Living Like a Thai

Thai Island off Pattaya Bay in Thailand

Can you live like a Thai?

No man is an island but for the month of May I sure felt like one. I spent a good part of the month still recovering from my bout of dengue fever and another bout of tonsillitis but I am happy to say that is all behind me now and I am again running at 100%, a claim that Rick from Behind the Noodle Curtain tested the veracity of just this past weekend when he came to Pattaya for a short holiday of sorts.

Rick and I have spent a considerable amount of time deliberating costs and finances in Thailand and this past weekend we touched on these things again, it’s very easy in a town like Pattaya to plan on going home early and spending less on a night out but but more often than not it’s easier to spend more and wondering where the time went as you are watching the sun come up. This isn’t a daily habit for either of us but it happens.

Both Rick and I have come to the conclusion that we can and will be doing some things cheaper such as living arrangements. When my lease is up I will be looking for a much cheaper condo which can be had in certain areas near me for around 5000 baht a month. Of course they aren’t up scale but some of these places are quite nice and actually roomier than what I am paying too much for now.

Our talks this weekend got me thinking back to a great post that Martyn from Beyond the Mango Juice wrote some time ago entitled Red Red Whine, this was an excellent article about what the average Thai makes in a days wages and how we as tourists and expats would be hard pressed to live within such means. At the end of his article Martyn challenged his readers to live like a Thai for just one day and the monetary amount allowed was 170 baht. As far as I know no one took him up on the challenge…until now.

Taking into account inflation and living in a tourist town like Pattaya I am adjusting the daily wage a small amount to take into consideration my surroundings. So, instead of 170 baht a day I will be living on 200 baht a day for the whole month of June. Yes, you read that right, the whole month of June!

The 200 baht a day will encompass all related living expenses except for rent. Rent is beyond my control and is already much more than the daily wage will allow. But, all other living expenses such as food, transportation and bills such as electricity will count towards the 200 baht a day just as it would for a Thai.

Can I live on 200 baht a day? I think I can but obviously I won’t know for sure until I try. It may very well be a hard month for me but I will definitely be giving it the full run and I won’t stop until the month is over. Hopefully I will find new ways of doing things and places to eat and shop that will be a benefit in the future no matter what my budget.

The Living like a Thai series will start tomorrow and will run daily until the end of June so you can keep up with me as I try my hand at living like a Thai. I’ll be giving a daily detailed accounting of my expenditures as well as my feelings and concerns as the month goes by. If nothing else this could turn out to be an interesting foray into living frugally in Thailand but hopefully some tidbits of good information come through and maybe a better understanding of Thai people and Thai incomes.



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20 Comment(s)

  1. Talen, the best of luck, I fancy you will need it. No more late nights-for a month anyway ;-)

    Mike | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  2. Mike, no more anything for a month unless I save my satang :)

    Talen | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  3. Whooh! This is going to be interesting reading.

    (and I don’t guess I’ll be seeing you in BKK for the month of June)

    Catherine | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  4. Cat, it should be very interesting me thinks…Look for me in July I will definitely be in BKK then :)

    Talen | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  5. that will be 4 bottles of leo at 39 baht from the bar in soi khao talo each and a potion of pad thai from the market oppersite………… best of luck, i know i couldnt do it

    Daran | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  6. What a great idea and challenge, go for it!

    Watching people on 170 a day during the rice harvest in Isaan I really struggled with the idea of me getting by on that for a week, even with rent taken out of the equation, let alone a month.

    Looking forward to your posts this month.

    Mangki | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  7. Good luck Talen, I am looking forward to this. It will be interesting to see this social experiment as it happens on a daily basis. It is always interesting to see how little people* can survive on, moneywise, if they have to.

    *Off point deviation: I need to re-read ‘Eats, shoots and leaves’. Was I just suggesting Talen was a person of short stature (which I’m sure he’s not), or is that grammatically correct? Admittedly it is mojita o’clock so I stand to be corrected.

    Thai Connoisseur | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  8. Talen thanks for taking up the ‘One70 Baht Challenge’ and I can understand that living in Pattaya you’ve had to upgrade it to a ’2Hundred Baht Challenge.’

    It’s going to be a tough month for you, hand rolled Thai tobacco and lao Khao perhaps. I look forward with great interest to your coming posts for this month. I’ll also be interested to hear how many kilos you drop over the next 30 days.

    Martyn | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  9. Martyn, it should be an interesting month and I have a feeling a few kilos will disappear but that is never a bad thing.

    Talen | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  10. Thai, I’m hoping that at the very least I gain some new insights into Thai life…who knows, going native might be a great thing for me.

    Talen | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  11. Mangki, it’s not much money is it? I do have some things on my side though. I don’t own a motorbike or car so no expenditures there and I don’t have a Thai girlfriend at the moment so I won’t be paying grazing fees. I think I am ahead of the game already. :)

    Talen | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  12. Daran, I think I would save my satang for a proper beer and maybe only have 4 for the moth :)

    Talen | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  13. Live like a Thai – I wish my wife could do that !

    Thanks to multi-tiered pricing I think it would be easier to live like a Thai if you were actually Thai.

    ChuckWow | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  14. Now this will be interesting !

    Mike N | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  15. Chuck, a female friend commented to me today that she couldn’t live like a Thai and she is Thai…she had already spent 700 baht today on shoes alone.

    Talen | Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

  16. Great idea ~ especially for those who need to learn how to budget. Thailand can be a very affordable place to live but if you have expensive tastes. . .

    I’m a cheap bastard and I love street food and bargain hunting, so I do alright! Awhile ago I kept a spending journal. . .

    Okay I’m on to the next part!!!!

    Lani | Jun 2, 2011 | Reply

  17. Sounds like you were talking to my wife !!

    ChuckWow | Jun 2, 2011 | Reply

  18. Lani, budgeting can be a problem for many expats or in my case just being lazy and going for conveient things ends up costing a lot more in the long run.

    Talen | Jun 2, 2011 | Reply

  19. For a month?!?!?! Talen, I haven’t read your first reports yet, but I’m going to guess you won’t make it because, while I know you have the guts and will power, a few days without a Jack-Coke will be your downfall ;-) And there goes your budget in 1 glass. LOL

    I wish you all the luck buddy. You don’t take on easy projects.

    Now, I must read your first reports . . .

    SiamRick | Jun 8, 2011 | Reply

  20. Rick, it’s day eight and I’m going strong but getting weak…I am going to attempt to go out tonight on my budget and say hello to the girls at my favorite haunt….hopefully a few free drinks will come my way as usual :P

    Talen | Jun 8, 2011 | Reply

4 Trackback(s)

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