I often get asked the question how much does it cost to live in Thailand. That is like asking how long is a piece of string. The answer will vary depending on what and where you like to eat. Take my meal today for example. Mega Bangna is a new shopping mall that has opened up in my province. It is the biggest of its kind outside of Bangkok. Many of the shops cater for the more well-off Bangkok citizens as do the restaurants. From our point of view, it is nice to have some city restaurants in our neighbourhood. Which is why I decided to check out the Bangkok Burger Co. restaurant. I had a very nice and filling meal there and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have a real burger. However, you do need to consider the price. Their gourmet burgers, with chips on the side, are 195-350 Baht. This one is called a Bangkok Dangerous and comes with crispy bacon, fried egg, Thai green curry sauce & jalapeños. The price was 320 Baht though I had to pay an extra 40 Baht for the curly fries instead of the regular kind. I also asked for a bottle of water that cost me 40 Baht. So, the grand total, including service charge, was 471 Baht.
For some people, that is the cost of an average meal. Maybe more if you factor in alcoholic drinks. Now, before you say that all foreigners are rich and can afford it, let me add that in the packed restaurant I was the only foreigner. Who said Thais are poor? The Bangkok ones are certainly not. Have you been on the skytrain lately? So many have iPhones and in the mall today I counted half a dozen Thai kids walking around with iPads. To go back to the original question, if someone asked me how much I spend on a meal, then I would say about 30-35 Baht and that includes the drink. The amount of money that I spent on that one meal today is about how much I spend on meals from Monday to Friday. For the three meals that I eat on an average day, I usually spend less than 100 Baht and feel perfectly content. Take the picture above of my dinner yesterday. I had khao soi gai which is one of my favourite noodle soups. It came with a succulent chicken leg. Did this meal cost 471 Baht? No, it was only 30 Baht. The drinks would have been free but they charged me 2 Baht for ice. And that is basically the kind of meal I have every day here in Samut Prakan. If I lived and worked in Bangkok then I guess the story would be a lot different. And I probably would be a lot poorer!