Thailand: Price paradise lost?

CHIANG RAI, 11 February 2019: Surprise, many of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations are among the most expensive cities in Southeast Asia to settle down in, according to cost of living comparison site Numbeo.

Posting a cost of living chart on the region’s top 18 destinations, Numbeo logged Bangkok as the second most expensive city after Singapore.

But Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai took fourth, fifth and sixth place ahead of Penang in eighth place and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, in the ninth spot.

The cheapest cities in the cost of living index were Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (14th), Surabaya, Indonesia (15th), Cebu, Philippines (16th), Bandung, Indonesia (17th) and Davao, Philippines (18th).

The cost of living index results that compared 18 cities in Southeast Asia flew in the face of promoters who position Thailand as the holiday bargain spot of Asia.

It also challenges Thailand’s ambitions to attract more  foreign retirees as even Chiang Mai, a popular chose for long-stay retirees, turns out to be considerably more expensive than cities in Malaysia where liberal rules apply for visa and even land ownership.

Third placed Phnom Penh was another surprise coming in with a higher cost of living index than the three popular Thai destinations Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Cost of living summaries by cities

Singapore:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 85,801.01฿ (3,701.04S$) without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 23,955.75฿ (1,033.33S$) without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Singapore is 58.08% higher than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 113th out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Singapore has a cost of living index of 69.38.

Bangkok:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 75,851.11฿ without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 21,017.40฿ without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Bangkok is 28.97% higher than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 212th out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Bangkok has a cost of living index of 56.60.

Phnom Penh:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 62,678.04฿ (1,992.94$) without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 17,607.87฿ (559.87$) without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Phnom Penh is 7.22% higher than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 258th out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Phnom Penh has a cost of living index of 47.06.

Pattaya:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 60,832.93฿ without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 17,124.97฿ without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Pattaya is 7.45% higher than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 257th out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Pattaya has a cost of living index of 47.16.

Phuket:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 59,252.24฿ without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 16,825.81฿ without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Phuket is 3.47% higher than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 271st out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Phuket has a cost of living index of 45.41.

Chiang Mai:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 58,357.60฿ without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 16,248.11฿ without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Chiang Mai is 22.46% lower than in Bangkok.
  • Cost of living rank 281st out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Chiang Mai has a cost of living index of 43.89.

Jakarta:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 58,254.79฿ (25,847,621.44Rp) without rent).
  • A single person monthly costs: 16,952.60฿ (7,521,858.76Rp) without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Jakarta is 1.61% lower than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 285th out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Jakarta has a cost of living index of 43.18.

Penang:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 55,021.51฿ (7,118.70RM) without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 15,234.92฿ (1,971.10RM) without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Penang is 2.32% lower than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 286th out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Penang has a cost of living index of 42.87.

Kuala Lumpur:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 55,600.29฿ (7,193.59RM) without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 15,596.31฿ (2,017.86RM) without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Kuala Lumpur is 3.89% lower than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 291st out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Kuala Lumpur has a cost of living index of 42.18.

Bali:

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 55,857.68฿ (24,784,024.62Rp) without rent.
  • A single person monthly costs: 15,789.08฿ (7,005,608.83Rp) without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Bali is 4.50% lower than in Chiang Mai.
  • Cost of living rank 292th out of 438 cities in the world.
  • Bali has a cost of living index of 41.92.

Numbeo compares cost of living across all regions by studying factors such as transport, clothes and shoes, sports and leisure activities, markets, food, utilities, rents, and restaurants.

Rank City Cost of Living Index Rent Index Cost of Living Plus Rent Index Groceries Index Restaurant Price Index Local Purchasing Power Index
1 Singapore, Singapore 69.60 55.72 62.97 55.81 45.89 101.44
2 Bangkok, Thailand 56.65 26.76 42.37 58.95 30.02 40.15
3 Phnom Penh, Cambodia 47.03 17.46 32.90 45.79 25.69 17.58
4 Pattaya, Thailand 46.98 18.19 33.22 46.34 31.48 26.41
5 Phuket, Thailand 45.64 14.25 30.64 48.78 25.87 55.65
6 Chiang Mai, Thailand 44.09 11.95 28.73 50.04 20.84 36.78
7 Jakarta, Indonesia 43.07 16.14 30.20 45.18 24.06 25.97
8 Penang, Malaysia 42.69 8.71 26.45 46.64 24.06 71.10
9 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 42.16 16.64 29.96 42.23 26.46 75.19
10 Bali, Indonesia 41.84 8.90 26.10 45.76 24.83 23.67
11 Manila, Philippines 39.11 18.22 29.13 33.82 24.26 37.31
12 Hanoi, Vietnam 38.98 12.94 26.54 39.03 20.95 39.61
13 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 38.41 15.28 27.36 39.45 18.81 29.19
14 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia 38.15 12.19 25.74 37.81 23.41 79.00
15 Surabaya, Indonesia 37.68 7.73 23.37 44.39 18.41 33.75
16 Cebu, Philippines 37.57 11.27 25.00 36.07 21.57 25.94
17 Bandung, Indonesia 35.50 7.02 21.89 38.22 16.63 31.26
18 Davao, Philippines 35.27 7.60 22.04 32.91 20.52 23.46

Methodology

These indices are relative to New York City (NYC). Which means that for New York City, each index should be 100(%). If another city has, for example, rent index of 120, it means that on an average in that city rents are 20% more expensive than in New York City. If a city has rent index of 70, that means on an average in that city rents are 30% less expensive than in New York City.

Cost of Living Index (Excl. Rent) is a relative indicator of consumer goods prices, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities. Cost of Living Index doesn’t include accommodation expenses such as rent or mortgage. If a city has a Cost of Living Index of 120, it means Numbeo estimates it is 20% more expensive than New York (excluding rent).

Rent Index is an estimation of prices of renting apartments in the city compared to New York City. If Rent index is 80, Numbeo estimates that price of rents in that city is on an average 20% less than the price in New York.

Groceries Index is an estimation of grocery prices in the city compared to New York City. To calculate this section, Numbeo uses weights of items in the “Markets” section for each city.

Restaurants Index is a comparison of prices of meals and drinks in restaurants and bars compared to NYC.

Cost of Living Plus Rent Index is an estimation of consumer goods prices including rent comparing to New York City.

Local Purchasing Power shows relative purchasing power in buying goods and services in a given city for the average wage in that city. If domestic purchasing power is 40, this means that the inhabitants of that city with the average salary can afford to buy on an average 60% less goods and services than New York City residents with an average salary.

(Source: Numbeo)

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