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 conversion rates as of January 24th, 2018

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0.62 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Cliff

Working in Pak Chong

Monthly Earnings 70,000

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

I work at a government school in Pak Chong. I make 33,000 baht a month working at the school and another 35-40,000 baht a month teaching private lessons.

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

I can save the vast majority of it. I'd say 50,000 easy, maybe 60,000 if I really skimped. But, everything's so cheap out here that it's honestly difficult to spend money. I know plenty of teachers who live very well on 30,000 a month here.

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

I pay 3,500 baht/month for a very nice studio apartment near my school. Even with utilities my bill is rarely over 4,000 baht since Pak Chong is in the mountains & naturally quite a bit cooler than most of Thailand. I rarely have to use the AC.

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

a) Transportation

I bought a secondhand bike when I got here & that set me back 11,000 baht. I probably spend another few hundred a month on gas.

b) Utility bills

My utility bill is rarely over 400 baht.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

The canteen at my school has excellent dishes for 20 baht and the local restaurants rarely charge more than 40 baht. A huge dish of pad gra prao & a large Chang will set you back 85 baht. I haven't eaten Western food since I've been here, but I'd imagine it would be at least double the local prices

d) Nightlife and drinking

Honestly, since I teach from 8 to 4 at a government school and then 5 to 8 with private students, I haven't exactly checked out a lot of the nightlife here. There's a huge night market in the middle of town and some other teachers have said there are a lot of hidden gems around

e) Books, computers

1,000 baht - I have Amazon Prime, which gives me access to tons of free books and discounts on e-books.

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

My standard of living is much higher than it was in America and I don't have to constantly worry about how I'll pay the rent here. (answer continued below)

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

Compared to America, pretty much everything. (answer continued below)

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

You could get by on 20,000 a month here & still live pretty well. I'm talking Western-level apartment with super-fast wifi & all the bells and whistles. Most schools in the area pay around 35,000/month & that's way more than enough to live on and put some in savings for later. If you can pick up extra work you'll be putting most of your paycheck right into the bank every month.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a lot Cliff. 

Cliff also had the following to say about his standard of living - "Back in America I was working 60+ hour weeks just to afford my apartment, car, & insurance. Here, I have free BUPA health insurance, which is actually pretty nice. My bills are almost non-existent, and if I want to pick up extra work it's always available. I'm saving plenty of money, thoroughly enjoying the lifestyle I'm living, and chipping away at a Masters degree that I never could have afforded in the U.S. without taking on crippling debt"

On the topic of Thailand bargains, Cliff says - "Even the cheapest apartments in the most dangerous neighborhoods in my home town will cost you $500/month plus utilities, which are also incredibly expensive. Here my entire cost of living is less than half that. Food is ultra-cheap and if I want to pop down to Bangkok for a weekend I can just hop in a van & be there in two hours. Also, since I'm already in asia, travel during breaks is super cheap. Especially if I stay in the land o' smiles"

Cliff sounds like a man who won't be heading back to America any time soon LOL. He's clearly doing very nicely indeed. 

For those who aren't familiar with it, Pak Chong is a lovely area of 'Central Thailand', mid-way between Bangkok and Khorat. My wife and I go quite often because it's possibly the nicest day trip you can do from the capital and a fairly easy two-hour drive. You've got lush green countryside and plenty of 'tourist attractions' such as sheep farms, Italian-style shopping arcades and quirky independent coffee shops and restaurants. It's an area that really draws in the Thai daytrippers and overnight campers whenever there's a public holiday or long weekend to be had. I'm sure it's a wonderful place for a teacher to live and work.

One word of warning though Cliff. Don't be led astray by those colleagues who promise you 'hidden gems after dark'. Keep to the path; don't stray on to the moors. You just keep your head down and keep squirreling away that 50K a month in the bank.    


Bill

Working in Petchaburi

Monthly Earnings 50,000+

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

I have a target of 50,000 baht per month and I would say I reach that target most months with a combination of private language school work, corporate teaching and on-line teaching.

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

I don't really save any of that. I have a nest egg that I built up from working in the UK and I have a decent pension on top. Teaching is something just to keep me busy and I figured that if I can make enough to cover my living costs here, then it's all good.

