11.

If we deduct those one-off starter items and look at the real day-day costs after, I am living for under £8 a day.

Food and water wise, I am feeding my body on less than £3 a day.

My home costs £2.50 per day.

So to live and eat and do nothing else, would be little over £5 per day. With social and personal, it comes to £8. Wow!

Of course, we all want a social life, and we damn well want those iced lattes.


Chiang Mai monthly budget: Conclusions after 1 month

There is much I could say about my first month here; about the many lessons I have learned and the wonderful people I have met, and also about my voyage into the terrific and terrifying world of freelance writing…. but all this I wish to cover in a separate post. There is much to say, indeed.

Allow me instead to just make a few conclusions about my financial situation based on this haphazard report:

  • This month I have lived for £334. Thats is £11 per day.
  • If we deduct big purchases, then I have lived for £230. That is under £8 per day.
  • I feed and water myself for under £3 per day.
  • I have a roof over my head for £2.50 per day.
  • Next month I aim to live for £250, which I believe is doable as there will be no big purchases.

And a few things to note about this report which should be obvious but I want to stress anyway:

  • This is by no means the cheapest you can live here; you can be a lot more budget than this.
  • Conversely, this is by no means a budget for everyone; I do not drink much, smoke or have expensive tastes. I am very good at budgeting and living a pared-down life, I always have. So take it in that context.
  • Consider the context of Thailand and the relevant wage for most local people.
  • I am not claiming that it is morally correct or appropriate to contribute so little to the local economy, but I am certain that what I do bring (and the people I may inspire to come) still goes some way to benefiting the local industry here. Certainly, more so than if I stayed at home and waited till I was rich (which would be never).

Overall conclusion… I believe I can comfortably live off £250 per month, and in July this is my aim.


I hope these costs have been illuminating for you. If you have any constructive feedback or questions please comment below, especially if there is a better way I could break it down or visualise it next month, or a certain aspect you would like to learn more about.

Thanks for reading!



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