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The Cost of Living in Pattaya | Retiring Guide

As most readers know, the cost of living in Thailand is low when compared to the cost of living in Europe, Japan and America. The cost of living in Pattaya is somewhat higher than in most of Thailand, but is lower than many other popular tourist areas such as Phuket Island and Ko Samui. It is probably not that different from the cost of living in Bangkok.

For many years, foreigners have been living on next to nothing in Pattaya. It is still possible to do so, although that might be changing as developers try to turn Pattaya into an old age retirement paradise.

Yet, it is still possible to live a modest, fairly comfortable life in Pattaya. At the other extreme, it is also possible to live like and spend money like a king or Wall Street financier.  In between, there is a life style to which most Western people aspire.

Therefore, discussing Pattaya, it is most important to look at low and middle income budgets; the high income budget can reach into the stars but is still modest when compared to places like Phuket Island.

There are many ways to spend money in Pattaya, some necessary and some discretionary.

Among these ways are housing, food, clothes, transportation, ordinary entertainment, adult entertainment, transportation, communications and health care.

Below is an analysis of estimated expenses.

Housing: housing in Pattaya can be cheap. There are many apartments or rooms available in the range of four to six thousand baht a month. Thais consider these places satisfactory and many expatriate foreigners live in them. Generally, the accommodations are fine…but people are sometimes  unhappy about things such as loud noise or the location.

 A Western style apartment can be had for no more than seven to twelve thousand baht. People can buy condominiums if they chose, but things can get tricky here and buyers must be careful. One must be a person of some means to consider this. Prices begin in the 700,000 to 800,000 baht range and rise from there. A million and a half baht is probably about average.

Many condominium developments are unable to sell their units and rent them for reasonable rates. Many developments permit buyers to make monthly payments. Utilities must also be included in a budget, but these need not be expensive unless air conditioning is used. This can increase an electric bill by several thousand baht a month.

Ordinarily, utilities should not cost more than, say two thousand baht a month at the most. Note: In Thailand, most accommodations come fully furnished.

Food: food is expensive in Pattaya by Thai standards, but one can still get delicious Thai meals for between thirty and forty baht a meal. Someone who eats at Thai restaurants need not spend more than about 150 baht a day for food. Snacks, soft drinks and an occasional trip to McDonalds could raise the cost to, say 200 a day.

This would come out to about 6,000 baht a month. Of course, married people could buy at a supermarket and cook themselves, thus reducing costs. Those who want to eat a lot of Western food will find the cost of food increasing substantially as Western food is expensive, at least by Thai standards.

Western meals usually begin at around 150 baht and rise sharply, so one could easily spend 16,000 to 18,000 baht a month on food and drink. If one wishes to indulge in the exotic, of course prices will increase a lot from this point. Buying at the supermarket and cooking oneself can reduce cost significantly, however.

Clothing: this need not be a big expense in Pattaya unless perhaps if one is employed and needs to dress for success. Thai clothes or the clothes Thai people buy are reasonable. All one needs are a few T-shirts, shirts, pairs of pants, bathing suits and sandals.

If one shops in Thai markets and on the street, one can easily dress suitably for around 1,000 a month, spreading purchases over a twelve month period. Even if one chooses to shop at Big C or Tesco, costs are still reasonable…say 2,000 a month. If one wants to do boutique shopping, then prices rise sharply. The only item which might cause Westerners problems in Thailand are shoes.

Western sports shoes typically begin in the 3,000 baht range and rise sharply. Chinese shoes, while not as good, are much cheaper, usually under 500 baht a pair. Thus, one need not spend more than between 1,000 and 2,500 baht a month, even if one wishes to wear some Western items.

Normal Entertainment: this category includes the type of fun things people usually do in their own countries, such as going to movies, bowling, spending a day at the beach and maybe watching cable TV. Most of these types of activities are available in Pattaya and are not expensive.

A movie, for example, usually costs 120 to 140 baht. The most expensive item in the  normal entertainment category would probably be  cable TV, which can run to two to three thousand baht a month…in addition to the cost of a television!!

Televisions, however, are not very expensive. They begin at around three to four thousand baht. And , of course, if one stays home and watches TV, one will not be spending money on other things.

