Tieland to Thailand

Quit Your Job – Sell Your Stuff – Travel Abroad

"We spent last year selling everything and paying off thousands in consumer debt, planning our wedding, and ultimately figuring a way out of the daily nine to five. Twelve months later here we are living a truly free and location-independent lifestyle, currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand"

Chiang Mai Monthly Bills

Chiang Mai monthly bills Mail Delivery

One thing you can be sure to look forward to in Thailand is less monthly bills. Not only are utilities cheap in Thailand, but if you are like us, you may find yourself paying for fewer recurring expenses each month because of a change in lifestyle. Here’s a snapshot of our Chiang Mai monthly bills and how they compare to our bills back in the USA.

Chiang Mai Monthly Bills

Of course, some expenses are unavoidable, such as electricity and transportation. We choose to have things like a cell phone plan and an internet connection, but the bottom line is that these are fixed expenses that have been slashed since moving to Thailand!

Electricity Payment Receipt Chiang Mai Monthly Bills

Our December 2013 electric bill ringing in at $22 USD plus $0.30 to pay it at our local 7-Eleven

Lifestyle Change

Thailand’s cost of living can certainly be cheap, but we also live a more minimalistic lifestyle in Thailand than we did in the US. This definitely contributes to our Chiang Mai monthly bills being so low. Check out how life has changed…

Chiang Mai Monthly Bills Regarding Rent
Then vs Now
  • two bedroom, two bathroom corner unit apartment
  • Northern Virginia, (suburbs of D.C.) USA
  • two bedroom, three bathroom two-story townhouse
  • Old City of Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai Internet and TV
Then vs Now
  • cable TV and internet package
  • private internet service; landlord pays for the TV
Then vs Now
  • two cellular plans; unlimited data
  • one cellular plan; 2GB data
Then vs Now
  • water use for washing machine, dishwasher, showers, cooking, and cleaning
  • drank from the tap
  • water use for showers and cleaning
  • buy drinking and cooking water from filtered machine at the end of our street
Then vs Now
  • one car and one SUV; paid tolls
  • one-way commute: 25 minutes
  • one motorbike
  • one-way commute: 5 minutes
Then vs Now
  • had a private washer and dryer
  • dropped off dry cleaning (business attire) about once a month
  • use washing machines down the street
  • drop off clothes at a local cleaner two to three times per month
Then vs Now
  • electric air conditioning in the summer months and gas* heating in the winter, used mostly in evenings
  • lights and appliances on mostly in evenings
  • air conditioning or the fan on at night for roughly 7 hours
  • lights, a fan, and appliances are used during the day and the evenings

*Gas and electricity are combined into one expense for a better comparison. Averages were used while living in the US (2012) and in Thailand (2013). 

Expenses We No Longer Pay

  • Car Payment ($900 per month) – We paid our motorbike in full using some of the money we earned from selling Angela’s car.
  • Car Insurance ($175 per month) – We purchased motorbike insurance, which covers repairs and up to the replacement of our motorbike, as well as emergency care for us.  We paid $130 upfront for one year of coverage.
  • Health Insurance ($180 per month) – Medical care in Thailand is about 20% of the cost of similar care back in the US, so we self-insure. A few small trips to a nearby clinic has always cost us less than $30.

Drumroll, please.

Our Chiang Mai monthly bills are $608 USD compared to whopping $4,122 USD back in the States. That’s an 85% reduction in our cost of living!

By the nature of things, monthly bills and utilities in Thailand are much cheaper than in the US.  Not only on a cost by cost basis, but also because of eliminated expenses and reduced fixed monthly bills. It is always great to find ways to live cheaper, and it is because of our new lifestyle that we now easily live within our means and remain 100% debt free.

Check out our full budget breakdown we did in June 2013.


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Chris and Angela sold everything, paid off their debt, and left behind the nine-to-five lifestyle in the US. Today they live as full time expats in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Subscribe to their weekly Thailand Vlogs on Youtube! To see a full list of their blog posts all in one place check out the Archives. For more frequent updates follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Category: Budgets, Expat Life
  • S says:

    We just opened our bank account today with a passport and residence certificate. Way easier than I anticipated.

    June 6, 2015 at 5:39 PM
  • Stacey says:

    Reading that made me happy! I’m glad you guys found a way to escape the rat race – and Chang Mai is wonderful! Good on you guys (and good on you for sharing this so others can do the same!)

