Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

If you would like to submit a Cost of Living survey, you can answer the questions on line - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RH6Y3JP

Approximate conversion rates as of February 28th, 2017

35 Baht to one US Dollar
43 Baht to one Pound Sterling
37 Baht to one Euro
27 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.69 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Jane

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 26,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at a language clinic and I earn 26,000 baht a month with a 3% tax deduction on that full-time salary. I don't have any part time jobs yet.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I can save at least 8,000 baht a month excluding the money I send back to my family in the Philippines.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I rent a bachelor type studio for 3,500 baht a month (fridge/ air-con included) with electricity and water bills I pay at the most 4,500 baht including the rent.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I use the motorcycle for 10 baht, bus for 6.50 baht (use the red old buses if you don't mind it not having a/c. if you're lucky you might be riding the free red buses and songtaew 7 baht. One month total of 1,815 baht. Sometimes when I am in a hurry I use the air-conditioned bus for 13 baht.

b) Utility bills

I bundle it in with the rent as mentioned above.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My groceries come to about 2,000-3,000 a month plus 1,500 baht for food allowance. I limit my spending to 50 baht a day for food at work

d) Nightlife and drinking

I just bike around the markets buying 20 baht drinks or snacks and it won't cost me more than a 100 baht

e) Books, computers

I use the computer at work for everything that I need including information for lectures. I can find almost everything in Google. We do have our own books at school. I sometimes download e-books on my ipad and that costs nothing.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

It is better compared to the life I had in the Philippines. Life here is easy as long as you know where you spend your money.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food, without a doubt.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Survive? Even the highest paid teachers here can't survive if they don't budget their money. If you find yourself saying to yourself you can't afford to save money right now, you are lying to yourself. Most of us started with the basic salary and then moved to another company with higher salary. It still wasn't enough because we still keep on moving/changing jobs. I'd say you can either survive or live a nice life depending on how you spend your money.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think many Western teachers (me included) just don't know how Filipinos survive on the money they earn, especially if - as many do - they are sending money back to help families in The Philippines. 

Limiting your daily food budget to 50 baht and riding the non-airconditioned bus to keep costs down certainly won't be many people's idea of a good time but if it still means that life here is better than life back in the homeland, who am I to argue? 

On the topic of Filipino teachers working in Thailand, Benito Vacio wrote a couple of blogs for Ajarn dot com before he returned to The Philippines last year. He had noticed many Filipino teachers had made the decision to reurn home. Was the love affair with Thailand coming to an end? 


Robert

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 80,000 - 90,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I typically earn between 80,000-90,000 baht a month from my job at an international school. My full-time salary is 80,000 and I sometimes make extra money teaching university classes, camps, or writing exams/course content.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I usually save about 30,000 baht a month, but sometimes more.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I pay 12,000 for a new 36 square meter condo.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

Unless I am going out for drinks I typically drive my 150cc motorcycle, which saves me a lot of money on transportation. I spend about 150 baht a week on gas. Overall, I'd say I end up spending about 1,500-2,000 a month on transportation depending if I have to fix an issue with the bike and how often I go out for drinks (which isn't all that often)

b) Utility bills

Since I live in a condo, my utility bills are typically pretty low. I spend about 3,000 for water, electricity and garbage (running the aircon whenever I am home) and then my phone bill is about 550 baht a month and then another 500 baht for wifi.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend about 10,000 baht a month on food. Most of my meals come from local food stalls and will be between 50-70 baht. Every now and then I will splurge on a hamburger, pizza, or take the missus out for a nice dinner.

d) Nightlife and drinking

The longer I stay in Thailand the lower my nightlife spending gets. A night out can run anywhere from 1,000-2,000 baht, but nowadays I typically prefer to avoid the club scenes and stick to local bars or chilling at a friends party, which is a lot better on the wallet. Overall, I'd say I spend about 5,000 baht a month on nightlife

e) Books, computers

I read at least one book a month, to keep the mind in shape, and so spend about 400-600 baht depending if I pick up a knock off on Khaosan or one at Kinokuniya.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I have a very comfortable standard of living. Money is never an issue, and I can go on awesome vacations anytime I want.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food, clothing, transportation, and rent. Also, if I were back home in Seattle I'd pay 3x as much for something the same size in an equivalent part of town.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

When I first moved here I made 32,000 month for 6 months through an agency at a Thai government school. I think it would be pretty hard to survive on much less than that, especially if you hope to finance a trip home every year or two.

Phil's analysis and comment

Not much I can add to a pretty solid set of figures from Robert. 80-90K is always going to get you a very comfortable lifestyle in Bangkok and here's the proof. Robert is a man with absolutely no money worries. Enough said!


William

Working in Hua Hin

Monthly Earnings 50,000+

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at a language school and TEFL center in Hua Hin. My base salary is 50,000 baht but I can bump that up by 5-10K a month with commissions plus maybe more for bonuses and doing teacher training camps.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

10-15K

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

10,000 baht. I live in a spacious one-bedroom condo. One big room that acts as a bedroom and dining/living room, small kitchen, balcony for hanging clothes and a pretty nice bathroom. It's on the 6th floor with a nice view of the coastline, a great pool and small but adequate gym with treadmills, weights and a bench. The best part of it all is its convenience as well as how new and in order everything is compared to a lot of accommodation one can reside in in Thailand.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I bought a slightly used Honda Wave (manual gear) for 25k when I moved here. It's the most economical thing to do. I spend about 400 baht/month on gas, I would guess. Hardly every pay for any other transportation. I make a trip to Bangkok maybe once a month, so add another 500 baht/month

b) Utility bills

Utilities usually come to about 1,200 baht/month. I'm not stingy with the air con

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't drink really, so my hedonism is spent on food. 10-15,000 for all food, both cooking at home and eating out. I am a foodie, so I don't skimp. I love Thai food, but also love sushi, pizza, Indian, barbecue spots like Sukishi and Shabu places like Shabushi, you name it I eat it

d) Nightlife and drinking

Next to nil. I have a girlfriend so what's the point? Maybe 1,000 baht/month maximum

e) Books, computers

I have a computer which I bought for $300 back in The States more than a year ago. Hardly ever have to spend anything to maintain it. I just get books from friends or exchange or from back home

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

My standard of living is quite nice. I am not stingy or too worried on a day to day basis, but make a conscious effort to try to save 15,000 a month and because of that I have managed to put about 200,000k in my savings account over the span of 13 months since moving to Hua Hin

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Rentals, compared to The West. I can only imagine how much rent would be for a condo less than 200 meters from the beach back in The States. A lot of other things, too, but most are obvious. I think phone bills are worth mentioning. I pay 350 baht/month for a package that gives me 200 minutes a month and unlimited 3G. That would be like 70 dollars, or 2,000 baht back home.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Survive is such a relative term, based on people's background and personality and overall willingness to live like a Thai rather than a farang. 15,000 to actually survive: live in a 3,000 baht dingy apartment with no air-con, use a "burner" (for anyone who has watched The Wire) cellphone, and eat Mama noodles at least five times a week. Don't even think about Sizzler salad buffets or cappuccinos at a cozy cafe.

Phil's analysis and comment

I can think of a lot worse places to live and teach than Hua Hin - especially if your condo is 200 metres from the beach! William really does sound like a guy who's hit it right.

William also had this to say on the question of 'how would you summarize your standard of living?'

"I live better here than I would back in The States, where I would be a chef or I-dunno-what, working 60 hours a week and probably just having enough to pay my 1,000$ rent for a small apartment deep on the East side of Portland, Oregon, where every hipster in America wants to live and has thus blown up exponentially in price.

Sorry, a bit off topic. The point is, my standard of living here is comfortable. I eat out and cook nice meals, live in a nice condo overlooking the coast, and swim in my pool and cruise along the coast on Saturdays and Sundays. I don't have to spend extra time tutoring private students and all that. I like my schedule and value my free time, work hard during the week and relax and have fun on weekends. This allotment of my time defines my standard of living more than anything" 


Simon

Working in Naypyidaw (the administrative capital of Myanmar)

Monthly Earnings Equivalent of 83,000 baht

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I earn $2,350 USD from my school job, about 83,000 Thai baht after tax, but my stay in an upmarket hotel (with free breakfast) is also fully covered. That cost amounts to an additional 30,000 Thai baht each month. I don't do any private tuition right now, but there is plenty of evening and weekend work available.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I can save about $1,900 USD, about 67,000 Thai baht. I can save this much because the cost of living is very cheap (apart from accommodation costs), and also there is very little to spend money on in Naypyidaw!

