Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 62,000

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

I receive 62,000 baht after tax, social security and a provident fund payment. I teach in a tier 2 international school in Chiang Mai.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At the moment, I am saving between 25-30,000 baht each month.

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

I pay 10,000 baht per month for a 2-bedroom house on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. It is a new house with modern furniture, private security on the development as well as a swimming pool and small gym. You get a lot more for your money when it comes to housing in Chiang Mai.

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


I spend around 1,200 baht on fuel for my car and maybe another 300 baht on grab bike, so 1,500 in total.

Utility bills

My electricity bill is around 800 baht per month and my water bill is around 70 baht per month. I also pay 1,100 baht for home wi-fi, true football and 10gb of data for my phone. In my opinion, utility bills are a real bargain in Thailand, particularly if you don't overuse air-con.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I receive breakfast and lunch at my school so that amounts to a good saving on food every month. I spend around 6,000 baht a month on food. That is a combination of eating local food and eating western food around three times a week. The local food here is very cheap, and it tastes great. For example, a bowl of khao soi is about 60b in most places outside the old town. As for western food, it's cheaper than Bangkok but the quality isn't as good, hence why I don't eat it so often.

Nightlife and drinking

The nightlife in Chiang Mai is appalling compared to Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket. In fact, it's pretty poor compared to places like Khon Kaen or Udon Thani. This is a conservative city, and bars located next to temples often shut at midnight. There are a few nightclubs that cater mostly to the Thai market, as well as a couple of nightclubs aimed at foreigners and freelancers. However, they are terribly overcrowded and play dreadful music. A beer outside the old town will cost around 100b for large local beer, and 80b for a small local beer. If you go to Loi Kroh road or Nimman then expect to pay 100b for small local beer, or around 150b for a large beer. So, having said all that, I spend around 8,000b every month on nightlife.

Books, computers

Nothing at the moment, but it looks like my laptop is going to give up the ghost!

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

I live a very comfortable standard of living. I live in a nice house in a safe area. I eat out almost every night, and I'm not watching my pennies on a night out. I have everything I need and I can save a decent portion of my income. I am far better off here in Chiang Mai than I would be in the UK. In fact, to have the standard of living that I have now, I reckon I would need to be earning 3,000 pounds a month in the UK.

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

Accommodation - both hotels and housing.
Local food - generally very cheap and very good.
Utility bills - electric costs next to nothing compared to the west, and wifi deals are very affordable.
Massages - 300b for a 1hr massage.
Mechanics - very affordable to get your car fixed.

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

Minimum 30k outside Bangkok/Phuker and 40k inside Bangkok/Phuket.

To have a comfortable lifestyle, then I think you need 50k outside Bangkok / Phuket and 60k inside Bangkok/Phuket. Even then you won't be living a flash lifestyle.

I think 100k is a good and realistic figure to work towards.

Phil's analysis and comment

Many thanks Bren, you put a lot of effort into that and it's much appreciated! There's long been a popular debate about whether Chiang Mai is cheaper to live in than Bangkok (I'm never really sure where I sit on the argument) but you seem to have cracked it! First off, 62K is a very decent salary up there so you're off to a flying start - and it sounds like you manage to live well on half of that. The breakfast and lunch at school is a nice benefit as well isn't it? 

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