If you are a retiree or a pensioner like me, faced with living out the rest of your days on a modest fixed income that arrives on exactly the same day each month. The idea of living the rest of your life in a warm, always sunny city or resort town that welcomes foreigners with a smile must sound more like a dream than reality.

But it’s no dream to the thousands of foreigners with a less than lucrative pension who’ve already chosen to retire in the Kingdom of Thailand.

They’ve already turned their retirement dream into reality. What about you? It’s much easier and affordable that you might imagine.

Think about it. Who doesn’t want to live in a place where it’s possible to feel the sand between your toes and a warm breeze on your face by day; and to enjoy a cool drink and feel the smooth skin of a beautiful woman by night?

Living or retiring in Thailand can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. But it doesn’t matter if you’re, a ‘frugal Freddy’ a ‘Cheap Charley’ or just a ‘Regular Joe’ who’s not exactly rolling in the dough, you can live like a King in Thailand on a pauper’s pension.

Well, okay, maybe not exactly like a King, but your lifestyle in Thailand will be a hell of a lot closer to that of royalty than it will be if you remain in a dreary, high priced working class town such as Birmingham, Detroit or Perth.

Here is just one example to illustrate my point of how much less it costs to live in Thailand’s premier tourist destination.

The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment as of October 2015, in these three cities located in the United Kingdom, the United States and in Australia are as follows:

Birmingham, England: £464 or 25,588 Thai baht per month
Detroit, America: $706 or 25,683 Thai baht per month
Perth, Australia: $1,381 or 35,715 Thai baht per month

Now let’s look at the price of an average one bedroom apartment in Pattaya Beach, one of Thailand’s most popular destinations for foreign tourists and retirees:

Pattaya Beach, Thailand: 14,252 Thai baht per month

After doing the sums, that’s an average of 14,726 Thai baht or the equivalent of £267 English pounds – $405 US dollars – $569 Australian dollars less per month, just on what you’d pay for an apartment!

If this fact alone isn’t enough to convince you that retiring to Thailand makes good financial sense, and that it will actually be less expensive than your present location; then I suggest that you read on. Why, because I’m going to spell out precisely how you can retire in Thailand on a bare bones budget of just 65,000 Thai baht per month.

Life’s Unavoidable Monthly Expenditures

No matter where you live in the world there are certain inescapable expenses that must be paid in order to live one’s life. That’s right; I’m talking about monthly bills. Thailand is no different than anywhere else in the world – unless you consider the fact that in Thailand, you will be paying a lot less for all those unavoidable monthly expenses.

The following is an invented budget. But it is also a very realistic rough average of what you can expect a budget of 65,000 baht per month to buy for you in Pattaya. Obviously, each of the following basic expenditures can be squeezed down even lower or they can become drastically higher. It all depends on your personal finances, your needs, and the type of lifestyle you wish to live.

Visa
Although this is not one of the most expensive expenditures you’ll encounter, it could very well be the most important, because in Thailand every foreigner must have the proper visa.

So to start things off, you will need to eventually be the holder of a Thai retirement or Non Immigrant ‘O/A’ Long Stay Visa.

Without going into all the details, and as long as you apply for the retirement visa yourself, rather than hire a professional visa service or a lawyer to do it for you, after you factor in the price of the required passport photos and photocopies it will cost approximately 167 Thai baht per month if you were to spread the 2,000 baht fee over the 12 month period for which the visa is valid. Okay, so there’s 167 Thai baht in our imaginary shopping cart, which we will use to keep track of how much we are spending each month.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa

Accommodations
There are literally thousands of apartments, condominiums, houses and villas for rent in the greater Pattaya area. How much you choose to spend is up to you, or more realistically, it’s probably up to your budget.

I have lived in Pattaya Beach, Thailand for 14 years. During that time I have resided in rented apartments and condos that ranged in price from as low as 2,500 baht per month to as high as 36,000 baht per month … neither of which I would recommend, because neither one was appropriate for my particular needs.

I currently live, in relatively new and very clean third floor, semi-furnished studio apartment. From which, after a 15 minute leisurely walk, I can feel the sands of Pattaya Beach beneath my feet. If I were to walk one minute further, my feet would be totally immersed in the warm water of Pattaya Bay. In other words I’m a little more than a stone’s throw away from the beach

I’m paying exactly 3,400 Thai baht per month to rent that apartment. I pay a further 800 or so baht for my electricity, 150 baht for water, a 50 baht fee for garbage collection, and 600 baht for internet service provided by the Thai telephone company. I almost forgot to mention that my cable TV service is included in the price of my rent.

