Working in Surat Thani

Monthly Earnings Less than 30,000 baht

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

After tax I end up with about 29,000 a month.

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

Now I'm single I don't really save money anymore, especially as Koh Samui is just a ferry trip away every weekend. I can burn over half my wages in two nights on that Island, lol.

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

I share a house with other foreign teachers. It took me three years to furnish it and it still looks empty. Every month the rent costs a 1,000 baht. But I don't usually sleep there. I tend to sleep in my Thai friend's air-conditioned house across the road. The area I live in is nice and peaceful. All my Thai neighbors are great. I get free internet as well - a perk of having a friend that works in the local TOT office.

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


For transportation I'd say I use about 400 bahts worth of gas in my fino each month.

Utility bills

Water 86 baht a month and electricity about 150 baht every 3 months or so. (If you don't use over a certain amount of electricity you don't get a bill)

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I guess about 2-3000 baht. School dinners are 20-25 baht, I serve myself so I make sure I get a good deal. Usually my friends wife prepares spicy curries for dinner every evening.

Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife and drinking can be expensive if I leave Don Sak, which at the moment is most weekends to Samui or Phuket, so I'd have to say roughly about 15,000 baht on partying a month. (Occasionally my salary does run out , but it's not what you know, it's who you know. I'll never go hungry that's for sure)

Books, computers

My mum sends me lots of books that I sell on after reading. She bought me a new laptop as well, so I guess I make money in that category, lol.

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

I'm happy with what I have here in Thailand, I have a lot of great Thai friends, the school I teach at is nice and relaxed, and generally life is easy.

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

All the basic necessities you need to get by are so much cheaper here.

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

I've only ever worked in the sticks, but I did live in Bangkok for 6 months prior and I know it's easy to go out and spend lots of money in the big city. I guess it depends on the type of person you are, I think I would struggle to get by if I lived in Bangkok on 29,000 a month. A lot of the people I met while I stayed in Bangkok gradually got more hard up for money and ended up going home. Getting out of Bangkok benefitted me a lot.

Phil's analysis and comment interesting scenario. Although getting away from the temptations of Bangkok may have been a good idea at the time, Craig still has the lure of Koh Samui to contend with - and it's sucking up nigh on half his salary every month. Would Bangkok still have been a better option considering there's more, better-paid work available? Simply put - 29,000 baht is not enough to live on anywhere in Thailand - not in my opinion. Not when you factor in medical bills, flights home to see the family and hopefully stashing a bit away for your future. It's just an existence. It's nice to do for a couple of years when you are young but the reality has to kick in eventually. 

Update - After reading my comments in the above paragraph, Craig got in touch to say he felt I had been a little harsh on him. It's only fair I let Craig have his say and put his points across and he gave me a little more info about himself. For starters he's only 28. He has no credit card debts or stuff like that. His motorcycle is paid for. He goes on to say that he'll worry about the future when it comes and he's also had no trouble adapting to the Thai way of life. As a final comment, Craig reminded me that Koh Samui is the reason his salary disappears so quickly and were it not for the bright lights of the tropical islands, 29,000 baht would be more than enough to live on. 

I accept that these are good points Craig. But be warned by an old fart like me. The future can look very different when you are 28 compared to when you are 40. I was the 30,000 baht a month teacher 'living it large' in Bangkok - and I enjoyed the lifestyle for many years. Then one day, you wake up and you are approaching middle-aged and you do a few sums and you realise that you can't sustain that lifestyle forever. I still say 29,000 baht is not enough but we can always agree to disagree.  

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