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

I have a very nice townhouse with a decent-sized garden that I rent for 12,000 baht a month. It's probably way more than you need to pay to rent a house in this part of Thailand but it's a very comfortable house. There is plenty of room here for when I get family or friends visit me from England.

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

a) Transportation

I have a pick-up truck and a small scooter and probably spend about 3,000 a month on gas. There are also repairs of course that you have to take into account but they are difficult to quantify on a monthly basis. I use the pick-up to travel to a handful of corporate jobs and I use the scooter for zipping around locally to places like the market and local grocery store, etc. You need to have your own transportation where I am because it's pretty remote.

b) Utility bills

I very rarely need to turn on the air-conditioning because the environment is so green and fresh. My monthly utility bills rarely come to more than a couple of thousand baht.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

From Monday to Friday, I exist totally on Thai food and packed lunches (usually sandwiches and a salad) but at the weekend, the wife and I will drive down to Cha'am or Hua Hin and sometimes do an overnight stay. I will generally eat Western food three or four times over the course of a couple of days. So Monday to Friday I can eat on 100 baht a day but at the weekend, that will go up to several thousand. Let's say 12-15,000 baht for food.

d) Nightlife and drinking

As I said, we usually spend the weekend in Hua Hin or Cha'am but I don't really do the nightlife thing. I'm tucked up in bed with a good book well before 11 pm. The money I spend in these places goes on food rather than beer.

e) Books, computers

I'm a big book-reader and I probably download four books a month from Amazon onto my Kindle. Probably around 1,000 baht a month depending on if they are new titles or not.

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

It's a strange situation because I'm in my late fifties and seriously I don't need to work. I could stop all the teaching tomorrow and still live well. I started teaching purely as 'something to do' so I offered to do a few hours at a local language school. Students liked me so I got more hours. Then a couple of local companies asked me to come and teach their staff in the evenings. I've ended up probably way busier than I ever wanted to be but it's nice to have teaching cover your basic living costs.

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

Compared to the UK, just about everything. I went back for a holiday recently for the first time in five years and I honestly don't know how people survive. I was astounded by how expensive life in Europe has become.

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

Out here in the sticks, I could survive easily on 30,000. Even less if I downgraded my living accommodation. My weekends down by the beach probably double my overheads - but I couldn't do without them.

Phil's analysis and comment

Wow! Nice one Bill. You often hear foreigners of a certain age say 'make your money elsewhere and THEN come to live and enjoy Thailand. And that's exactly what you've done. 

I think this is the classic example of a farang who moves to a remote part of Thailand (but not too remote) and becomes the go-to English teacher. I imagine Bill to be a friendly, chatty sort of guy who everyone likes and once word got out that he did a bit of English teaching, everyone wanted a slice of the action. "Will you teach my two small children?", "can you come and teach my staff after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays?" - and before long word of mouth becomes the best marketing tool and things start to snowball. The only thing to keep in mind is that your time is money and you don't end up working for shit and grins.

But the very fact that Bill could stop any time he wanted and still live well is an enviable position to be in. It certainly takes the pressure off.

And although Bill lives in a quiet and rurual area, he's got the busy seaside resorts of Cha'am and Hua Hin just down the road. It's like having the best of both worlds! This is a guy who's really hit it right.  


James

Working in Naples, Italy

Monthly Earnings 47,500

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

I work at a private language school and my salary is 1200 Euros (about 47,500 baht)

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

400 Euros (around 15,000 baht)

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

My apartment is provided by my school including bills (granted we don't go crazy with utilities which we never do) so I don't pay anything for accommodation. But this is very rare for Italy. Teachers typically share apartments as private ones are usually a minimum of 500 Euros per month plus bills, which are expensive too

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

a) Transportation

Transport is quite expensive but cheaper than the UK. A monthly ticket in Naples is 42 euro per person (1600 Baht) which gives you unlimited access to the city's bus and train links including that to Pompeii and Sorrento. A boat ticket to Sorrento is around 12 euros. We tend to travel a lot in the area on days off and not spend that much.

b) Utility bills

I pay nothing for utility bills as they are provided by my school. But I am very lucky because most teachers tend to pay a lot for utilities which are very expensive in Italy.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is a real bargain here, a nice neapolitan pizza is just 4 Euros and if you eat fresh fruit, veg and pasta, it's very cheap. International food is more expensive, McDonalds or Burger King (which I never eat because, hey, it's Italy) will set you back around 15 euros (nearly 600 baht). Two good pizzas in a restaurant with wine and cover charge will be about 20 Euros (800 TB).

d) Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife isn't a priority as I'm married and it doesn't compare to the nightlife found in Thailand anyway. Beer or a glass of local wine are about 3 Euros in a pub although considerably more in nightclubs. I tend to save more by not going to bars often.

e) Books, computers

My school has a large collection of English books I like to read so I don't buy books. Electronics cost fairly similar to other parts of the world.

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

I enjoy my standard of living here. We have good food, good wine, sunshine and limoncello. Although I'm luckier than a lot of teachers in Italy who barely break even every month.

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

Fresh fruit and veg, pizza and wine

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

In a shared apartment, I wouldn't want to earn less than 1200 Euros per month. You'd need to earn considerably more for your own place as they're expensive (hence why so many Italian adults live with their parents!)

Phil's analysis and comment

Although the cost of living section is predominantly aimed at teachers in Thailand, it's always nice to know what teachers earn in other parts of the world. Thanks James, I think you are our first teacher working in Italy.

When I first saw your salary figure of 47,500 baht, my initial reaction was 'surely that can't be enough' but obviously having your apartment (and bills!) paid for by the school is a huge game changer. I bet it's an amazing city to live and work in.


As always, we would love to have your contribution to the cost of living section. But PLEASE don't send us just a list of figures. The figures need to be padded out with a few details. It's those back stories that really get the readers' interest. If you would rather, you can always e-mail me the answers to the survey.


Anna

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?

a) Transportation

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.


Yash

Working in Sukhothai

Monthly Earnings 29,000

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

I work at a private school in Sukhothai and my salary is 27,000 baht per month. I make an extra 2,000 a month from private students.

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

Around 8,000 baht.

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

I live in a studio apartment (with double bed, fridge, TV, closet, wifi and a table and chair) With utilities my monthly rental is in the range of 2,900 to 3,200 baht per month.

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

a) Transportation

I have rented a motorbike which I share with another teacher so it costs me 750 baht a month and around 250 on gas and repairs if any. So a 1,000 baht on transportation. Although one can take tuk-tuks and songthaews, its more convenient to have a bike.

b) Utility bills

Utilities are included in the rent.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is quite cheap if you stay local but I have been here for two years and now I can't do Thai food for every meal. So I fancy a pizza or a burger or cook Indian food every now and then so I end up spending around 7,000 baht per month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Sukhothai has some really cool bars with cocktails & shots as cheap as 80 baht!! then there's a beer bar with international beers ranging from 160 to 500 baht. I'd say I spend about 500 baht on nightlife

e) Books, computers

Not much. Maybe about 300 baht.

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

I started working on 23,000 baht per month and now am making 27,000 baht. I'd say I live pretty comfortably, no real hardships unless I spend extensively on travelling and leisure. Sukhothai is a countryside town but I guess I spend a lot on food and when I travel to Chiang Mai. To be fair anything in the range of 28 to 30,000 baht is a decent amount of money to live comfortably in Sukhothai. Of course if you are not a nightlife person and can live on Thai food everyday, even better for you.

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

Everything except Western food. You can get good Thai food for 50 baht or less per meal.

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

At least 20,000 baht per month to literally survive and 25,000 baht for a decent living. Anything under that and you will probably be counting your change during the last week of every month.

Phil's analysis and comment

I've just come back from a few days in Nan Province, right up in the north of Thailand and I was pleasantly surprised by how cheap things were. I can certainly see how one could live relatively well on the sort of money Yash is earning if you live in very quiet Thai towns and cities. How much are you putting away for a rainy day though? That would be my main concern. But 8,000 a month is certainly a start.

When we talk about living cheaply outside Bangkok, I think you have to keep in mind that there are the quiet Thai towns and then there are the likes of Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket etc. They are very different in terms of how much money you will need to survive.

Page 3 of 47 (showing 5 entries out of 234 total)

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