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Living in Thailand on 500 dollars a month
Bell Pepper, or also called capsicum as an example.
It seems to me that many of the big supermarkets lease out floorspace to second party vendors. Take for example Big C Extra located on Pattaya Klang. While shopping for vegetables I noticed that some were very reasonably priced while other veggies are through the roof, that is price wise. There is one particular row with the Bell Peppers and wow two bell peppers will set you back about 130 Baht. I can buy them elsewhere for 10 Baht each whereby saving me 110 Baht. Other items in this one row are equally over priced. I don't suggest everything in the store is this overpriced quite the opposite most items in Big C are competitively priced. What I am suggesting is shop around and keep track of what cost what and where. I believe that different vendors dictate their own prices on items they sell in that store. Below is a breakdown of what I pay for this Item at the other stores.
Market name price each
Big "C" Extra Pattaya Klang 60
Get a free month of rent every year!
Get one month of free rent by refilling your water from the water dispensers. For a long time I bought water in the stores and shops. While water is pretty inexpensive here in Thailand it can add up over time. After being here in Thailand for over two years I finally started refilling my water containers. Firstly over a year it can save you a significant amount of money. Here is some math to ponder.
I use about three 6 liter bottles of water a week, buying these at most stores is about 60 Baht each making my cost per week 180 Baht. This cost Per week doesn't sound like much but multipy that by 52 and you get a total of 9,360 Baht. Now lets do the math for refilling. It cost me 4 Baht for each refill, for a weekly cost of 12 Baht. Added up for the year that comes to 624 Baht, a difference of 8,736 Baht. I could pay my rent one month with that and have money left over.
Another benefit is there are no plastic bottles to dispose of.
Food is one of the larger monthly expenses we have. While some foods are much cheaper here in Thailand, some can actually cost you more here. I think the best bargains are pork and chicken, produce is also very well priced here. Imported items are especially higher in cost because of transportation cost and import taxes. If you are a careful shopper I think you can have plenty of quality food to eat for 3,000 Baht per person per month.
While I am not a fan of shopping in those open street markets I am sure there are some good bargains to be had. There are a couple things that put me off shopping in them, the biggest being handling of the food. I am used to buying most meats that are refrigerated, then there are those flies buzzing all over. The other thing, which is the biggest issue with me is many times the prices are not marked or displayed clearly on the items for sale. I really don't like to ask what something is going to cost me I also don't like how sometimes I am charged more for just being a foreigner. In all fairness I must say that being charged more isn't always the case but it does happen.
The big supermarkets to me are the way to go, meats and other perishables are refrigerated and no flies buzzing around. Prices are clearly marked and bar coded so there is no cheating and marking up based on who you are. Also to be honest the prices are on par or even less at times than the open air street markets. You are supplied with a cart to put your stuff in if you want and this being a hot climate it is nice to shop in air conditioned comfort. Because of the air conditioning and supplied carts I can spend more time browsing and make better decisions.
Compare and compare
While I have my favorite places to shop, the price and quality differences between them can be pretty significant. Some places will have great prices on some things then they will be sky high on others. I use mainly three different supermarkets to do my shopping usually not on the same day. I pick up items one day at one place then another day I pickup items at another place and so on. I tend to know which one I want to get certain items at that day.
Imported Items will cost you much more
Imported Items will cost you much more than locally grown or produced food or products. As an example, Heinz Tomato Ketchup that is imported will cost you more than double that of the locally produced Heinz Tomato ketchup. They are essentially the same product only the label is written in Thai but the shape of the label and the bottle are identical.
Here is how you tell if something is imported
To the left is a sticker that is placed on all import items. Anytime you see this sticker you know the item is imported and you will be paying more for that item. Some items you may think are imported may not be imported. The ketchup above was made in Thailand and will not have this sticker attached to it.
Tax Sticker attached to imported season salt
Click for larger view
Potatoes at two different markets
Potatoes 34B per kilo, the lower price you see is for large quantity.
Boneless chicken breast no skin
Bacon by the kilo
Pork loin was a bit pricey this day it gets as low as 105 per kilo
Bacon sold by the kilo
Beer Chang always a good price
7 - 8
Soon, I will be listing more of the supermarkets below, the ones I use for certian things that I shop for.
Friendship is a nice little market and pretty good prices and quality. I use it when I need just a few things it is easy in and easy out. Centrally located on Pattaya Thai near Soi Bhua Khao.
Foodland Supermarket is a medium size food store and it has a nice restaurant inside. A little more pricey but not over the top. Very clean store and a very professional staff. I shop here from time to time. Easy access in and out located on Pattaya Klang near Big "C" Extra
Big "C" Extra has it all, Great prices on most items. The bad is they make you walk through lots of junk before you get into the actual store.
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Street Market on Pattaya Tai, in Pattaya.
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