Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 65,000

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

I've been at the same large Thai secondary school for six years now and risen through the ranks you might say. Back in 2017, I started here on around 30,000 baht a month but with the odd annual bonus here and there, I now pull in 65K. There is no opportunity to earn extra income though but to be fair, I don't go looking for it either.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Probably around 15,000 a month. I only say that because last year I saved 180,000 baht so 15K is what it averages out at. 180,000? It's not a great deal to show for a long, hard twelve months work is it? It doesn't feel like it to me.

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

I was always brought up to believe that rent is 'dead money' (everyone in my family is a homeowner in Europe) so I rent a studio apartment for 10,000 baht a month, which I found is about the minimum you need to spend for something 'nice and homely'. The apartment building is only five years old, the staff are great, and it's not too far from the school.

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


I generally walk the kilometre to work unless it's raining or ridiculously hot, in which case I'll jump in a taxi for 50 baht. That doesn't happen very often though. Throw in the odd weekend skytrain ride or cab fare and this expense barely breaks a thousand a month.

Utility bills

The air-con is always on when I'm at home (and through the night) I simply couldn't survive without it. So the electricity bill can be as much as 3,000 baht a month. I think water is around 500 baht (yes, I get ripped off on that I know)

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is an expense I find very difficult to keep under about 15,000 baht a month if you throw in supermarket purchases and all those 7-11 impulse buys. Even though I'm a single guy living alone, I can spend 300 baht a day on food easily and even more at the weekends. That's 10K plus right there.

I'm a somewhat finicky eater when it comes to Thai food so that doesn't help either. I could save a bit by eating school lunches for free but the sight of it genuinely turns my stomach. So I have to seek out a local restaurant and lunch can run me 100-150 baht. It's nice to have a break from the school though in the middle of the day.

Nightlife and drinking

I go out probably three nights a week, nothing excessive but maybe three or four beers with friends. Sometimes I would merely class it as 'after work drinks' when a colleague will utter those fateful words 'fancy a quick one?' This expense is probably another 12-15K a month easily.

Books, computers

I don't really bother with books and computers, I'm more of a Netflix guy.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living?

65,000 baht a month is a strange salary. It's neither here nor there. Yes, you are far better off than the numerous teachers in the 30-40K bracket (or at least you should be) but you still find yourself having to watch the pennies each month. You start to dream about what it would be like to earn 100K plus or those big international school salaries. I guess I'll just never be satisfied.

I've just booked a flight back home for August because I haven't seen my family since Covid came along and that's cost an arm and a leg. There are always expenses around every corner and they can eat into a 65K salary, let me tell you.

I used to hang around with a couple of guys who were here on expat packages with oil companies. That's a very dangerous game to get sucked into if they're ordering bottles of craft beer at 250 baht a pop and imported prime steaks. One of my biggest pieces of advice would be 'if you're going to hang out, hang out with your own kind'

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

In Bangkok? Seriously? Nothing instantly springs to mind. It's as expensive as any other major city in my book. OK, maybe accommodation is reasonable.

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

I'd consider my standard of living as a couple of levels above simply 'surviving' but I wouldn't want to do Bangkok on less than 50K. No way! In fact, I don't know how those teachers earning less than 35K actually manage. It must be so tough. I managed it five years ago but this city feels at least 50% more expensive than those good old days.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Cedric. You made me chuckle with that bit about 'hanging out with your own kind'. Back in the early 90s, I was earning around 28,000 baht a month as a teacher (and believe me that wasn't a bad salary at the time) I used to play snooker once a week with one of those expat salary fat cats - a lovely guy from Scotland. While we enjoyed a session on the green baize, his personal driver would wait for him in the car park. The rent on his apartment was three times my salary. One night we went for a couple of beers after our snooker and I told him how much I earned. His jaw almost hit the floor. He genuinely had no idea that some teachers were working for such a pitiful amount. We sadly drifted apart as 'snooker buddies' soon after, purely because we were opposite ends of the expat social scale. Perhaps we both just started to feel a little uneasy about the situation.  

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