Working in Kunming, China
Monthly Earnings 75,000 baht plus bonus
Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?
I earn 75K a month from the school. I teach 18 hours a week, plus 6 management hours (paid). The rest of the time I don't need to be on campus. I have a minimum three days off a week depending on my schedule. I have 3+ months of paid vacation and a 75k bonus at the end of the school year. My partner (musician) makes around 20,000 baht a month.
Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?
Around 25,000 baht without effort but if I was trying it could easily be more like 40,000.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
We own our apartment, so a minimal condo fee of around 750 baht a month. Generally speaking, renting a good quality 3-bedroom 100 sqm condo downtown will set you back around 12,500 baht a month.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
Public transportation to school (direct bus) is dirt cheap, around 10 baht one way. Taxis are also affordable at 150 baht each way (our school is out of town, at least a 30-minute drive). Since I teach with many colleagues who live in the same area as me, we often carpool to split costs. Alternatively, a lot of teachers have an e-bike (electric motorcycle, no licence required), which at around 7,500 baht new, plus battery charging, can save you a ton of cash in the long run
b) Utility bills
Utility bills are cheap, maybe 1,500 baht a month, and we run all our gadgets like mad (no need for air conditioning in Kunming).
c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
Local food is dirt cheap, you could get by on 200 baht a day if you wanted to eat out, and if you cook at home you can do a lot with that budget. If you've been in Asia a while like me, you tend to crave a more Western style diet. Eating out in Western places here is not cheap, expect to spend at least 500 baht a head. Personally, we cook a lot at home/eat out and don't skimp at the Western supermarket. I would say we spend at least 15,000 baht a month on food, restaurants, wine and beers for home
d) Nightlife and drinking
I don't go out very much at night anymore, but a beer at your local bar/cafe will be minimum 50 baht or 100 baht for an imported long neck. For a wild night out (the type that ends at sunrise) expect to pay around 1,500 baht
e) Books, computers
Books are expensive here, but there is a good English library that lets you borrow, so 500 baht a year. Computers are also cheap if you know where to go, figure 15,000 baht for something really decent.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
Very high. As we own our own apartment, we have no rent to pay, which frees up plenty of pocket money for vacations etc. My husband is a musician so makes minimal wages, probably around 20,000 bah a month, which covers all the basic expenses. My salary is used for other purchases. We live in a great condo, travel a lot, have a car, do at least 3 trips abroad a year (Thailand, Vietnam, back home) and have cash to burn at the end of the month,
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Fruit and veg, undoubtedly. Transport is also cheap. Rents (in comparison to many other large Asian cities) are also low.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
Wow, honestly, how low can you go? If you share flat, have a e-bike, and eat local, maybe 20,000 baht, and you'd still have money to go out and enjoy yourself 2-3 times a week.
Phil's analysis and comment
It sounds like an interesting place with plenty of opportunity to earn decent money - and save a good chunk of it. Anna also said that there is a great expat community in Khunming as well.
Life is certainly much easier when you own your own place and don't need to fork out for rent each month.