I stood on the bank of the Dokhtawaddy River in Hsipaw, Northern Shan State gazing at a spectacular tropical sunset
How much does it cost to live in Myanmar? It depends on your lifestyle is the shortest, but very vague answer. Many will tell you that you that you can rent an apartment for $200-300 and eat delicious meals on the street for $1. But it’s not a full picture. I decided to take a look at lifestyles and cost of living of a few expats (including mine) based in Yangon to give you an idea of budgeting your relocation to Myanmar.
Marc Piano, an English teacher and a freelance consultant
I rent a very simple apartment for $180 per month including the bills. I spend about $300 for food eating mostly on the street, and additional $100 for nights out (I am not drinking anymore) and other entertainment (buying video games and movies). Transport (buses&taxis) cost me no more than $70 per month. Internet access costs me $80. My monthly spendings come to around $730. (I am not factoring visa costs and flights related to that.) That’s on the high end and is often less.
Marek (Product & Marketing Manager) & Karen (Sales Manager) at local tour operator
We rent a 3-bedroom (120 square meters) apartment in a so called condominium near Inya Lake. Contrary to the popular belief there are more differences between apartments and condominiums than just having an elevator. The condominiums are usually better maintained, come with security, car park, and offer 24-hours electricity and water supply (most of the time). We pay for it $1,800, but we sublet two rooms for $500 each. The company we work for pays for our Internet access. The bills come to about $130 per month.
We spend for food about $20 per day eating mostly in local, but clean restaurants. Nights out and other entertainment come to $200. The transport costs us $50 (driving company car + occasional taxis). Other expenses include gym membership costing about $160 per month for both of us (paid in advance for six months).
Our comfortable, but by no means luxurious life costs us between $1750 and $2000 per month.
General Manager of one of the better hotels in Yangon
I rent a two bedrooms (90 square meters) apartment with balcony in a nice, newly built condominium near Kandwagyi Lake. It costs me $2,400 and the price includes cable TV and Internet. I eat mostly in high-end restaurants like The Corriander Leaf, Bangkok Kitchen, Acacia Tea Saloon, Cafe Dibar. An average meat/seafood dish with a bottle of wine to go with it, costs me $25-50. Monthly it comes to about $600-800. Groceries cost me between $150-300 and taxis about $150.
A lifestyle as comfortable as I could get in Yangon costs me between $3,300 and $3,700 depending on the month.
Life in Yangon can range from cheap to expensive depending on your lifestyle preferences. It’s certainly possible to live for less than a $1,000 (add $500 to live as a couple), but personally I would hate to do that. If you don’t mind a low quality, spartan apartment in an old, dirty, worn-off block with electricity and water issues – things with which an average Myanmar citizen has to cope on the every day basis, $1,000 might just be enough for you. You will have to eat on the street most of the time, where unlike in neighboring Thailand for example, food is of very low quality, nutritional value and questionable taste.
Relatively comfortable life as a single man in Yangon will cost you minimum $1,500 and around $2,000 for a couple. You need $3,500 ($4,500 for a couple) and up for a life, which can be considered very comfortable/luxurious in Yangon.
Are you an expat in Yangon or other parts of the country? Share your views!