Most of Bangkok’s long term expats would probably agree that they’ve seen a gradual increase in prices since arriving in Thailand.
Even over the past year, small pricing increments for various goods and services have been evident: it would certainly be hard to argue that Bangkok has become cheaper to live in, at any rate.
Yet, The Economist‘s ‘Worldwide cost of living survey 2015’ is attempting to say just that.
Bangkok is ranked in 62nd place, alongside Hanoi, Buenos Aires and Lexington, out of 200 global cities for cost of living – which is measured by comparing prices across 160 products and services.
2014 saw Bangkok ranked in 57th place, according to Dot Property, meaning that the city has become relatively cheaper in the past year.
But a cheaper Bangkok is not something the majority of expats or locals are likely to have experienced in reality.
This is because The Economist‘s survey is calculated using the cost of living in New York as a base rate and thus comparing all global cities to the Big Apple. Take a look at this screenshot from the index:
So, we see that the cost of living in Bangkok in 2015 is approximately 75 percent of that living in New York. The cost of living in Singapore, at number 1 in the rankings, is about 117 percent the cost of New York.
But, of course, this is a flawed way of looking at cost of living and will only ring true for the Bangkok expats paid or living off savings/pension in US dollars. The dollar has strengthened over the past year, meaning dollared-up expats have comparatively more spending power in Thailand and other non-dollar pegged economies than they did last year.
“We see similar index movements for many of the cities in the Southeast Asia region. This is a result of a stronger U.S. dollar, pushing up prices in U.S. cities but making the cost of living relatively less expensive in other locations,” said an Economist Intelligence Unit spokesman to Dot Property.
“Bangkok has become cheaper, relative to the U.S., as we use New York as a base city in the ranking.”
Whether cost of living has reduced or increased over the past year for expats paid in Thai baht or living off non-dollar pegged currency, remains to be seen.
Do you think Bangkok is cheaper to live in than last year?