The cost of living in Chiang Mai vs Bangkok is considerably different, especially in modern times, but what is different, and how much is the difference? In today’s article, we will be exploring the cost of living in Chiang Mai vs Bangkok by going through the major categories such as rental costs, transportation costs, food, and many other subcategories.
Overall Costs Of Living Chiang Mai Vs Bangkok
The overall cost of living in Chiang Mai versus Bangkok depends heavily on an individual’s lifestyle. Whether you are a family or living on your own, Chiang Mai is considerably less expensive than Bangkok. Some statistics differ, but on average, Chiang Mai is 20-40% cheaper than Bangkok.
As an example of someone who has lived in both cities for over a year (pre and post Covid-19), I can confirm that as a single person, you can live in Chiang Mai as an expat for anywhere between 25,000 TBH – 35,000 TBH and in some cases lower. To have the same standard of life but in Bangkok, you would need at least 45,000 Thai Baht per month.
The reason that figures slightly change is that Bangkok is a vast city and some of the most significant factors, for example, rental costs, differ depending on the location. You can indeed find a lower cost of living than 45,000 Thai Baht in Bangkok; however, to do so, you may need to be living outside of the central city.
|Consumer Prices in Chiang Mai are 15.93% lower than in Bangkok (without rent)|
|Consumer Prices Including Rent in Chiang Mai are 25.35% lower than in Bangkok|
|Rent Prices in Chiang Mai are 46.87% lower than in Bangkok|
|Restaurant Prices in Chiang Mai are 15.16% lower than in Bangkok|
|Groceries Prices in Chiang Mai are 4.68% lower than in Bangkok|
|Local Purchasing Power in Chiang Mai is 7.64% lower than in Bangkok|
Speaking to many expats and foreigners living in Bangkok, they have reported that even though the cost of living in Bangkok is cheaper for foreigners outside the city…. due to the transportation costs to get to their area of work, they may as well have chosen a more central location.
Now that we have discussed the overall costs of living in Chiang Mai vs Bangkok, let’s go through a few categories of the highest living costs for expats in Thailand.
Chiang Mai Vs Bangkok – Rental Costs
Chaing Mai – Rent has always been very cheap in Chiang Mai, but during the recent pandemic, prices dropped even further. A small one-bedroom condominium unit can be purchased for around 7K-8K Thai baht. A larger rental property for a large family can be purchased for around 12K-15K Thai baht (Prices are based monthly).
We have spoken about Chiang Mai in full detail, where we covered the overall cost of living in Chiang Mai, which may be very useful for those who are thinking about moving to the North of Thailand. Alternatively, for those from the UK, we have also compared living costs from the UK and Thailand, which may be beneficial.
Bangkok – Bangkok is a fantastic city and has some of the most beautiful condominiums and apartments you will see. As mentioned when we spoke about the overall cost of living in Chiang Mai versus Bangkok, we mentioned that central areas are often the most expensive. A small studio can range between 13,000 – 16,000, and this can increase if you are situated around Sukhumvit Road.
One-bedroom units and two-bedroom units are often considerably more as developers often situate these high-rise condominiums in prestigious areas such as Thonglor, Prompong, etc. So expect at least 30% higher costs in these areas than in similar condominiums situated in the heart of Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Vs Bangkok – Transportation Costs
Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai has a host of options, but one of the most popular transportation options for expats is motorcycles. Motorcycles are often relatively cheap and can be rented for approximately 2000 Thai Baht A month. Gasoline/Petrol can range between 100 – 300 or so TBH a month.
Additionally, Chiang Mai also has the service of Grab, which is easily accessible from every part of the city. One of the great things about living in Chiang Mai is that the cost of living and transportation costs are low even if you choose private transportation.
Bangkok – There are many different options for transportation in Bangkok, and Bangkok is a unique city that offers the famous Sky train (BTS) that stretches around the significant parts of the city. Unfortunately, the traffic in Bangkok can be extremely long. Even a short 10-minute drive can take an hour or two at peak times, but the BTS and the metro (underground train) reduce the waiting time.
