Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings Approximately 40,000 baht

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

I work at a Thai government school in Bangkok and I make 37K after tax. I can also earn an extra 4,000 a month from private tutoring two hours a week.

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

About 5,000 baht or perhaps less. It depends how often I go out, travel or most importantly eat Western food. I normally don't save anything worth bragging about, this is Bangkok after all.

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

I live in an apartment. I upgraded it last year to a suite because I was tired of hanging out in my bedroom. I pay 6,500 baht a month for an additional living room and bigger bathroom that I wasn't getting before.

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


Now that I have a motorbike, I can make it to and from work for less than 200 baht a month on gas. I don't live far from work. Other than that give or take another 500 baht on the skytrain if I want to travel further

Utility bills

My ex-girlfriend got me a fan so now my power and water bill is a combined 600 baht, down from the 1500 baht I used to pay.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't go to the supermarket since I don't have a big refrigerator and because of that I only store water in there and have to resort to eating out. Again back to the food; it would depend on my willingness to eat the local food or the expensive Western food I prefer to eat. I've tried to come up with a compromise. On workdays I eat local Thai food and on weekends I eat western food even if the bill makes me wanna cringe. It all comes to about 8,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

When I'm out with my western friends they like to go out drinking. I'm single but my job drains me so I pick and choose how often I go out. If I go out every weekend on a typical month I spend about 10,000 baht.

Books, computers

I don't buy books but I do often buy supplies that I may need for work which doesn't exceed 1,000 baht.

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

It's reasonable. You can't have your cake and eat it. I enjoy certain comforts but I sacrifice others at the expense of enjoying them.

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

Definitely the rent. A place like mine would cost at least 30K a month at home

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

It would depend on where you live and your spending habits in that order. I saved 20k a month in Isaan making even less than what I'm making in Bangkok right now. But living here comes at a price. I would say 30k is okay in the rural areas but not in Bangkok. You'd need a tad more.

Phil's analysis and comment

Always nice to hear from someone who earns what I would call 'an average or typical' teacher's salary in Thailand and to see how they get on.

Charles sounds sensible, level-headed and lives within his means. The big question of course is for how many years can someone do this? There isn't an awful lot of money getting stashed away for a rainy day. But he's making the most of things for now.

That's a very smart decision to upgrade your accommodation. Charles now has a place that he enjoys going home to after a hard day's teaching instead of a room where he's sitting around on the bed. As I've said many times before about these surveys - spending more on accommodation SAVES you money in the long run. You'll spend less time wandering the streets and ambling around air-conditioned shopping malls and all the temptations that go with them. 

Might it be worth investing in a nicer refridgerator? They're not that expensive and if it belongs to you, you can take it with you if and when you move. You can pick up nice salad stuff very cheaply here and also ham and things to make sandwiches at home. That said, there's nothing wrong with Charles' approach to food (Thai food during the week and some Western food splurges at the weekend) You should be able to enjoy a bit of Western food on your day off.

If anyone fancies doing a cost of living survey, I've now put the questions on-line to make it easier and quicker for you. Please spare half an hour if you can. 

A number of teachers complete the surveys with just a list of figures. I don't wish to sound ungrateful but that's not really what we're looking for. There needs to be some sort of 'story' behind the figures as it were (it certainly makes the surveys more interesting to read) Many thanks!

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