I remember when I first moved to Thailand in 2021, I felt I had become “rich” overnight. I could instantly afford such a better lifestyle. I was staying in Airbnbs that honestly seemed “baller,” for the price of dirty old motel rooms in America.
And you may have heard other expats say similar, about how they “live like a king” in Thailand for cheap. But how much money do you really need to feel that effect? What is actually “rich” in Thailand, when you look at the stats?
A monthly income over 100,000 THB (~$2,930 USD) is already quite “well off” in Thailand. Meanwhile, the richest 5% have a monthly income over 193,000 THB (~$5,640 USD). Being a USD millionaire would definitely make you wealthy in Thailand, as less than 1 in 500 Thai people have that much.
Below, I’ll share many more reference points to help you understand what is “a lot of money” in Thailand. We’ll look at salary percentiles, cost of living, and more. I’ll also share my own experience as a digital nomad who feels rich in Thailand.
Converting Thai Baht to US Dollars
First, let’s briefly discuss how to convert Thai Baht (THB) to US Dollars (USD). Of course, the exact conversion rate is always changing. But here’s an easy “rule of thumb.”
Generally, $1 USD is about 33 THB. So, 100 Baht is about $3 USD. This is not exact, but it allows you to quickly convert in your head.
Using this easy rule, you can easily go from THB to USD:
- 100 THB = $3 USD
- 500 THB = $15 USD
- 1,000 THB = $30 USD
- 2,000 THB = $60 USD
- 3,000 THB = $90 USD
- 4,000 THB = $120 USD
- 5,000 THB = $150 USD
- 10,000 THB = $300 USD
- 100,000 THB = $3,000 USD
- 1 million THB = $30,000 USD
Now, let’s move onto what is actually “a lot of money” in Thailand.
What is Rich in Thailand?
“Rich” has many different levels, and it can be calculated different ways. Let’s start by looking at wealth. Then we’ll cover income after that.
In 2021, Thailand had a population of 71.6 million people. In the same year, they had ~125,400 millionaires (in USD). That’s less than 0.2% of the Thai population. So, less than 1 in 500 people in Thailand are millionaires in USD. (source)
Meanwhile, there were only 1,300 multi-millionaires in Thailand. That’s only ~0.002% of the population. This means less than 1 in 50,000 Thai people are multi-millionaires in USD.
So, if you’re a millionaire in USD, you’d already be well into the richest 1% in Thailand. Meanwhile, being a multi-millionaire in Thailand would make you very rare—likely the wealthiest person in a whole stadium of Thai people.
Of course, that still wouldn’t make you the richest person in the country. Thailand has ~36 billionaires as of 2023, and many more with hundreds of millions of dollars. (source)
What Is a Good Salary in Thailand?
Anything over 30,000 THB per month (~$880 USD) would be a fine, livable salary most places in Thailand. A better salary for an expat in Thailand would be over 50,000 THB per month (~$1,460 USD). And you’ll really start feeling “well off” at 100,000+ THB per month (~$2,930 USD).
That’s a quick guideline. But let’s dig into the details a bit more.
First, it depends where you are in Thailand. For example, the average income in Bangkok is 3x the national average of Thailand, and 9x more than in the northeast. So, what’s “good” in Bangkok may differ from what’s “good” in Isaan. (source)
Next, let’s cover the minimum wage. This number varies by province, too, but Thailand’s minimum wage ranges from 328 to 354 THB per day (~$9.60 to ~$10.30 USD).
So, the lowest paid legal workers in Thailand are only making around $10 USD per day. That would be ~$300 USD per month if working every day. So that’s the lower end. What about the upper end?
When it comes to monthly income before taxes, here’s what the upper classes are reported as earning in Thailand:
- The richest 35% in Thailand make over 58,900 THB/mo. (~$1,720 USD).
- The richest 15% in Thailand make over 151,000 THB/mo. (~$4,410 USD).
- The richest 5% in Thailand make over 193,000 THB/mo. (~$5,640 USD).