    March 16, 2014 at 11:43 AM
  • Sinsin says:

    I enjoy reading this! I am amazed at the amount of money people in the states or Canada (I’ve lived in both places) spend on ‘stuff.’ – Just because in Thailand it costs so much less! LOL What a lot of people said here is also true – whether you choose the minimal lifestyle or work hard for the money but hardly have time to enjoy it. I’ve seen too much of it here in Canada. People bury themselves in work, buy more things, and just get stressed out when they don’t have money to buy “more” things.

    It’s refreshing to see your perspective. Glad you’re enjoying the time here :)

    February 14, 2014 at 4:10 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Some of our favorite things to read are about cost of living comparisons of places around the world. It really puts it into perspective! And yes, a change in lifestyle is also necessary. Once you’ve adjusted to a less materialistic lifestyle, it really gives you more freedom to do more. Both because you have more money to DO things with and less things to take care of. Thailand is also great because of the peaceful and laid back attitude surrounding you. It’s just easier to relax here!

      February 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM
  • Laura says:

    Hi :)

    Thanks for sharing your insights to the bills in Thailand. I get so tired of everything is overpriced. Living an expensive place means that you have to be a work slave. And I really don’t like being forced to do something that I don’t love just because the rent is high.

    That’s why I left London last week to go travel in Asia and hopefully be able to live as a freelancer and building a webproject I always wanted to.

    I will keep reading your blog and get some inspiration for another kind of lifestyle! 😀


    February 7, 2014 at 2:39 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      No problem. We are happy to help and wish you the very best of luck on your trip!

      February 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM
  • Ryan says:

    Isn’t it crazy how expensive some things are back in the states? I’m loving this cool weather we’ve had the past few months. I haven’t even had to use the fan at all. My last month’s electric was around 300 baht (~$10)!

    February 3, 2014 at 6:39 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Yea, I think it has been about 3 months now of no fan or aircon for us. The temps are starting to creep up again, but the mornings are still very pleasant. 300 Baht is outstanding. Our lowest was January’s bill at 653 Baht. We should be able to get it lower once we move into a smaller place I suppose.

      February 3, 2014 at 6:53 PM
  • Phillip Dews says:

    Hi Chris, Angela,

    Wow those a cheap expenses you got there! I and Lou need to get our buts over there soon, I have been working with Ryan on a new project and now were in business together. what a difference a year makes as last year I had no job and no money coming in plus I have 21 interview attendances under my belt.

    Luckily my partner Louise works and can just cover our cost of living which is on average over £1000 sterling a month and that is not including the help we got from Lou’s mum and my Father every so often. I naturally have been trying my best to contribute (21 job interviews) but now that I have been building my blog these past four months and working with Ryan things are now finally looking up!

    I am hoping to visit on a months holiday at some point this year assuming that Ryan is still there at the time! Really interesting post you have here and thanks for sharing it!
    All the best guys.

    – Phillip Dews

    January 30, 2014 at 9:34 PM
  • Ryan Biddulph says:

    Chris and Angela,

    Love your blog! I linked up to it in my latest post; since I am living in Chiang Mai for 2-3 months now, at the Riverside Apartments, I wanted to churn out a relevant post.

    LOL on utilities. I have spent 6 months here over the past 3 years. I pay *a few* bucks less on bills, rent, etc, than I did in NJ 😉

    Thanks for sharing guys!

    January 30, 2014 at 2:50 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Ryan, thanks so much for including us in your post. Protein powder is a common thing we hear many expats having issues with…we will definitely let you know if we come across anything more affordable. We are so glad that you are following along. We hope you are loving your place at Riverside. Seems like a great spot to stay! Take care :)

      January 30, 2014 at 4:50 PM
  • LA-Trader says:

    Hi Chris & Angela, I had emailed your “Contact” tab with this similar question, but I will also ask it via the reply post so others who might be interested in the same information can see the response. Although my first choice is to live in Bangkok, because I love that dynamic city. In reality, my costs there were pretty much on par with what I spend here in Los Angeles.month to month. My main concern, wherever I end up living in Thailand will be solid internet and stability. Do you have Wifi or a Hardline connection, and since you do a lot of work on the internet, I assume speed and dependability are important to you both. What has your experience been with internet download/upload speed and stability. I am pretty certain that if I just go for a top of the line internet package from one of the providers in C.M. that I won’t have any problem at all for my work needs. I didn’t have a problem in Bangkok (and that was at a Serviced Apartment with just high quality Wifi . . . not a Hardline/ethernet connection) . . . . also, may I ask how you found your townhouse. Did you go through an Agency, or just get out on foot and canvass the neighborhoods you were interested in living in. Thanks again for your reply and for your wonderful site. You certainly deserve and have earned your followers with the intelligent and visually elegant content of your site.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:56 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      From our experience, Chiang Mai has excellent internet connection and availability. Not just in places such as restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops, but private connections as well. We have private Wifi through 3BB, which took about one day to install the line and to connect. Our internet package is a midrange option, but even with the low range options you will be able to meet 10 Mbps downloading and 1 Mbps uploading speeds. High range is around 50 Mbps downloading and 5 Mbps uploading.

