Living on $80 Per Day in Thailand

Traveling abroad doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, you can create a ton of savings by traveling in a foreign country, short-term or long-term. The key is to travel to countries where the cost of living is lower than your home country.


Local dining for less than $10 total.

Living in Phuket, Thailand for the past month has been a great example of how travel can be inexpensive, especially when compared to costs at home. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of our typical costs at home versus abroad.

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The total cost of living in Phuket, Thailand is roughly 3x cheaper than what it would be for us to live in San Jose, California. Our average monthly spend is now approximately $2500, rather than the $7500 we used to spend to maintain our life in California. That equates to roughly $80 per day, for a family of four, including schooling for both of the kids.


Picking the kids up from international school.

There are tradeoffs, of course. In Thailand, we do not have the luxury—or the financial burden—of driving around in our SUV. But we still have reliable transportation in the form of our moped and/or taxis. We don’t have the luxury of getting everything and anything we want at our mainstays at Costco, Asian supermarkets, and Target, but we do have the ability to live in an apartment without a stove. How do we accomplish this? We buy all our daily necessities and food from the street carts and the 7-11 directly across from our apartment. This means there is less time spent on food purchasing, cooking, and dish washing. For accommodations, we are no longer in a 3-bedroom house and have downsized to a 1-bedroom apartment in Thailand. We’ve sacrificed space and privacy for the ability to have access to the condo’s swimming pool and small workout area, along with it’s really convenient location directly in front of our kids’ school.


At home.



Travel doesn’t need to be expensive, rather it can be very cheap, as long as you move slowly, stay for extended periods of time, and cut as many costs at home as possible. It’s no wonder that there are lots of expats from the USA, Europe, Russia, and Korea who now live in Phuket, Thailand. They have a better quality of life, at a much lower expense, than if they were in their home countries.


The sunrise view.

Have you been thinking of taking the plunge to travel, but have been discouraged because of possibly high travel costs? There are many destinations in the world that have lower costs of living than where you live. Check out this infographic on the Living Costs Around the World. 

And for more info on this topic, read my article, “How to Fund Your Travel Lifestyle.”

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.

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  • Angela Moy Young

    Love it! Living on one-third of our current Hawaii costs? That sounds extremely inviting 🙂

  • Only $80 a day for a family of 4! That’s really impressive. What a great way to raise children while traveling the world.

    • Thanks for stopping by…Yes, travel doesn’t have to be expensive, even with kids.