Alec

Working in A small Thai town

Monthly Earnings 32,500 baht

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

I work in a government secondary school and earn 32,500 thb/month. I have been approached about giving private lessons at the rate of 500 thb/hour here, but the money isn’t worth the sacrificed time to me

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

It all really depends on the month and how much effort I put into saving. A good month for me is saving about 12k whereas a bad month means I’ll only save about 5k or so. For the sake of full disclosure, I also do a bit of freelance work (website design) which nets me an extra 5-10k/month, which goes a long way in helping with my savings.

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

I live in basic studio apartment. However it’s pretty large, and has a cooking/washing area on the balcony; I also have an incredible view of sunrise over the mountains every morning. I pay 3,500/month

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

Transportation

I have a new Honda Shadow 400 that I am paying 2,800 per month for. I’m also very centrally located so I can walk to 7-11, food places, etc. On the rare occasion I take a tuk-tuk (usually when I go out drinking) I pay 50 baht per trip.

Utility bills

I pay 200/month for water and my electricity bill is anywhere from 1,600-2,500 per month (I love my A/C and X-Box). My phone bill is about 750/month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I rarely cook at home. I do eat breakfast at home every day (muesli, milk, banana, peanut butter) and keep snacks, beer, etc in my fridge. I probably spend about 2,500 a month on groceries (3,500 if I happen to be buying alcohol that month). I usually spend about 140/day on coffee, lunch, snacks, and dinner.

Nightlife and drinking

I’m not too big on partying, so I don’t go out often. On the occasions that I do, me and my friends usually do it Thai-style and get bottles of whiskey. There is usually 5-7 of us splitting the cost, so I rarely spend more than 250 on a night out. I prefer a beer or bourbon at home, which as I mentioned early runs me about ~1000/month. A case of Beer Lao will last me about a month and costs 1000 at the Makro, a bottle of Kentucky bourbon (also lasts me a good couple weeks) costs about 800.

Books, computers

I brought a lot of books with me when I came, so I’m still working on reading through those. WiFi is included in my rent. My biggest “tech” expense is probably video games. I’ll occasionally buy a new X-Box or 3DS game which costs anywhere from 300-2000 baht.

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

Very comfortable. I rarely “try” to save and I am still able to put some savings back every month. If I want to take off for a weekend or something I can without worry. Living in a small town really limits the things you can spend money on which took some adapting too, but I really enjoy living here. If I were in Bangkok or another large city I’d probably spend far more on eating Western food (all we have here is KFC and Pizza Co) and other entertainment options.

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

Everything honestly. The eating out is cheap, goods are cheap (i.e. water, medicine, milk, etc) there is a gym in town that doesn’t charge for use (as opposed to my 40 USD/month gym membership at home), and a night out is far cheaper than back home. Things like tailors, dentists, doctor visits and other services are far cheaper here than at home as well.

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

In my town you can do quite fine on 32,500 and I have friends that also do quite well on 30,000. In a place like Bangkok I’d probably want to make at least 45,000 a month because I know I’d have a much harder time saving money.

Phil's analysis and comment

This is the story of the young, single guy living the Life of Riley in small town Thailand. He's got a brand new motorbike. He parties with friends whenever the fancy takes him, unless he's drinking at home while playing games on his Xbox. The air-con's blasting out. He can't be bothered to cook at home because he doesn't need to. He doesn't take on private students because he values his free time too much.

Hey! This was me twenty years ago before married life and responsibility came a-knocking.  Alec I hate you! (only joking of course, Alec is a good pal of mine on Twitter and he knows I'm only pulling his leg) Seriously though, if it ain't broken, don't fix it. I hope you can't keep up this lifestyle for too long though Alec because it wouldn't be fair on the rest of us.

On a side-note, what surprises and encourages me about these cost of living surveys is that MANY English teachers are clearly living WELL. The cynics who often look down on the humble English teacher and brand teaching as 'slave labour' and 'poverty line' earnings etc might well have half a point, but when you delve deeper into some teacher's earnings - as we do in this cost of living section - no one is going hungry. Far from it. In fact, one of the themes that runs through these surveys is the fact that many teachers have far better lifestyles and enjoy far more disposable income than they perhaps would back in their homeland.


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