chiang mai set up costs

I’ve been here one week… wow! Its time to review some costs… (and then soon some more fun stuff!)

I have several reasons for my move to Chiang Mai, which I cover fully here in due course; but the most critical factor for me is the low cost of living.

But just how low, is low?

Before I moved here I naturally did a lot of research into the associated costs and what kind of monthly budget I could expect to live on. Mostly, this research took the form of blogs and simply asking people who had lived out here.

I roughly knew the cost to be about $150 (US) for rent each month, so I was somewhat surprised to read that $500 (US) was the typical monthly outgoing for a digital nomad. I devoured blog post after blog post listing the monthly expenditures, and I had to conclude that $500 was simply not necessary.  These were the budgets of people that had full gym memberships, a 2 bed house in the burbs, a coffee addiction bordering on grotesque, and the willingness to spend triple the amount on western restaurants and food. They also tended to pay for a co-working space, which easily eats up a couple hundred dollars too.

All these things are very lovely, and if you come out here with a little money then there is no reason you shouldn’t live like a king (or queen) and continue your western lifestyle at a fraction of the cost. Fair play to them all. Given the chance, of course I would eat at Salad Concept every day and enjoy a salad the size of my head for £2! Of course I would rent a working space and get a gym membership and go for massages every five minutes (I found one the other day… £3 for an hour!).

But I can’t.

Or I could. And last a month. But I am aiming for six.

So I have decided, in the spirit of true accountability, to record and publish every single outgoing. Yep. Every last baht. The rationale for this is twofold- so you guys can see just how cheaply you can live here, and also so I can hold myself publicly accountable and improve my spending habits as the weeks go on.

Maybe it will bore you to tears, or maybe you will love reading about the cost of Thai tampons. Only time will tell; but I do plan to bare all.

This particular post I can only focus on my first week, on my Chiang Mai set up costs. So naturally when I do my monthly budget review, this month will be higher than all the others. One would expect that anyway, given that I have had to find the cheap places the hard way… and ended up paying triple what I should for a coffee by getting it in the western part of town.

And the quest for wifi, till I find my favourite spot, soon adds up.

We live and we learn. By week 3, I should be smashing it.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my detailed set up costs thus far, not including the flights here (which are so variable it would be silly to include).


Week #1 total spend: £163

(Not including deposit of £259, which I get back)

Accommodation THB 17,211.60 / £333

  • Rent (9th june to 30th june) THB 3,811 / £74
  • Deposit, fully refunded on departure (room, key card, tv) 13,400 / £259

Wifi, work space, and mobile 3g THB 480 / £9

  • A whooping 4.5gb of mobile data for less than a tenner p/m?!
  • This also includes unlimited wifi at their hotspots, and unlimited use and access to their 24hr work space on the 5th floor of the Maya shopping centre

Day by day random expenses (drinks, food, random ad hoc expenses) THB 4123 £80

Monday THB 309 / £6

  • Taxi from airport to hostel 160
  • Dinner of noodles and chicken 45
  • Water 10
  • McDonalds ice cream (haters gunna hate) 9
  • Iced frappe 85

Tuesday THB 1140 / £22

  • Lunch of rice and veggies 35
  • Iced frappe 85
  • Nikon camera battery charger (lost somewhere in Peru, my bad) 540
  • McDonald’s spicy chicken and rice (again, haters can hate… I was stuck braless in a downpour and had to take shelter… and anyway it was bloody delicious) 59
  • Hostel checkout, one nights accommodation 114
  • Tuk tuk ride across city with my bags 100
  • 3 beers 100
  • Toilet roll and 6l of water 71

Wednesday THB 400 / £8

  • Huge salad and green tea at western-style restaurant 140
  • All you can eat Thai buffet 210
  • Beer 50

Thursday THB 145 / £3

  • Omelette and rice 20
  • Refill my 6l water bottle with filtered water 5
  • Meditation class 50
  • Watermelon snack 10
  • 7/11 snack 5
  • Coffee 90
  • Tea 65

Friday THB 155 / £3

  • Omelette and rice 20
  • Pad thai 50
  • Coffee 35
  • Iced Latte 50

Saturday THB 1000 / £20

  • Yoghurt and muesli (western brekky) 90
  • Water refill 6
  • Goggles 450
  • Green tea 20
  • Street food 20
  • Hangers 69
  • Groceries 265

Sunday THB 974 / £19

  • Fan 590
  • Groceries 350
  • Paper 29
  • Snack 5

Monday THB 0 / £0

  • Yay!


Next week… better!

Of course, these figures are significantly higher than any week to come. I am appalled I spent £80 on random stuff this week… next week i hope my food and drinks will be way down, and of course a few big items like a fan and swimming goggles really set me back.

My rent will usually be 5200 / £100 per month (5000 / £96 if on the second floor… but the view is worth it to me, I’ll just sacrifice a couple of coffees instead), and I estimate that if I am careful I can live off 100 / £2 per day for food and drinks, perhaps less if I want to really skimp. There are meals here for 20 / 38p, so this is not out of the question.

That deposit makes me cry a little bit, even though I get it all back. Kinda need it now, yo.

The monthly cost for mobile internet I had to think long and hard about. Yes, it is cheap, but I could go without. AIS do a cheaper deal of 70 / £1.35 for just the wifi access to their co-working space

There will be bills at the end of the month as well- water and electric- but I am expecting these to be very minimal as I use hardly anything. The whole focus of my life right now is on being low impact and leading a very basic existence.

My curiosity tells me there may be infinite beauty and learning potential in such a pursuit, and I am beyond excited for this new experiment. Let’s see how cheaply I can live for…

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