Working in Cambodia

Monthly Earnings 50,000 baht (equivalent)

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

I earn 38,750 for my full-time job. Then I make an extra 2,000 from private lessons (90 minutes a week and charged per number of students) Online stuff nets me another 8,000 or so.

Coronavirus has meant my salary has been cut to 20,000. I've been on 50% pay since March but that will hopefully rise to 70% in September. It wasn't too bad as I was essentially being paid to do nothing. The private lessons and online work kept going (although with fewer students and less online stuff)

My wife works for the state and her exact income is a mystery to me, but I guess it's around 10,000 baht.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Not much at all because we have two kids. Probably 6,000 - 7,000 if I'm lucky.

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

I was lucky enough to get a mortgage loan some years ago and we built a property. By working extra hours, I was able to pay the mortgage off in a few years, so now at least we have a decent roof over our heads (100 square metres with a garden) We have also bought several plots of land with low interest rate loans and they amount to around 6,500 a month.

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


I own several motorbikes so use those for transport. Work is not too far away and I rarely venture further than the local market. Maybe 300-500 baht on gas, which is cheap here at the moment.

Utility bills

Electricity can cost up to 2,000 baht a month. We run one air-con unit for the kids at night and also run the washing machine and electric oven quite a lot. Water costs about 150 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat breakfast every morning which is 62 baht, plus I'll have a Western coffee once or twice a day, That adds another 80 baht.

I buy cheese, sausage, etc online and that's usually around 1,500 a month, then the odd Chinese or Indian meal for 600-700. We had to cut back on 'extras' due to the Coronavirus, but generally spend 200-300 baht a day on meat and vegetables from the local market to feed a family of four.

Fresh milk is a big expense and costs up to 1,000 a month. Baby formula is even more expensive at way over 3,000.

This lot adds up to around 20,000 each month.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't really go out but do like a drink (too much if truth be told). Beer in cans is cheap here and the cans have 'winning ring-pulls'. For every 370 baht spent on a case of 24 beers, you can get anywhere between 5-24 free cans depending on luck. I probably spend about 2,000 a month on beer. The ale flows pretty freely with guests and neighbors in both directions, and in the good days before Coronavirus, I'd also do 600 baht on a box of wine and maybe 400 baht on a good bottle of brandy every month.

I gave up smoking but foolishly got addicted to vaping (which is not strictly legal in Cambodia) The e-cigs set me back about 3,000 a month.

Books, computers

I miss books!

The internet is pretty good just using a mobile data plan. Special packages mean I pay less than 150 a month and can stream, do my internet work and listen to the radio all day everyday, without ever needing a router.

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

It's not luxurious but we're surviving. Kids cost money! That much I do know.

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

Hard to give a definition of 'bargain' here as salaries are much lower than in Thailand and Vietnam. Also, most things are imported from outside so more expensive than the country of origin. Beer is certainly cheaper than in Thailand (but not Vietnam).

Compared to my own country, it's certainly cheaper to buy land and build a modest home in Cambodia.

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

Average salaries for Westerners here start at 20,000 baht and go up to around 70,000, depending on your qualifications, but those kind of pay packets are rare. I'd say 30,000 baht is the bare minimum. I've been here a long time and earned a lot less and a lot more than 30K in those years.

Frankly, I'm happy to work for less money and live away from the capital in order to keep the costs down.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a lot Bob. We haven't received surveys from many teachers in Cambodia but a pleasure to do so. I think you are doing well supporting a family on 60,000 baht a month (taking into account your wife's income) and you've managed to build a house and invest in some land at the same time. It's not a luxurious lifestyle as you readily admit, but I'm sure the family is the most important thing to you and you sound very well settled.  

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