How Much It Costs to Live in Phuket

How Much It Costs to Live in Phuket

The largest Thai island is one of the most expensive resorts in the country. Despite this, Phuket is still a popular destination for a beach holiday. A tropical paradise with summer all-year-round and a great variety of exotic fruits attracts freelance and remote workers from all over the world. They come here for the winter or to settle down. Read on to find out about the cost of living in Phuket for expats.

About Phuket

Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, is nestled in the Indian Ocean and is renowned for its luxurious resorts, pristine white sand beaches, and crystal clear blue waters. Despite Phuket's susceptibility to the Asian seasonal changes, expatriates reside here throughout the year. The summer rain showers are but a minor inconvenience and not a deterrent for those living on the island.

The island is divided into three administrative regions:

  • South Muang: This region hosts the capital, Phuket Town, along with renowned areas like Karon, Kata, and Rawai beaches, Chalong Bay, and Rassada Pier.
  • Central Kathu: Here, you'll find the Kathu district, the famed Bangla Road — the epicentre of Phuket's nightlife, and Kamala Beach.
  • North Thalang: This area encompasses Bang Tao, Mai Khao, and Nai Yang beaches, as well as the Phuket International Airport.

The rental rates in Phuket largely hinge on the specific area you wish to reside in. Accommodations in Patong tend to be the priciest, whereas properties in Chalong, Rawai, or Phuket Town are much more affordable. The Karon and Kata regions, or the lesser-known areas of Kamala and Bang Tao, are likely to attract families with children. Generally, the costs of food and other essentials remain fairly consistent across different parts of Phuket.

Karta Noah. Photo: Miltiadis Fragkidis (Unsplash)

Housing Prices

The most prevalent types of budget-friendly housing in Phuket include condos or flats in high-rise buildings, villas, and townhouses. Individuals visiting for a short-term typically opt for accommodations in guest houses or rooms within small hotels.

Rental Rates

The cost of renting accommodation in Phuket varies significantly with the season. The so-called dry season extends from November to May, with the period from December to March being the most popular among tourists. To economise on accommodation, it's advisable to book three to six months prior to your trip. Even during the high season, long-term rentals tend to be more economical, averaging a reduction of 30% or more when compared to one-month rental rates.

Opting to reside in less tourist-frequented areas is another strategy to economise. As of 2023, rental prices during the low season commence at 10,000 THB ($280) per month for a one-bedroom flat in a condo, and 15,000 THB for a house within walking distance to the beach. There are several factors to contemplate when selecting a place to live.

  • What is the deposit amount, and what is the process for its return?
  • Are utilities, pool maintenance, and house cleaning included in the rent?
  • What are the typical costs for water and electricity bills?
  • Is the internet provided? If so, is it included in the rent?

To secure accommodation, a foreigner is required to sign a lease and furnish a refundable deposit, typically equivalent to two months' rent. It's imperative to rent accommodation through legal channels, as you may need to present the rental lease to immigration services, banks, or the police. The property owner should append a copy of their ID, a tenant registry featuring their name, and a payment receipt to the lease.

Should utilities not be encompassed within the rental fee, electricity will likely constitute the largest expense given the necessity of air conditioning amidst the prevalent heat and humidity. On average, the monthly water bill for a two-bedroom house stands at about 200 THB ($5.5), with electricity costing around 2,000 THB ($55.5).

A suitable flat, house, or villa in Phuket can be found through various online booking services. Seasoned travellers often recommend seeking assistance from real estate agents on Phuket to ensure the chosen place meets your expectations. Although this method may not be the quickest during the high season if you're looking to secure accommodation on Phuket swiftly, it remains a viable approach to finding reasonably priced accommodation in a desired area.

Purchasing a Property

Since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, housing prices in Phuket have been on an upward trajectory annually, affecting both new and existing buildings. Expatriates choosing to settle on the island often favour buying over renting real estate, as it presents an opportunity for a profitable resale in a few years.

In Thailand, foreign nationals can acquire up to 49% of properties as a freehold, which is why condominiums are highly favoured here. A flat within a condominium on Phuket can be purchased for a starting price of $60,000. These flats are typically offered fully finished and furnished.

To purchase a villa or a townhouse in Thailand, you'll need to engage in two transactions: a freehold purchase for the house and a leasehold purchase for the land. This arrangement allows you to hold the land for up to 30 years, with the option to extend up to 90 years. House prices in Phuket begin at around $130,000. For more detailed pricing and available offers, you can explore Housearch.


