Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 80,000

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

80K is my salary as the head teacher at a private school. With various investments and a property rental back in the UK, my total monthly income is actually around 150K but that's averaged out over a year because of course investments fluctuate. I should also add that I am coming up to retirement and this will be my last year in work.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I certainly don't spend all of my 80K salary and probably end up saving around 70-80K a month. My wife also earns around 80K as a manager at a large cosmetics company. That 'extra' income is handy, but she too is planning to retire so that we can value our free time and do more things together.

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

We bought our own one-bedroom condo around ten years ago and managed to pay for it cash at the time, so we have no monthly rent to worry about. It's not the most luxurious of apartments and it isn't even the nicest area of the city, but we've been happy here. It does sometimes cross our minds to move up to something better but to be honest, we don't plan on being around that much in our retirement years. A property can sometimes be a bit of a millstone round your neck, always having to worry about someone to clean and keep an eye on the place if you're away for long periods.

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


I run my own car, which I change for a brand new one every 5 years. It's difficult to put a price on this but I suppose car repayments, petrol and repairs come to around 13,000 a month.

Utility bills

Electricity, water and various phone / internet packages come to just under 5,000 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We do a big supermarket shop once a fortnight so that's 3,000 x 2 = 6,000 baht. We are very much a cook-at-home couple and organise our own meals. Although I probably cook 80% of my meals at home, my wife orders most of hers from a local company (around 50 baht a portion) I also order a lot of my stuff like shaving products and toiletries online and I'll often pop into 7-11 to spend 100-200 baht on bits and pieces. This must all come to 10,000 - 12,000 baht a month at least. It mounts up.

We don't eat out very often at all. We simply can't be bothered most of the time. Perhaps retirement will change that?

Nightlife and drinking

We don't go out to pubs anymore but I've always got some nice bottles of wine and a few craft beers in the fridge, so 5,000 a month.

Books, computers

I'm more of a TV watcher than a reader and I'm certainly not that much into technology so this is virtually nothing.

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

Excellent, but as you can see from above, I live well within my means. Then again, my wife and I have both worked jobs that require long hours and it's as if we haven't had time to spend it. That is all about to change!

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

Thailand is a far more expensive place than when I arrived 25 years ago. I'm not sure anything is a bargain anymore. Oh, let's say the cost of repairing things like a faulty air-conditioner or a torn mosquito net. That's always ludicrously cheap to what you would pay in the west.

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

If your partner is bringing in their own wage, you could live the kind of lifestyle I have on 60K easily, but you're not putting anything away for your retirement years, and for me that's the key because it's amazing how quickly it comes around. No expat wants to have to scrimp and save in their 'golden years' surely.

Anyway, our plan for 60 years and beyond is to spend, spend, spend!. We have no children, no one to leave the money to and my three siblings back in the old country are all far wealthier than I am. We plan to spend at least two months abroad each year and at least two months in another part of Thailand like Chiang Mai or Hua Hin. It's time to start enjoying the kind of life my wife and I have worked hard for. We're looking forward to it.

As a footnote, I'm an avid reader of these cost of living surveys and feel I need to mention health insurance as one of those horrible annual expenses. I've always opted for private health insurance cover and that currently costs me 75,000 baht a year. And it's only going to go in one direction I'm afraid.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you for such an interesting survey, Christopher. I wish you all the best for a long and happy retirement. A friend of mine, who is now 63 I think, refers to your sixties as 'the last guaranteed decade' and I completely agree with him. So many times I've seen people hit 70 or thereabouts and lose the energy and motivation to travel. I saw it in my own two parents. Make the most of the upcoming years and more importantly, enjoy your money!

Please send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the most popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. We'd especially love to hear from more Filipino teachers being as there are so many here and so many looking for teaching jobs. Where are you all?  

Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here. 

Submit your own Cost of Living survey

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