Bangkok is, of course, a haven for backpackers so there are many different accommodation options. These vary in quality from dirt-cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Evaluate your options, as well as the cost-of-living, to understand the different accommodations available.
It is possible to live very cheaply - or very expensively - in Bangkok. Local Thai salaries are very low, but by eating local foods, commuting, and living like a local you can enjoy a proper standard of living. There are also many foreigners who earn high expat salaries who do not need to think about how to stretch every last baht.
A standard cost of living for a nice condo and lifestyle can be had for around 30,000 baht a month.
The cheapest way to eat in Bangkok is undoubtedly from street food. The average street food meal costs 35 baht (this will increase around tourist areas), and a big bag of freshly prepared fruit will cost around 15 baht.
There is also a wide range of options for eating out in full service restaurants. At your average restaurant, expect appetizers to range from 50-150 baht and main courses 130-500 baht. Restaurants located in tourist areas and in hotels are always more expensive.
Groceries can be very cheap, or very expensive. Imported goods have tax added to them, which can make items more expensive than they are at home. For example, a tin of Heinz baked beans is 100 baht, a bottle of Robinsons fruit squash is 150 baht, a packet of parma ham is 300 baht, and a small block of good cheese starts at about 250 baht. Dried herbs are also quite expensive. It is cheaper to buy these fresh from the street like the locals do. Meat is very cheap - 2 chicken breasts can be as cheap as 45 baht and a whole fresh fish can be 100 baht.
Tops Supermarket stocks goods from Waitrose (do be mindful again of prices - 4 frozen fish are 600 baht), and both Villa Market and Big C have foreign sections. There are many large Tesco Lotus stores located around Bangkok. They carry their own range of Tesco finest products.
Beer drinkers are advised to drink what the locals do: Chang, Leo, Singh and Tiger are all cheaper than imported drinks. Be careful however with Chang - the alcohol content is not regulated and thus you could find yourself drinking beer with a much stronger alcohol content than you realize and wonder why you are left with the infamous "Chang headache"! Bad news for wine fans is that very few wines are made in Thailand, and most are imported from Australia, California and Europe. A very cheap bottle of wine starts at 300 baht, but expect to pay around 7-800 baht on average.
Expect to pay somewhere between 3,000-6,000 baht a month for a one-room apartment in a very old style Thai building. For 7,000-15,000 baht you can find a very nice condo. With a budget of over 15,000 baht you should be able to find the place of your dreams in Bangkok.
Utilities are generally very cheap. For two people living in an apartment, a monthly water bill should not be more than 200 baht.
Electricity can vary however. Some buildings are able to dictate their own electricity charge which can increase monthly bills. If using the standard rate, a monthly electricity bill for a one bed roomed studio/apartment should be about 1,500 baht. That will obviously increase as the number of rooms in the condo increase. Bills will also be higher if someone stays at home every day with the AC on rather than if the condo is left empty most days with nothing running. For high-use residents, prices can skyrocket up to 15,000 baht a month. Note that fans are more economical to run than air conditioning units.
Monthly mobile phone packages with the internet will start from 500 baht and wifi internet packets start from 600 baht.
Diesel is, on average, 29.99 baht a litre, unleaded is around 35 baht and LPG 12 baht.
Bangkok is known for its shopping malls! Clothing in shops such as Dorothy Perkins, Top Shop and Next are similar prices to the UK, but it is difficult to find larger than a size 12. Clothes on the street are very cheap and it is possible to buy dresses for as little as 80 baht - be mindful of Thai sizing and quality.
The best range of clothes for the best prices tends to be at markets. Chatuchak has a great selection, as indeed does Khao San Road (it is much quieter to visit here during the day) - make sure you barter, it is expected! However, girls who wear larger than a B cup will struggle to buy underwear here, so stock up before you arrive.
Take some time to study a map of Bangkok and think about where you would like to live. Think about what's important to you. You can certainly get a lot more room for your baht the further you are out of the city centre, but how is that going to impact on your life? Is it better to pay slightly more for your accommodation and know that in turn taxi and BTS rides will be cheaper and quicker and you are able to walk to bars and restaurants or will that not be an issue?
You will inevitably need to commute whether it's to work each day or into more central Bangkok during your leisure time. Which is more preferable? How do you intend to commute? Due to Bangkok's weather conditions (both humidity and rainy reason), it is important to live near somewhere with good transport links whether it be a 5 minute walk to the nearest BTS or MRT station, water taxi stop or for the brave - bus stop! If you live further away - is there a motorcycle rank close to where you intend to live or are you happy to travel by taxi every day? For no apparent reason a journey that should take 30 minutes can take at least double that. Take some time to think about this as this will be your life for the foreseeable future. An hour's ride by boat to get to work each day may sound fun and novel at the time, but will soon grow tiring after a few weeks. Calculate these dilemmas into your house hunting.
What kind of accommodation are you looking for? You are unlikely to find anywhere with a garden without paying a significant amount of money in central Bangkok. If this is important to you then you may wish to think about living further out of the city. Do you intend to spend most of your time out of your accommodation i.e. working and socializing? If so perhaps a central studio rather than a big house is for you. What do you want to look out of your window and see? Skyscrapers? Sukhumvit Road? The River? Trees? These are all things that will impact on which is the right area for you to live in.
Are you going to purchase a car to use in Bangkok? If not, where will you do your weekly supermarket shop? Is there a convenience store nearby for those so often occasions you have drunk more water than planned?
Are schools an issue? Is it close to the school you intend to send your children? Are there other children in the building for your child to play with?
Evaluate these factors in helping you understand the possible issues involved with accommodations in Bangkok, and to find the best fit for you.
As it is relatively inexpensive to rent a one bed roomed condo, flat sharing is not very common in Bangkok, unless it is with friends who already known each other. However, sharing the rent will allow you to live in a bigger place in perhaps a better location. Cost will again depend on size and location of where you will live.
Thanks to its popularity with tourists, there are many hostels located around Bangkok. Hostels are a cheap means of accommodation - average prices start from around 300 baht a night (£6). The best area for hostels is either along Sukhumvit Road or the more lively Khao San Road. This will of course be cheap, basic no frills accommodation - the old saying you get what you pay for is very true when it comes to accommodation.
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