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 December 5th, 2016

36 Baht to one US Dollar
45 Baht to one Pound Sterling
38 Baht to one Euro
27 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.72 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Steve

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 140,000

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

I work as a director at an international school and my salary is 140,000 after tax.

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

Realistically, I could save 100,000 baht a month, but I save around 80,000. About half of that goes to retirement and the other half goes to savings, from which some will be taken for vacations. If I wanted to live more frugally I certainly could, but I am trying to strike a balance.

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

I live in a two-bedroom apartment, and pay 20,000 a month, which also covers utilities (power, water, internet).

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

a) Transportation

I take the taxi to work, and that runs about 1,000 per month. There's the occasional BTS ride. Call it 2,000 all in.

b) Utility bills

My utilities are about 5,000 a month, as I like to keep my apartment cool (I also think that my rate is too high, but I am moving soon).

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is easy. I give myself 500 baht a day to spend on food and other items. Anything that I don't spend gets rolled over, and often at the end of the week I can treat myself to a meal at the French restaurant down the street and still be within this range

d) Nightlife and drinking

I go downtown about once a month, so that's another 2,000 for a fun night out. Counting this, and after I have paid student loans and funded my accounts, generally I am left with 10,000 or so extra, some of which I spend at Foodland and some of which goes to the occasional weekend getaway. Either that or it gets rolled over into the next month.

e) Books, computers

As far as books and computers I own a Kindle and a laptop, so that works for entertainment. I'll be buying a new computer soon, so video games will be coming back into my life...

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

I live comfortably. I could live extravagantly, but got used to simpler things when I was in the Peace Corps. I have enough to eat, enough to do, and am able to save a lot. Things are good here.

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

The street food. There are days when I spend less than 200 baht, all in, and do just fine. Taxi rides are also inexpensive. I also get a massage every week. An hour for 300 baht (including tip) is an incredible bargain.

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

Honestly, if you want to enjoy Bangkok, 50,000-60,000 is a minimum.

Phil's analysis and comment

Even though Steve earns a great salary, he's clearly very sensible with his money. He's looking after his future and making hay while the sun shines. A very commendable set of figures there!


If anyone fancies doing a cost of living survey, I've now put the questions on-line to make it easier and quicker for you. Please spare half an hour if you can. 

A number of teachers complete the surveys with just a list of figures. I don't wish to sound ungrateful but that's not really what we're looking for. There needs to be some sort of 'story' behind the figures as it were (it certainly makes the surveys more interesting to read) Many thanks!


Robert

Working in Kanchanaburi

Monthly Earnings 80-85,000 baht

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

My salary is 39,300 plus a 3,000 housing allowance. I teach privately in my house 4 - 5.30 Monday to Thursday and Saturday/Sunday 9.30 - 12. I have 30 students in these group classes and it brings in around 40,000. So in total about 80,000 - 85,000 per month

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

Right now we have no savings due to a trip to England and moving house, however we should be able to save 20 - 25,000 baht a month.

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

I live in a small town, so housing is really cheap. I have a 3-bedroom detached house with a garden (including a mango tree) western kitchen, two bathrooms, two air-cons. The rent is 6.500. Unbelievable bargain.

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

a) Transportation

Car payments 9,100 per month (1 year to go) and 2,000 on petrol.

b) Utility bills

1,000 - 2,000 for electric. 600 for water. 700 for internet.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

6,000 baht for the big monthly shop (baby milk and nappies included) Eating out comes to about 3,000 a month. My girlfriend and I cook at home mostly and shop in the local markets.

d) Nightlife and drinking

No nightlife in my town so I don't go out.

e) Books, computers

I spend about 5,000 a month on materials for my teaching at home. Insurance for the car, children, school fees for my eldest daughter, these things all must be saved for (I pay 70,000 for health insurances for the kids per year. 36,000 for school etc, etc.

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

We live a relatively comfortable life but even with my extra classes I could still do with a bit more. A yearly trip to England, and insurances as previously mentioned really take a big chunk out of our funds. But we do have enough for a nice life here. Also things will improve when my youngest goes to school and my girlfriend can work again, and when we finish the payments for the car!

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

My house. Its beautiful and cheaper than any room I rented in Bangkok. Also, good food. Saturday afternoons we always go out for a meal and eat enough for six people, its never more than 600-700 baht!

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

Obviously children change it all. I live in the countryside and have a large salary in comparison to most teachers with my qualifications (I do not have a pgce, only a BA) Right now we can manage everything but I still would like money in the bank for a rainy day. For us 80,000 will be perfect once the car has been paid for. But I could not live in Bangkok with this salary. That's for sure!

Phil's analysis and comment

Interesting survey Rob. I enjoyed that one. Wow! you sure have those private students organised. Just out of interest, there must be the odd Thai -run weekend tutor school in your town. How do they react when they see thirty kids queuing up at your door every weekend? Is there any jealousy there because you are obviously doing things right?

I like that last comment - "children change it all". I've always felt that the decision to have children or to not have children is the single biggest decision you can make in life. I bet you would probably agree eh Rob?

Good luck. Get those car payments finished and get the girlfriend back in work and it will be plain sailing from then on.


Henry

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 136,000 baht

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

I work at a middle of the road international school. My monthly net salary from my main job, including a housing allowance is 118k. I also teach 3 hours of private tuition on Saturday mornings at 1.5k per hour. Fortunately my tutees don't cancel. So monthly total net income is approximately 136k.

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

I try hard to save both because I love to travel and I'm terrified of reaching retirement age without having enough to stop working. At the moment I can bank 80-85k per month.

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

17k for an 80 sqm 1-bedroom condo. I split the cost of this with my girlfriend (She is Thai and works as an accountant earning slightly less than I do).

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

a) Transportation

Not a lot. I live close enough to work to be able to walk.

b) Utility bills

Electricity (approx 1.5k) Water (200) Internet (600) - unfortunately our building owner considers it fair to charge double the official rate for electricity and water

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Henry did not answer this question

d) Nightlife and drinking

Approx 4k - which is a lot less than when I first arrived in Thailand. I probably have a big night out twice a month (it used to be twice a week)

e) Books, computers

Almost nothing - my school has a well stocked library and a computer is something I only replace when necessary.

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

Good. Although I live in Bangkok, I don't feel like I live a big city life. This is because I live slightly outside the centre in HuayKwang. The upside of this is my condo is probably 50% cheaper than it would be if it were on Sukhumvit.

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

In the last 6 months things have changed. The dramatic fall in the pound (my home currency) means that for a Brit, Thailand isn't so cheap anymore. I actually buy clothes and electronics when I'm 'home' in England now as they're cheaper there. That being said... Bangkok taxis are still fantastically cheap.

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

Survive... 25k. Have a reasonable life... 50k. Live reasonably well and be able to save to 'survive' when you hit 65... 90k

Phil's analysis and comment

I certainly agree with your final comment Henry. And when you've got a joint income of 250,000 coming into the household each month, then you are going to have a very nice life. Having a Thai partner who earns a good salary and can financially stand on his / her own two feet is a huge bonus. 


James

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings At least 50,000 baht

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

I work at a language school with three branches and earn 400 baht an hour plus a 50 baht an hour course completion bonus. Plus I do some corporate work. I average 100 - 150 hours per month.

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

I try to save a third of my salary. My wife and I are currently having a house built.

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

We pay 15,000 baht a month for a two-bedroom condo (65 square metres)

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

a) Transportation

I use minivans and public buses to get to work. No more than 50-60 baht a day.

b) Utility bills

Bills were included in the 15,000 baht condo rental. We don't use air-conditioning because we live on the 8th floor and we open doors to let the breeze in or just use fans.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I guess about 200 baht a day plus about 3,000 a month for restaurant trips. During the working week, I grab breakfast and evening meal on the go or at work and I generally skip lunch.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Zero. I'm not a drinker at all.

e) Books, computers

I buy a couple of paperbacks a month for about 800 baht and I use the computers at work for free.

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

Easy. I can eat, buy and do what I want. With no family to visit or wife's family to take care of, my money is mine to do what I want with.

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

As I mentioned we are building a house on our farm ( bought the land very cheap 10 years ago) so I guess building a house is! ....blocks , sand , cement and labour

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

I think 30k is enough to survive in Bangkok but add another 30k if you want to really party.

Phil's analysis and comment

James actually said that in a really good month, he can reach about 100,000 baht. 50k is an absolute minimum. However, unless James is someone who really, really enjoys teaching, I see a teacher heading for burnout. 150 contact hours a month - a mix of in-house and corporate and bombing around the city - is way too much. I've been there and done that and eventually it wears you down. Skipping lunches and hardly having any leisure time at home during the working week - it brought back some not so good memories. That said, James is saving to build a house so one day when he's sitting on a porch overlooking his fruit trees, he might look back and say it was all worth it. I hope so.


Bob

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 136,000

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

My salary is 96,000 baht and I get a housing allowance of 40,000.

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

80,000 to 100,000 baht depending on if we have a trip to an island or somewhere in Asia. ( my partner earns 50,000 a month and we live on that & my housing allowance)

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

28,000 baht a month. We have a nice, 2-bedroom old-build condo with pool, gym etc and it's a short motorcycle taxi ride to the BTS. Most importantly, it's just a stone's throw from work.

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

a) Transportation

1k - 2k a month on cabs. I use motorcycle taxis for short rides a lot and that's so cheap, maybe 200-300 a month on those. I'd say about that much on BTS too. I dont use it much

b) Utility bills

My bills are relatively extortionate due to the old air-conditioning units and greedy condo management. Around 3k - 4k a month, including internet

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is the big one. I order from a well known meal delivery service and for the two of us, it comes to about 2k per week - that's just weekdays so we probably splurge about that much more on the weekend eating out. So food could be around 16,000 baht a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

We're a pair of lightweights and don't / can't drink much so no more than 3k a month I'd say

e) Books, computers

The school has an incredible library and provides us laptops so no expenses there (although I did just buy FM 2017 for 2k.

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

Very comfortable. Could be lavish but I know the value of a pound to the baht and we're saving for a deposit for a place back in the UK.

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

Massages! Local transport and domestic travel. Air Asia is so cheap that we get to see a lot of Thailand & South East Asia on a budget.

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

Survive? 40k is plenty for a single person to survive and have a bit of fun in Bangkok. If you're intending to be here long term, you need to be looking at 50-60k minimum. I really couldn't speak for outside of Bangkok, though I imagine you'd need a lot less.

Phil's analysis and comment

Very nice Bob. You can't complain about 80-100k baht a month going into the tommy tank. And of course it always helps when you have a partner who's bringing a decent salary into the house as well. 

I don't think 16,000 baht a month on food for a couple who enjoy eating out at the weekend is excessive at all. In fact, if you order from those delivery services every weekday evening, I'm surprised your monthly food bill is that low.

Must be a great time to buy a property in England as well Bob. 43 baht buys you a pound. Good times!

Page 1 of 35 (showing 5 entries out of 175 total)

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