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Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is one of the best places to retire in Southeast Asia. Location independent expats and digital nomads also find it attractive because of its low costs and high quality of life.

Chiang Mai is the 5th largest city in Thailand and offers a high quality of life at a very affordable price. With a population of over 170,000 in the city proper and more than one million in the metropolitan area, it’s the largest city in Northern Thailand and the hub for getting around the north. It’s located at an elevation a little over 1,000 feet above sea level (316 m), and it’s surrounded by mountains and countryside.

In Chiang Mai, many expats report being able to live comfortably for $750 per month, and nomads staying for only a few months have reported living comfortably for $900 per month. Expats living on a tight budget report getting by for as little as $500 per month. My budget for a month of living in the trendiest neighborhood in town was $ 1,280.

In other areas of Chiang Mai, apartments run the gamut starting at around $100 USD, and $450 dollars will get you a nice place with a swimming pool and exercise room. Nearly all apartments offer wifi. One of the benefits of living in Chiang Mai is that your money stretches far and you can maintain a very nice lifestyle with very little money.

Here are some examples of typical costs in Chiang Mai:

A Meal at an Inexpensive Restaurant - $1.24

Domestic Beer - $2.20

Cappuccino - $1.60

A 1-bedroom Apartment in the City Centre - $320

Utilities, about - $30

An Internet package - $21.

A Massage - $7

Drop in Yoga - $6

And Dropping in at the gym - $2

My Budget for a single month, no lease:

Rent for a month in a nice furnished apartment in the trendiest part of town - $460

This included utilities, internet, wifi, off-road parking, 24-hour security and maid service twice a week.

Motorbike rental and gas -$100

Health/Travel Insurance - $100

Eating out every meal Which have been high-quality meals, frequent seafood, daily fresh fruit shakes, coconuts, cappuccinos and other drinks including alcohol - $480

Entertainment included visiting tourist sites, several massages, my first manicure and pedicure, visiting the gym and attending yoga classes. My total entertainment costs were only - $140

My total for this month - $1,280.

Low cost is just one good reason to choose to live in Chiang Mai. Other great reasons to move here include; the proximity to the mountains with amazing nature and waterfalls, and Chiang Mai is much greener and quieter than Bangkok. It has a cosmopolitan vibe, excellent shopping and a large expat population as well as many location independent entrepreneurs. Chiang Mai upholds many of Thailand’s traditional values and customs. Cultural opportunities abound like attending traditional dance, visiting Buddhist temples, and experiencing festivals. Chiang Mai also has very good, affordable healthcare.

For more information about Thailand, visit our website at

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