That’s 5,000 baht or the equivalent of £90.66$137.56 US dollars$193.57 Australian dollars, all in for my monthly shelter and utility expenses combined! Try doing that where you live.

My monthly expenditures are well below the average, so a room such as mine might be considered “too basic” for some as it does not have an air conditioner nor does the building have a swimming pool. Because many retirees living on a budget want or need those amenities, they spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 16,000 Thai baht per month for their accommodations.

In Pattaya, there are numerous estate agents and property sales agencies that have hundreds of current listings for rental properties, many of which would fall into 6,000 to 16,000 THB price range that fits a retiree’s modest budget.

One such example listed by Love Pattaya Property is this fully furnished 60 square meter, one bedroom, and one bathroom condo with a full kitchen: www.lovepattayaproperty.com/en-gb/realestate/pratumnak/condo

It rents for the amazingly low price of just 15,000 Thai baht per month. As an added bonus, it is situated practically on top of what is arguably the finest beach in Pattaya. So let’s add this as our accommodations to our bargain budget shopping cart.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 – Apartment

Utilities
Moving on, of all the basic monthly expenditures the utility bills will vary the most, depending on how often you use them and to whom you pay the bill.

Electricity
By “to whom you pay the bill”, I mean, it depends on whether you receive an electricity bill in the mail sent from the state owned Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) or if you receive a hand written or printed monthly statement from either your landlord the building’s manager?

If the bill arrives in the post and is from the PEA then you will be paying the official government rate for electricity, which is just a fraction over 4 Thai baht, including all taxes, per kilowatt.

If the bill is attached to your rental statement and is hand delivered or slipped under your door by your landlord or building manager each month, then there’s a pretty good chance that they have marked the price per kilowatt up from 4 baht to anywhere from 7 baht to 11 Thai baht per kilowatt. In this case you are paying double or triple the government rate. And if you’re wondering where that extra money goes- it goes right into, your landlord is pocket!

To put this into context, at my place I pay the higher price of 11 Thai baht per kilowatt. My most recent electric bill was 765 Thai baht, but had I lived in a place whose electric bill came directly from the PEA, it would have been around 385 Thai baht instead.

Unfortunately, every apartment building that I’ve ever lived in marks up the price of their electricity. Each however, has a different rate so it is possible to shop around and find a place that has a slightly cheaper rate than the 11 baht that I’m paying. In most cases, houses and condominiums are the rental properties whose electric bill will come directly from the PEA and not the landlord.

Therefore, when looking for a place it’s a good idea to always inquire how much the rental property you are considering to rent charges per unit or kilowatt. This is important because if you regularly run an air conditioner for long periods of time you could be facing with an electricity bill that could be as much as 6,000 Thai baht or more!

Because it is impossible to know precisely how much your particular electricity bill will be each month lets add 2,000 Thai baht to our shopping cart for that monthly expense.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 – Apartment
• 2,000 – Electricity

Water
As far as the monthly water bill goes, the official rate is roughly 13 Thai baht, including taxes, per cubic meter. Once again depending on whom you pay your bill to, the price can range from the going rate of 13 baht to as much as 50 Thai baht per unit. Some rental properties, such as mine, charge a flat rate regardless of how much water you use.

My current water bill is always at the flat rate of 150 Thai baht each month. At my last place, I was charged 35 Thai baht per unit and while living there my monthly water bill was always 70 Thai baht. However, during my stay in Thailand, I’ve never had a water bill that exceeded 300 Thai baht. And that was when I lived in a place that charged 50 baht per unit and a second person was staying with me. So we’ll split the difference between the two and add 225 Thai baht into the shopping cart for the water bill.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 baht – Apartment
• 2,000 baht – Electricity
• 225 baht – Water

Internet
The price for internet service is all over the map. In many of the newer building FREE wifi is often included in the monthly rent. Some landlords will charge a monthly fee of around 300 baht for wifi or internet service. In older buildings you may have to subscribe to an internet service provider and depending on the package and bandwidth you choose, you may pay as much as 1,000 Thai baht per month or more.

My current building has no internet, but I can pick up the wifi from the building next door for free. However, because wifi is a bit slower, I decided to sign a one year contract with the TOT, the state owned telephone company for a direct internet line of my own. I had to pay them 1,000 Thai baht for a wireless modem router (which I now own), they waived the 1,000 Thai baht installation fee, and I pay 600 baht per month. If I cancel the contract before one year, I have to pay a 2,000 Thai baht penalty.

If you meet or know someone in your building, you can share your contracted internet service and split the monthly internet fee. This is easily done by simply plugging another cable into the router and running it to the computer in your friend’s room. If you do this, your TOT internet feel will now be 300 baht instead for each person. On my particular router there are three ports for the internet Ethernet cable. Therefore, I could split the cost three ways, if I ever choose to do so.

Because we’re not sharing a router, we’ll add 683 Thai baht into the shopping cart: 83 Thai baht per month for the cost of the router, plus 600 Thai baht for the internet service.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 baht – Apartment
• 2,000 baht – Electricity
• 225 baht – Water
• 683 baht – Internet

Cable TV
Just like the internet service there are a wide variety of options when it comes to cable and satellite TV. But since we’re on a budget, let’s forget about satellite TV and focus only on cable TV for now. Virtually every condominium and apartment building that I have lived in Thailand had cable TV. The prices varied between free (where I now live) and 500 Thai baht per month. Most however, have charged 300 Thai baht per month, so that’s exactly what we’ll add to the shopping cart.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 baht – Apartment
• 2,000 baht – Electricity
• 225 baht – Water
• 683 baht – Internet
• 300 baht – Cable TV

Phone
These days, because most folks rely only on their mobile phones, most buildings are no longer equipped with old fashioned landline phones. Upon arrival in Thailand, after purchasing a Thai SIM card and phone number for around 150 Thai baht, it is up to you how much you spend each month on phone credit. Unless you’re calling overseas all the time or are talking non-stop, you can figure on spending between 500 and 1,000 Thai baht per month. Personally 500 baht on my mobile phone will last me three months! But to be reasonable I’ll split the difference and add 600 Thai baht to the shopping cart.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 baht – Apartment
• 2,000 baht – Electricity
• 225 baht – Water
• 683 baht – Internet
• 300 baht – Cable TV
• 600 baht – Phone

Laundry
In Thailand there are pretty much three method in which to do your laundry. The cheapest way is to wash everything by hand in a large plastic tub like many Thais do.

For most Westerners that’s not really practical. Option two is to use a coin operated washing machine. Probably about fifty per cent of condominium buildings or apartment blocks will have one or several coin operated machine of various sizes for small, medium and large loads of laundry.

I use the coin operated machines to do my laundry. I typically do one load a week in the medium sized machine which costs either 30 or 40 Thai baht per load. A bag of washing powder sells for approximately 70 Thai baht and is good for between 15 and 20 loads of laundry. That works out to 146 Thai baht per month – 130 baht for the machine and about 16 Thai baht for the washing powder.

However, if you do not have a coin operated machine nearby or simply cannot be bothered, there’s always several professional laundry services located near every apartment or condominium building.

At most of these local laundries if you drop of your dirty laundry in the morning, you can usually pick up your cleaned and pressed laundry the next afternoon. Most charge similar prices and in my experience the equivalent of a single load of laundry cost roughly about 200 Thai baht. When using the professional laundry services I tried to limit my laundry to only three loads per month.

Therefore, depending on which option you choose, a month’s laundry will cost either 146 baht or 600 Thai baht per month. Once again, we’ll split the difference and place 373 Thai baht in the shopping cart for each month’s laundry.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 baht – Apartment
• 2,000 baht – Electricity
• 225 baht – Water
• 683 baht – Internet
• 300 baht – Cable TV
• 600 baht – Phone
• 373 baht – Laundry

Food
The cost of food is a subject that is just about impossible to calculate for everybody. In my experience in Thailand you can eat well for as little as 200 Thai baht per day or for as much as 1,500 Thai baht per day or even more.

Because Pattaya is a tourist and a resort town there are literally thousands of eating options that run the gambit of all nationalities. Whether you fancy a home cooked meal, enjoy Thai street food, gobble fast food or scarf down pub grub or insist that everything you eat must be haute cuisine, it’s all here.

With so many restaurants competing for a finite number of tourists and customers there are a huge number of buffets, weekly and daily specials and cheap eats to take advantage of.

For example here are just a fraction of the great meal deals to be found every day in and around Pattaya:
Monday: 2 x Australian fillet steaks for 550 Baht with New Nordics steak and grill buy one get one free offer
Tuesday: at all americain restaurant they do an offer of 2 x 3 course meals and 2 movie tickets to the latest block buster for 1000 Baht
Wednesday: at the Sportsman Pub and Grill a burger, fries and a beer for just 150 Thai baht!
Thursday: at the Thai Garden Resort, an all you can eat german buffet with a spit roast
Friday: at the Punch and Judy Pub, fish and chips for just 199 baht!

