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 23rd, 2018

32 Baht to one US Dollar
44 Baht to one Pound Sterling
39 Baht to one Euro
25 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.62 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Chris

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 41,000 baht

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

I teach at a private bilingual school on the outskirts of Bangkok. I earn 33,000 baht a month as a full-time salary and I earn another 8,000 baht a month at a private language school on Saturdays.

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

A maximum of 10,000 baht.

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

Accommodation is a tiny apartment close to the school. It costs about 3,500 baht a month.

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

a) Transportation

Transportation is roughly 1,000 baht a month as I can walk to school. It's my daily exercise. The transportation is purely for any buses and taxis that I take.

b) Utility bills

Chris did not answer this question so we'll assume it's covered in the 3,500 baht a month rent.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out every chance I get, so at least once a week. Western food is expensive here. Eating out and groceries probably come to 8,000 baht a month

d) Nightlife and drinking

I did the nightlife thing in my twenties. I'm now so over it.

e) Books, computers

I pay about 1,000 baht a month on data for when I'm not at home or at school. I buy at least one or two books a month but under 1,000 baht.

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

My standard of living is pretty decent but I don't need to stay in a luxury apartment. I do stay in the outskirts of Bangkok though so I don't end up buying or spending money on needless things on a daily basis and I don't eat out every day either. School provides a decent lunch for free during weekdays. They also pay for holidays once you've completed a full year's service, so that helps. I do work through half of my holidays at the school doing Summer School for new students.

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

Taxis (when they run the meter) and rent. Also electronic products are cheaper than South Africa (not sure compared to USA / UK), flights, street food.

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

At least 35,000 baht a month. I struggled a bit before I started the extra work at the language school, as you sometimes have unexpected expenses like doctor's visits, replacing your old laptop for a new one once it starts giving you problems, buying black shirts for everyday use during mourning periods, etc.

Phil's analysis and comment

I felt a tinge of sadness reading Chris's survey because it reminded me of me. A life where you are working all the hours Godsend so you can make ends meet. The dreaded six days a week! I've been there Chris. I did it for ten years or more. And what you end up doing is cramming all the shopping and those weekly chores into your one solitary day off and before you know it, you're back on the six-day treadmill.

I am yet to meet a Thai person or a farang who says that one day off a week gives them enough time to organize their life properly. It doesn't. 

My wife works for a Japanese company and it is written in their contract that they have to work 13 Saturdays a year. So on the Saturdays she has to work, she gets up, gets changed into her company uniform, let's out a deep and audible sigh and says "six days a week is bullshit!" - and I couldn't agree more. In fact, show me a petition calling for a four-day working week and I'll sign it. We'll probably all get just as much done as well.

Chris, what I did was start teaching privately in the evenings two or three nights a week. OK it made for some very long and tiring days but when you get to Friday night and you're looking forward to a whole weekend off, it becomes well worth it. 

As I've said before in these surveys, if you truly enjoy teaching and you're young and energetic, you can cope. But that six days a week is not for me. 


Danny

Working in Phuket

Monthly Earnings 55-60,000 baht

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

I work full-time as a year two teacher at an international school in Rawai, Phuket. My basic salary is 55,000 baht a month after tax and I can make an extra 3,000 to 6,000 baht every month from either coaching or giving extra lessons at school.

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

10,000 - 15,000 baht. Maybe even 20,000 if I splurge a little less in a given month.

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

I rent a two-bedroom house for 14,000 baht a month. This includes basic cable, water, and decent wi-fi.

