How to Spend $500 a Day in Thailand - My first 24 hours here.

During my previous trips to Thailand I've tried to be smart about my budget.  Getting good deals and living as cheap as possible was exciting to me, in fact, I even wrote a book about it.  This trip however, I'm experimenting by doing the exact opposite.  I'm trying to spend as much money as I can this first month.

The basis of the experiment is to figure out what things I've been missing out on that are actually worth spending more money on, and what things are fine just the way they are.  Somethings like cheap Thai Food will always taste good, but things like going to the cheapest thai masseuse or living in the cheapest apartment I can find may not be the most effective way to spend my time and my money.

The FU Money Experiment:

Apartment - During my first few trips out to Thailand, I figured out that for 5,000 baht ($150US) per month you can live in a decent apartment.  Depending on what city or island you are in Thailand, my accommodations have ranged from a Bamboo Bungalow in a Coconut Planation, the beach hut, and a concrete room at a Muay Thai/MMA Gym.

This time I decided to check into the nicest apartment I could find.  Unfortunately all of the 1-bedroom grand suites were booked up so I had to settle for a studio.  Total cost: 12,000 baht per month ($400US)

Verdict  - The standard studio room isn't worth paying double what I paid for at my previous apartment, as it is pretty similar just decorated a bit nicer.  But having a swimming pool and a comfortable lounge area is a bonus.  The 1-bedroom suite would have been better.

Office Space - I could technically work out of my apartment and use the free wi-fi and be just as happy, or I could go to a coffee shop like I did in the past.  However, paying the 3,500 baht  ($117US) per month to be a member of Punspace - A shared office space community is absolutely worth it.  Just being here surrounded by other entrepreneurs is great motivation to actually do work and just be lazy. Plus the brightly lit room, supportive computer chairs and fast wifi make me more productive.  

Verdict - No matter if you're studying, starting a new business or managing an existing one, it is much more productive to work out of an office space than a coffee shop.

Transportation - I used to hate getting ripped off by Tuk-Tuks, which are the three wheeled motorcycle converted taxi cabs around Thailand.  This time, I stopped caring.  Last night I got into Chiang Mai and checked into my hotel room at midnight, but I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep as it was the middle of the afternoon back in the U.S.  So I took a cab to the touristy area of town and met some fellow travelers at a bar.  

I paid 80 baht to get there and 100 baht to get home.  A grand total of $6US.  Today I paid $2 to be driven about a mile to meet up with Sam for lunch and to pick up my motorbike that she graciously stored at her apartment for me all summer.  Thanks Sam!  

Verdict - I'm glad I have my motorbike back, it's so much more convenient to get around, but it was absolutely worth paying the few bucks here and there to get around via TukTuk and it wasn't worth haggling down to save 20 baht (70cents) each trip.  

Bet you can't guess which country's flag this is.

Motorbike Wash/Massage - As my bike has been sitting in Sam's car port for more than three months now, I was pleasantly surprised that it started on the first try!  Even better it drove perfectly fine! But it was covered in dust and dirtier than your only pair of socks after a week long camping trip.  I could have found a hose and washed it myself, but why do that when I can get my motorbike detailed for 50 baht ($1.70us) 

The only problem was I got bored waiting around for them to wash and detail it.  So instead, I told the guy I would be back in an hour and went to get a massage.  The catch was, the closest massage parlor was a higher end spa that charged 290 baht ($9.70US) per hour instead of 150 ($5US).  But since I'm living that FU Rich lifestyle, I said F! it, let's splurge and pay that extra $4.70 cents and get it done right!  

Verdict - The whip is clean and my back feels great.  Well worth the $12 I spent.  

In Summary:

This post was a bit of a joke towards the end, but in reality, most travelers and ex-pats living in Thailand think in exactly those lines and I was one of them.  When you are on a limited budget, let's say an English Teacher's salary of 27,000 baht ($900US) per month or making $35 a day teaching scuba diving these little costs end up breaking the bank.

The reason why I had to watch my money so tightly before is just like the English teacher, I knew that I had to save up and as soon as I stopped working my bank account would slowly spiral down to nothing, as it did for me just earlier this year.  Now that I have a business with reoccurring revenue, I can afford to spend money on the things that I know will contribute to a happier, healthier and less stressful lifestyle.

I still won't be blowing money on renting Porches, buying bottles of Pappy Van Winkle Whiskey but as for the things that realistically don't cost that much more if you're thinking in terms of how much it would cost back home, it's almost silly to try to save a few dollars and sacrifice your time, productivity and miss out on how amazing of a life you could be living for still much less than just rent would have been back home.

Getting ready for my Thai massage

By the way, even though I spent over $550US today, my first day back in Thailand, that actually covers me for an entire month of rent at a serviced apartment, a monthly membership at a great co-working office space, getting my oil changed, motorbike detailed, and even treating my friend to lunch. Divide that by the number of days in a month and you'll be surprised that I'm living off of $20 a day US, out here while trying to live FU Rich and going out of my way to spend as much money as I can!  If you're still thinking about quitting your job and live/work/play in another country, just do it.  It's much easier than you think.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD - Keep in touch

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  1. Another great post Johnny! I've been seriously thinking about moving to Thailand and Chiang Mai in particular for about a year now. Your book and updates keep me motivated to do it. I haven't even been to Thailand or actually anywhere outside Australia ever in my life so it would be a big move for me. I'm reading the 4 hour work week book at the moment and am also very interested in how the dropshipping is going for you, it seems like the perfect solution! Keep up the good work, it's very inspirational.
    Cheers, Alistair

  2. yeah keep us posted! love reading your updates


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