Skip to main content

Comparing the cost of living

One of the main attractions of moving to Thailand is the low cost of living compared to many countries or Chinese territories as well as many other expatriate destinations.

The cost of living in Bangkok can be considerably cheaper than London. Consumer prices in Bangkok are 34% lower, and rent can be as much as 64% cheaper than London.

Prices vary depending on your location, for example urban and tourist areas like Bangkok and Phuket will be comparatively more expensive than more rural areas, where prices can be up to three times cheaper.

Wages in some corporations in the city can be high, which means that, combined with the cheaper cost of living, even if you are in one of the major cities, your money will still go further than in your own country and you can enjoy the relative luxury this affords you.

Even if your job is not in the corporate world, you will find that you will still be able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. 

As Thailand’s popularity as a tourist destination increases, the cost of living is expected to rise, but only incrementally.

Food and groceries

There is a wide variety of food available in markets, street stalls and restaurants. Food bought from the market or from a street vendor is very reasonably priced. It’s best to avoid international fast food, as it tends to be much more expensive than local cuisine (and not as tasty!). Fine dining in upmarket areas or hotels may be more expensive. As a comparison: groceries are 7.22% less expensive than London, while the cost of restaurant dining is on average 66% lower.


Overall, travel is cheap in Thailand. For long distance travel, going by bus or minivan is the least expensive option, followed by trains, which are slower but have more room and there’s often a sleeper option for longer journeys. By far the easiest and fastest way to get around the islands is by taking a domestic flight. City travel is relatively cheap and there are many options including the sky train, cab, bus (price will vary depending on whether the vehicle is air-conditioned), tuk-tuks and pick-up trucks. You could save even more money by purchasing monthly transport passes.


There’s a huge variety of places to live, depending on location and type. Luxurious villas in Phuket or large condos in Bangkok are relatively expensive. Townhouses or furnished apartments in Bangkok with security and swimming pools are relatively expensive too, but you still get much more for your money than you would for example in the U.S. or Hong Kong. Outside of the city, prices can be up to half the amount of those closer to the centre. Rent in London is 165% more expensive than in Bangkok. Singapore rents are 98% more expensive.


Utility bills, including combined charges for gas, electricity, refuse collection, and water charges, are inexpensive compared to most of the rest of the world. Electricity can sometimes be comparatively expensive due to energy shortages — get up-to-date information for your area. Internet is very inexpensive.


International schools are located almost exclusively in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. With high standards and large campuses, they offer families a good option for education while living overseas. The best are quite expensive, but you get what you pay for — lower fees may mean fewer staff who are bilingual, and fewer facilities or resources.

Leisure and entertainment

Leisure activities are typically cheaper than London with cinema tickets costing around 61% less in Bangkok than London. However gym membership can be comparable, and in some cases, up to 18% more expensive.

For up-to-date price comparisons, visit

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. See our cookie policy for more information on how we use cookies and how you can manage them. If you continue to use this website, you are consenting to our policy and for your web browser to receive cookies from our website.