Your expenditures on food, cafes, and restaurants will largely hinge on your preferences. If you're a fan of Asian cuisine, you may find it economical to dine at local cafes that aren't frequented by tourists. In 2023, a serving of fried rice with chicken or pork at such venues is priced around 80 THB ($2.2). A meal at a food court is likely to cost you about 250 THB ($7). Conversely, an average lunch at a European cafe or restaurant tends to be pricier, with prices commencing at 400 THB ($11) per person.

Significant savings can be achieved by purchasing ready-made meals at Phuket's night markets or dining at street stalls equipped with tables and chairs. For instance, near Patong Beach, stalls offer fried seafood, kebabs, or fish for 100 THB ($3) or more. Additionally, refreshing fruit shakes are available for just 30 THB ($1).

For a vast selection of groceries at competitive prices, heading to a large supermarket is advisable. Common foods in Thailand such as fish, seafood, chicken, vegetables, seasonal fruits, noodles, and rice are quite affordable. Conversely, items like cheese and dairy, certain meats, coffee, tea, chocolate, and bread are on the pricier side. On average, a one-litre bottle of milk is priced at 50 THB ($1.4), which is also the cost for a dozen eggs. A kilogram of cheese starts at 550 THB ($15.3) or more, while a kilogram of chicken breasts is 80 THB ($2.2). Rice is priced at 20 THB ($0.5) per kilogram, watermelon or tomatoes are 60 THB per kg ($1.6), and a bottle of water ranges between 15 to 20 THB ($0.5).

Purchasing fruits and vegetables from fruit markets tends to be a more economical and preferable choice, particularly if you're interested in buying items like coconuts and pineapples, which are sold individually. Their prices fluctuate with the season. For instance, durian is priced around 40 THB ($1) per kilogram from April to August, and at least 80 THB ($2.2) during other months.

The Big Buddha of Phuket. Photo: Miltiadis Fragkidis (Unsplash)


Public transport in Phuket is relatively underdeveloped, with buses and songthaew vehicles being the primary options. Buses are suitable for navigating Phuket Town, while a songthaew can take you to the beach. A single ticket ranges in price from 30 to 40 THB ($1).

Taxis tend to be costly here. A ten-minute ride may set you back at least 400 THB ($10). If travelling to the airport from the southern part of the island, anticipate a fare of around 800 to 1,000 THB ($22 to $27).

Should you plan on travelling between different areas of the island, it's advisable to rent a motorbike or a car. The cost will hinge on the vehicle's age, its technical specifications, and the rental duration. Monthly rentals tend to be more economical. For instance, a low-power motorbike may cost between 2,000 to 3,000 THB ($55 to $85), while more powerful models range from 5,000 to 6,000 THB ($140 to $170).

Do not forget that there may not be enough motorbikes for rent during the high season. When a lot of tourists come to Phuket, the motorbike owners usually raise the prices. In this case, renting a motorbike for a month could cost up to 15,000 or 18,000 THB ($400 to $500).

To drive a motorbike or a car in Thailand, foreigners must have either an international or a local driving licence. If you get caught driving a motorbike without a licence or a helmet, you will have to pay a fine of 500 THB ($14).

Car rental prices on Phuket vary based on the vehicle models and rental duration. For example, a budget-friendly small car may start at 10,000 THB ($276) per month during the low season, while a newer sedan or an SUV could range between 15,000 and 30,000 THB ($415 to $830) for the same period. The price per litre of petrol on Phuket hovers around 40 THB ($1).

Phuket. Photo: Mikk Tõnissoo (Unsplash)


Thailand boasts one of the superior healthcare systems in Southeast Asia, with the World Health Organization noting an average life expectancy of 72 years for men and 79 years for women. However, medical treatment in Thai hospitals can be pricey, making it advisable to secure insurance before heading to Phuket. If planning a long-term stay, your insurance should offer coverage of at least $100,000. Obtaining insurance is particularly crucial for Europeans, who may find adjusting to the spicy Thai cuisine, exotic fauna, and Asian traffic conditions challenging.

Foreigners in Thailand go to both public and private medical centres and have a commercial or a state medical insurance. These are the main insurance plans you can choose from:

  • individual,
  • group, and
  • family.

Group plans are well-suited for company employees, with costs contingent on the number of insured individuals, the extent of coverage, and the insurance provider. Family plans bear resemblance to group ones, where children are incorporated into their parents' insurance promptly post-birth. Overall, the insurance cost is influenced by the applicant's age and health status, along with the selected plan.

