Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 60,000

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

That 60K is my full-time salary with no additional extras. I started many years ago on a 40K salary and over the years, it's increased in smal increments. I don’t do online teaching or take on private students as I do not want to take the risk of being deporting over something so silly. If a part time employer doesn’t add their name to my work permit, I won’t work, Which 90% don’t do anyway. I faced a lot of hurdles this way, where as most of my friends are working better jobs and pulling in 20-30k extra each month. Some are in tier 3 international schools making 80K and pulling in 30k from part time work, pushing them well into tier 1 category without the tier 1 workload.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Usually 35-40,000. I am Asian so I can adapt myself to levels most foreigners here can’t. I live the most frugal life there is. I seek out food promotions, shopee flash sales, buy things from thrift stores, and I even skip food at times. However I spend significantly on alcohol. I don’t spend on holidays either or on fancy restaurants every other day like most expats I know.

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

I pay 8,000 a month for a fairly decent sized 37 sqm studio. Everything is a studio at this price, and the walls are just fiber glass or a thin cardboard piece dividing your studio into a one-bed room. That’s the story with most modern high rise condos.

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


A thousand on my motorbike fuel and a thousand on taxis for occasionally getting me home when I am intoxicated. I haven’t bought a car because I see my colleagues spend a fortune on repairs and maintenance. When I did the math on the cost of car ownership, taxis worked out cheaper!

Utility bills

1,000 to 2,000 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is my guilty pleasure. On weekends, I love eating gourmet burgers, fancy New York large slice pizzas, and Italian fine dining once every few months. I don’t cook at all so for my day-to-day needs, it’s whatever meat on a stick for 5 -10 baht and 40 baht noodle/rice dishes I can find.

Nightlife and drinking

During my first year, I spent about 10-20k a month. This was in low key Thai bars dotted around the suburbs or the occasional Khao San Road / Sukhumwit joint with colleagues. Now I’m hitting my 30s and get no joy from doing that. So an occasional Guinness it is and drinking costs me no more about 5,000/month. .

Books, computers

I spend around 30K on a laptop every 3-5 years. I do not buy books except the occasional kindle PDF.

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

It’s okay. I try to save hard, but my life isn’t that great. There are people earning half my income and have a slick instagram account , with rooftop bars and fancy breakfasts. I always felt guilty indulging in those things. If I don’t save and live that kind of life, I will have nothing for retirement. There is no pension here, no retirement gratuity in most schools. If one doesn’t plan for it, or has a medical emergency, every penny of your savings is wiped out.

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

Premium accommodation can be had for a good price. This is hard to find in places such as Vietnam or Taipei or Japan( (each for a different reason)

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

40K to survive and 80K to live a normal life and save a bit for hospital emergencies, flights home and of course, your retirement.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Ch. You partied hard in your younger days and then got to your late twenties and thought 'hold on, I need to think about my retirement years if I'm going to stick around as a teacher in Asia'. I think it's a path that many teachers go down. It sounds like you're heading in the right direction but take care of your health. Skipping meals to save money doesn't sound ideal. 

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