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.

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Cha

Working in Trang

Monthly Earnings 30,000

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

I work in a government school English program in Trang and my basic salary is 30,000 baht. I don't do any extra teaching on top of that.

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

I have saved 23,000 baht in the two months I've been here. My target is to save at least 12,000 a month.

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

I pay 5,000 a month for a studio-type apartment.

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

a) Transportation

I generally walk everywhere or hitch a ride with a colleague so almost nothing.

b) Utility bills

I'm cutting down on using the a/c so 1,460 baht last month should go down to about 1,000 this month.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Now that one of my colleagues has moved to work in Bangkok, I'm back to eating healthier, which means less eating out. My food bill plus household stuff for the first two months came in at just over 10,000 baht.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife for me is mostly about eating out with friends so about 1,000 baht a month.this

e) Books, computers

Virtually nothing.

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

t's comfortable since I live in a good place where you don't need all that much money. I need to cut down on eating out, which I'm doing starting this month.

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

Food and rent. I can live in a cheaper place but this one is near the stadium and walking distance to the school. Also, I don't cook so I eat outside or do my groceries and eat salad at night. I'm pescetarian so you can eat seafood here and it's not expensive.

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

30,000 is comfy for a single person. You can find a cheaper rent but this is a sort of serviced apartment. They have facilities and they understand English. Every problem I've had has been solved- where to get my ball pumped, electric fan blade replacement, laundry with iron, doctor, etc.

Phil's analysis and comment

A fairly no-nonsense, no-frills survey but probably what you would expect from a 30,000 baht a month salary. It allows for an OK living outside of Bangkok provided that you don't spend much on accommodation and nightlife, etc. And Cha stays well within his budget on all the basics.


Allan

Working in Saudi Arabia

Monthly Earnings 223,000 baht

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

I teach in a vocational college in Saudi Arabia and I earn 6,700 US dollars, which is roughly 223,000 baht per month. I work one job, full-time which is more than enough. I've always believed a person should just find one job that pays well and enjoy their spare time free from the burden of work.

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

I save all of it due to living, housing and transport allowances that are more than enough. I do travel a lot though as I've exhausted what little tourism Saudi has to offer (it does exist if you enjoy archeology, desert camping, snorkeling or hiking). Worst case scenario, I would save 5,700 US dollars a month.

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

Nothing, the company pays an allowance and I pocket the difference, which last school year was an extra $320 a month. I'm looking at the same again this year, which gets me a 90 square meter, one-bedroom serviced apartment.

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

a) Transportation

Nothing as the company provides cars, drivers and minivans whenever needed

b) Utility bills

Nothing, it's included in my rent, as is hi-speed internet.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My only real expense but again I receive an allowance that I rarely spend all of

d) Nightlife and drinking

Nights out in Saudi are cheap if you can live without booze or drugs, which I do. An evening of pool once a week is about $10. Weekend coffee with a friend is about the same. But again, I receive a living allowance which more than covers these things.

e) Books, computers

I bought a MacBookPro a few years ago and it's still a fantastic laptop; I buy books about once a year when home in San Francisco in the summer, which I budget at $200. My wife and I split a Netflix account with two other friends, so that's about $3 a month. I did buy a PS4 this summer and imagine I'll be spending a few hundred dollars a year on games just for the hell of it.

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

My standard of living is on par with, and in some ways exceeds, the standard I had when I lived in the US. Being married, nothing can beat the feeling of knowing that I can provide for my wife and family today and in the future. Instead of worrying about money like so many teachers in Asia seem to do, we plan our finances and look forward to retiring in our early 50s.

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

Cars and gas are extremely cheap, as one would expect. Surprisingly, so is good quality food from around the region and the world. A trip to the grocery store is an absolute delight for a fruit and veg lover. Honestly, everything is as cheap here as anywhere else, the key is find a quality employer that will provide proper living allowances.

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

No one is here to 'survive'; everyone is here to make money. While I've seen jobs here going for as low as $3000 US, I wouldn't recommend working for less than $5000. An expat teacher, particularly an ESL teacher, needs to think like a mercenary = maximize your earnings with specialized, in-demand skills.

