Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Buy a house or a 2nd hand BMW in Thailand

How much is that car?

A colleague of mine in the office recently commented that cars are madly expensive here in Thailand. I hadn't really thought about this before, but then I saw an advert for a used 2009 BMW X3 for a "bargain" 2.2 Million Baht!

Just to put that in context, 2.2 Million baht is about £46,000 at today's exchange rate. For that you get a several year old BMW with 30,000 Kilometres on the clock. (Now, where's my chequebook).

This might not sound too outrageous a price for a premium European car, but when I thought about this in context of other typical prices in Thailand it blew my mind away.

How much are things in Thailand?

  1. The average meal (street food) is between 50 - 100 BAHT/£1-£2
  2. Apparently the average salary is 300 BAHT/£6 per day.
  3. The average rent is 10,000 BAHT/£212 per month.
  4. An average condominium can be purchased for between 3 and 4 Million BAHT/£63,000 - £85,000.

So, I could either buy this old BMW or pay my monthly rent for 8 years (my rent is 20,000 BHT per month)!

Or I could nearly buy a brand new apartment outright. So many choices...

Why are they this expensive?

In a word - tax! Apparently import tax levy can be up to 300% of the car's initial value. That instantly trebles the price of any car shipped in from outside the country. A new Lamborghini would set you back approximately 25 Million BAHT/£530,000 when the same tax penalties are applied.

However, tax rates are still high on domestic units. Even a basic Toyota will set you back 500,000 BAHT/£10,607.00. That's a bit more realistic but in the UK an equivalent specification car would be several thousand pounds cheaper.


Sorry, there's no specific conclusion on this blog posting! I just can't understand how anyone in Thailand can afford to buy a car and run it. The traffic outside the office window today would indicate that many people have found a way to get mobile though.

Next time you see a slightly battered old European or a brand new Italian luxury car drive past you in Thailand just marvel at how much the person paid for it.