Cost Comparisons - USA & Thailand

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retirement in thailand concept Pizza: Gourmet personal size pizza (enough for large man's appetite) with 2 toppings and free soda $ 6.00; Decent pizza in LOS about B 180-B 225 ($ 5.60-$ 7.00) and generally no free soda. So the price is the same or higher.

Sandwich: All the Subways are advertising $ 3.00 special for a reg. size sandwich or $ 5.00 for large. In LOS, the daily specials run B 69-B 79 and the large sizes B 170 ( $2.34-$ 5.31). So basically the same price. So even though here in Cal., where the min. hourly wage is around $ 8.00 PER HOUR vs. maybe that same rate PER DAY in LOS, you are paying the same price in a "low cost" country as you are in a "high cost" one.

Coffee: Ah, a nice cup or coffee or latte -- cheaper in Thailand? Bay Area Starbucks "tall" (smallest size) cup Pike's Peak coffee is $ 1.55. This "small" is actually quite large -- at least 1.5 times the size of even the "large" mug served at Au Bon Pain in Thailand. The cost of my morning mug at ABP Pattaya is B 55 ($ 1.72). So the smaller mug of morning coffee is more expensive in Thailand.

Wine: We all know the ridiculous prices of wine in LOS (and the reasons for them) but I will repeat it here again. I was in the wine section of a high-end grocery store and had a hard time seeing a Cabernet for more than $ 30. Most were $15-$20 from various well regarded California wineries. Go to the wine sectio of Villa Pattaya and anything decent from Kangaroo Land, Lion Land, Llama Land, or Kiwi Land is at least B3500-B4500 ($109-$140).

Nice Breakfast: To an American, nothing is more relaxing than a nice morning breakfast. I am sure it is the same for all peoples everywhere. Here, this might consist of a fluffy omelette, filled with bacon, guacamole, and sour cream or several thick slices of brioche bread French Toast. You cannot find an exact equivalent for this meal in Thailand so I will compare it to the full breakfasts served by the English/Irish pub establishments. This morning, I dined on the afore mentioned omelette, which came with 2 slices of wonderful sourdough bread and a pile of sauted potatoes and the American bottomless cup of coffee (I drank 3!). Price for meal/coffee was $7.50 and with tip $9.00. I was stuffed and the meal was great. Now, the price of the English breakfast mash-ups differs from place to place but many people seem to like the version at Dubliner in BKK. I believe at Dubliner, the Big Breakfast costs B350 ($11.00). This is 15-20% more expensive meal than my breakfast here in the supposedly super expensive San Francisco Bay Area.

Posh Restaurants: A good meal at a fine (but not celebrity cheif place) would cost about $25 per person (without wine). This would be for a soup/salad starter course and a meat/fish main. Dessert/coffee would add about $ 5.00 more. For similar meals in Pattaya at places like Brunos or Mata Hari, these meals cost me around B 1500 ($ 47.00) so again, there is really no price differential. The one plus in Thailand is that generally, the service is better. Tipping is also much cheaper because for this meal in Patters, I would tip B 100 ($ 3.12) where as here, so the staff don't spit in your food the next time you come, a tip of around 15% would be necessary or around $ 7.50!

Newspaper: Local SF Chronicle newspaper is $ $ .50. Local Bangkok Post is B 25 ($ .78) so it is 50% more expensive than the Chronicle (even though, if truth be told, it is the better paper). Again, the Thai paper is much more expensive than the one here. This comparison really hurts because when I first arrived in Bangers, the Post cost B 30 and the dollar was as high as 44 so this comparison has almost done a complete reversal on me.

Here is where Thailand can make up some points. Hotel accommodation costs still a really great value in Bangkok and Pattaya (or anywhere in the Kingdom) compared to here. I am staying in a central city downtown hotel that is convenient to everything. It is not a flash place but more a businessman's place. But not for the top execs but more the middle-managers.

I have a 20sm room, with very small and plain bathroom, 19" CRT TV, no entertainment system of any kind (radio, DVD, CD player, nada), no safe, mini-bar, or refrig. And only the most basic of toiletries and it's costing me $200 per nite. (oh, I forgot to mention that being a "value" hotel, there staffing level would be considered a joke in Thailand and there is no bellboy service so in addition to having the pleasure of paying $ 200 a nite to stay here, I also got to shelp my bags to the room myself!)

There is only the most basic of fitness facilities and a smallish pool. In Bangkok, this room would go for about B1500-B2000 at most or $47-$63. I have stayed in huge 90 sm suites in new plush hotels in the center of Bangkok, with spectacular views and great restaurants and pools for $ 130-$150 per nite. Having to pay $200 for this clean and comfortable but tiny place is a b!tch

As I don't have a current driving license for California anymore, I am reliant on public transportation and taxis to get around during my stay. On the first morning after arrival, I didn't have the energy to study my bus maps and schedules so just went outside to pick-up a taxi to go to the afore mentioned breakfast. Wow -- as I watched the meter tic ever upwards, that sure woke me up in a hurry. The ride was no more than 2 kilos at most and the cost was $8.00 (and being America, I tipped him $1.00) so the total was $9.00 to go 2 kilos. I would estimate that this same ride in a Bangkok taxi would cost no more than B 39 or maybe B 41 (or $ 1.28 at the higher price). Yes, taxis are still a major major bargain in Thailand.

As to buses, the standard fare is $ 1.75. If one needs to transfer to another route enroute, it's $ 2.00. I don't know what the cost of the aircon buses in Bangkok are these days but point-to-point must run no more than B 20 ($ .62) so again this form of transportation too is much cheaper than here.

.. more cost comparisons between Thailand and San Francisco page 3