Phil's analysis and comment

"The key is to find a quality employer that will provide proper living allowances" 

Well, it certainly sounds like you've managed to do that Allan. This survey proves the point that if you are willing to put up with the 'hardships' that come with living and working in The Middle East, you can make some very serious money. 


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. That's what really gets the readers' interest. If you would rather, you can always e-mail me the answers to the survey.


Jesse

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 56,000 baht

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

I earn about 56,000 baht working evenings and weekends.

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

I can and have saved an average of 36,000 baht per month for the past two years

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

I pay 6,400 baht a month for a large bachelorette apartment.

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

a) Transportation

My transportation costs might be a little higher than most since I teach at more than one branch of a well known language school. I'm known of as a nomadic teacher (my title). My commute time is longer too but the trade off is fewer classes, zero involvement in office politics at any particular center, loads more friends and a small transport stipend. Plus I've really learned the bus system well I avoid using taxis which would eat through my stipend all too quickly - unless I'm late!

b) Utility bills

Rent and utilities including internet and phone have always come in at under 7,000. I don't use air-con at home except maybe twice a year on the hottest days.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

6,000 baht. I'm a vegetarian but not a health nut or anything like that. I just don't like to eat meat. I usually go up to Makkro (a Costco like store) once a month and stock up for around 2,000 and buy fruit on sale at Big C. I'll also often eat a meal at a food court when I am out and exploring before my shift. Plus I do frequent 7-11 for the occasional goodies.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Nada. I am not a drinker and since my shifts end at 9.00 pm most nights, I just wanna go home after work.

e) Books, computers

I did buy a Lenovo 700 Idea pad last year and amortized over my two year stretch in Thailand I guess that would be about 1,000 baht a month. As for books I am making a list for when I can go to a library in my home country again.

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

Very comfortable. I don't even feel that I scrimp to save what I do but I recognize that outside of Thailand costs are much higher and so I'm moving on after my two years are completed and heading to Saudi Arabia (this September). I always considered Thailand a place to get my feet wet in the ESL world but as a single female it never crossed my mind to stay here permanently. There is just not enough incentive to do so.

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

Food at most food courts - I'm a big fan of the 'jey' (vegetarian) places. Also I have developed a bit of a reputation for going to Mr. DIY. I love that place because it's got everything or almost and is relatively inexpensive. Also clothes are inexpensive but sometimes it is worth it to pay a little more for good quality stuff, though even that tends to be on sale.

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

See lengthy answer below

Phil's analysis and comment

Okay this is the big question and honestly I'd say at 56k baht a month, I'm have a lower-mid range salary. I don't know why anyone would go for less unless they are choosing to volunteer.

However, I think what should really be the concern is how much money does anyone need to save here in order to survive. Then you have a much more interesting question because I know of teachers who are earning 80k and up but who don't save a single baht. That is not a sustainable existance, especially when considering that working here is not likely to contribute to any kind of retirement pension. And I know that most teachers here are far from their retirement years but the earlier one can cultivate the saving habit, the better off they will be financially.

To go home after 3 or 5 or 7 years with nothing (no savings), that to me would be an epic fail. My plan next is to go to Saudi Arabia and essentially live off the cash I've saved here in Thailand for the next four years. That way I can save every riyal of my Saudi paycheques and who knows, in five or six years of doing that... I might be able to take a very early retirement.

Interesting survey that Jesse. When I started reading it, I thought Bloody Hell! the poor girl survives on 20,000 baht a month in Bangkok. But to be fair, it doesn't sound like you go without anything. 

I love your future plan. I'm sure four years in the dunes won't be a cakewalk, but it will all seem worthwhile when you're heading home with a great big sack of Saudi wonga.


James

Working in Udon Thani

Monthly Earnings 86,000 baht

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

I work at an international school and my take-home pay after tax is 86,000

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

40,000

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

I pay 7,000 baht for a one-bedroom condo with a swimming pool and gym.

