Compared to many world capitals, Bangkok is one of the cheapest in terms of cost of living. When I say cheap, it doesn’t mean the quality is compromised because most of the time, I find the quality of food and products in Bangkok (or Thailand) to be acceptable. In fact, I consider Bangkok to be an Expat’s paradise. Of course, being an expat entails a lot of responsibilities or expectations. Otherwise, why will your company hire you if you cannot deliver. So this makes stress and time for relaxation and all those related activities a must in an Expat’s schedule.
In Bangkok, you can enjoy branded (or copy) designer labels at highly discounted price. Malls are literally on sale year-round. You just have to be patient and have a keen eye in finding the best bargain or sale price all over town. Copy goods are also A quality that’s why a lot of foreign tourists troop to Bangkok to buy these goods.
Last Saturday, my friends and I trooped to the annual ICC Fair. This fair has been attracting hundreds if not thousands of Thais for quite sometime because in here, you can buy hugely discounted designer brands like Lacoste, Nike, Adidas, Guy Laroche among others. Of course the most visited area is the Lacoste sale wherein discounts of up to 70% can be availed. Since this is my fave brand, I wasted no time to go to the venue and I was able to buy a pair of shoes, a bag and 2 caps. Unfortunately, the shirts left when we arrived are all L or XL American Sizes so I wasn’t able to buy 1 for me. Only thing when going thru this kind of fair compared to the usual Mall sale is that it is doubly hard for me cos not only should I brave the battalions of shoppers to get to the counter and ask for my size but also I had to attempt speaking in Thai so the sellers can understand me..It was a bit frustrating that after finally reaching the counter after “wrestling” it out with fellow shoppers is that the size I want is already “No Have” or they cannot understand what I’m trying to say…Damn, I really have to improve my Thai language skills. Please allow me to brag about my shoe in this blog..hehehe.
Another factor why I consider Bangkok to be a paradise for an Expat like me is because you can enjoy a wide variety of food at a cheap price. Take for instance a set of meal in popular Japanese Restaurant like Fuji or Zen. A normal bento set range approx. 150-250 per set which includes Soup and Salad. During lunch, the set includes hot coffee or tea even! In Manila, if you eat in similar restaurant, you probably would pay min. 250 Pesos to almost 400 Pesos per set. That is precisely the reason why I can only often eat in Komorosoba (SM Megamall) or Tokyo Tokyo and rarely in Saisaki. LOL.
I also find Apartment or Condo rental cheaper if compared to Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and other cities. A normal studio type apartment would cost between 5,000-8,000 baht and would slightly go higher if the condo has swimming pool or other facilities. Of course it depends on the location. A typical apartment in Sukhumvit or Silom area would be much more expensive but still cheaper if compared to other cities I previously mentioned. I heard that if you rent apartment near the outskirts of Bangkok, studio units would even be less than 3,000 baht. Only thing is that you have to travel farther going to and from the office. It can even be less if you share the room with another person. All Filipinos that I know who are working in Bangkok are either staying alone or sharing with 1 or 2 (maybe max. 3 persons) per unit. This is definitely better than fellow Filipinos working in Singapore or Middle East wherein they have to share the flat with up to 10 persons.
Domestic travel is also not a pain in one’s budget. Few months ago, me and a few of my colleagues went to Cha-Am and Hua Hin which is a popular weekend destination for Bangkokians due to its proximity to the city (approx. 2 hours from Bangkok). We actually maximized that 2 Days/1 Night trip. We left Bangkok very early in the morning, went to a local market to buy food and dessert, eat Buffet lunch then head to the Resort. At night, we went to Hua Hin market for some more shopping and eating. The following day, after checking out of the hotel, we had a very big Buffet Seafood lunch then do some more shopping of sweets and some souvenir along the way. In total since we shared cost, I only spend not more than 2,000 Baht including all the food, sweets, transportation and hotel accommodation. This is similar to other cities the reason why many backpackers from Europe or US just fly to Thailand without any pre-arranged tours or accommodation and they just stay in guest houses, ride local transport and eat local food in the roadside.
There are definitely more factors why Bangkok is an Expat’s paradise over the examples I’ve written above. This could be the reason why the number of Expatriates in Thailand is increasing year by year. Of course the number is not as high as that of Singapore or Dubai wherein a big chunk of their workforce are foreigners. However, I’ll not be surprised if soon more and more Expatriates will consider working here…