Budgeting in Thailand: Part 2
Moving abroad can be very daunting, especially if it’s your first time away from home. How will you do your laundry? What does budgeting for groceries even mean? Jokes aside, the unknown is as exciting as it is scary. This is why I’m going to share with you some ways to be more prepared for making the move abroad. Hopefully, I will cover all those bits and pieces which tend to slip through the cracks while you’re planning. Due to the fact that I am currently based in Thailand, this article will be more specific to Thailand but can be loosely applied to any big move out of home or abroad.
Did you miss the first part of this article series? Find it here.
When moving away from home it is a good idea to have a checklist of all the new monthly costs you will now incur. You can do this with an older sibling or your parents who have experience in what needs to be considered. If you are a bit stubborn and want to show everyone you can do this on your own then my checklist below will help you without having to ask for help.
When looking for your new apartment make sure you know your maximum budget for rental and stick to it, even if the estate agent shows you an amazing place a bit over budget, be firm and kindly decline, because it will happen. With rental, you must also take into account the upfront deposit. In most countries this amount is one month of rent. In Thailand they ask for 2 months of rent. This is because they have so many westerners coming and breaking a lease once they are ready to move on, that they need to cover themselves. What this means is if your rent is 8000 baht then the first month you will pay rent 8000 baht ($249) + 2 months deposit 16000 baht, which is a total of 24000 baht ($ 720) in one month. It seems like a large chunk but if you have not damaged the apartment in anyway when you leave you will get this amount back. So think of it as a savings with no interest.
Monthly expenses sadly don’t end with rent. We also have to pay for the water and power we use monthly. Many countries around the world include the utilities in the rent amount. You will see this in the advert as “all-inclusive”. This is not the case in Thailand so you need to take this into consideration over and above rent. Your average for utilities will be between 500 – 1000 baht ($15 -$30) per month. This depends on how much you use your air con unit. Savings tip is to have your air con set to economy, it cools just as well but uses less power.
One of the most crucial monthly costs is the cost of feeding yourself. This is always a more complex amount as some months you may eat out more and other months you may cook at home more. It tends to take a few months to settle into a proper food budget. My advice for this is to budget on spending 6000 baht a month on food and for the first few months have a budget of up to 10 000 baht a month to cover that time it takes to get into a grocery routine. Check out one of my older articles on eating out vs eating in for more about food in Thailand.
You may be lucky enough to have a washing machine in your apartment or the building may offer a washing service. If not then there are self-service laundry places all around Thailand. They aren’t on Google maps so ask around or look out for them while you’re getting to know the area. A small load cost 30 baht ($ 0, 90) and bigger is 40 baht ($ 1, 20).
Your building or apartment may come with internet or WIFI already set up and installed. If not there are two main internet service providers. Check with the building first which provider they use. Many of the newer buildings or areas can only use certain providers due to the cables which have been installed in the area. The suppliers are TOT and 3BB. TOT is about 600 baht ($ 18) a month with initial installation at 1000 baht ($ 30). Then 3BB is 6000 baht ($ 180) for the year they only do year contracts and you pay the amount once upfront, which can be more convenient than paying monthly.
Depending on where you stay you will have varying transport costs. It is more convenient to stay walking distance from the place you will be working as it saves you lots of time and a bit of money on transport. There are many different transport options in Thailand and around their smaller towns. Have a read of a previous article on details of the different transport options. Your average transport costs will be 1000 – 1200 baht a month, but this will vary depending on your distance you need to travel.
Above is a summary of the main costs you will incur monthly. It will vary from person to person as it depends on your spending habits. The above costs can be used as a starting point to budget for your move. Coming over to Thailand you need to get used to using cash for everything even to pay your rent. You can use credit cards for very large purchases but the fee is high so get used to a cash is king world. I hope the above will help in your move across. If you have any other questions about moving abroad reach out to me on twitter at @The_Curious_T.
About the Author
Tatum Condon a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One’s Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she does it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of my life adventures and experiences.