      There have been a few times where the internet has been spotty for us. We replaced our router at one point, and several times 3BB staff came to our house looking for a problem with the wires, but we later found out that all it needed was a simple server re-set on 3BB’s end. While it took a few attempts to get it right, their customer service is very cordial. After the server re-set, the internet connection and speed has worked very well.

      We update our FAQs section regarding internet connection speeds in Thailand.

      We found our current townhouse through a Thai friend. She is a waitress at one of the restaurants we frequented, and when we mentioned we were looking for a place, suggested something immediately. We had initially tried going through real estate agencies, but most of their housing options were out of our price range of 10,000 to 15,000 baht a month. For those prices, it’s best to go through a Thai friend, the local listings, or cruising around an area you like looking for “for rent” signs. We also have a cat, and many apartment or condos (who have one landlord for many units) do not allow pets. Going through a private owner worked in our favor and we were able to find our current townhouse after looking only a few days. If you don’t have a Thai friend to help you, ask any English-speaking local if they have friends or family trying to rent out a place. They are eager to help!

      January 29, 2014 at 8:26 PM
  • David, Asia Expat Guides says:

    Wow, this is really amazing! Very practical, very inspiring, very useful. Thanks very much for sharing this really detailed post and let people peek into your confidential data! :)

    January 22, 2014 at 2:19 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thank you for the kind words. Glad to be able to help!

      January 24, 2014 at 10:27 PM
  • Scott says:

    Really inspiring and practical stuff, Chris and Angela. We’re sharing this with our clients going to Thailand. Looking forward to following your blog.

    January 20, 2014 at 8:22 PM
  • ChinaMatt says:

    Yeah, I’ve cut my expenses quite a bit since setting out on my adventure (but I also cut a lot of expenses back home before I started). All I’m really paying for now are flights and visas; everything else is much more affordable. Even while I stayed in Tokyo for two months, I saved more money (although I kind of spent those savings on having a bit more fun than I used to).

    January 18, 2014 at 10:55 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Matt, that is great. Sounds like you really have your finances together.

      January 18, 2014 at 5:41 PM
  • Ruann Weidemann says:

    Thanks for sharing. Very helpful info as I’ll be in Thailand for a few months (my first time) this year. Fighting!

    January 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM
  • Dividend Mantra says:

    Chris and Angela,

    Great post. Very, very informative! I love seeing super low monthly nuts like that. It’s great that not only is it super cheap to live over there, but it’s also a great place to be in.

    However, I would argue that it’s possible to live fairly close to that cheap here in the U.S. I was living on about $900 not long ago in SW Florida by using a scooter to get around, eating cheaply, avoiding health insurance, canceling cable, etc. And my rent was quite a bit more than what you guys are spending. I think you could acheive a similar outlay to that in the Midwest, where rent is cheap and apartments plentiful (I’m from Michigan).

    I appreciate the fact that you guys were honest in that you guys saved a ton by simply living more of a minimalist lifestyle, instead of comparing apples-to-oranges. However, even so it’s significantly cheaper over there on many fronts, notably utilities. Plus, while you can eat cheap here in the U.S., it’s just way better to eat Thai food for cheap (based on my taste buds).

    Appreciate the updates, guys. Hope you guys are living a dream! :)

    Best wishes.

    January 16, 2014 at 9:53 AM
    • Dividend Mantra says:

      To continue from my comment…

      I didn’t fully articulate what I meant to say.

      I guess what I meant to say is that while you could acheive a similar base spending level here in the U.S., you guys are living a great adventure. It’s not just about lowering your cost of living and getting rid of recurring bills that end up handcuffing you to the 9-5, but also living life on your terms and seeing the world. In addition, I think living on that low of a spending level here in the U.S., while possible, would be a lot more confining and probably boring.