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

a) Transportation

I have my own motorbike so about 400 baht per month for petrol.

b) Utility bills

I pay about 1,000 baht per month in electric bills + internet. My room is pretty cool and I am able to use the fan more than the air-conditioning.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend around 4,000-6,000 baht per month on eating out. I eat out once or twice per day and on the weekends, I will have a nice Western breakfast. Udon is pretty cheap when it comes to Western food and I love Thai food as well.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Around 2,500 baht a month - that is one or two really fun nights out with drinking and buying drinks for others. Beer is usually pretty cheap, 50 baht a small beer at most bars around the city so its easy to have a big night out and keep within your budget.

e) Books, computers

Question not answered

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

Udon Thani is a great place to live. There are some really good Western restaurants, cheap, great Thai food, nice housing, and the Thai people are very kind and gentle. It is also very convenient for a visa run to Vientiane as its only a 50 baht van ride from Central Shopping center. Overall I really enjoy Udon and have been able to save every month but not feel as if I am missing much from a big city like Bangkok or even Chiang Mai.

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

Thai food, Western food and alcohol.

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

35,000 baht a month. You can rent a room for 2,500 month and still have 1,000 baht a day for incidentals.

Phil's analysis and comment

Life must be good in Udon Thani if you're pulling in 86,000 a month and 35,000 would give you a comfortable standard of living. And of course you have the advantage of being able to nip into Laos whenever takes your fancy.  


Craig

Working in Taipei, Taiwan

Monthly Earnings 55,000

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

I'm semi-retired and only teach about 50 to 60 hours per month. I work for a management training company and travel to client sites training managers and execs 1:1. I make on average 55,440.92 baht a month. Most trainers work 80 hours. English teachers at an EFL school tend to start in Taiwan at 66,987. Business English is only a small part of what I do

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

None because I'm semi-retired. In Taipei an English teacher can usually save at least 15,000 baht per month I'm told. That of course means living in a shared apartment, a small apartment or one in a bad location. Ones outside of Taipei, tell me that they save half or more of their salary so over 35,000 baht after taxes

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

The cost of real estate is very high here. To get a quiet, non-cramped, partially furnished apartment with a view other than 5 feet to the next building, I pay over 31,000 baht a month. That doesn't include utilities except garbage. Salaries have gone down here since the early 90's but real estate has gone up 3 to 6 times. Rents went up 25% 2015 to 2016

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

a) Transportation

2,626 baht (that is only personal use)

b) Utility bills

Utilities are cheap. I run the AC a lot and all utilities come to 3,851 for electricity, water and high speed internet.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

15,000 baht. I love a lot of the street food in Thailand and can be satisfied with a 40 baht meal. I don't like most street food in Taiwan so eat mainly non-Taiwanese food when I eat out: Japanese, Indian, US, Mexican. I cook at home half the time. If you love noodles in broth you can eat very cheaply here. Most Taiwanese eat out 3 times a day

d) Nightlife and drinking

Very little. I mainly go on group hikes and meet for coffee. Taiwanese are not big drinkers, especially women.

e) Books, computers

I have a Kindle unlimited and read on average 9 or 10 books a month. I probably spend quite a bit on books. Bought a new MacBook last year for 51,000 baht but I hadn't bought one for 5 years

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

Comfortable. I spend a lot more here than I have in other countries because of the exorbitant rents and not being a fan of most of the local food. Most apartments that go for 21,000 baht would go for 7,000 or at the most 10,000 in Thailand.

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

Transportation, food (if you like the local cuisine) and medical facilities (one of the best countries on the planet and cheap)

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

The average net salary in Taiwan is supposedly 1,191,872 baht per year. I doubt that is true. I think someone can live well with bringing in 45,000 baht a month if they are reasonably frugal. They can survive on a lot less actually (maybe 31,000 baht??) If they are willing to live VERY frugally, they can survive on less than that. Get outside of Taipei and the cost of living plummets

Phil's analysis and comment

Nice to hear from another teacher in Taipei. The biggest nightmare and expense certainly sounds like accommodation. Perhaps we don't know how lucky we are in Thailand with what we can get in the 8.000 to 10,000 baht a month price range.

I was in Taipei for a week at the beginning of the year and it didn't really strike me as a nightlife place (not that I went out looking for it) so Craig's comments didn't surprise me there.

Page 4 of 47 (showing 5 entries out of 233 total)

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