Personally, I only eat twice a day and occasionally a third time after a late night out. My menu consist of 50% cheap and tasty Thai street food where my average meal costs about 60 Thai baht, and 50% foreign food where my average meal runs around 250 Thai baht. Because my eating habits are probably not the same as yours, I’ll up the ante to 500 Thai baht per day, which means we’ll have to add 15,200 Thai baht to the shopping cart.

Shopping Cart
• 167 baht – Visa
• 15,000 baht – Apartment
• 2,000 baht – Electricity
• 225 baht – Water
• 683 baht – Internet
• 300 baht – Cable TV
• 600 baht – Phone
• 373 baht – Laundry
• 15,200 baht – Food

Transportation
When it comes to getting around town, I walk because I need the exercise and because most of the places I need to go are well, within walking distance.

When I do have to travel farther than I want to walk I use Pattaya’s most common form of public transportation – which is known as a “baht bus”. Your own two feet combined with one or two baht busses will see you to most any destination within the city center that you need to visit. The fare for a one way trip on a baht bus’s regular route will cost only 10 Thai baht and another 10 baht for the return trip! When it comes right down to it, the baht bus is probably the best value for money in all of Pattaya.

It is also possible to negotiate a fare for a baht bus to take you to a specific destination within a reasonable distance that is not on its regular route. Depending on where you want to go the fare can range anywhere from 60 baht to 400 Thai baht or more.

If you’re in a hurry, there are also motorbike taxis waiting at just about every street corner which will take you to any destination for a fee that must be negotiated. The fare for a motorbike taxi starts at 30 baht and goes up from there.

For long distance travelling such as getting to and from the airport, the bus service in Thailand is very cheap and very efficient. A one way trip from Pattaya City to the international airport near Bangkok will cost approximately 300 Thai baht.

Personally, I find it very easy to get around without owning any personal transportation. On average I probably spend no more than 200 Thai baht per month on baht busses and motorcycle taxis combined. But let’s triple that amount and add 600 Thai baht to the shopping cart because some of you may not like to walk as much as I do.

Shopping Cart
167 baht – Visa
15,000 baht – Apartment
2,000 baht – Electricity
225 baht – Water
683 baht – Internet
300 baht – Cable TV
600 baht – Phone
373 baht – Laundry
15,200 baht – Food
600 baht – Transportation

Entertainment
Entertainment is one of those things that can really cause the wheels to fly right off the cart in regard to a monthly budget. Entertainment being the broad topic that it is – is for the purpose of this article comprised of alcohol consumption, nightlife, sport and all other forms of amusement or recreation.

Don’t forget that the beach is free, films can be downloaded from the internet for free; hanging out with your friends or your girlfriend is free (well almost); many books and newspapers can be read online for free, and watching sports, films and the news on cable TV is also almost practically free. You don’t always have to spend money to be entertained.

If drinking and women are your only passion you’ll certainly be living in the right town, as Pattaya’s nightlife and bar scene is what put this town on, and kept it on the map. However, if that’s what you are here for, and you’re on a budget, you may have to rein in your appetites to just a couple of good nights out per week.

Nevertheless, if you were to budget, say 4,000 Thai baht per week for whatever form of “entertainment” you fancy, it’s unlikely that you’ll be disappointed. Right, so that’s another 17,333 baht per month into the shopping cart.

Shopping Cart
167 baht – Visa
15,000 baht – Apartment
2,000 baht – Electricity
225 baht – Water
683 baht – Internet
300 baht – Cable TV
600 baht – Phone
373 baht – Laundry
15,200 baht – Food
600 baht – Transportation
17,333 baht – Entertainment

Other
“Other” includes all of the miscellaneous stuff that we all seem to need. You know like a note pad or a new umbrella, a haircut or maybe a newspaper, etc. Most of this “stuff” does not run up a huge monthly bill or at least it doesn’t for me.

For example the going rate for a man’s haircut is 80 Thai baht. A newspaper is 20 Thai baht. You can get a decent short sleeved shirt for 100 to 300 Thai baht. I also recently had to have a virus removed from my computer. That cost 600 Thai baht. However, because you don’t have to do these things every day it doesn’t take that big of a bite out of your budget.