      Best wishes.

      January 16, 2014 at 10:37 AM
      • Chris and Angela says:

        We totally agree with you. We have talked about what it would take to live a similar life in the US, but you’re right, the quality of life just wouldn’t quite match up. For two people to live in States they would have to live somewhere not as appealing. Probably a place not worth mentioning with limited options for eating out, exploring, and meeting friends. Plus, a scooter wouldn’t be much fun to putt around on in a cold Midwestern US winter :)

        In Chiang Mai we still have the freedom to travel around on a whim, eat at most restaurants we come across, and seek medical care without the worry of going broke. Throw in the weather, location, and friendly people and we don’t see it getting much better anywhere else. With all of that said there are definitely trade-offs, such as being so far away from friends and family.

        Thanks so much for commenting. Your points of view are always insightful and fun to read. Hope your week is going well. Take care!

        January 16, 2014 at 11:41 AM
  • PassportDave says:

    Got to love Chiang Mai! Been here for two months and the costs are just wonderful!

    January 16, 2014 at 5:31 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Aren’t they!? We love our lives here and the prices that allows us to live well without too much stress. Thanks for stopping by!

      January 16, 2014 at 11:13 AM
  • Hannah @getting stamped says:

    Sounds amazing! What part of town were you in? How long was your lease? Was they anything similar but smaller in cheaper? We are looking for a three month base :-)

    January 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM
  • Kimmy I AfterGlobe says:

    I’m sending the link to this article over to Drew. I keep telling him I really don’t think we will be coming back to the States once we get a taste of living this cheap.

    January 15, 2014 at 1:33 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      It is tempting…the thought has definitely crossed our minds a time or two :)

      January 15, 2014 at 1:37 AM
    • Drew / AfterGlobe says:

      It is exciting to see how much less money we could be spending in Thailand, I think we will enjoy it there! As for staying, we’ll have to see how it goes!

      January 15, 2014 at 3:05 AM
      • Chris and Angela says:

        I think you both will like too. Thanks for commenting!

        January 15, 2014 at 9:51 AM
  • Adam Finan - Tropical Nomad says:

    Nice layout guys.. I miss Chiang Mai’s cheap living! Ireland is expensive, but we are avoiding rent for now :)

    January 14, 2014 at 8:09 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks man. Definitely can’t beat rent free living though. You will be back soon enough 😉

      January 14, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    Really useful post, im always interested in what other people and spending living in Thailand, it really is a massive saving!

    January 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks, Laura! These posts were the kind that really stood out to us when we were trying to gauge how we would live in Thailand. Glad you liked it :)

      January 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM
  • Heidi (@WagonersAbroad) says:

    Good for you guys. I should do a comparison of ours in Spain. I have all the numbers, as I am crazy that way with keeping tabs on things. I am excited we will be over your way later this year. Maybe we can save even more!

    January 14, 2014 at 4:49 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Do it! We love crunching numbers and seeing them crunched by others haha. We can almost guarantee that you will shave more off of your monthly expenses in Thailand…especially in Chiang Mai :)

      January 14, 2014 at 4:52 PM
  • grahame says:

    Hi Chris and Angela. So happy to hear that you are enjoying your time in Chiang Mai Thailand, I have had the privilege of spending some time there in 2007. One thing I have noticed is that many of your blog visitors are from the USA but because I live in Cape Town South Africa, I cannot compare prices. However I do know that the cost of living in Thailand is a lot cheaper than most countries I have visited. I will definitely be coming back to Chiang Mai someday soon and would love to hook up with you guys. Thailand is my favourite travel destination. PS Love reading your posts.

    January 14, 2014 at 4:27 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks for the comment Grahame! So it looks like our monthly bills are about 6500 ZAR while our entire monthly budget is 13000 ZAR. Hope that helps :)

      Best of luck on your travels. Let us know when you are in town.

      January 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM
  • Vince says:

    So we’ve been on our recon mission for about a month now and cannot believe how far our money is going. Even staying in “expensive” hotels here, eating in falang restaurants more than we anticipated, taking public transit everywhere, purchasing gifts for friends and family (for when we “vacation” in the US for the next 6 months or so before we move back “home” to Thailand) we blew our anticipated budget for this trip out of the water. It looks like the trip is going to cost about 2/3 what we anticipated (and that includes the deposit we put on our condo).

    It was great getting together with the two of you the other night. If we don’t run into you in the next few days we’ll get together with you in August. Look forward to reading about your Hua Hin trip for the smoky season.