Bangkok BTS service has a rabbit card service. In essence, you purchase your card and load up your fares before traveling. This is often done at a package price, for example, 750,900,1200 TBH (depending on the package), and once you scan the gate to exit, your card will be debited.
If you are taking a long train ride on the BTS, the rabbit card is precious as you will be charged a set amount. In other words, it may cost you 27 TBH to ride for two stations But…at the same time, It may cost you the same amount to ride eight stations.
However, public and private transportation is still more expensive in Bangkok than in Chiang Mai.
Cost Of Living In Chiang Mai Vs Bangkok In Terms Of Food
Chaing Mai – Chiang Mai has a great selection of different cuisines, so if you are a vegan meat-eater or lactose intolerant, you will find foods readily available across the city. There are some high-end restaurants, especially in the lemon area of the city; however, Chiang Mai is famous for its weekend market and street food that is available across the old city.
People who have special requirements for food, such as vegans, will find that prices are similar to Bangkok; however, several new low-cost vegan restaurants are opening their doors around Chiang Mai. Currently, a vegan meal can cost between 100-250 TBH, and a Thai meal (chicken, rice, soup, etc.) can cost around 40-80 TBH.
Bangkok – Bangkok is a city well known for its business and investment, and many entrepreneurs and wealthy individuals are known to live and visit Bangkok. As a result, many of the so-called affluent areas around Bangkok have a host of high-end and expensive restaurants.
However, there are only a few parts of the city there are still many street foods and low-cost quality food vendors around the city. One thing I noticed when I left Chiang Mai to live in Bangkok is that the cost of popular food apps such as Grab and Food Panda was considerably more expensive in Bangkok.
Fitness, Leisure, And Activities In Chiang Mai Vs Bangkok
Chiang Mai – Has several parks and outdoor sports venues across the city. Some of these are within the old city and highly accessible; however, some areas are a 10-15 minute drive away from the old city.
There is a long list of gyms across Chiang Mai. Some premium gyms, such as the well-known brand Jetts Gym are available in Chiang Mai’s center, but there are also very low-cost gyms. Jetts has a standard cost across all of Thailand, but the low costs gyms have around 1500+ Thai Baht membership.
Chaing Mai is also known for its nature and mountains as it is situated in the North of Thailand and thus there are lots of activities to enjoy for free. Feel free to take a look at our recent article that covered some dating venues in Chiang Mai, which may be of interest.
Bangkok – Bangkok seems to have a gym around every corner, and that’s not bad. Some condominiums in Chiang Mai do not have gym facilities, but in Bangkok, it seems that nearly every condominium I visited had some fitness facility.
Many large chain gym corporations are set up around Bangkok, and there are also several beautiful parks with many accessible gym facilities for those looking for an outdoor workout. The gym costs range between 2000 – 3000 Thai Baht, but there are some cheaper depending on the location.
Chiang Mai Vs Bangkok – Summary
It’s very clear from the latest statistics, feedback from other expats, and my accounts that Chiang Mai is considerably less expensive than Bangkok. It’s effortless to live in Chiang Mai on a low budget but much harder to live in Bangkok on a similar budget, especially if you wish to live in the Metropolitan area.
Having said this, Bangkok is a beautiful city and offers a unique experience for locals and expats. The condominiums and high-rise apartments are some of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. And if money is not an issue, then Bangkok might be a perfect destination for you.
Additionally, there are also many different activities and meetups happening around Bangkok. One of the reasons I originally moved to Bangkok was to improve my social life as I knew lots of people in Bangkok who spoke fluent English…
… my social life, after moving to Bangkok, improved dramatically; however, the cost of living was much more than I expected.
Many locals explained how expensive Bangkok is before I left, but it was still a surprise. If you are coming from a western country directly or have a large amount of wealth, you may not feel Bangkok be expensive, but as I was coming from Chiang Mai and was used to the low prices, Bangkok felt relatively expensive.
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