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

a) Transportation

I rent a 125cc Honda Click scooter from a friend for 2,500 baht a month. Fuel doesn't cost me more than 300 baht though as I only ride around on average only about 10 kilometres a day

b) Utility bills

My electricity can cost me anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 baht depending on how much I use the air-con in the house (government rate)

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I do tend to splurge on food as I am a picky eater. I don't cook at home so I eat out or get takeaways every evening and on weekends. I eat lunch at school on most days. I mix it up between Thai and Western, depending on what I am in the mood for so I spend about 8,000 to 10,000 baht a month. I am sure it would be less if I cut out my daily mochas and Magnum ice creams!

d) Nightlife and drinking

I definitely don't go out as much as I used to and Rawai doesn't have a pumping nightlife scene anyway. I'll have a few drinks at the pub or cocktail bars. The popular Bangla Road has only seen me three times in the past four months so no more than 2,000 baht a month.

e) Books, computers

I had my motherboard repaired and my laptop's battery replaced for 4,000 baht at Central Festival but other than that, nothing. I haven't bought any books or magazines and those I do read I have borrowed from a fellow teacher.

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

Far better than the standard of living I had in South Africa. Back home, most teachers were paid next to nothing (or only got their salaries once every few months). Mix that with a high cost of living. I would never be able to half of the things I do or buy here back home. You know it's bad when South Africans move to Thailand to save money!

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

Most items are really cheap here (I know Phuket is more expensive than the rest of the country but still!) I was also able to stay at the 4-star Centara Resort in Khaolak for only 2,750 baht for 4 nights! Travelling expenses are quite cheap here. Fuel and electricity as well.

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

Nothing under 40,000 baht in Phuket unless you live in the more northern parts. Even then, the island-hopping, cocktails, beach clubs, shopping etc will eventually chew through your wallet. If you can be extremely strict with yourself and eat only Thai food and barely ever do anything on the weekends, then maybe 30,000. But then what's the point of living here if you're just surviving?

Phil's analysis and comment

Danny, this is exactly what we look for in these surveys and what makes them so enjoyable to read! A detailed set of figures mixed in with some nice personal anecdotes and observations. We really do get a feel for your life down there in Phuket. Well done sir!

Hmmmm......it sounds like you enjoy life and it certainly sounds a lot better than eking out a living back in South Africa. 

I don't think anywhere in Thailand - with the possible exception of Pattaya - fascinates me more than Phuket as a place for an English teacher to live and work. Admittedly I've never been, but when I think of Phuket, it always conjures up images of tourists and more tourists (with prices to match) It never strikes me as a place that would be high on the list of teaching destinations for a chalkie. Not unless you were earning a very decent salary. However, there are many TEFLers down there.

I think your answer to the last question pretty much summed up what I thought already - you wouldn't want to live down there on less than 40K. And you're obviously doing very nicely on 55-60.


David

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 140,000

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

I work at an international school in Bangkok and my full-time salary is 140,000.

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

50,000

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

I pay 8,000 for a detached house out in the suburbs. It's a little run-down, but we have plenty of our own furniture, so it's comfortable enough.

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

a) Transportation

I have a car and three bikes (only one of which I use regularly). Petrol for the car comes to about 4,000 baht a month as we drive around a lot and often go out of the city

b) Utility bills

4,000 a month, about 3,000 of which goes on electricity. We don't skimp on air-con.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Maybe 15,000 baht a month. We'll eat out in decent restaurants maybe twice a week and the rest of the time either cook ourselves or get street food

d) Nightlife and drinking

Virtually nothing.

e) Books, computers

I spend maybe 1,000 baht a month on books - I like reading. Computer / laptop / tablet all bought and paid for so nothing on them.

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

Comfortable. I save a lot, pay into a savings plan and also pay off a mortgage on a house upcountry. I could cut down on savings and spend more on 5-star hotel all-you-can-eat brunches, but they've never really appealed.

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

Taxis, rent, fruit and some food. Otherwise things are pretty middling for a developing world capital city.

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

You can survive on around 30,000 baht a month but anything lower than that would be intolerable. 30,000 would still be pretty rough and you'd be treading water. You would not be making any progress with your life.

Phil's analysis and comment

Nice one Dave. Here's a man who lives well within his means and a guy who's feathering his nest very nicely. 140,000 a month is a very decent salary and there's always going to be plenty of spare cash left over when you're only paying 8,000 baht for your rent. Dave sounds happy enough with the house he lives in though. 

Dave makes several references to 'we' so I assume he is married or lives with a partner, etc. It would be interesting to know whether that partner is working and bringing home a salary as well. That would make life even more comfortable!


