Bill

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 45,000 baht

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

I earn a salary of 33,000 from my day job at a government school and I supplement it with about 12,000 baht a month at private language schools doing two evenings a week and sometimes weekends.

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

Very little. 5,000-10,000 baht would be a good month.

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

I live in a basic studio apartment in the Prakhanong area of Bangkok. The rent is 6,000 baht a month but from what I've seen of colleagues' apartments, it isn't bad value for money.

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

Transportation

I have to travel about five stations on the sky-train to get to work and I rarely need to us taxis. So transportation is barely 2,000 baht a month. If you live near a sky-train station in Bangkok, you can really keep those transportation costs down.

Utility bills

Water and electricity come to about 2,500 baht a month. If I am at home, then the air-conditioning is usually on - especially at this time of year!

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I never cook at home and I never bring back bags of street-food to the apartment. Literally the only thing I keep in my fridge are cartons of milk for my morning cup of tea. I try to vary my diet by eating streetfood meals or something at an average Thai restaurant and sometimes the odd fast food blowout. I try to limit my food spending to about 300 baht a day, which still adds up to a hefty 9,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

I do like a night out on a Friday and Saturday. A lot depends on whether I have classes in the morning. I guess maybe about 10,000 baht a month.

Books, computers

Nothing. My laptop has been going strong for at least five years and I use the free internet at school

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

I manage to burn through my 45,000 baht fairly easily. I couldn't contemplate surviving on my basic school salary of 33,000. That extra income from the private language school teaching makes all the difference. It means I can eat out all the time and have a good night out twice a week.

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

Nothing really costs the earth but I have seen prices creeping up in Bangkok over the past 12 months - especially supermarket goods.

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

In Bangkok, I think you should be aiming as high as possible. I would love to earn in the region of 60K a month but I'm sure I would still burn through that amount as well.

Phil's analysis and comment

Bill's survey highlights the difference that just 10,000 baht a month can make to your standard of living in Bangkok. But of course you always have to balance that with the workload. For many teachers, one full-time job from Monday to Friday is enough. They value their free time in the evenings and at weekends and they don't want to work any harder. But sometimes if you want to pull in the big bucks, you have to make sacrifices. However I remember what one teaching colleague once said to me - if you are working all the hours godsend, then you don't have time to enjoy the money you earn, so what's the point?

If you would like to submit your own cost of living survey, then please e-mail me your answers.


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