Life in Thailand can be a wonderful adventure with many of the conveniences of home. Our community is constantly welcoming new people in and will be more than happy to help you adjust when you arrive. If you have any questions beforehand, please feel free to email our school’s recruiter and we will address your questions as quickly as possible: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A couple of must-reads before coming:
- Foreign to Familiar by Sarah Lanier (a quick read which summarizes general cultural differences)
- Culture Shock: Thailand by Robert and Nanthapa Cooper
Big C is a supermarket similar to Wal-Mart with everything from produce to paper goods. Makro, similar to Costco, is open to all shoppers (even if you don’t have a member card, you can simply request a free temporary card at the store’s entrance) and offers many goods in bulk.
In 2011, Central Plaza mall was completed and boasts an Apple store, McDonald’s, Starbucks and a movie theater with English-language films. You can also find specialty/imported food items at Tops Grocery store on the bottom level of the mall.
Every evening from sundown to midnight Chiang Rai’s Night Bazaar offers a colorful variety of traditional home-made hilltribe crafts, along with food stands and two open air stages for cultural performances.
At the height of the hot season, from April 13-15, there is a festival called the Maha Songkran Water Festival celebrated all over Thailand, which is known as the world’s biggest water fight! During this time water is thrown indiscriminately. When it comes to being doused with water, everybody and everything is fair game!
Below is an estimated budget for volunteers. For the most recent conversion rate, please visit: http://www.xe.com
Estimated Budget for Volunteers
Monthly costs in Thai baht:
- Rent and Housing Fees
-Single housing: +8000 baht
-Couple housing: +10,000 baht
-Family Housing: +15,000 baht
(Factors that influence cost of housing: roommates, location, how much the house is furnished, does the house have air conditioning in some rooms.)
- Utilities: ± 2000 baht for individual, ± 4000 baht per family (varies with usage). Electric bill will be high if a/c is used frequently.
- Drinking water: Large bottles delivered to home: 75 baht/month
- Tap Water: 150 baht/month
- Food/household items: ± 6000 baht/month per person
- Transportation: 1 motorbike: 3000 baht/month, 1 car: 6000baht/month (vehicle maintenance, gas, insurance)
- Medical: 900 baht/month (apart from medical insurance)
- Miscellaneous: 3000-4500 baht/month
- Internet: initial set up plus 900 baht/month
- Phone: 1500 baht phone purchase and set up plus 300 baht/month per phone
- Language Acquisition if desired (private tutoring about 250baht/hour, see language schools for their prices)
- Purchasing a used vehicle (varies: older car, standard transmission 120,000 baht, motorbike 30,000 baht; newer and automatic vehicles are more expensive)
- Unexpected expenses: 15,000 baht
- Set-up costs for home: 30,000 baht (to purchase specific things you would like for your home; this varies based on the house that is rented, how much furniture you need, if you need to purchase an a/c)
- Medical insurance
- Visa cost: Volunteers pay the cost of the visa and visa renewals. CRICS pays for work permits. Approximate cost per year per visa: $80 paid in country of origin plus 2900 baht for renewals. See Visa Costs for more details.
- Student Loans or other loans
- Travel Expenses for tourist travel
- Emergency Fund
- Families with children attending CRICS: Please inquire about the cost of schooling (tuition and other fees).
**The two biggest variables on the budget will be decisions made about housing and a vehicle. Many people find it is easier to live in Chiang Rai with a purchased vehicle because we do not have a developed public transportation system.
**It is possible to live very cheaply in Chiang Rai. However, keep in mind that prices go up the more you eat “western” foods and use more air conditioning.
Most CRICS families choose to locate within about a few miles of the school, for convenience and community. School activities can fill up afternoons and weekends, and many students and staff ride bikes to and from school. You may find cheaper rent if you locate elsewhere, but you will spend more on transportation and be more likely to need a car.
Many homes have air conditioners in one or more bedrooms. Some rooms may have ceiling fans. Floor fans are affordable and readily available.
Furnished or Unfurnished
Unfurnished may mean there is virtually nothing in the house—no cupboards, counters, sinks, appliances or hot water heater. Furnished means anywhere from a little bit of furniture to all you will need and perhaps some appliances. Sometimes landlords will move furniture in or out of the house to suit you.
Check to see if ADSL is available to the house. Mobile phones are readily and cheaply available throughout Thailand.
Electricity is 220-240 volts x 50 cycles, so bringing 110 v appliances from the USA is rarely worth it as they will blow out when plugged into a Thai socket. Monthly electric bills to run one or two air conditioners at night are usually less than 3,300 baht.
City water is cheap but not always dependable. Most houses have a storage tank. City water is not potable, but water for drinking is purchased in bottles from a water distributor who will deliver to your home weekly. There are also commercial filters that can be purchased and installed on your home’s water system. Water bills are hand delivered monthly and are paid in cash at your gate, at any 7-11, or at the office of the water company.
Can be purchased in bottles delivered to your home weekly for about 20 baht per 5 gallon bottle. Commercial filters can purchased and installed on your home’s water system.
Most kitchen ranges use bottled gas (LPG). If your home does not have a tank you can buy one from a shop that will deliver, usually within the hour. After that, the shop will trade in your empty when they deliver a full one.
There are also various Thai and minority congregations which meet throughout town, as well as small home groups.
We are happy to help you connect with these churches upon your arrival.