Living in Thailand: Cost Savings for Expat, 101

Rent long term

It is very obvious, but accomodation is a key part of the budget, and therefore, every cent saved will quickly mutilply for your long term benefit.

Negotiate every price

As a Westerner, you are a financial target, with “dollar” written in bold capital letters on your forehead. Even though the announced price seems reasonable by your standards, it is necessary to negotiate. It is part of the game and the sellers will accept it. Forget your westerner superiority complex of feeling like you are being offered a price too low to even negotiate, you are just making westerners case worse. Negotiate by default, especially at the tourist markets! You can safely start the game at a third of the asking price.

Eat like a local

Average price per person at a western tourist restaurant, with one main & one beer: 200 baht. Local price per person at a local restaurant, with one main, and water instead of beer: 70 baht

Enough said.

Snack local

Thailand has delicious local produces: its fruits. On top of being good for your body, they are also a blessing for your wallet. Whether it’s a juice at a stall, cut fruits, or whole fruits from the wet market for you to keep, that’s really something you should indulge in! Dry fruits (bananas, mangoes,…) and nuts (peanuts, broad beans,…) also make for delicious munchies at home or on the go.

Hello, local produces!

You will also avoid buying imported western products that are bad for your health and the environment: goodbye Oreos, Lays, Pringles, and other greasy, empty calories craps.

Cut down on alcohol and meat/fish

In a country like Thailand, your going out habit, and the casual one-beer-only-turning-to-five with your friends can quickly make or break your budget… At 60 – 80 baht per small beer (shop: 40), 90-150 baht for a cocktail, and 500 baht for a bottle of wine at the shop, the alcohol budget is one to closely watch. If you can’t do without it: buy large beer bottles from the shop and refrain from drinking beer at restaurants and bars. Use visiting friends or your trips abroad for stocking on duty free supplies…

Meat! Ahh, who does not like a good steak every now and then… (apart from hardcore vegetarian and vegans of course…) Well, I regret to inform you that eating meat should be considered a luxury and an exception rather than the rule. At a restaurant, dishes without meat will cost you around 30% less than those featuring tasty dead animals.

When it comes to fish, my answer is simple: don’t eat them. In Thailand, the fishing industry is highly unsustainable with reports of forced labour, destructive fishing practices, not to mention mangrove destruction for cultivating shrimps. All of this leads to a depleting ocean, and dying coral reefs, which saddens me highly. If you have not watched it yet, give Chasing Corals a try on Netflix for a better understanding of the dramatic situation in which our ocean finds itself.

Refill water containers at fountains

The amount of plastic bottles consumed every day in the world for WATER is stupefying. I believe that everyone should have a refillable bottle, with in-shop cleaning & refilling systems made ubiquitous. It’s generally hot in Thailand, so you will need to hydrate well to go through the day. Thankfully, there are water refill stations in many places. Generally, they are reverse osmosis self-contained systems sitting at local shops, where you can refill your bottles for just 1 baht per liter.

You have no excuse! So stop financing plastic pollution, and water multinationals by having one or more refillable water bottles, refill them, and save money in the process!

1.5L bottled water at 7-Eleven convenience store: 15 baht, so you save 14 baht per bottle, i.e. 28 baht per day, and you are making one step to being a responsible inhabitant of planet earth.

Get a fuel efficient scooter

Newer models of automatic scooters come with a whopping 150-200 km autonomy with one full tank (110 baht). So if you are driving around a lot, the latest models should definitely be an option. On top of the added comfort and safety, you will save time for all the times you will not go to the fuel station, and might actually end up saving money over an old model!

Use Self-Service Washing Machines

These charge anywhere from 20 to 50 baht a load, when regular laundry charge from 50 baht and up…per kilo! So, don’t be lazy, and if you have time, go handle your own stuff!

Speak the language

It is obvious that your experience of a foreign country can only be better if you know how to speak the language, even a little bit. On top of much needed courtesy and politeness, knowing a few local words, and numbers, if you like to bargain, might help you score even better deals.

How about you? What are your savings tips for daily life in Thailand?

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