Top ten most expensive Asian destinations now include three Thai cities

Published:  13 Feb at 6 PM
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The top ten most expensive Asian cities now include Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.

Cost of living surveys are popular with would-be expatriates as they give a benchmark for wage or pension levels, with several developing countries in Southeast Asia considered to be a cheaper option than many other world destinations. However, a shock result in Numbeo’s January 2019 Cost of Living Index revealed Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya as being in the list of the ten most expensive ASEAN cities.

Numbeo ranks world cities according to a variety of statistics and factors including rent, transportation, cost of utilities, food, clothing, costs of eating out and more, giving an overall picture of salary or pension needs for an average expat lifestyle. In its January listings, single expats living in Bangkok can expect to spend 20,917 baht (£540) a month for everything excluding rentals, notoriously high in the Thai capital. Pattaya and Chiang Mai were slightly less expensive at between 17,000 (£440) and 16,000 (£410) baht respectively, with both averages not allowing for accommodation. Replies on Thailand’s expat forums tended to contradict Numbeo’s findings, saying they lived within its parameters including rent and still had cash to provide a few luxuries or a night out on the town.

Even so, the general opinion amongst expatriates in Thailand seems to be that prices have doubled over the past five years and are likely to increase still further in the future. Posters also pointed out the poor exchange rates hurt only expats, but the sharp increase in the price of food staples hurts local Thai people even more than they hurt expatriates on the UK state pension. It seems the sensible long-term expat answer to these endless surveys is that living within a set, affordable budget wherever you’re located is the best idea, and is something the vast majority of expats were used to doing in the home country. Many expats in Thailand work with their needs rather than their wants, just as they did back home, and are perfectly happy living within these parameters.
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