Having lived in Thailand for over a year myself, I can say anything above 100,000 THB per month (~$2,930 USD), you will be living very well. I’ll share more about this in the “cost of living” section below.
- How much does a doctor make in Thailand? Doctors make about 228,000 THB per month in Thailand ($6,660). Obviously, this varies depending on the medical specialty, hospital, and more. (source)
Cost of Living in Thailand
Thailand has a relatively low cost of living, on the global scale. Let’s start with comparing some stats between countries. Then we’ll get a little more concrete with examples.
On average, the cost of living in Thailand is 74% cheaper than in New York City, according to Numbeo. This includes rent and consumer prices together.
Here’s how Thailand compares to other countries in Numbeo’s lists:
|Country||How Thailand Compares|
|United States||Thailand is 133% cheaper.|
|Australia||Thailand is 121% cheaper.|
|Canada||Thailand is 97% cheaper.|
|United Kingdom||Thailand is 84% cheaper.|
|South Korea||Thailand is 70% cheaper.|
|Japan||Thailand is 41% cheaper.|
|China||Thailand is 1% cheaper.|
|Vietnam||Thailand is 11% more expensive.|
|India||Thailand is 44% more expensive.|
By comparing your country to Thailand with these kinds of cost of living comparison calculators, you can get a rough estimate of what your cost of living would be in Thailand.
But I also want to share my personal experience, as someone who’s lived in Thailand for over a year myself.
How Much Does It Cost to Live Well in Thailand?
Sometimes, you’ll see recommendations that expats can live well on $1,000 or less per month in Thailand. Is this true?
Well, it depends on your definition of “living well.” If you sign a long-term lease, you can likely find a decent studio for $200 USD/month or less. But it’s not going to be a really nice place in a central location.
I’d recommend $1,500 USD as a minimum for a Thailand expat budget. That’s what I spent for my first few months in the country. But you won’t be “living like a king.”
If you really want to experience the “affordable luxury” Thailand is known for, it’s going to require more than that. You’ll probably really start to feel it at $2,000 or $3,000 USD total budget per month.
If you’ve got a rent budget around $1,000 USD per month, you’ll be able to stay in very nice places, likely 2- or 3-bedroom units, in high-rise condos in central Bangkok.
At a total budget of $3,000 USD per month, you’ll start to feel like you can basically eat wherever you want, stay at nice places, and pay for Grab taxi rides anywhere, anytime, without thinking about costs.
Personally, that’s my definition of rich: You can pay for whatever you want (within reason), without thinking about costs, and you generally don’t feel limited by money anymore.
And I think around $3,000 USD/month, you are rich in Thailand by that definition. You may even feel rich at $2,000/month, but that depends a bit on your location and other details.
Cost of Common Items in Thailand
Now, let’s look at some everyday costs in Thailand. I put together the table below showing estimated costs in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
For most of these costs, Chiang Mai is the lower end, and Bangkok is the higher end:
|Product||Cost in THB||Cost in USD|
|Meal at inexpensive restaurant||50 – 100 THB||$1.50 – $2.90|
|Meal at mid-range restaurant||500 – 1,000 THB||$15 – $29|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 L)||70 – 80 THB||$2.05 – $2.30|
|Imported Beer (0.33 L)||120 – 135 THB||$3.50 – $3.95|
|Fitness club membership (1 mo.)||1,400 – 1,900 THB||$41 – $56|
|Internet (1 mo.)||530 – 670 THB||$16 – $20|
|Phone plan with data (1 mo.)||520 – 530 THB||$15 – $16|
Those numbers were sourced from Numbeo, but they match roughly with my personal experience, too. I would just add the disclaimer that you can really find better and worse deals in Thailand.
There really is a big price difference between the higher-end and lower-end options in Thailand. So if you want to live cheap, you can. Or if you want to “ball out,” you can do that, too.
Overall, Thailand provides a great value for money. Especially if you can make money online from an employer or clients in a more developed country, you can attain a rich life in Thailand without working all that hard.
What It Takes to Be “Rich” in Different Asian Countries
Read my other guides to what counts as “rich” in Asia—complete with salary data, net worth statistics and more: