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 January 23rd, 2017

35 Baht to one US Dollar
44 Baht to one Pound Sterling
38 Baht to one Euro
27 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.71 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Lee

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 64,000

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

I work at a private school in Bangkok and my full-time salary is 64,000 baht

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

20,000

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

My condo is 8,500 baht a month

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

a) Transportation

2,000 baht

b) Utility bills

Electric, water and internet come to just over 2,000 baht

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

About 10,000 baht a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I like a beer and a night out so this can come anywhere between 5-10,000 baht.

e) Books, computers

Lee did not answer this question.

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

Solid. I can afford to save some of my money but as soon as I want to go home for Christmas or something, most of that money goes.

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

Food can be if you know where to look.

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

50-70,000 baht to live a good life if you are single. I'd certainly want more than that if I had a family.

Phil's analysis and comment

A solid set of figures in this straight-to-the-point survey from Lee. I would agree that you probably need 50-70,000 to live a good life in Bangkok. And a good life means living somewhere comfortable, being able to eat where you want, go out a couple of nights a week - and still have money left over for an annual trip home and the odd weekend away in Thailand perhaps. 50-70K is probably just enough to achieve all that.  


Ricky

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 40,000 baht

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

My salary from a government school is 32,000 baht a month after tax and I top it up with about 8,000 baht from private tutoring three evenings a week. I don't work weekends.

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

If I manage to save 5,000 - 10,000 then I've done well.

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

I rent a small townhouse with another teacher about ten minutes from the city centre. It costs 8,000 baht a month and we split all the bills down the middle. It works well. The house is big enough to both feel we have our own place but just cross paths in the living room or kitchen.

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

a) Transportation

Anyone with any sense buys or rents a scooter in Chiang Mai. It's tricky to get around using public transportation. Gas runs me just a few hundred baht a month. Buying a scooter was definitely one of my better decisions.

b) Utility bills

Electricity is about a thousand baht and the water bill is next to nothing. We have internet that costs about 700 baht a month. That's really it.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I cook at home as much as I can and will often make 2-3 portions to put in the freezer as a back-up. Sometimes when I've got private students in the evening on the back of a hard day at work, I need something quick and convenient. I only really eat out at the weekend and even then I avoid expensive Western food joints. All in all probably about 6,000 a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I tend to limit any nocturnal habits to Saturday nights only and I might spend a thousand baht on a good night out so 4,000 a month should cover it.

e) Books, computers

I love my computer games! This probably comes to another thousand baht a month.

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

It's OK. Sure I would like to live in a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood and be able to afford to travel more, but I'm reasonably happy.

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

The cost of running a scooter (gas, repairs, etc)

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

I would find it very hard to live in Chiang Mai on less than 30,000 baht a month but lots of foreigners do - and seem to survive.

Phil's analysis and comment

It's been a while since we heard from a teacher working in everyone's 'favourite city'. 40,000 seems to be enough for a decent lifestyle without going overboard. The question as always is how many years can you keep doing this for before the reality of the hour sets in?

I'd also be interested to know how much private students in Chiang Mai are willing to pay for an hour long English lesson these days? 


Chuck

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 92,000

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

My salary after tax is 92,000 from my English program school in Bangkok. During term, I can make another 4k-8k, after tax, with after-school classes

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

Realistically, I could save 55k if I were quite careful. I actually save 35k - 45k.

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

14k all-in for a 45m condo in the heart of Bangkok. It's an old building but convenient for everything.

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

a) Transportation

Gas for my scooter runs 200 baht per month. I rarely use public transport or taxis but let’s say 200 baht per month for those.

b) Utility bills

Zero, as it's included in rent.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Too much. I love Thai food. I also love Western food. I’d say maybe 16,000. I rarely cook. I take home food from the street, supermarkets and have food delivered. I also eat out somewhat regularly. Sunday roasts and buffets. Nice restaurant meals with friends and the occasional date. However, if I have to pay for everything on a first date, there ain’t no second date!

d) Nightlife and drinking

I spend extravagantly. I’m a happy hour fiend that knows no boundaries. Hotels, British and Irish pubs, sports bars and venues mother need not know about. However, my chief expense is in clubs, where prices are higher and ‘products’ more diverse. I hasten to add that I don’t ‘take-away’ from the risqué venues. I’ve nothing against it, but I don’t do it. I love craft beer too. All in all, around 20k some months. Other months under 10k. It’s ridiculous at times, but there’s never a dull moment.

e) Books, computers

Chuck did not answer this question.

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

My standard of living is quite good. My day-to-day life is a better experience than living back home.

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

There are several bargains here. Most forms of manual labour, taxis, cell phone subscriptions, street food, raw chicken and pork, bottled water, cigarettes (I don’t smoke), utilities, cinema tickets, inter-city bus and rail services and probably a ton of stuff I have forgotten because I take them for granted. I would not add gym membership. They aren’t pricey, but gyms are packed – it can be frustrating at times.

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

‘Survive’ is a loose term. If you mean what’s the minimum hand-to-mouth, pay check to pay check existence, I’d say 15,000 baht.

Phil's analysis and comment

An interesting survey there from Chuck. After reading so many surveys where teachers no longer spend money on nightlife (if indeed they ever did) along comes Chuck. He's a night owl and proud of it! LOL

Chuck also had the following to say on his standard of living;

I'd hesitate to say that my standard of living is higher, because I have no retirement fund from work. The long-term future causes me some anxiety. However, I'd never have this much fun back home, except when I went on holiday to Thailand or elsewhere! It used to annoy me to read ajarn.com ‘guides' and people describe their lives as comfortable earning 40k, rarely going out and saving next to nothing. That's not comfortable. That's a ticket to skid-row. Also, earning 40k and saving 25k is not a lifestyle I enjoy imagining.

And on the topic of how much does a teacher need to earn to survive, Chuck added; 

I know one person who had monthly expenses run 15,000 baht. He earned much higher but was paying off debt. As soon as the debt cleared, his expenses rocketed, as did his happiness. Unless I were under 25 years old, I wouldn't want to live on less than 50,000 baht. In fact, if I had to live on less than 70k, I'd go back home and enjoy a better lifestyle than that while also saving money and having a retirement fund. I know I don't sound friendly when I say these things, but if this is a guide, let me say that there is no such thing as a friendly warning. 30k shouldn't be your salary - it should be your savings per month. Have health insurance. Enjoy your life as you want to enjoy it. If you can't do these things, change. If you're young, enjoy it while you can.


Sarah

Working in Koh Samui

Monthly Earnings 58,000

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

My salary at a private school is 38,500 baht a month but I bump up my income with 10,000 from extra tutoring at school and 10,000 from private students.

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

I socialise a lot and eat out most days. I also pay for gym membership etc. I save about 10,000 per month

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

I pay 10,000 for accommodation. It's a bungalow set back from a resort with a pool.

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

a) Transportation

2,500 for motorbike rental. 1,500 for repair and maintenance bills and 500 a month on petrol

b) Utility bills

Sarah did not answer this question so we assume utility bills are included in the 10,000 baht a month accommodation cost.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

3,000 baht a month at the supermarket for breakfast and lunch food, plus toiletries and household items. Add another 2,000 baht for eating out

d) Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife differs - one night at the evening markets comes up at around 500-1000 (depending how much you eat and drink!), a night out in Chaweng can cost easily 1000+.

e) Books, computers

Zero.

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

I enjoy life here! I have a more than comfortable lifestyle here with extra money left over to send home or go on a boat trip or even pay for a new tattoo every month.

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

Food

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

I live very well here on my wage! I have friends here living on much less (20,000 baht a month) that still survive. I think for a comfortable lifestyle though, 30,000 would be low enough.

Phil's analysis and comment

Good to hear from someone who is living on the tropical islands and making very decent money. It can obviously be done!

It sounds as though Sarah does a lot of contact hours each month though when you factor in the private teaching and the extra school tutoring. I hope she finds enough free time to enjoy all that the tropical island has to offer.


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.


Mike

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 142,000 baht

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

My main job at a mid-size international school (with 700 kids) pays about 115,000 baht after tax (there is also a flight allowance and a small bonus but these are only paid annually). On Saturdays I teach 6 hours of IELTS classes for 9,000 per day. Occasionally I miss a Saturday if something important comes up. So, in total an average of 142k a month.

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

Between 80k and 100k depending on expenses. I also find school holidays more expensive than term time.

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

I live in a relatively large one bed condo near Central Rama 9. It costs about 20,000 baht a month including all utilities. This is shared between my girlfriend and I.

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

a) Transportation

Petrol for the scooter I run is rarely more than 100 baht a week. Including the occasional taxi or MRT ride my transportation bill probably comes to about 1,500 baht. This is not a major expense.

b) Utility bills

I bundled these in with my rent (earlier question). However, they're itemised on our monthly condo bill and come to about 1.5k - 2.5k for electric, water and internet.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Lunch and snacks come free at school and lunch has therefore become the main meal. During term time I'd say 8,000 baht per month, but in the holidays I probably spend 50% more than this

d) Nightlife and drinking

Taking on weekend work is not only bringing in more money, it's also put an end to big nights out (good for my health, but not great for morale). So, maybe 2-3k

e) Books, computers

Zero unless something breaks. My school has a great library which I make good use of.

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

I feel like I'm saving good money, I like my condo and am in a happy relationship with a local lady (she earns enough to take care of herself and contribute towards rent). My only concern is weekend teaching as I feel that one day off work during term time isn't enough - despite the extra money it brings in. To answer the question I think my salary allows for a good standard of living, but I've always thought that, even 10 years ago when I was earning 30k.

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

The water bill. I probably spend more on salt than I do on showering. Transport is cheap too (taxis, buses & internal flights).

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

As a foreign teacher with no local support network, I think life would now be tough in Bangkok on 30,000. For teachers looking to spend a significant portion of their life here, it's vital to be able to save for old age. Therefore I'd say at least 60k (30k for living and 30k for saving).

Phil's analysis and comment

Now Mike really does sound like a guy I could go for a pint with. Not because he's one of the teaching 'high rollers' but because he took a lot of time and care in filling in this survey and at no time does it ever come across as 'bragging'. Even though Mike earns good money, this is still a sensible, level-headed guy who knows the value of a dollar.

What I like about Mike's figures is how he's taken advantage of situations (and I don't mean that in a negative way at all) He's found himself a partner who is financially comfortable and pays half the rent. He's made the free lunch at school his main meal of the day (therefore cutting down on food costs) He makes full use of the school library. And of course the Saturday work can bring in an extra 36k a month and keep him out of the bars.

Life has handed him lemons and he's made a great big jug of ice cold lemonade. Nice work Mike!

Page 1 of 37 (showing 5 entries out of 184 total)

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