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.

Submit your own Cost of Living survey

Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 25th January 2022

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿45 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Max

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 47,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

47,000 is my total salary, excluding a small amount for a pension fund.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 10,000.

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

I pay 10,000 baht a month for a two-bedroom house with a garden.

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

Transportation

500 baht on gas each month for my motorcycle.

Utility bills

750 baht for water, electricity and internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out every day so with a bit of supermarket shopping, this bill comes to about 10K.

Nightlife and drinking

I have a few beers at the weekend but it doesn't amount to more than a thousand a month.

Books, computers

Maybe 100 baht a month on a game for my playstation.

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

Perfect. I do much better than I did in Europe. I earned more money in Europe, but I seem to have more spare cash here.

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

Going out to eat. 40 Baht for really good dishes is amazing value.

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

As a foreigner in Chiang Mai, you need around 25,000 to survive and 35,000 to live fairly well.

Phil's analysis and comment

Chiang Mai is always a difficult place to analyze in terms of cost of living because I always feel that it has all the Western temptations and trappings of Bangkok but teacher salaries are generally not as high as they are in the capital. That said, Max's salary of 47K is very decent for Thailand's 'second city' and it's clearly enough to live relatively well on. 


Jim

Working in Phattalung

Monthly Earnings 25K

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

25,000 is my take-home pay from a full-time job teaching English in a government school.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Zero.

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

I live in a large 3-bedroom terraced town house which costs 8,000 a month.

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

Transportation

Gas for my scooter is 1,000 baht a month and another 2,000 goes on the loan repayments for it, so transportation comes to 3,000.

Utility bills

I pay 1,000 for electricity, 100 baht for water and 600 baht for the internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I never cook at home and eat mostly from food-stalls. I would call this around 8,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

The final 4,000 baht a month goes on booze and smokes.

Books, computers

Zero

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

It's very much a hand-to-mouth existence. I have no extra money for savings, retirement, local trips or a flight home.

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

Street food.

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

I'd say 40,000. However, I'd recommend staying in your home nation because you'd be better off pushing trolleys around a Walmart parking lot.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Jim, a brutally honest survey there at what you might call the low-end of English teaching in Thailand. I think the figures throw up just one main question - how much longer can you keep doing it? There will be many teachers who say that 25K is more than enough to live on out in the sticks but like you, they won't be saving much or putting away money for their future years. I agree with you that 40K is a far more realistic figure to be aiming for. 


Pat

Working in Hong Kong

Monthly Earnings 336,000 baht

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I work at a top international school in Hong Kong. This is my full monthly take-home pay, including housing. My (Thai) wife works as a TA and makes another 65K baht.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I send about 125K baht home every month for a rainy day. I also put about 10K in a retirement fund back home every month. Besides that, I save another 5K for incidentals. Not bad for a 28-year-old!

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

My wife and I rent a lovely large apartment with 2 bedrooms for 60K (it's very large by Hong Kong standards)

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

Transportation

Very little. We both walk to work together since it is less than 200 metres.
When we go further, we use public transportation, which is actually much cheaper and far more efficient than when I lived in Bangkok.

Utility bills

So cheap it is a steal. About 300 baht a month for water and maybe about 2,000 a month on electricity and another 2,000 for internet and phones

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We eat out twice a week, resulting in 3,000 baht a month. Monday to Friday, we eat very healthily and simply, and that costs us about 1,000 baht a week. So food is less than 10,000 a month

Nightlife and drinking

I'm a married man with a very busy job so I am waiting to travel to Thailand to occasionally take part in some debauchery there. Here I spend zero!
I'd say perhaps 1,000 bath a month on the occasional drink

Books, computers

All provided by my employer, so zero!

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

Absolutely fantastic. I am living in a marvelous country. I am saving more than most people make in a year and I still live well without going without.

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

Public transport!
Noodles!
The fantastic assortment of cold teas

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

At least the equaivalent of 100,000 baht a month.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you pat. Even though Hong Kong must be an expensive place to live (certainly for accommodation) I'm sure that 336,000 must cover things very nicely.   


Ricky

Working in Pathum Thani, near Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I earn 30,000 baht a month as the only foreign teacher at a small Thai school and I do about four hours a week at a private language school in the evenings for 300 baht an hour.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Very little. If I'm left with 5,000 baht then I would consider that a decent month. I seriously don't think I've ever had more than 50,000 baht in my savings account at any one time and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a worry.

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

I pay 5,000 baht a month for a studio apartment in a fairly newish building that has gone rapidly downhill in the past 12 months. I'm probably the only foreigner here amid all the Thais living two and three to a room. In the early days, I used to try and befriend as many neighbours as possible because I just thought it would be a good idea to have Thai friends (practice the language, etc) Wrong! It wasn't long before I was constantly getting tapped up for short-term loans which were rarely paid back. And if it's just a few hundred baht, you often feel embarrassed asking for it and have to chalk it up as yet another loss. Now I just drift in and out of the building like a phantom, keeping my head down and limiting my social interactions to a nod if anyone says hello. Thai 'friends' from the lower rungs of the economic ladder can be bloody hard work.

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

Transportation

I take the bus to and from work. The bus stop is virtually right outside the apartment building and it's a five-minute ride to school. So this is just a couple of hundred baht a month.

Utility bills

Water is about a hundred baht and electricity comes to another thousand. I try to avoid using the air-con whenever possible to keep the costs down.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I find it very difficult to keep the food and supermarket costs down but you've got to eat, you'll always need cleaning stuff for your apartment and toiletries like shaving gel, razors and deodorant I find very expensive here. I can rack up 10,000 a month on this category easily and that's without even venturing into the likes of KFC, Starbucks, etc. On 35K a month you just can't afford those Western fast food prices. Thai food is simply much better value.

Nightlife and drinking

I haven't been out for a beer for the best part of two years (since Covid hit) and I guess I've got out of the habit now. I'll sometimes buy a couple of cans from 7-11 while I'm enjoying my usual evening in with Netflix but that's as far as my drinking goes nowadays.

Books, computers

I download reading material for free and my trusty 5-year-old Lenovo laptop is still going strong.

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

I live from month-to-month, there's certainly no hiding that fact. I'm a lot better off than many other people though. I can feel the desperation around me as many of the residents in my building have lost jobs, struggled to get benefits from the government, etc. At least I'm still working and can pay my bills.

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

Oh, Thai food without a doubt. You can pick up a decent meal on my neighborhood streets for 40 baht and carry it home in the little plastic bag. A couple of minutes in the microwave and that's your evening meal sorted.

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

More than what I'm earning. Another 10-15,000 baht would be nice. I'm sure you can live on far less out in the rural towns and cities but you need 40-50K in Bangkok as an absolute minimum I would say. I've been working in Bangkok for five years now and I'm seriously wondering if it's time to move away to somewhere in the north-east perhaps, where the money is bound to go further.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Ricky for a rather sobering cost of living survey. That's a very interesting point you bring up about getting 'tapped up for loans' and I'm surprised in a way that it's never been raised before. We all know how many lower income Thais use loan sharks so who could resist a nice interest-free loan from the friendly foreigner who lives down the hall? You don't want to be that man.

Please send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the most popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.   


Peter

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 245K

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

180k salary plus 65k housing allowance with free schooling for our two young sons. My wife is a stay-at-home Mum.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I put 100K into mutual funds back in the USA.

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

65K per month. We use the full allowance for a place near Terminal 21 with panoramic city views from the balcony. This rental fee includes a full-time maid/nanny to help the wife look after the boys.

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

Transportation

The school provides a transport service for staff and students and it costs 2,000 baht/month. For everything else we use taxis so let's say around 5,000/month.

Utility bills

Those are included in the 65k rent.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

The maid does the supermarket shopping and cooking, which comes to about 20K/month. We're suckers for fine dining and there's plenty of that in Bangkok. We spend another 20K/month there - guilty as charged.

Nightlife and drinking

My wife and I still like to party despite our advancing years. Before the plague we could easily blow 5,000 baht on a night out. Let's say 15K/month for this category.

Books, computers

We brought four laptops with us from the US - $600 each - so nothing coming out of the salary there.

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

Brilliant. The rest of the monthly budget goes on activities for the boys and regular weekend trips to the islands. It's impossible to maintain this standard of living in the US while investing $3,000 each month.

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

Taxis are incredible value. You can cross the entire city for around 300B. Trendy rooftop restaurants in New York cater only to the elite, however, the common man can access them in Bangkok. And weekend getaways in paradise locations are within range of most budgets.

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

Poverty? 30k
Survive? 50k
Middle class lifestyle? 100k
Upper middle class? 200k

Phil's analysis and comment

You must feel like a millionaire Peter living in Bangkok on that sort of salary. I'm guessing you must work at one of the top international schools and although I'm sure you work hard for the money, qualified teachers are certainly well rewarded.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 375 total

Page 1 of 75


Featured Jobs

Secondary School Math Teacher

฿60,000+ / month

Phuket


Homeroom Teacher for Primary (September 2022)

฿50,000+ / month

Phuket


Business and Creative Writers / Editors

฿55,000+ / month

Bangkok


Teacher of English as an Additional Language

฿80,000+ / month

Bangkok


Qualified Key Stage 1 Teacher for May Start

฿60,000+ / month

Samut Sakhon


Upper Primary (Years 4 and 5) Science Teacher

฿60,000+ / month

Samut Sakhon


Featured Teachers

  • Cecil


    French, 39 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Dr.pradeep.s.


    Indian, 37 years old. Currently living in India

  • Aubrey


    Filipino, 25 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Winnie


    Filipino, 24 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Jose


    Filipino, 25 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Sebastian


    Polish, 36 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.