Ordinarily, one would not spend more than five to six thousand baht a month on normal entertainment as most people do not go to the movies or go bowling everyday. It is also possible to go to the beaches free if one does not rent a chair and umbrella, which starts at around 30 baht for a day.

Adult Entertainment: this is a totally discretionary item which many people would never consider in their home countries. It can  simply be a matter of going to a cheap bar and drinking a lot, or it can involve nights on the town going to A Go-Gos, paying bar fines and bringing ladies home.

A bar fine can be 500 baht and one should count on paying at least 1,000 to 1,500 baht for having a lady spend the night. And, of course, the drinks at A Go-Go clubs can cost a lot. One night on the town can easily cost four to five thousand baht. Thus, this item can be extremely expensive…or one might spend nothing at all on it. If one plans to hit the lady clubs just once a week, then one should count on a monthly entertainment bill of around 15,000 to 20,000 baht a month.

Transportation: transportation in the Pattaya area can be quite cheap. Most people can walk to many destinations and the baht buses and motorcycle taxis are inexpensive.

For example, a typical baht bus rate is only ten baht!! Thus, one could get by on spending two or three thousand baht a month on transportation at the most. One can also rent motor bikes by the month (around 3,000 baht) or buy them. Prices are not expensive.  

If one wishes to buy an automobile, however, things get expensive – just as they would be in one’s home country. One should be aware that some of the newer housing developments are somewhat remote and might require getting a motor vehicle…although motorbike taxis are usually available.

Communications: nowadays, this category is important to most people. In Thailand, it is possible to rack up fairly big mobile phone bills, although there are ways to make calls to home countries very cheaply, unless one comes from a place such as North Korea or Outer Mongolia.

Internet rates in Pattaya are expensive by Thai standards but it is possible to find cafes that charge 30 baht an hour. One should probably plan on spending  three to four thousand baht a month on communication. If one talks for long periods on a mobile phone, this figure will rise.

Health Care: this category is problematic for most expatriates. Those living in Pattaya should have health insurance but many don’t as insurance can easily cost 20,000 baht a year or more. There are inexpensive clinics throughout the area which can handle fairly routine health problems and accidents, but hospital care can be expensive.

There are no government hospitals in Pattaya – the nearest government hospital is in Siracha – so those needing hospital treatment find themselves at the mercy of expensive private hospitals…the care is fine but the price is not!!!

Dental care is readily available and not expensive by Western standards – filling cost from four to five hundred baht - but those coming from countries which provide free dental care will find themselves unpleasantly surprised.

As a general rule of thumb, one should spend no more than one thousand baht a month on health care, unless one has a health problem or bad teeth!! If one finds themselves hospitalized because of an accident or whatever, then expenses will rise…a lot. Those living in Pattaya should get health insurance if possible.

Incidental expenses: most expatriates will have incidental expenses such as travel to and from the home country – this is not a necessary expense – and visa fees and so forth. Those living in Pattaya should bear in mind that they might need or want to return to their home country from time to time.

This is not considered, however, a Pattaya living expense. Likewise, having a girl friend will add to living costs…one can figure on handing her around 10,0000 baht a month straightaway…and then there are expenses for gifts, clothes, her food and so forth. Many expatriates provide girl friends with motorbikes and set them up in their own businesses.....

Evaluating the numbers:  a frugal person can live comfortably in Pattaya for around 21,000 or 22,000 baht a month. If we add health insurance, then the figure should rise to around 24,000 baht a month. If the frugal expatriate is allowed, say, two wild nights on the town every month, then  costs rise to over thirty thousand baht.

If the frugal expatriate gets a girl friend, then the nights on the town can be eliminated but overall expenses will increase. A more Western oriented life style will include a nicer accommodation and more Western food, nicer clothes and shoes, and maybe renting a motor bike. It should include health insurance.

This cost will be between 40,000 and 50,000 baht a month. This figure does not include wild nights on the town.


Bangkok to Pattaya

Pattaya Attractions

How to Get Around In Pattaya

Festivals and Special Events

Muay Thai In Pattaya

Shopping In Pattaya

A History and Introduction to Pattaya

Do’s and Don’t in Pattaya

The Cost of Living in Pattaya

Weather and The Best Times to Visit Pattaya

Sports in Pattaya

Guide to Street Food

Bangkok or Pattaya? Which one is better?

Some Helpful Thai

Other Useful Guide