2015 has already involved work in 5 countries, and play in another 2. But my base is Chiang Mai, Thailand. Read more about my day-to-day in this post, including an oft-asked-question: what does it cost me to live in Thailand?
8 countries; 49 flights; 71 nights in hotels
I consider myself living in Thailand, and yet I’ve only spent 57 days in Thailand out of about 150 days possible this year.
Previously I’ve stopped and started renting a place here if I’ve been away for more than a week, but for the last six months I’ve been in the same house, and despite the fact I’m paying for something I’m not always using, I’m glad. Last year I got sick when I travelled and worked too much, but this year I seem to be keeping myself balanced and healthy, and I think the house is a big part of keeping me grounded.
Living in the the same house (unlike last year), I don’t have to start anew each time I come back, or spend time looking for a new place to live. I don’t worry that there won’t be anywhere for me to stay. And I don’t have the uncertainty of whether or not I’ll like the house, or trying to decide how long I will take a contract for.
I’ve worked in Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia this year. I’m working more days than my monthly target because of two trips to the states for conferences, one I did in April, and one I have planned for July. During these times I won’t be working, and my expenses will be a lot higher than usual, hence the extra work to build up a nest egg. But generally, my finances are healthy (though being a worrier, I fret!). One small bonus of so many flights is that I finally got a silver card with Emirates, which means I can use the business lounge at Dubai and I’ve been upgraded twice!
I continue to build my online business, which is progressing well. I’ve had guest posts in a number of places this year, and been interviewed another handful of times. This is all helping to build my online audience. I’m developing more offerings and products to launch later in the year, which is really exciting. And as you may have noticed, I’m also playing around with the shape and design of this site – still a work in progress!
How do I spend my time in Chiang Mai, Thailand?
I balance my time between working on the website and writing. I’m still doing several online courses, keeping my knowledge and skills up to date.
I visit a lot of coffee shops, and this year I’ve also spent a bit of time working in two of the co-working spaces in Chiang Mai, Punspace and Camp at Maya. These are both helpful when I know I want to work a long day without distraction, and I’ve met some interesting people at both.
My good friend Caroline who’s been living in Mexico for the last year, has just finished a month’s visit back to Chiang Mai. It’s been nice to hang out and catch up, and talk blogs and dreams, tactics and strategy. As well as just hang out as sometimes I get a bit caught up in work. Ahem.
Economics – what does it cost to live here?
I’ll start with a disclaimer – I don’t live an especially luxurious life here in Chiang Mai, but I also don’t stint myself particularly. I tend to be an ‘under buyer’, and I don’t own a lot of possessions, but I do live in a more-upscale-than-some house here, I work in coffee shops rather than at home, and I eat out for all my meals except breakfast.
I pay about £250 a month for my rent (including wifi, water, and electricity – although the latter is likely to go up given my high use of the AC in the last month because of the incredible heat at the moment). Laundry costs 40p a load for the machines, and I do about 2 a week. I pay about £60 for my scooter per month, and maybe £3 a week for petrol. In terms of food I usually have one or two coffees a day (or sometimes a smoothie) which is about £2. I probably spend £10-15 a week at the supermarket for loo roll, bin bags, detergent, eggs for breakfast etc. Then I usually eat out for both lunch and dinner, and pay between £5 and £8 for that depending on where I am. Thai food costs less than western food (for example, this week I paid £1.50 for a thai meal that was a main dish, rice, and soda water, and then a huge £5 at an Italian for a pasta dish, soda water, and dessert).
I try and have one massage a week, which is about £5 (or I can have a luxurious spa half day for £30). Phone credit for texting my landlord, maybe £4 a month. For toiletries, I usually buy from Lush in the UK for most of them, so that probably works out about £15 a month.
I go to the cinema every couple of weeks, which is about £3. I buy clothes every now and then, and tend to go to the western shops, so that’s probably £10 a week on average. In terms of other entertainment, I spend £8 a month on a subscription to audible for an audio book each month, and I probably spend another £10-15 a month on kindle books.
I use World Nomads for my travel and medical insurance – when you’re not in your ‘home’ country much it can be more of a challenge to get insurance on a long-term basis (unless it’s a local car insurance, details at moneyexpert.com). That’s about £50 a month. Having said that, I’ve never used my medical insurance, and I have been to the Doctor a few times. The last time, for antibiotics and a visit to an ENT consultant, it was less than £30, so it hasn’t seemed worth claiming yet.
Other costs you might need to consider
- I don’t drink or smoke, and tend to eat out as my entertainment.
- In terms of visas, I’m currently coming in and out on 30 day tourist visas as I’m never here more than a couple of weeks, but I usually have a 60 day visa which I buy in the UK and is about £25.
- If you’re heading to and from home, you’ll need to factor in flights. I use skyscanner to get the best deals.
Rounding up (as sure there are things I’ve forgotten), the total per month is about £750, which is about $1200US.
Certainly compared to what I used to spend when I lived just outside London in the UK, it’s incredibly reasonable. It means I can live on much less, and has been a major enabler of the change in lifestyle I’ve decided on for the minute.
How does that compare to where you live? Is it what you expected? What surprises you most? What costs have I missed? Let me know in the comments below!