Monkey Abroad

Videos and stories of the life abroad – food, culture, travel & work

Living in Thailand

10 Ways to Save a Ton of Money While Living in Thailand


You’ve saved your money, you bought a plane ticket, and now you’re living in Thailand. It’s no secret that the cost of living in Thailand is cheaper than the western world, but if you don’t manage your money wisely, your life abroad will be a short one.

1. Forget western food

That’s right, don’t even think about it. When you see a cheeseburger and fries on the menu at a Thai eatery, turn the other cheek on your greasy old pal. The same goes for you Brits with your bangers and mash. It’s at least three times the price of your average Thai dish, so stick with what the locals are eating if you wanna extend your stay.

2. Put the beer down

It’s alright to sip a cold one after a long week, but if you’re guzzling beer every night, or any other alcohol for that matter, your overall living expenses are gonna double. In Thailand, a 12 oz. beer costs as much as a full meal. I need to drink about 4 beers to get a decent buzz. That’s 4 days’ worth of lunch money!

Living in Thailand

Should I buy myself dinner, or one more beer?

3. Keep a spending log

If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend a lot less money if you get into the habit of tracking your expenses. After a month, look back to your log to see what you’re spending the most money on every day. You’ll be surprised at how much dough you’re dropping on crap you don’t need.

4. Tutor in your free time

If you’re a native speaker, it’s easy to find a job teaching English at a school in Thailand. But if you aren’t frugal, your monthly salary will fall short of your expenses. That’s when you should look into a supplemental job like tutoring. Post flyers with your email address, tell everyone you meet. Who knows, with enough marketing your tutoring salary could surpass your teaching salary.

5. Cook your own food

One of the first things I invested in for my apartment in Thailand was a rice cooker. That way I can eat as much as I want to (I eat a lot) without breaking the bank. Rice and beans are staple foods that can be prepared using a rice cooker, and they cost pennies per serving. Cook your own food as much as possible and you’ll undoubtably save a ton of dough during your life abroad no matter which country you inhabit.

6. Stop paying ATM fees

When you use an ATM with an overseas credit card, it rapes your bank account. I get slapped with a $10 fee every time I withdraw. Trust me it adds up. Avoid this mess by withdrawing your cash in the biggest chunks possible. Better yet, open up a bank account in Thailand.

7. Haggle

If you can buy something in Thailand, you can haggle for it. Make an offer that’s so ridiculous that you’d feel guilty if they accepted it. They won’t agree, but they’ll definitely try to meet you in the middle. Just don’t try to haggle over small stuff like food and snacks, otherwise locals will think you’re an ass. Save your bartering skills for more expensive items like clothes.

8. Learn the language

You don’t need to be fluent, but put some effort into learning the basics and you’ll reap the financial benefits. Learn how to count and learn how to compliment people. Both go a long way when dealing in business, and using a few key phrases could help you dodge paying the notorious “foreigner price.”

9. Stay put

You’re living in Thailand because you love to travel and experience new culture. That’s awesome, but don’t make a habit out of traveling to a new country or province every single weekend. Living abroad is not the same as backpacking. The cultural experiences you seek shouldn’t require constant migration if you’re already living on foreign soil. You’ll have a much deeper immersion in a foreign culture this way.

10. Don’t be a showoff

Did you bring more money than you need? Awesome, don’t spend it. Just because living in Thailand is cheaper than living in the west doesn’t mean you should treat your money any differently. Picking up a big bar tab will make you popular, but it spells financial disaster if you make it a habit. Don’t sacrifice precious travel money just to impress friends and strangers.


Follow these guidelines to living frugally in Thailand and you’ll end up with more money than you started with. Have fun, travel, experience the culture, and be wise with your dough. It’s so easy to live a long-term sustainable life in Thailand, but it’s up to you to decide how long you want your life abroad to last.

Author: Kevin Cook

I want to inspire you to pursue your own dream of traveling and/or living overseas!


  1. Your dad has taught you well, your uncle DD would be so proud and I could certainly use some of your traits!

  2. Hey Monkey…You have learned well… All very good tips on the frugal life in any country. When I read your blog, I get homesick for Central America… Uncle DD

  3. Certainly a chip “off the old block!” Good advice.

  4. Awesome….

  5. Use online dating or approach women on the streets – probably the biggest money saving tip. Sure, booze and clubs are not super expensive but most people still end up spending a couple thousand bath a night.

    I know, it’s not for everyone, but I like to play it that way. I don’t care how I get girls, so hitting the clubs isn’t must for me.

  6. This message should be the central and only message of this blog……. If you want to live like a monk, come to Thailand and follow this stringent austerity life style. As you do without, you will soon loath the wealthy you see in taxis, drinking, renting girls, and spending money.
    This austere life style makes you into a constant hunter for cheaper, cheaper, cheaper.
    BTW, haggling is neither normal nor face saving except with pro Thai scam guys.

  7. i’m also living in Thailand, you’ve got some good tips. Though I think I write more harsh words than you do. You can try to read my blog. it isn’t self-hosted yet but I will purchase my own domain soon.


  8. So I am told the Charles Schwab ATM debit cards refunds ATM fees worldwide.. is this not a way to avoid the outrageous $6 ATM fees?

Let me know what you think


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: