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 June 28th, 2016

35 Baht to one US Dollar
47 Baht to one Pound Sterling
39 Baht to one Euro
26 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.75 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Jay

Working in Pattaya

Monthly Earnings 37,000 baht

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

I earn 35,000 baht from my regular school job as well as an extra 2,000 per month from private tutoring

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

Virtually none. It's difficult to live in Pattaya on a teacher's salary unless you live like a monk

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

None, as I live with my girlfriend and her mother. It's a typical Thai-style townhouse with cold water and no air conditioning. It was difficult to adapt to but it would be harder to survive with rent to pay.

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

a) Transportation

We have a car and spend approximately 3,000 per month on petrol

b) Utility bills

Nothing, as I live at my girlfriend's mother's place. Mother pays the bills.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is my biggest expenditure by far. I don't like Thai food so eat international food most days which eats up a considerable chunk of my salary. If I could eat Thai food without gagging, I know I would save a lot more

d) Nightlife and drinking

Once or twice a month I'll go down walking street but I don't drink alcohol so tend to sip on cokes instead of boozing and partying hard.

e) Books, computers

Nothing at all.

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

Pretty mediocre at the moment but with my plans to relocate myself and my wife away from Thailand, our only option is to live frugally

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

In Pattaya? Not a lot of things can be considered a "bargain"

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

Teachers could get by on as low as 30,000 but I wouldn't recommend it, especially with the lights and temptations of Pattaya. I recommend a minimum of 35-40 thousand

Phil's analysis and comment

The first of two cost of living surveys from the nation's favourite seaside resort - Pattaya. A place that has always struck me as one of the worst cities in Thailand to try and make it as an English teacher.

Jay. You're in Pattaya. You're living in your girlfriend's mom's shophouse with no air-con and no hot water. A night out is you sipping a Coke and watching everyone else having the time of their lives as you stumble from one overpriced farang meal to another.

Run! Jay run! Run as fast as your legs will carry you and don't look back. There has to be a better life out there for you than this. Oh Pattaya, you tormentor of men. You stealer of souls.


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. 


Jamie

Working in Pattaya

Monthly Earnings 40,000

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

I earn 35,000 baht from my school job in Pattaya and I also get another 5,000 sent from home.

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

Around 5,000 baht. Possibly 10,000 baht at a push.

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

I pay 5,000 a month for a very nice apartment with a swimming pool. I'm sure it would cost almost double that in Bangkok from what I've seen.

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

a) Transportation

2-3.000 a month because my school is on the other side of the city and I like to stay 'near the action'. I refuse to drive here because of the idiots on the roads and the cops looking for a handout.

b) Utility bills

I don't use air-con because I don't like it so my bills are relatively low. About 500 baht a month covers electricity and water.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Question not answered.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I go out every Friday and Saturday and spend about 1,500 a night because I party from midnight to 6am. I love it! So entertainment accounts for about 12-15K a month, possibly even more.

e) Books, computers

Books are expensive here so I always go to second hand bookstores. I have a laptop that works well.

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

I have a great life in Pattaya on not a great deal of money if truth be told. It helps looking like Justin Bieber for the Thai girls as I get to do what most men dream of for free.

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

Rent is a bargain and if you like a drink, there are some great happy hour deals across town if you know where to go.

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

In Pattaya I guess it depends on you. Most guys come here and blow it all on girls. My boyish good looks save me loads of bucks and I get to live well here.

Phil's analysis and comment

♪♫♪ If you're gorgeous and you know it, clap your hands ♪♫♪♫

Some teachers are here to devote themselves to their students and make a career out of TEFL. Other teachers are here to fund a life in Pattaya - and all that the resort offers. There are all sorts of folks here for all sorts of reasons and they all have a place on ajarn dot com. At least Jamie is honest and he only parties at the weekend (and why shouldn't he?) 

I bet you can burn through 40K pretty easily if you can't resist the lure of Pattayas neon lights and sinful nights.


Sid

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 120,000 baht

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

I work at an international school and earn 120K a month.

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

42,000 baht automatically goes into my UK account. I also save an additional 10,000 baht a month through my Thai bank account.

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

I live in a condo in the Asok area of Bangkok and my rent is 50,000 baht a month. I live with my partner who earns roughly the same wage so we split it. It's expensive but 200 sqm with a garden and a well kept pool that I use regularly.

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

a) Transportation

I use the BTS every day and it costs me 44 baht to get back from work, as well as the 20 baht motor bike trip to the BTS station. I cab share for the actual journey TO work. All in all, I spend about 2,000 baht a month on travel.

b) Utility bills

My bills came in at 5,000 baht for the last two months but I have the air-conditioning on all the time. Although I am trying to cut use of air-con down.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I'm a veggie which makes street food a little harder to eat. I was spending a lot at Villa Supermarket but have taken to going to Khlong Toey market instead. I spend about 20,000 a month on bills and eating but I eat out quite a lot.

d) Nightlife and drinking

My nightlife can cost me up to 3000 - 4000 baht per night but I don't go as wild as I used to when I first moved here.

e) Books, computers

Almost nothing.

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

Coming from London to Bangkok, my life has transformed. I no longer worry about the cost of things and have the money and the time to travel anywhere I like whilst still saving 50,000 baht a month.

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

Taxi fares and state of the art cinemas.

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

There's a difference between 'surviving' and 'living'. To live a good quality life, I'd say 50k but I wouldn't expect to save much on that wage. I wouldn't live in Bangkok if I had to scrimp and save - that's why I left the UK

Phil's analysis and comment

50,000 baht a month rent from a 120K salary! I was about to say 'good heavens Sid! What are you doing?" but of course you read further and see that Sid is only paying half of that. It certainly sounds like a lovely place to live - plenty of space and all the facilities you would expect from paying such a high rental. Savings-wise, a very nice 42,000 baht a month going back to the UK. And with the pound rapidly gaining in value at the moment, Sid's seeing that nest egg appreciate. I'd be interested to know what Sid does with that UK money or how he's got it invested.


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. 


Melody

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 30,000 - 32,000

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

I work at a Thai secondary school and after tax I take home around 30-32K a month. Just for the record, this was a one-year contract position which I set up while I was in England and is arranged through a placement agency.

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

I've been in the job for six months now and I think I've had one month where I managed to save about 5,000 baht. The rest of the months I've saved nothing at all.

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

The school arranged the accommodation for me. I live in a studio apartment and pay 4,000 baht a month rent. It's basically four walls, a small bathroom, a bed, a dressing table and a wardrobe. It's in a relatively old building in a very Thai neighborhood. You see very few other foreign faces. But it's only a five-minute walk from the school.

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

a) Transportation

Very little. The occasional taxi fare or skytrain / subway ride at the weekend and that's really it. Probably less than 1,000 baht a month.

b) Utility bills

The apartment I live in has both air-conditioning and hot water but I find I can do without them most of the time, especially during the cooler months. Air-conditioning always gives me a sore throat and hot water tends to make my skin dry. My last electricity and water bills barely came to 500 baht between them.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My neighborhood, being a very Thai area, is great for street-food and small mom and pop restaurants. From Monday to Friday, I have lunch at school (around 20 baht a dish) and I'll eat near to my apartment in the evening. I try to limit my spending to 100 baht a day or less during the week but at weekends I'll go out with friends and eat at Western places. In total I would say probably about 8,000 a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I go out on Friday and Saturday nights and that's it. The rest of the week I'm too tired from teaching and will just relax at home. A night out with a few drinks and a bit of food can cost up to 1,500 so I would say maybe 10,000 baht a month goes on entertainment.

e) Books, computers

I'm a huge fan of Dasa Bookstore near The Emporium and love to spend an hour or so in there browsing the paperbacks. They also buy the books back for a good price when I've finished reading them. I use the internet for free at school. I don't have a laptop and even my phone is pretty basic. I've never been much of a gadget person.

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

I find this a very difficult question to answer. Can I say "OK at best?" I'm only here for a year and I did my research and knew what I would be letting myself in for before I got here. I knew that 30,000 baht would just about be enough and that's exactly what it's turned out to be.

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

Thai food is excellent value, especially if you shop local at the markets and food-stalls. Western food is way overpriced - and not even that great.

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

I've been quite shocked at just how expensive Bangkok can be. The moment you start craving some of those Western comforts is the moment you can start hemorrhaging money. 'Living like a Thai' might save you loads of cash, but it wears you down after a while. If I was looking to make a long-term career out of teaching AND settling in Bangkok, I couldn't imagine doing it on less than 50K a month. And even that probably wouldn't be enough.

Phil's analysis and comment

Melody sounds like a sensible girl and she lives 'within her means'. I never forget the first full-time job I had back in the UK and my boss gave me advice I've never forgetten - 'you always have to live within your means'. 

I've worked with many teachers down the years who always tried to live a 50K lifestyle on a 30-40K salary. It can't be done.

Recently, I've had a few conversations with expats who have never had anything to do with the TEFL profession or ever will. But naturally they are interested in the lifestyles of teachers abroad if only because there are so many here. When I tell these expats that many teachers earn around 30K a month, the reaction is always the same. There is silence for a moment before one of them will ask the question 'and teachers can actually survive on that?'

I've just returned from the supermarket. My weekly shopping bill came to just under 3,000 baht. Admittedly, it was one of those weeks where I needed to buy a few cleaning products but overall, my shopping trolley was nothing if not modest. There are no expensive imported cheeses or bottles of wine going in there. It's all staples like bread, milk, yoghurts, coffee, fruit, vegetables, etc. Most of those provisions are for me I might add. My wife eats a strict 'clean food' diet and has special meals delivered to the house (which she pays for out of her own pocket)

Before tackling the supermarket shopping, my wife and I enjoyed a spot of lunch at a local restaurant. Nothing lavish. We don't live on Sukhumwit Road or in some expat neighborhood. The restaurant bill still came to 700 baht for the two of us - for a starter, a main dish and a couple of banana smoothies.

So in conclusion, a bit of shopping and a bit of lunch and I've blown hole in well over 3,000 baht (I've deducted the price of my wife's lunch as well and assumed just the costs for me)

A month can be a long old stretch. There are at least four weeks in it. So multiplying my weekly spend by four and that's about 13,000 baht on food alone. AND that's not counting Sunday lunch (we sometimes go out on Sundays as well) and all those small ticket items that I will buy during the week at 7-11 or the local fruit market.

Actually, I find that when you analyze costs in detail, it gets quite frightening when you realise just how little 30,000 baht is. 


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. 


Adam

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 300,000

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

I work through a legal consultancy school and earn 5,000 baht an hour. I usually work a 15-hour week so that adds up to about 300K a month. I coach students who are planning on attending law schools abroad, or CEOs who are planning on working in Europe or N America in multi-market companies such as medical or insurance based companies.

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

I save about 200K a month and still feel I live like a baller.

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

I pay about 30,000 baht a month. I figure I work 6 hours a month to pay for my huge 2 bedroom city center accommodation. I use my second bedroom as an office and sometimes do some work online [legal consulting] so the plush office is essential. I spent a lot on it in order to keep up professional appearances.

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

a) Transportation

I still take the public transport to most places. I wear a suit but my clients have no idea if I took the skytrain or if I just drove an expensive car to get there. Why spend money on a car when you have cheap taxis and the BTS?

b) Utility bills

My utility bills are up to 10,000 a month but I'd rather have my home cool and with air-conditioners running than sitting there sweating.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

For food I tend to go to restaurants but I'll occasionally splash 50 baht on street food, and why not? Just because you make good money doesn't mean you need to eat 1,000 baht steaks every day. Often my classes finish at 7pm and that student will invite me to dinner. They enjoy talking more informally and it's a chance for me to learn some legal or business Thai jargon, or what's going on in the business world in Thailand.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I don't really go out. It's purely a lifestyle choice. I should also say that I spend around 35,000 baht a month on cancer drug injections into my eyes due to diabetic damage.

e) Books, computers

For books, I rarely buy them and electronics I spend a fortune. I probably update my gaming PC at least once a year. My parents and brother enjoy my hand-me-downs, so when I buy an iphone 6S I'll hand the iphone 6 down to my brother or his wife.

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

Unreal. I earn around 300K baht a month and in the UK 40% of that would be taken in tax, but obviously I pay much less here.

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

Apartments, and the fact people will pay you what you're worth IF you can prove you're worth it. Other things like transport, laundry and massages are cheap. Electronics can be expensive.

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

To survive, you could survive on 30,000 baht a month but honestly what is the point? If you live paycheck to paycheck, then what if you need to head home in an emergency? That's no way to live.

Phil's analysis and comment

A glimpse into how the other half live I suppose. I haven't got much to add to that. In fact, I haven't got anything to add to that.

Come on guys, let's hear from more teachers who earning those teacher salaries.

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. 

 

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