Projected Budget: $1K/month in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Doi Suthep temple

I’m starting a new series where I project how much it will cost us to live long-term in [whatever city we choose!]. By long-term I mean as long as our tourist visas allow (usually 1-3 months). The budget will be for the 2 of us.

My first entry will be about Chiang Mai, Thailand. We plan to stay in Thailand for at least 3-months to relax and settle into our new travel & work schedules.

Travel for 2 to Chiang Mai:

  • Plane 1-way Cologne to Bangkok: 500 EUR ($550 USD)
  • Overnight train Bangkok to Chiang Mai, 1st class sleeper: 72 EUR ($80 USD)
  • Total: 572 EUR ($635 USD)

Visa fees for 2:

  • 60 day multiple-entry visas: 300 EUR ($333 USD)
  • 30-day extensions: 96 EUR ($120 USD)
  • Total: 396 EUR ($453 USD)

Health insurance for 2, monthly: 

  • Travel health insurance: 100 EUR ($111 USD)

Fixed costs for 2, monthly:

  • Rent 1 bedroom/studio in Nimmanhaemin area: 200 EUR ($220 USD)
  • Electricity: 25 EUR ($28 USD)
  • Drinking water: 8 EUR ($9 USD)
  • Internet: 26 EUR ($30 USD)
  • Total: 259 EUR ($287 USD)

VEGAN food for 2, monthly:

  • Groceries VEGAN: 100 EUR ($110 USD)
  • Eating out VEGAN: 50 EUR ($56 USD)
  • Total: 150 EUR ($165 USD)

Variable costs & lifestyle, monthly:

  • Co-working space:  30 EUR ($56 USD) * we may or may not use this
  • Prepaid SIM/phone: 20 EUR ($22 USD)
  • Bicycle maintenance: 10 EUR ($11 USD)
  • Laundry: 7 EUR ($8 USD)
  • Entertainment & misc: 30 EUR ($23 USD)
  • Bank fees: 7 EUR ($8 USD)
  • Transportation (taxis, busses, etc…): 10 EUR ($12 USD) * we plan to bike everywhere 
  • Total: 114 EUR ($126 USD)

Set up costs (buying things we’ll need):

  • Rice cooker: 20 EUR ($23 USD)
  • Dishes, utensils, sharp fruit knives: 10 EUR ($12 USD)
  • Misc: 10 EUR ($11 USD)
  • Total: 40 EUR ($44 USD) *one-time cost

Our monthly Chiang Mai budget (if we stay for 3 months):  946 EUR ($1050 USD) 

Total for 3 months: 2838 EUR ($3150 USD)

Based on what others have shared online, it seems a reasonable budget to live in Chiang Mai as an expat. Most people report spending $1K/month for a single person, and some even spend as low as $500-$600/month. We’re a couple so our per person costs will be less than a single who leads a similar lifestyle, because we can divide everything by 2.

We also lead a vegan lifestyle which really saves us money no matter where we are in the world. While there are plenty of vegan restaurants in Chiang Mai, we’re only planning to eat out a few times a month. We like to prepare our own foods and plan to eat a lot of all-fruit meals. Our entertainment will be training by riding up Doi Suthep mountain everyday/every other day, and we anticipate that we’ll meet other vegan cyclists and make it even more social.

If we stay for longer than 3-months (I’m guessing we’ll want to prolong it to 6-months), our monthly costs should go down because the plane ticket and other costs will be spread over a longer period. Even though this budget seems tight, there is actually a lot room to trim down if we wanted. Since our goal isn’t to live as cheaply as possible, I think this should be fine.


  1. // Reply

    Is there any reason you want to buy a first class ticket to Chiang Mai? 2nd class was great for us.

    1. // Reply

      The train ticket prices range from 11-36 EUR, so I just took the highest cost ticket to make the budget. But yes, we will likely not choose the most expensive option. Same with the flat! We can find nice enough places for 150 EUR or less.

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