Linda

Working in Yangon, Myanmar

Monthly Earnings About 90,000 baht

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

My full-time salary is $2,700 (which equates to about 90,000 baht at current exchange rate)

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

If I curb my spending on travelling and eating out, then I can save easily half of that salary. Possibly even 60%.

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

Accommodation (valued at $1000) is paid for by the school but frankly speaking it's a dump. If I shared an apartment, I could pocket the remainder of the allowance

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

a) Transportation

Taxis usually come to about 800 baht a month.

b) Utility bills

Utility bills are charged at local rate - about 600 baht.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out (and enjoy a bottle of wine or two with dinner) a lot so roughly around 13,000 baht a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Linda did not answer this question.

e) Books, computers

Linda did not answer this question.

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

Reasonable, even luxurious by local standards. The biggest problem is getting a decent, Western standard apartment as most would cost at least 50,000 baht a month. By that, I mean hot water, modern bathroom and in a clean building.

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

Maid service and beauty treatments cost just a few dollars.

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

It depends on whether you are willing to live local style in a dirty rundown walk up apartment or want a decent place (continued in my comments section below)

Phil's analysis and comment

Linda also added - "One of biggest expenses is visa run trips to Bangkok. We get a basic allowance for it but we also have to make medical trips as the medical services are dire here in Yangon and you have to pay for your own hotels and airfares each trip.

My school does not give bonuses. To live a Western life style e.g. a few Western goodies like cheese etc. from the supermarket and a decent one bedroom apartment - you'd need at least 50,000 - 60,000 baht a month.

Yangon is not as cheap as it was. Imported food items are especially expensive and so is eating at Western style restaurants"

Linda, you earn 90,000 baht a month (in US Dollars) which to me sounds like a very decent salary for Myanmar - but it doesn't sound as if you are happy. Is renting an apartment really that expensive in a place like Yangon? I'm amazed that somewhere for 35,000 baht a month - which would get you an incredible place in Bangkok - would be considered 'a dump'.  

I'm also surprised that transportation and utilies are so low. Do you generally walk everywhere? And I assume you don't have air-conditioning. Hmmm.

OK guys, it's great to get cost of living surveys from teachers all around Asia, but we wouldn't mind a few more from teachers in Thailand. Fancy giving it a go?


Walker

Working in Taiwan

Monthly Earnings Approximately 130,000 baht

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

I work at a university. My salary is 75,000 baht and I make another 50-60,000 from doing translation work.

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

80,000 baht

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

I own a house in Taiwan but during the week I live on campus at the university in Tainan,

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

a) Transportation

I ride my bicycle in Taipei but take the high speed rail from Taipei to Tainan during the school year. If I book well in advance, I can get a discount on the train, which is my biggest travel expense. Total transportation is about 3,000 baht per month

b) Utility bills

Utilities are cheap in Taiwan. We pay about 1,500 baht per two months for gas, water and electric.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Eating out most of the time costs about 12,000 baht per month including a good bottle of wine once a week.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Question was not answered.

e) Books, computers

The internet is tied in with the cable package plus an all access I-Pad and phone package at 2,000 baht per month

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

Very comfortable. No debt whatsoever. I teach philosophy in a university and do translations on the side, but I know many English teachers here who do well enough for a comfortable lifestyle. In the early days, many teachers would come here for six months work and then spend the money they made in Thailand.

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

Utilities in Taiwan are too cheap so many people tend to waste electricity and water, Transportation isn't all that expensive either, Taipei has a well-run mass transit and bus system that is very cheap.

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

Depends where you live in Taiwan, but most English teachers here earn approx 60,000 baht as a minimum.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think this is our first cost of living survey from Taiwan. It sounds as though 60,000 baht a month would go quite a long way there. Any readers ever thought of going to teach there? It was the number one TEFL destination on my list for a long time until I decided to give Thailand a go and never moved on.

I finally got to see Taipei last December / January and thought it was very similar to Bangkok in many ways. Probably too many!

Page 6 of 47 (showing 5 entries out of 234 total)

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