Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

updated 2023

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Basic Living Costs in Chiang Mai: 2023


Living Costs in Chiang Mai. Prices vary depending on location and the quality of finishes.

Rents start at $230 pcm for small basic apartments and go up to $1600 pcm for big luxury units. The average price for a one bedroom in a good condo is $900 pcm.

If you own your unit, then you also need to factor in the common area fees, which are based per m/2 of the unit.



Electricity and water are much cheaper in Thailand. Airconditioning is probably going to be your biggest consumer of power.

One can expect monthly bills of around $15 per month for water, and $100 for electricity.

Mobile phones and internet depend on the speed and data allowances, but one can expect bills of $10 for mobile phone, and $25 for fibre optic fast broadband.


Factoring in roadtax, insurance and fuel bills Thailand is much cheaper than the West for transport.

Our scooter costs $16 per month, wheras a small car costs much more, in the region of $160 per month. A large SUV or 4 X 4 will cost $260 per month to run.

The ‘Red Bus’ cost a mere $1 per trip and a Tuk Tuk or Grab car cost $5 per trip.


Dentistry is first world, first class and Chiang Mai has a lot of ‘dentistry tourism’.

Our average monthly dentistry costs are $20. We go biannually for a check-up and clean.

If you need implants or other major work, Chiang Mai has so many different dentist practices to shop around.


Chiang Mai has many first world, first class private hospitals, as well as goverment hospitals.

The hospitals generally accept most Western Health Insurance, and cost at least 50% less than in the West.

Our monthly hospital bills are low as we are fit and well, and consist mainly of full annual checkups which cost less than $250.

Supermarket Shopping

Chiang Mai has many supermarket chains with Tesco Lotus, Big C, Macro and Rimping being the most popular.

Seven Elevens are on most streets, and offer quick convenience shopping.

Our food shopping bills usually amount to $70 per week, per person.

Eating out

Chiang Mai offers literally thousands and restaurants and food stalls.

Informal restaurants cost about $2 per meal. Formal dining costs about $5 per person.

The many elite Western style restaurants prices start at $20 per person.

Entertainment and Socialising

There are many pubs, bars and nightspots.

There is also a big Expat Club in Chiang Mai which has many specialised sport and cultural clubs attached.

One can enjoy an evening for as little as $5. Cooldrinks, local spirits and local beers are relatively inexpensive while wine and craft beers costing much more due to the import duties.

Massages and Spa

Chiang Mai has hundreds of Massage services, and are very good as well as inexpensive.

A typical oil massage costs $10 per hour, or foot massage $7 per hour.

Spa’s and facial treatments cost more, usually starting at $20 per hour.

Haircuts start at $5 and one can get the full packages for the ladies.


Chiang Mai has so much to do, that there is always somewhere to go, and interesting events. You will never be bored.

There are many festivals and parades throughout the year.

Thailand has incredible landscapes from beaches to mist covered mountains. Travel is very easy and inexpensive. We budget $1000 per person, per week.


Insurance, especially health and travel insurance is usually best bought in your home country. One can buy local health insurance, but it not as comprehensive as most Western policies.

Car and scooter insurance is much cheaper than in the West with our monthly costs being $70 for the SUV, motorcycle and scooter.

Household insurance costs about $20 per month, but is often included in your condo’s building policy.

Don't call it a dream call it a plan.

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What are the costs?

In our opinion, the best place to retire in Thailand is the stunning city of Chiang Mai. The advantage of coming to Thailand is that you can decide at what level you choose to live, without peer pressure to beat ‘the Jones’.

The cheapest lifestyle is to live like a local, in the countryside. This is popular with Expats that marry a Thai.

The cities become more sophisticated and expensive, with Bangkok being the most expensive. Generally we have found  Bangkok at least 50% more expensive than inland cities.

Most coastal and island cities cost much more than Chiang Mai, mainly due to the tourist trade.

You get much more bang for your buck living in Chiang Mai. Some basic guidelines to the amount that you require to live on, keeping in mind that lifestyles vary, and whether you are single or a couple (add 50% more per person).

Budget Lifestyle: Minimum $1000 per month – renting your apartment and scooter.

Average Lifestyle: Minimum $2000 per month -owning your apatment and a scooter.

Luxurious Lifestyle: Minimum $3000 per month – owning your apartment and a car.

Elite Lifestyle: Minimum $5000 per month – owning your penthouse or villa and a Mercedes sports car.

I have further broken down the basic monthly costs of living in Chiang Mai.

How to finance your retirement ?

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