On average, a basic insurance plan in Thailand will cost around $1,500 annually. An extended plan encompassing dentistry, screenings, and check-ups starts at $5,000 for a 12-month period. Should you seek medical care at a private clinic, anticipate a minimum charge of 500 THB ($14) per visit. Consultations with specialists, such as infectious disease doctors, tend to be pricier. It's noteworthy that some insurance policies might not cover hospital admissions, ambulance services, or injuries from motorbike accidents. Hence, it's essential to thoroughly understand the particulars of your plan before finalising a contract with an insurance provider.

Patong, Phuket. Photo: tommao wang (Unsplash)


Phuket hosts a plethora of international schools, many of which offer instruction in English, catering to children across all age groups. Typically, primary education commences at the age of five. Prior to that, children may be enrolled in nurseries, some of which operate as part of the international schools. Admission to Thai schools is contingent on both the children and their parents possessing Thai language proficiency.

The average tuition at an English-language international school is 15,000 THB ($415) per month. More prestigious schools levy fees ranging from 40,000 to 50,000 THB per month ($1,000 to $1,400). Typically, an upfront deposit is required for enrollment in international schools in Thailand, ensuring a spot for your children. This deposit usually starts at 40,000 THB ($1,000), and may be refundable upon completion of the course.

Prices for Goods and Services

Residing in a tropical paradise allows for a more economical wardrobe, essentially requiring just swimsuits, t-shirts, shorts or dresses, and flip-flops. For visits to public institutions or temples, it's advisable to opt for more formal attire such as trousers and shirts. In Phuket, clothing can be purchased from budget-friendly supermarkets or branded stores in malls. The cost of branded apparel in Thailand is comparable to prices in other countries. Simpler clothing items like shirts, shorts, and beach shoes can be found in supermarkets or markets starting at 100 THB ($3).

In terms of mobile services, the predominant providers in Thailand are Dtac, Truemove, and Ais. Much of the island is covered by a 4G network, facilitating work and communication. On the other hand, cable internet tends to be pricier and potentially slower. For instance, a monthly plan for a cable internet connection at 50 MB/s is priced around 800 THB ($22). Conversely, a month of unlimited mobile internet is more affordable, costing approximately 600 to 700 THB ($16 to $20).

Thai boxing classes enjoy immense popularity in Thailand, and Phuket is no exception. The island houses several world-class training centres, drawing athletes globally. For general fitness, local gyms are readily available. Most come equipped with swimming pools, yoga classes, saunas, and an array of other amenities. On average, a monthly membership for an adult ranges from 2,000 to 3,000 THB ($55 to $83).

Photo: Anh Tuan To (Unsplash)

Entertainment and Travelling

Phuket Airport serves as a bustling Asian hub, facilitating travel to various other countries. Affordable flights to destinations like Singapore, China, Malaysia, Japan, and even South Korea are readily available. For instance, the most economical ticket to Singapore is priced at 900 THB ($25). Major low-cost airlines hold ticket sales multiple times a year, presenting a great opportunity for budget-friendly travel.

Entertainment options vary with the season. Numerous festivals, shows, and concerts grace Phuket from late autumn through May. During the remaining months, leisure activities include cinema outings, mall visits, witnessing Muay Thai competitions, and exploring the kingdom's attractions. Cinema tickets are priced around 150 to 300 THB ($4 to $8).

Tour prices are contingent on various factors such as the type of tour, the inclusion of a guide, the group size, and more. Here's a breakdown of the costs for some popular tours per adult:

  • A one-day tour to Phi Phi Island is 2,000 THB ($55).
  • A tour to the Similan Islands is 3,000 THB ($83).
  • A tour to James Bond Island is 2,000 THB ($55).
  • Sea fishing costs 1,200 THB ($33).
  • A tour to Khao Lak National Park is 1,300 THB ($36).

With year-round access to the ocean and a perpetual summer climate, Phuket offers an array of water sports including diving, surfing, kiting, yachting, and more. Additionally, you can easily rent bicycles and find equipment for golf, tennis, badminton, and various other sports. Running enthusiasts can participate in races by purchasing a slot, with fees contingent on the specific race and organiser. For diving classes, the average price per dive is approximately 4,000 THB ($1,000).

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In a Nutshell

Phuket entices expatriates not only with its delightful climate, stunning beaches, and a wide array of tours but also with its reasonable prices for food and housing. For those seeking to spend the winter here, all that's required is a visa and basic medical insurance. However, if you plan on an extended stay, consider seeking employment with a local company or launching your own business on Phuket. On average, the cost of living for an expatriate in Phuket, Thailand is around 21,000 THB, exclusive of accommodation and transportation expenses.

Cover photo: Miltiadis Fragkidis (Unsplash)

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