Now that I have spent a little over one month in Thailand I want to share my thoughts on how I like living here so far. This post will share what I consider to be the three biggest pros and cons of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Pros of Living in Thailand
Living in Thailand can be pretty cheap. The biggest savings is on rent. I’m currently living in a studio apartment that rents for 10,000 baht (about $305) a month when rented month-to-month. This apartment is nicer than the basement studio apartment I was renting in Kansas City for $435 a month. My KC rent included water and electricity whereas I have to pay for those in addition to my monthly rent here in Thailand. Factoring that in I am saving about $100 a month on rent. If I were to sign a three month or six month contract I could save even more on rent. I could also save quite a bit by moving to a smaller, more basic apartment. While apartment hunting I found a couples apartments for as cheap as about $170 a month that would have been acceptable. There are apartments even cheaper than that. I didn’t look at the cheaper apartments since I found plenty of nicer apartments that were still less than my monthly budget for rent.
Food is also pretty cheap if you buy Thai food. If you eat at Western style fast food restaurants or fancier restaurants the savings is much less. I’ve found that American fast food costs about the same or maybe even a little more than what I usually paid in KC. This is because I was usually able to use coupons or get app deals back in KC and I don’t think they have those here.
Those are the two biggest potential savings for the expenses I typically spend money on. I’m guessing I’ll end up spending about $800 this month compared to usually spending $1000 or more in KC.
The cost to travel to and from Thailand and obtaining a visa also has to be factored into the cost of living in Thailand. Adding those in Thailand is still cheaper than KC. It isn’t a huge difference though.
2. Weight Loss
I’ve lost a little over 10 pounds since moving here. This is from a combination of more exercise and eating less. Of course, if I exercised more and ate less back in the U.S. I would lose weight there too. However, I find it much easier to lose weight when I’m outside of the United States. I think it is a combination of fast food not being as widespread plus the fact that I walk almost everywhere I want to go. Since I’m not working and have plenty of time I’ve found it easy to get in a routine of working out when I get up in the morning. I also have been going for a swim most afternoons. I’ve had to give that up for a while due to a skin rash which is irritated by the pool chemicals. I’ve replaced the swim with going for a walk in the evening.
Even though I feel like I’m eating way too much fast food and I’m still drinking soda most days I have managed to lose weight anyway. Living here is conducive to me losing weight without even having to try too hard.
3. Women/My Girlfriend
This is probably the biggest pro for me. I met my girlfriend on the night of my first full day in Chiang Mai. We hit it off and have been dating ever since. In the U.S. a woman as attractive as her would probably be out of my league. Here in Thailand she is firmly in my league. And it isn’t just looks, my girlfriend has a great personality too. We’re still getting to know each other, but we joke and laugh a lot and always have a great time when we’re together.
If things were to not work out with me and my girlfriend I would have plenty of other options. I joined a dating site before coming to Thailand (which is where I met my girlfriend) and I received quite a few emails and notifications from other women interested in me. Since I immediately hit it off with my girlfriend I didn’t pursue any other women. Judging from the interest level I don’t think I would have had any trouble finding another woman to date. I could also date a much younger woman if I wanted. My girlfriend is age appropriate and I don’t have any plans to date a much younger woman even if my girlfriend break up, but it is still nice to know the option is there.
Attractiveness is somewhat subjective, but I find Thai women to generally be very attractive. Although I am only dating one woman it is still quite nice to be living in a place where I see lots of attractive women every day.
Cons of Living in Thailand
This is probably the biggest con for me. It is too hot and humid here. Although it is supposed to start getting cooler this month, right now it is still hot every day. Whenever I go outside I end up drenched in sweat. The heat makes it unpleasant to be outside. Despite the heat I do spend a fair bit of time outside each day since I walk to wherever I want to go. I probably spend more time outside here than I did back in KC. The heat also contributes to poor air quality.
The heat is still better than having to deal with the worst of winter. I am adapting to the heat somewhat but I don’t want to be hot all year.
2. Distance from U.S.
Another con is that Thailand is really far away from the U.S. It took me basically a full day to fly from the U.S. to Thailand. The trip actually wasn’t that bad and I’m okay with making the trip a couple times a year. The drawback to the distance is that I can’t make a quick trip to see friends and family. Those visits will have to be done during the part of the year I’m in the U.S.
The bigger potential pitfall of being so far away is that it would take me a long time to get back to the U.S. if there were an emergency. Also, a last-minute flight would likely be prohibitively expensive. My mother is in good health, but she is in her 70’s. If she had a serious health problem it would take quite some time for me to be able to get back to see her.
3. I Can’t Work Here
For this trip I saved up money to pay my expenses for the 2 1/2 months I’m living here. It looks like I will end up with plenty of those savings left over at the end of the trip.
The biggest cost of this trip isn’t the money I’m spending while here. I will probably end up spending less money on this trip than I would have spent if I had just stayed in KC. The big cost of this trip is all of the money that I am not making while I’m living here. I really can’t afford to have 3 or more months of the year where I’m not making any money.
There are some possible solutions to not making any money while living in Thailand. Lots of people living in Thailand make money by teaching English online. I have looked into that and may start teaching English once I return to the U.S. so that I can continue teaching when I return to Thailand.
Teaching English is just one way to make money online. If I could get this blog and my other sites making money like they were several years ago the income from them would easily cover my living expenses in Thailand. I’m not sure if I’ll ever make that much money from my blogs again, but I should probably start working on them more to see what is possible.
Overall, I’m undecided if I will return to Thailand next year. If I am able to maintain my relationship with my girlfriend while I’m back in the States, then I will definitely return to Thailand next year. If not, I’m not sure whether I will return. I’m having a good experience here in Thailand and I’m glad I came. That being said, if I’m only looking at cost I think I could probably have a similar experience in a country much closer to the U.S. There are a couple more issues I wanted to address in this post, but I think I will wrap it up here.
If there are any readers out there who happen to be in Chiang Mai, let me know, I would love to meet up.
2 thoughts on “Living in Chiang Mai Thailand – One Month Update”
Really impressed by how much you pay for rent. I would love to be able to roam the world, but have to keep my travels relatively short right now. This new AirBnB project requires me to be around, at least until I can afford to outsource everything.
The rent is the biggest savings. Everything else isn’t much different since I’m already so frugal in the U.S. Although you might have to keep your travels short you do travel quite a bit. The AirBnB project will probably be worth sticking around for a while.
I might finally move to Florida next year. There isn’t anything keeping me in KC now other than my job. If I can convince them to let me work remote I’d rather live in Florida. In addition to the warmer winter I’d also not have to pay the KC 1% earnings tax and the Missouri 6% state tax. Moving would give me a nice raise.