Working in Bang Na

Monthly Earnings 80,000

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

I earn 65K after tax from my low-level international school. I also earn 15K passively from my side business. My wife earns 30K from the same school (no tax since we had the baby), but as she supports family members and has other expenses, I pay all the living costs of the three of us.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Before: 44K minus shock expenses, and believe you me, having a baby leads to a lot of them, just the home essentials plus hospital bills put me back two whole months.
Now: Maybe 10K or more. The nanny isn't coming and we don't go to restaurants. Getting deliveries just means another 200-300 in fees.

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

8,000 for a 2-room apartment (plus bathroom) with about 50m total. We live within walking distance of our mutual workplace, which makes things a lot easier but it's not so much fun to see it out the window or every time you go outside. Having more than one room is very important when you're living with someone, especially now.

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


At the moment, almost nothing. We're keeping indoors as much as possible.
Before, around 100-200 per month for petrol, and maybe a bit more for taxis. I have my own 125cc bike, which I bought about 5 years ago (32,000, second hand), and that covers most of our transport needs - shopping and park visits mostly.

Utility bills

3,500 baht for electricity and water, which is a bit much but having a baby means that even before the lock down we were running both air-con units most of the day. Wifi is included with rent. 9,000 baht a month for a daytime nanny and she'll be back when normalcy returns.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I budget for 15,000 baht a month for all consumables and all non-rent, non-utility bills, and then divide this into weeks. This means that I have 3,500 per week, plus 1,000 for the additional days (4 weeks is 28 days). This gives me the flexibility to stock up on long-lasting items which are on special offer. If I overspend, I simply know to withdraw less the next week.

In case you think this is very little for two adults, I was doing 3,000 per week for a year until the baby came.

We mostly cook at home. Besides the usual fridge we have hot plates, a small oven and a grill; allowing us to make virtually anything. We'll add a blender once the baby starts eating. It cost a bit to set this all up but it has paid for itself many times over. This is where my wife really saves us money because she's a great cook and we'll often cook up large portions that last us many days. A mild curry might cost us 200 baht, but that's ten man-sized portions. Since we're using fresh ingredients it comes out better than all but what the most expensive restaurants offer.

Because we're getting good Western food, we don't feel the urge to splurge. I probably should mention that before I met her, I spent more as a single guy, just from the increased costs of frequently eating quality food at restaurants.

Before, we would allow ourselves one trip to a cheap restaurant per week or one take away; just as a change of pace. On birthdays and anniversaries we'd do the 5-star hotel buffets, but that would fall under shock expenses.

Nightlife and drinking

Zero. Even before the baby came along, we weren't too much for that scene.

Books, computers

Zero. I bought a top of the line gaming computer about three years ago for 40K and I'm still spending the 10K I put on Steam then. A bit of a splurge it's true, I was celebrating finally having an international salary.

While I was studying, I had to have textbooks shipped from overseas. The sheer space requirement quickly added up, not to mention the weight if they had to be moved.
Physical books are not a good idea here.

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

Very well established. This is my 10th year in Thailand, and for more than half of them I was a TEFLer with the standard salary. Getting qualified took me a long time, since I had to start from scratch, but it was more than worth it for the quality of life and job opportunities. I wouldn't want to start a family on the income one gets without a teaching degree.

Unfortunately, since we're both foreigners, we have to make a move sometime. We can never be citizens and having a child means we need to keep an eye towards the future. The plan is to emigrate at the end of this year if hopefully, larger events don't impede this.

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

I had never worked full-time before I came to Thailand (yeah I was that young) so I'm not sure.
Quality Western sauces, spices and liquor though are overpriced. I make sure to stock up on those whenever I'm back home.

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

A little strategic capital can go a long way in saving you money. Cooking appliances are the most obvious, but having your own wheels (especially outside of Bangkok) can save you a lot. Even 100 baht a week quickly adds up. I'm always looking for ways to shave down our living costs without lessening our quality of life.

If you live in a small apartment, cook and store food, don't blast the air-con all day, and live fairly close to your workplace and off the BTS line; you could survive in Bangkok on 15K per month or less, or 20,000 for a couple. More spending means more comfort if you do it right. But you should always look to save a good portion of your salary - you never know when disaster might strike.

Phil's analysis and comment

"You should always look to save a good portion of your salary because you never know when disaster might strike".  That's a very timely piece of advice there Alan. Thank you for such a detailed salary. I think the main message within what you wrote is how starting a family can be a real game changer. It's a huge decision. However, it sounds like you keep a very close watch on the purse strings. Good luck with wherever you both decide to move on to in the future.   

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