Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 75,000

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

I work at a private secondary school in central Bangkok and my full-time salary (about 18 contact hours a week) is 75,000 baht. I've worked at the school for four years. I do get the option to earn extra income doing Summer camps or special programs outside of the normal English program but I tend to leave that to the more 'money-hungry' members of the teaching staff. I value my free time more.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Never as much as I would like to. In a good month, I might manage around 15,000 baht.

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

I live in one of those one-bedroom condos where the designers somehow manage to squeeze a kitchen, bedroom and living room into thirty square meters. I actually rent it from a friend who bought it as an investment last year and I pay him 10,000 baht a month plus bills. I've checked the property portals and the same size apartments in the same building rent out for at least 15,000 baht a month. It's a win-win situation; I get a great deal on the rent because the owner is a good friend and he gets someone he can trust to live in the place.

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


I can almost reach out and touch the skytrain station from my balcony and with the ever-expanding skytrain network, you can go anywhere in Bangkok these days. I can't remember the last time I had to take a taxi. My school is about three minutes walk from a station so I probably spend about 1,500 on fares every month. I've long thought about buying a car in Bangkok but honestly, it just never feels worth the hassle.

Utility bills

Gas, electric and water come to about 4,000 baht a month. I'm at home a lot and the air-conditioning is always on if I'm in. Visitors often come into my apartment and comment on how cold it is. I just like it that way. It's probably another thousand a month for Netflix, a decent phone plan and all that stuff.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try to eat healthy and cook at home as much as I can. I'm really not that keen on eating out because it just seems to get more and more expensive. I've got a fantastic little fresh market, which I go to a couple of times a week to pick up my meat, fruit and veg and juices. All the sellers know me and know what I like to buy. I would say my food bill rarely breaks 8,000 a month. I resist impulse buys at 7-11 and I've pretty much cut out chocolate and fizzy drinks, etc.

Nightlife and drinking

Quality craft beers and ciders are my weakness and I probably spend 4,000 a month on just alcohol to drink at home. I'll also hit the bars a couple of nights a week and I bet that's another 15,000 a month right there. Most night I'll stay home and entertain myself with Netflix or something, but it's no good being cooped up all the time. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Books, computers

Not really an expense. I used to play computer games but just grew bored of them. And I've never really been an avid reader.

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

When you weigh up foreigner lifestyles and standards of living in Bangkok, I consider myself at the 'bottom end of the middle-class' if that makes sense. 75K is enough to do what I want, but only up to an extent. I still have to check menu prices in restaurants and I can't afford to pay for 5,000 baht a night accommodation if I go away for the weekend. Bangkok is not an expensive city to live in but I wouldn't call it cheap either, certainly if you stray into the high-end supermarkets and the better shopping malls.

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

Shopping at the local markets. You can save a packet by going there instead of the supermarkets... and you're supporting local traders.

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

In Bangkok, 60K would be my absolute rock-bottom minimum salary. Anything less than that is impossible in my book. To those teachers surviving on 30-50K, I salute you. I genuinely don't know how you do it.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Barry. That's an excellent deal you've got on the rent and it sounds like a good arrangement. I've banged on for years about always renting the best apartment you can afford because it means you'll enjoy being at home, and you're less likely to want to go out in the evening. That's when the spending can really mount up.  

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