14 Feb Living Costs in London Compared with Chiang Mai
Where were you this time last year? We were in Thailand, relaxing by the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi whilst preparing for our trip to Burma. I’ve written many times about our love for the Land of Smiles and now that the weather has turned cold and wet here in Hanoi I often fantasise about heading back to the warmth of one of our favourite Asian cities: Chiang Mai. We have fond memories of this northern Thai oasis; volunteering at the nearby Elephant Nature Park, hanging out with visiting friends and family and celebrating the New Year’s water festival, Songkran.
Some of my favourite Chiang Mai memories are of the month we spent renting an apartment on the outskirts of the city in late 2013. After six months of fast-paced travel we were burnt out and craving some rest and a place to call home; we certainly found that in our modern apartment equipped with a kitchen, downstairs gym, sofa and fast wifi. We worked online, relaxed, cooked meals and went to the Sunday Night Market every week – it was exactly what we needed to prepare us for the next phase of our trip.
Although we now spend less per month here in Hanoi, our month in Chiang Mai was also one of the cheapest we had during our initial 15-month trip – you can see exactly how much it cost us to live in Chiang Mai in this post. We thought it would be interesting to compare these costs with how much we used to spend when we lived and worked in London – here’s what we found.
Our Living Costs in London
To help understand our London living costs here’s a little background information about what our lifestyle was like. Andrew worked as a teacher in a secondary school not far outside the centre of London while I worked as a writer and content manager for a website near London Bridge; we had a joint income of over £55,000 before tax per annum. We lived about an hour away from both Andrew’s school and my office in a one-bedroom flat in South-East London.
While I used the train and walked to work, Andrew drove or cycled. We did a weekly shop, cooked almost all our own meals and took lunch to work with us, spending roughly £70 per week on groceries. Our miscellaneous costs include other bills and insurance payments; our ‘eating/going out’ expenses usually meant a couple of drinks after work, going to the cinema and having a meal out once or twice a month.
Since we lived so frugally in London we were able to put more of our money towards saving for our trip. All in all, our spending habits in London meant that during the last few months before we left the UK we were able to save about £1,500 per month (nearly half of our salaries) and we still had a little left over too. Here’s what we spent in an average month in London:
|Expense||Amount||Per Person||Per Day|
The Cost of Living in London Compared to Chiang Mai
Here’s how our London living costs compare with the month we spent in Chiang Mai:
|Total||Per person||Per day||Total||Per person||Per day|
As you can see, it cost us less than half as much to live in Chiang Mai than it did to live in London. Utility, rental and transport costs in particular are very cheap in Thailand when compared to the UK. However, we could have lived much more frugally in Chiang Mai if we’d wanted to; there are plenty of hotel rooms or studios we could have rented for as little as £100 per month. We could have also halved our food costs if we’d stuck to eating local street food rather than buying western ingredients like bread, cheese and pasta to cook meals at home.
Even if we rented another chic apartment and gorged on expensive food we could still afford to live in Chiang Mai again one day; especially if we landed teaching jobs like the ones we have here in Hanoi. Now there’s an idea for the future…
Have you ever lived in Chiang Mai or London – how do your living costs compare?