Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 130k - 175k

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

I work in a fairly decent international school that pays 130k per month including housing and after deductions. 130k is therefore my minimum take home monthly pay. I also have a part time job that pays well, adding up to 45k per month for only one day's work per week. There are occasional months when flight allowances and other bonuses further add to my pay.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

On average, 100k per month. This varies from month to month depending on how much extra pay I receive over and above my regular salary. As the Thai welfare system provides a feeble safety net, I feel the need to save as much as possible now, to allow for a comfortable retirement. I would like to have enough to be able to wind down by the age of 55 (14 years away).

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

12,000 - This is 50% of the rent of a 2-bedroom condo that I live in with my Thai partner (who pays the other 50%). She works as an engineer and earns a salary similar to mine). We live in a quiet Soi in Sathorn not far from Lumphini Park and the MRT / BTS

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


Not a lot really, I bought a motorbike for about 100k five years ago and it costs almost nothing to maintain. The ride to work is only a few kms which means gas rarely comes to more than 150 baht a week. Including the occasional taxi I don't think I've ever spent more than 2,000,

Utility bills

About 1,500, As we share bills, this is 50% of the cost of electricity and water, plus a 500 baht monthly charge for my cell phone package.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

A lot less during term time. School provides free snacks and a buffet lunch for all staff. This means that I only have to pay for dinner, which I usually spend about 250 baht on and never prepare myself. So, when school is open probably no more than 10,000 per month, but during the long holidays that number goes up by 50%

Nightlife and drinking

5 years ago... A LOT. But not so much these days. On Friday I'll have a few beers with friends or take my girl to the cinema. That's about it. Maybe 5k a month.

Books, computers

Nothing really. My PC is a few years old and won't need replacing for at least a few more. As for reading material - I also have access to an awesome library at school - for free.

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

Thailand is one of the few countries in the world where you can enjoy a great standard of living in the capital city on a teacher's salary (as long as you're professionally qualified in a country that 'exports' its education system). However, right now I'm more concerned with my standard of living in the future, once I've put the chalk away for the final time. I want to retire here and think I'll need to have saved enough to provide a living allowance of 80 to 100k per month.

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

Bangkok feels a lot more expensive than when I first arrived. Everything used to be cheap but now I find myself shopping around more. Despite this, public transport is still great value and Coke in 7-11 is cheap too!

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

The minimum wage in Bangkok works out at about 10k per month and the people earning this figure seem to avoid death. But who comes here aiming just to stave off death? If I didn't need to save I could maintain my current standard of living on about 50k per month. However, I DO need to save as I have no teacher's pension or inheritance coming my way. So, if I was earning less than 100k per month I think I'd need to think about going elsewhere.

Phil's analysis and comment

I guess to those teachers out there earning 30-40k a month, it must feel like Dan exists in another universe. But it's all about different strokes for different folks. There are many qualified teachers out there pulling in the megabucks at international schools and saving 100,000 a month.

There is much to admire about Dan's survey. 

I particularly like the way he's totally focused on retiring at 55 with an income of 80-100,000 baht a month. And I would agree with that figure. At 55, Dan's going to have 10-15 golden years ahead of him when he can travel the world, play golf and do all the nice things in life. 

He's got a partner earning the same amount of money. That doesn't do any harm at all. A potential 350,000 baht a month coming into the household and only 12,000 of that going on rent. Way to go! 

Dan clearly doesn't 'waste' money on stuff. He's got a motorcycle that costs peanuts to fill up and maintain. He's cut down on any past drinking habits. He takes advantage of the free school meals. And he's not averse to shopping around for bargains in a city that's becoming more expensive by the week. What's the old saying? - look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.  

Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. 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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