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Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Jan 04, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Bangkok, Thailand is 8.3 million people. People often describe Bangkok as a vibrant, bustling city with a unique blend of modern and traditional culture. Expats love the city's diverse culture, delicious food, and vibrant nightlife. The weather in Bangkok is typically hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-90s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living in Bangkok for an expat is around $1,500 to $2,500 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is typically around $500 to $1,000 USD per month, while a two bedroom apartment can range from $800 to $1,500 USD per month.

What do I need to know before moving to Bangkok?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Bangkok, they said:

"If you need to be around other expats, this may not be the place for you. If you are OK with living in a Thai building, which on the outside does not look that great, this may not be for you. We have a pool, gym and plenty of resturants and bars to choose from, but most do not speak English. As for transportation this is a great neighborhood for cabs and soon the BTS line to the airport and back to the city. We did live in Tong Lor for awhile, which has plenty of expat's around but the rent is going to set you back about 18,000-as high as you want to go. Villa Market is close by, which has just about everything you may want from the west. For me I prefer a bit away from the center of the city, where the people are really friendly, and if you have the need, grab a cab or in our case soon the BTS. If you have kids, be concerned with the schools and you find the best closer into the city center. If you are just a couple, have some adventure and get outside the city center and you will also save a lot of precious resources," explained one expat living in Bangkok, Thailand.

"Best advice I can give is to talk to other expats who have lived here. Talk to as many as you can because they all have different opinions, but some things come through the same. Talk to Orientations too because it's their business and they know what they are doing. Traffic and flooding can be a problem and the real estate agents will not tell you coz they just want the commission from the lease contract. Better to talk to people like Orientations," said another expat in Bangkok.

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How do I find a place to live in Bangkok?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"My Thai partner found the condo that we purchased 4 years ago. It's away from the city center on Pattanakarn Road. The new BTS line to the airport is about 1/2 km from the condo and hopefully it will open sometime (Tahi-time) means it will get done. Lot's of vendor's on the street which is good when we are lazy, which is often. Plenty of cabs on the road, which was a factor," said another expat in Bangkok.

"My employer has a contract with a company called Orientations (www.orientations.com) they met with us before we left and told us about Bangkok and then the Bangkok branch manager (an expat) met us in Thailand and showed us around the city. They took us to see houses and apartments and because they are not real estate agents they were able to give unbiased professional advice on where to live," added another expat who made the move to Bangkok.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Bangkok?

"We lived in a condo, which is actually 2 condo's. I'm from the US and my partner is Thai. It looks like a typical Thai condo building, but when you walk inside you would swear you were in Europe. Not my choice, but my partner "Martha Stewart" (Thai version) decorated and I left him to it. There are only a few expats in the neighborhood. Rarely do I ever run into them," added another expat who made the move to Bangkok.

"We first moved in to a serviced apartment that was arranged for us by Orientations, It was much cheaper than a hotel and we could cook our own food if we wanted. This was great for the kids. While we were there, Orientations arranged for us to see some houses and apartments. The expat manager came with us and he told us the places that flooded or got jammed up with traffic. It was pretty good because he has been here for years and knows the city well," explained one expat living in Bangkok, Thailand.

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What is the average cost of housing in Bangkok?

If you are thinking about moving to Bangkok, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Costs are much lower. We purchased our place 4 years ago for about $35,000 USD. We did some renovation to the unit, like new lighting, put a stove top in and painted. A guy from Singapore owned it before, so we already had German marble floors. In Chicago where I am from you could get a garage with no heat for that price??? You can rent some of the units here for around 5,000 to 6,000 TB per month, plus utilities, which could be another 2,000-3,000 bhat per month if you have AC, cable, internet etc. I think that with electric, water, cable, internet, telephone, and condo fee, we probably pay about 4,000-5,000 for both units. So for about $150-$200 you get all the comforts of home. We do have upgraded cable with internationl programming, broadband internet for faster access, but we run the AC only at night, as you get use to the heat. Food is cheap on the street, but there are markets within 1-2km, which are reasonable as compared to western costs, except if you want western things. Then you pay! Go Thai and save a bundle and don't buy prepared foods from the west," remarked another expat who made the move to Bangkok.

"Housing costs are higher here, but we live very close to the city so I guess if we were living that close to the city at home it might be the same. Some apartments charge more than the normal rate for electricity and water and with air conditioning on it can start to get expensive. The Orientations guy told us about that and found us a place that does not charge extra," explained one expat living in Bangkok, Thailand.

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What should I bring when moving to Bangkok?

