One great thing about Thailand is the ability to live your life at pretty much any income level you like. Whether you opt to live like a king / queen or grind it out as cheaply as possible, there are options for everyone. My wife and I aim for a comfortable life somewhere in the middle, neither fussing over every last baht nor going a pretentious place that charge more just for glam.
If coming for the short-term (a week or less), plenty of hotels around within walking distance of Krabi’s beaches (I’ll use Ao Nang beach and Nopporat Thara beach as two points of interest, the former being a bit more developed and the latter still being developed). Between $20 USD and $25 USD per night will get you a clean, well-located space, while $80 USD-$100 USD a night will land you a four-star accommodation close to the beach. During the low / rainy season (April to October), those prices can drop by as much as half.
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If coming for the long-term (6-12 months or longer), a number of apartments and houses become available. We found a perfectly pleasant two-bedroom, two-bathroom house for about $500 USD a month. It’s about 85 square meters, a ten-minute scooter ride from the beach, and more than enough room for the two of us (we like our space, and the extra bedroom allows us to entertain guests). Finding a place close to the beach can be much trickier and much more expensive, however – I wouldn’t be surprised if you needed to enter the $1,000 USD/ month or higher to secure something within walking distance of the beach. Note that many leases shorter than a year will need to be paid up-front when you move in. If this is a deal-breaker you may be able to negotiate this month-by-month in exchange for an increase in rent.
You have a few options when it comes to transportation. Most expats will rent or purchase a scooter, though cars are also available to rent if you’re more comfortable with them. Expect to pay around $100 USD -$120 USD a month to rent a scooter, though consider purchasing one outright if you’re looking to be here for the long-term. One can purchase a used scooter for as little as $500, then of course resell it when you’re ready to move on. Cars can cost around $35 USD -$40 USD a day to rent, while long-term rentals can be around $500 USD -$600 USD a month. If you’ll be traveling a lot around Thailand and don’t mind the roads this is probably a better option.
Public transportation sticks to a few main roads, but comes frequently enough (every 10-15 minutes during the day). A ride on either the sole bus route in town (a white bus that connects Krabi Airport to the Tesco, through Krabi Town, Ao Nang, and Nopporat Thara) or the songthaew (a pick-up truck with benches in the back) costs about $1.50 USD -$4 USD based on distance. Forget about the taxis, though – beyond being little more than a metal cart attached to a motorcycle, the cheapest fares start at around $7. Going from Krabi to Ao Nang (about a 25-30 minute drive) is $15 USD-$18 USD via taxi – yikes.
As food goes, the beach areas offer a greater variety at a greater cost compared to Krabi. That said, you don’t have to look too far to find a $2 USD pad thai at a street food vendor or a simple Thai meal for about $2.50 USD -$3 USD. Restaurants specializing in foreign food are plentiful along Ao Nang’s streets, and most are quite good. Expect to pay anywhere from $6 USD -$12 USD for a pizza, $10 USD -$30 USD for a steak, and $8 USD -$15 USD for an entree at an Indian restaurant. Add in around $3 USD -$5 USD for a large (640ml) bottle of local beer, or $5 USD -$7 USD for a glass of wine.
Household bills will vary somewhat based on your interest in air conditioning – for some (like myself), it’s a necessity that’s appreciated during the hotter parts of the day, while for others (like my wife) a fan is more than enough to keep them cool. We’ll pay about $50 USD -$55 USD a month in electricity, about $3 USD -$4 USD a month for water, and about $19 USD a month for the entry-level internet package (speedier packages can reach about $60 a month). Note the tap water in Thailand is not safe to drink, so you have a couple of choices, pay about $2 USD -$2.50 USD for a 6-pack of 1.5 liter bottles at any convenience store, or take your empties to a water machine and fill them with clean, potable water for 2-3 cents a liter.
Traveling is a big part of the reason we’re here, and can be a fair percentage of our monthly outlay. The good news: filling up our scooter is a mere $3-$3.50, which will get us 100-125 kilometers depending on traffic and lights. For longer trips, you’ll find it easiest to get around by bus – expect to pay between $6 USD -$10 USD for a 3-4 hour bus ride to, say, Hat Yai. Minivans (sometimes confusingly called ‘buses’ by the locals) will tend to be a little more expensive but faster, thanks in part to the driver’s lack of regard for speed limits or the rules of the road. If you opt for the train, know the closest train station is Surat Thani or Trang, either of which requires changing to a bus for Krabi and riding for 2 hours. Krabi Airport has plenty of short flights from Bangkok for about $50 USD -$60 USD.
A quick pro-tip, by the way: unlike bus terminals across the country that have buses coming and going at all hours of the day, Krabi’s last buses / minivans tend to leave around 5-6pm.
While shopping, it’s not all that difficult to tell real from fake – the price and style of vendor are the main giveaways. Shirts or shorts made locally can be reasonably priced – anywhere from $5-$10 if on sale, with larger sizes (2XL or 3XL) sometimes going for $10-$15. Brand names imported from the Western world are unsurprisingly more expensive. While you’ll have some bargaining to do with unmarked prices, prices that are marked are typically pretty firm. We don’t go to the movie theater, but tickets tend to be between $8 USD -$15 USD , while a large popcorn and soda runs about $4 USD-$5 USD. A fun night out, replete with alcohol, can be had for less than $50 USD a person, if that’s what floats your boat.
Overall, Krabi ends up being on the same level as Chiang Mai – a little less expensive than Bangkok, Phuket, or Pattaya, and a bit more expensive than elsewhere in the country. It’s a fine place to live with beautiful beaches and a still-developing mindset.
This post What Does It Cost to Live for a Month (in the tropical paradise) of Krabi Thailand is by Chris Backe. Chris is the 32-year-old author of over a dozen books and itineraries, and the blogger behind oneweirdglobe.com. He focuses on visiting the offbeat and bizarre destinations around the world. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest updates.
How difficult or easy is it to get around there if you speak English only?
I lived in Thailand for over a year and had no problems. I did pick up a few rudimentary words and phrases, “thank you” etc. and these got me through with no problem. If however I were to do it again, I would take a few short basic Thai courses as soon. As I arrived.
I have been to Thailand 10 times since 1998; married my wife in Khon Kaen in 2000; but, have yet to be able to get a visa for more than 30 days. How do you stay for a year?
Hey Buzz, I have a retirement visa. I know a lot of people with educational visas and some, mostly digital nomads that would just make a lot of border runs. Even though most of these people contribute a lot to the Thai economy, they are really getting stricter and starting to turn people away. I know a lot of people who are taking their money not coming back. Yes, there have been some bad actors, but it seems they are throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I saw u went to a lot of asian countries, but not to the Philippines, there are some nice places to visit there, Palawan, Baguio, etc.
Actually we are tentatively planning to go to the Philippines this autumn. I hear Palawan is beautiful. Might have to do some diving as well!