Bangkok. Sure, costs are rising, but costs are rising everywhere in the world and living in Bangkok costs a fraction of what it costs in other big cities. Bangkok may no longer be cheap, but tout ensemble, it is still cheaper and a bargain. Reasonably priced.
A clean, inexpensive, furnished apartment in Bangkok can easily be found for $210-$240 (7000-8,000 baht) a month. For a few dollars more, $360-450 (11,880-14,850 baht), you can upgrade to a furnished one-bedroom with all the modern amenities you might have back home. Live in the heart of the city and live as you would in any modern city. Stay in less frequented, more peaceful areas and you get even a better value for the money.
Stock up on fruit and vegetables at one of Bangkok's many fresh markets—for a few hundred baht. Eat a sumptuous dinner on the street or in a food court for a mere 50 baht ($1.50) or at a mid-priced restaurant for less than 500 baht ($15). For around 3500 baht ($100), a couple can have romantic dinner by the river at a fancy Italian restaurant—including wine and desserts. Thais know their food, this much is indisputable; one more reason to live in Bangkok.
In January 1998, the baht was 56 to the US dollar. My monthly expenses were approximately 25,000 baht ($450) a month. I was bringing in 70,000 baht ($1250) a month. My rent was $110 (6000 baht), and clubs were open all night. Fifteen baht was the norm for street food and if you knew where to look, Pad Thai could be found for the princely sum of 5 baht (11 cents). A little more than a third of my income went to paying the bills, the remainder went to wine, women and song. Ahhh, the good ole days.
Twenty years removed, those days are long gone and Bangkok is a much different city. The skytrain, subway, massive shopping malls, and technology have given birth to a bizarre mix of traditional and ultramodern. Bangkok is a city where an expat can have it all, whatever it may be. Ask and ye shall receive. And all it takes is 50,000 baht a month. Is it any wonder so many foreigners want to call Bangkok home?