People living in Bangkok were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"As I have transitioned here over a 6 year period of time, I think I have what I need. I did go to Australia a few weeks back and picked up olive oil, peanut butter, and pepperoni. You can find them here at Villa and actually at Tesco, but they are expensive. I really do not need long-sleeve shirts, the 6 pairs of shoes that I brought over in the past few years, and the need for sport jackets," explained one expat living in Bangkok, Thailand.

"Wish I had brought: more cash, educational certificates, some winter clothes Should not have brought: household appliances, blankets, Kids :)," said another expat in Bangkok.

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What do expats in Bangkok appreciate most about the local culture?

"Few busybodies, do-gooders and bleeding hearts interfering in the lives of other people. Respect for elders," remarked another expat who made the move to Bangkok.

"I've learned to go with the flow (Mai Penh Rai). I don't get upset much, pretty even keeled. After years running NGO's I left most of my stress at the door of my last job. I even lived through a TRUE (internet and telephone) mess, and they were very patient with me. In the US they called me the hammer, now I am the pussycat," explained one expat living in Bangkok, Thailand.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"I didn't find anything particularly challenging, but I made up my mind that I would study the culture, behavioral characteristics to try and understand the differences, and there are many," added another expat in Bangkok.

"Keeping my head up high, knowing that everyone judges me purely on my appearances, and knowing that just because I am dark skinned, they truly believe that I am not good enough and I am insignificant," remarked another expat who made the move to Bangkok.

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What are the schools in Bangkok like?

"When I found Glory Singapore International School all I wanted is a school that is near our house but I found a partner instead. Their approach to each student is sincere and the action they does reflects to the whole system-Faculty, students as well as all the people who work in the school. The school's curriculum will certainly help my daughter develop a competitive edge which can help her achieve more in the future. One more thing, no need to worry about kids picking on yours because the school promotes values and hard tasks are given as challenges that inspires kids. Curriculum is not easy but the school inspires kids and parents alike to succeed," remarked another expat living in Bangkok with children attending Glory Singapore International School.

"The school is amazing and you can really get the best out of it if your child is willing to study hard. The school's achievement rate is significantly higher than other international schools in bangkok, with many students receiving Top in the World and Top in Thailand prizes in their iGCSE and A-Level examinations. O," said another expat in Bangkok with children at Shrewsbury International School .

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What are the pros and cons of living in Bangkok?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Bangkok responded:

"Bureaucracy is a real problem especially in dealing with Thai Immigration. The rules seem to change depending on which official you are dealing with," remarked another expat in Bangkok.

"Oh my, I love the food, the hot and spicy from a different dish. How easy to get by with their street food vendors. One of the best secrets we had about finding an authentic dish or a local signature dish is street food vendors. When it comes to getting cash from ATM machines was never been a problem, from anywhere where you can find 7-11 stores and gasoline stations, you can find ATM machines, some have ATM deposit machines, some will have only for withdrawal services. ," added one expat living in Bangkok.

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What type of social life can someone expect in Bangkok?

When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in Bangkok, they replied:

"A foreigner will never be completely accepted outside their circle of acquaintances," said one expat living in Bangkok.

"Living in the city of Bangkok makes your lifestyle ease in terms of transportation which accessible," mentioned another expat inBangkok.

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"Be open to meeting new people, but no need to rush into friendships. There are a fair number of crazies out there and those suspect motives," remarked another expat in Bangkok.

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What are medical services in Bangkok like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Bangkok, they replied:

"The healthcare front liners and the facility from private hospitals and government hospitals are very accommodating when it comes to immediate needs. The country's tagline "Amazing Thailand" speaks for itself," said another expat.

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Is the cost of living in Bangkok high?

We asked people about the cost of living in Bangkok, they wrote:

"I currently rent a nice 2 bedroom condo right off the BTS line. My rent, phone, internet, cable and electricity comes to about $900USD and so with food and transportation I live very nicely for around $1300.00USD," mentioned another expat living in Bangkok.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Bangkok?

"I am on a retirement visa for 1 year with extensions. Thailand rules change each year but with my visa I only need to check in with immigration every 90 days and do not have to make a border run," remarked another expat in Bangkok.

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Why do people move to Bangkok?

When we asked people why foreigners move to Bangkok, they responded:

"Bangkok is thriving, exciting city of 9 million with a low cost of living and no cold weather! It is also a hub for Asia with inexpensive flights almost anywhere," commented one expat living in Bangkok, Thailand.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Bangkok, Thailand

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