Working in Mukdahan
Monthly Earnings 35,000
Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)
35,000 baht is my salary from the government school I teach at.
Q2. How much money can you save each month?
If I'm being strict with myself I can save 20,000 a month. That would mean no drinking or unnecessary expenditure. A more realistic sum for me to save is 10,000 - 15,000 a month.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
I pay 5,000 baht a month for an unfurnished two-bedroom house. Furnished apartments can be got for about 3,500 baht a month including internet, but they usually have inflated utility bills.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
I bought my own bike to use as my transport. I think I spend roughly 500 baht a month on fuel.
I pay all my bills directly myself:
Electricity - 1,200 baht a month. I use the air-con a LOT. I know the person who lived here before me and they usually paid 500-600 a month.
Internet - 1,300 baht a month for blazing fast 200 megabit internet.
Water - 80 baht a month.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
I probably spend in the region of 8,000 - 10,000 a month all in. If I am working I will spend about 200 baht a day on food. The food in the school canteen is the same as good street food and can be very affordable. I spend roughly 100 baht at school, and then another 100 baht at the local night market. This buys me a LOT of food. Let's just say I am a very BIG boy. So about 6,000 baht a month on day to day shopping.
I also do a monthly shop at Makro where I will get my western treats. This is when I buy my cheese, chips/french fries, and chicken wings/pork burgers. Apart from the cheese I constantly mix things up, combined everything usually comes to about 2,000.
Food is an area I could save big on if I wanted, I have worked out I could halve my food bill if I needed to. But at the minute I don't need to, so I just enjoy what Thailand has to offer.
Nightlife and drinking
200 baht maybe? I don't go out drinking and quit smoking. That has saved me 4,500 baht a month on its own. (I was drinking 2 big bottles of Chang and smoking 20 S&M a day)
I buy myself the odd bottle of beer every once in a while, but that isn't even monthly. Food is the only vice I have.
3,000 - 5,000 baht.
I just recently bought myself a new set of electronic gadgets, so I don't see myself needing to spend anything on them. But I am a keen gamer and usually buy myself at least one game a month.
I also have a Kindle, so I spend a minimal amount of money on books as I have a collection of over 8,000 I downloaded a few years ago. But if something is on offer for 99p in the Kindle store or hard to find for 'free' then I will buy it.
This money is the other area that is surplus money. I could cut this spending out if I wanted to, but now that I don't spend money going out drinking, this is my entertainment money.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
My standard of living is really good. I love my job, and I can pretty much buy what I want now. Back when I was living in the UK I was constantly thinking about money, and whether I could afford something. Now that isn't really an issue anymore.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Everything. I moved from London, UK to Thailand so all the prices seem incredible to me.
Rent and food are the ones I appreciate the most though. In London I had a room in a shared house and I was spending 5 times as much as I do now for my two-bedroom house.
My food bill in the UK would be far higher than it is here, and I don't usually cook for myself here either! Being fat I will regularly buy myself two portions which I think is the real equivalent to a UK take-out meal. But it still only works out at 80 baht (or about £2) for my meal.
My students are constantly amazed when I tell them that pork fried rice can easily cost 300 baht (£7) in the UK.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
This is the big question here in Thailand as answers vary so much. Part of that is people's understanding of 'survive'. So I'm going to give two answers, and both of these relate to Mukdahan and Issan in general, I'm sure in the more touristy areas things are more expensive and numbers would differ. I'm also single which obviously has a big impact as well.
To survive I think you can live off 15,000 a month. That will pay your bills, feed you and give you a very small amount of monthly spending money. However, you're not going to be saving anything, and unless you're like me and absolutely love teaching you're not going to have a good time. In the UK I was taking home 46,250 baht to be living this kind of lifestyle
Now, if you want to be able to save a bit of money and enjoy life then I would say that 30,000 would be my minimum. At the minute I spend roughly 20,000 a month. So at 30,000 a month I would be saving 10,000 a month which I think is a reasonable amount.
Phil's analysis and comment
Thanks Chris. That's a nice comparison between life in London (which is of course a law unto itself when it comes to living in the UK) and life in North-East Thailand. It sounds like you are much happier where you are now. And if you could cut down on that considerable food bill, you would save even more - and probably get healthier into the bargain!