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

As mentioned, accommodation costs can be high in Myanmar. So my school pays all the costs for me to stay in a hotel with gym and swimming pool and free breakfast.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

Zero cost, because I either walk or cycle to my school, which is only a couple of kilometres away.

b) Utility bills

The hotel pays all utility bills, such as electricity, wifi, room cleaning. My only expense is to pay my laundry bill.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Breakfast is free at the hotel every day and I buy fruit and yogurts from the local supermarket for lunch. My evening meal is typical Shan noodles from a restaurant in the shopping centre at 44 baht a time. In total, I maybe spend no more than 3,000 baht a month on all food

d) Nightlife and drinking

Sorry, what nightlife?

e) Books, computers

I bought a new computer a few months ago in Mandalay for 12,000 baht. For books, I usually buy these in Bangkok when a do a visa run, (the visa run plane and hotel costs are paid for by the school)

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Very good, but you have to be happy with the simple life in Naypyidaw. I used to teach in Yangon, and there was a good choice of bars and nightlife. But here in Naypyidaw, there is not a lot to do, except visit the shopping centre, zoo, shopping centre, gems museum, shopping centre - did I mention the shopping centre?

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Everything but the price of accommodation. Having said that, a room in an international hotel is expensive in any country.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Very little, especially if your accommodation costs are paid. I change $100 USD (about 3,500 baht) into local kyat currency and then just use it and use it and use it. It will last me a couple of weeks!

Phil's analysis and comment

Simon contacted us to say - "I actually teach in Myanmar, but maybe my information will help to make a comparision of the cost of living between Bangkok and Naypyidaw (the administrative capital of Myanmar), where I work at a private school, (international in name, and there are a few Japanese, Russian, Bulgarian students here whose parents are either diplomats or are working for INGOs or telecoms/energy companies"

I agree Simon, I think many teachers would be interested in these comparisons. Naypyidaw does sound a little quiet but it sounds like a terrific deal for the saver! 67,000 baht going into the bank each month from an 83,000 salary and the school paying for hotel accommodation (not to mention visa run costs) Way to go! Could this get a few more teachers interested in checking out Myanmar? 


Benjamin

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 42,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at a Thai secondary school and my full-time salary after tax is 42,000 baht. In the past I've tried topping up that salary with private tutoring but I just wasn't ruthless enough. I felt bad charging students 500 baht an hour when I knew they couldn't really afford it. Plus I got tired of all the cancellations.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I try to put at least 5,000 baht a month into a bank account for a trip home to see the family.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a very Thai-style studio apartment with one big bedroom / living area, a small bathroom and a balcony that's just about large enough to hang out some washing. The rent is 5,000 a month.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

There is a direct bus route from home to school and I only need to travel half a dozen stops. I guess even with the odd taxi at the weekend, my transport bill is less than a thousand baht a month.

b) Utility bills

Although my apratment has air-conditioning, I very rarely use it. Water and electricity come to about 800 a month so not bad.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

During the week when I am working, I will pick something up from the many street vendors in my neighborhood and microwave it at home. I tend to skip breakfast (not good I know) and lunch at school is free. I will often splash out on a Western treat at the weekend but the monthly food spend is no more than about 5,000.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Friday night tends to be my only big night out. A group of foreign teachers from the school all gather at a local restaurant where the beers are cheap and the staff know us well and make us welcome. 2,000 a month.

e) Books, computers

I replaced my laptop last year (I think it was about 20,000) but I don't play games or read a lot of books.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Let's put it this way, I wouldn't like to have to live on less than 42,000 (the salary I earn now) My father always taught me that the golden rule of life in terms of money is 'never spend more than you earn'. It sounds a ridiculously obvious rule to live by but it's amazing how many teachers I have worked with who just can't follow it and are broke with barely half the month gone.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Street food if you know where to go and who to buy from. My regular vendors look after me with slightly larger portions.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

'Survive' is such a horrible word. I can't believe anyone comes here to teach English to just survive but I guess some folks do. Looking at the job ads on ajarn, there must be teachers in Bangkok living on 25k salaries. I really don't know how they do it.

Phil's analysis and comment

Some interesting points there Ben.

I also learned that golden rule of never spending more than you earn and I also worked with many teachers who would get their 30-35,000 cash payout at the beginning of the month and immediately think they had to blow it all in the first week. 

You make a good point about being 'ruthless' if you want to take on private students. As I wrote in my guide to freelance teaching, everyone who makes good money teaching privates has to develop a business acumen at some stage. If you let students walk all over you with last-minute cancellations and don't insist on payments in advance, freelance teaching will become more and more frustrating.


We would love to get your cost of living surveys and you can do so by filling in the on-line form. Tell us about your lifestyle!

Many teachers unfortunately fill in the form and just provide a list of figures and no back story. It's those glimpses into a teacher's lifestyle that make these surveys interesting and enjoyable. Many thanks for your contributions.

Page 1 of 38 (showing 5 entries out of 189 total)

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