    January 14, 2014 at 9:11 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Wow! That is great Vince. When we first visited Thailand on our honeymoon we were blown away by how HARD it was to spend our daily budget. So happy to hear that you both are loving this wonderful place. We are looking forward to many more great dinners and gatherings with you two. Enjoy the rest of your time here!

      January 14, 2014 at 9:17 AM
  • Agness says:

    Wow, guys! Thailand is so cheap in comparison to what you paid back home. Incredible. Imagine how much you can save a year on bills!

    January 14, 2014 at 8:53 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      I know! It is mind blowing that we ever thought it was ok to spend that kind of money on bills. Plus having carried so much debt back in those days we were also paying hundreds in credit card payments. So glad those days are behind us :)

      January 14, 2014 at 9:05 AM
  • Young says:

    Young people these days, people have to be creative. It is hard for young generation to have a good life here in us. I’m a good saver and over 50, pretty well to do even in us, but I want to be pampered in chiang mai very soon. Love your blog.

    January 14, 2014 at 6:00 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      We hope you truly enjoy your future in Thailand :) Best of luck to you!

      January 14, 2014 at 8:27 AM
  • Sam @ Travelling King says:

    Very informative – Thailand is much cheaper than the US and Aus – but given how much you pay, doesnt Thailand also reflect a lower income? SO you might be saving all of that but you arent necessarily getting paid the same as you were in the US?

    January 14, 2014 at 4:09 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Very true, and that is a really important point. Living in Thailand has also been a lifestyle change for us. We made great money back home, but between debt and no time off we just couldn’t fully enjoy it. We definitely think Chiang Mai is a wonderful place to retire on a fixed pension or for those looking to simplify the way they live. It is all relative.

      January 14, 2014 at 8:23 AM
      • Sam @ Travelling King says:

        Hey guys!
        I can imagine – living in Thailand is my dream – my one day!
        I guess it depends on whats important to you – having a nice house and pretty things around you but working your ass off 24/7 or being able to relax a little and enjoy life…

        January 14, 2014 at 4:52 PM
        • Chris and Angela says:

          Exactly! The things in our lives back home that we always thought we needed to be happy soon became our anchors. We felt such a big weight lifted when we started to sell them and pay off our debts. Making less and being financially free totally works for us. We appreciate and enjoy everything around us so much these days. Thanks for the love, Sam!

          January 14, 2014 at 4:58 PM
  • rachelcampbell66 says:

    Oh wow! You both ended up paying a lot per month in the states! It’s awesome to see how cheap (and manageable) it is to live in Thailand. I love reading success stories like this and seeing what the breakdown is. Keep it up!

    January 14, 2014 at 3:52 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks for the love Rachel. We can’t wait to see you guys here soon!

      January 14, 2014 at 8:23 AM
  • Rhonda says:

    Good for you guys! We know we’ll end up in SE Asia or Mexico/Central America at some point and are looking forward to a simpler lifestyle.

    January 14, 2014 at 3:42 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks, Rhonda. We have also considered Central America. Who knows, we may end up splitting time between the two places one day :)

      January 14, 2014 at 8:25 AM
  • Richard Barbian says:

    I can only say “wow.”

    January 14, 2014 at 1:42 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Hard to believe when you look around at the cost of living back in VA…two completely different worlds.

      January 14, 2014 at 1:51 AM
  • Tim Reisdorf says:

    This may be the final straw to convince me to move from Canada .. Lol I love Chiang Mai

    January 14, 2014 at 12:51 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      :) Haha we do too. It always has a way of pulling you back!

      January 14, 2014 at 12:55 AM
  • rogerlucr says:

    Hello again…funny I woke up today to find we were negative $88 in our checking account because AT&T took their cut of $175 for TV and internet. (The phone alone is $201!).. I could dip into our savings account but, oh yeah, I don’t have one. I could go on but you well know the rest of the story. In June I will be heading over looking for a 1br condo. I will be coming alone. Social Security,and 2 small pensions will give me around $2K/month. And when people ask me why I’m going, I think why are you STAYING.!

    January 14, 2014 at 12:46 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Oh no! We hated those recurring monthly bills. So glad to be past all of that. To tell you the truth I don’t know if we will ever be able to go back to that madness. All is well over here though, Roger. We look forward to seeing how things play in your journey. Take care.

      January 14, 2014 at 12:54 AM

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