Once you’ve set yourself up in Pattaya, and have most of the things you need, you probably won’t spend more than 2,000 Thai baht per month on “stuff”. I probably spend half that much. So let’s throw another 1,500 Thai baht into the shopping cart to cover the cost of “stuff” or “other”.

Shopping Cart
167 baht – Visa
15, 000 baht – Apartment
2,000 baht – Electricity
225 baht – Water
683 baht – Internet
300 baht – Cable TV
600 baht – Phone
373 baht – Laundry
15,200 baht – Food
600 baht – Transportation
17,333 baht – Entertainment
1,500 baht – Other

GRAND TOTAL … 53,978 Thai baht per month … That leaves you with a monthly surplus of 11,022 Thai baht per month!

Obviously the above budget that we’ve just created is only a basic budget that covers one’s basic needs. It will no doubt vary from one individual to another. Plus, any of the estimated monthly expenditures could be fine tuned by adding to or subtracting from the estimated amount to meet your basic requirements.
I’ve intentionally ignored a number of things, like health care for example, because I’ve never had to see a doctor for any reason as I’ve been accident free and never been seriously ill.

I have however; have lived in Pattaya for the past 7 years and I spend substantially less than 53,978 Thai baht for all of my monthly expenditures. If I can do it for less there’s no reason why you cannot do it for 65,000 Thai baht per month.

  1. It’s a goal. Just a retreat…. life is short and all these benefits should have started earlier. I began to live in Thailand when I was 31. 6 months per year. So when I will be retired I won’t enjoy a high pension. Now it’s your turn. Have fun you all

  2. I agree with your estimate except that you ommitted an important must….healthcare. as i age my costs have gone up each year for eyecare, pharmacy needs and hospital visits.. my costs over the past 2 years average 12,000 a month. There is no way to predict my or others needs. But it should be noted.

  3. You must get a huge pension to be able to.live on a budget that size (65k). There are cheaper ways to live in Thailand, but certainly without any luxuries.

  4. thx this very informative as im thinking of relocating to thailand..is a long stay visa possible if your not a pensioner yet ?

    Regards

    Riegal

  5. fantastic info , I enjoyed the read , I was there in patts in march for 3 weeks and if we want too cheap Charlie we can always find the cheap wine bars and 2 for 1 bars which always helps 7/eleven is good value also I had some microwave foods from there for breakfast /evening meals many times at great prices also 2nd road the breakfast hotel there offers great choice eat many things and cheaper if you buy 10 days booklets use at any time have a great life my friend best wishes there

  6. Hi there
    How about Health Insurance living in Thailand ?
    I am a 66 years old Norwegian thinking of retire and live in Thai very soon.
    If I am living outside Norway for more than 6 month a year I will loose much of my benefits in Norway regarding free Healthcare.
    If serious of illness I can go back to Norway for treatment paying a little fee every month.to keep this benefit.
    I am thinking of an Insurance who keep me safe for more easy treatments during my stay in Thailand.

  7. Dear Jules thanks for your review of living expenses in Thailand. Usually travel to Pattaya for 2 weeks per year & really enjoy the lifestyle. However not prepared to dive in the deep end & retire full time in Thailand. I am a 61 year old male living on a self funded retirement pension. I was interested in getting a 90 day Thai Visa to escape winter chills in Australia. I would like rental accommodation for 3 months with usual amenities like a pool, internet & air-con.
    1. Please recommend any establishments with mod coms to cater for my short term stay & estimate monthly rental costs.
    2. As I have a heart condition I would need medical/ travel insurance. Please advise insurance options & monthly premiums. Thanks Jules happy to speak to you in person on my next trip to Pattaya.

  8. You forgot the life/sick insurance…..

  9. I have talked to some people that live there on a full time basis and they have said the same thing 60000 basic living and 70000 comfortable living

  10. Thank you for the info. Great reading especially as i am seriously contemplating moving to Pattaya from Perth WA. As i am 67 & made some unfortunate investment decisions i cannot in reality afford to live here in Perth. Have visited Pattaya on a few occasions & love the people & lifestyle, but i have a lot to learn.

    Cheers
    Bob.

  11. Thanks very much I av been going to pattaya now for 8 yrs I am thinking of starting a little bisssiness up just selling burgers an chips an fish an chip s on scooters I will want four people doing it for me and one lady to do all paper work I am only at this point looking at it can you give me any advise please my email kevin.phillips123@btinternet.com Thank you

  12. 65K a Month, i could live in London for less.

    1. Not living in a one bedroom apartment by yourself you couldn’t, no chance of that in London.

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