Daniel

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings About 37,000 baht

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

I earn exactly 34,250 baht (after tax) from my full-time job at a prestigious Thai government high school in Bangkok, Thailand. I earn around 3,000 baht average per month from part-time tutoring (usually only 1-2 hours per week).

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

I put back 7,500 to 10,000 baht per month. That number mostly depends on how many “extras” I buy during said month. “Extras” are basically anything besides the essentials (food, shelter, and clothing). I should note that all of my housing expenses are shared by both me and my girlfriend. I pay 100% of the rent, and she pays 100% of the utilities. We’re both foreigners working as teachers.

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

Our rent is exactly 9,500 baht a month (excluding utilities). Our home is a rather spacious, clean studio apartment in a Thai-style apartment building geared towards local Thais. The building is essentially a five-story house where each of the rooms are rented out to different individuals. It feels more like an apartment building than a house, though. It’s just a stone’s throw from Convent Road and Silom Road. It takes approximately five to ten minutes to walk to the nearest skytrain and MRT stations.

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

Transportation

I walk to and from work. I take the BTS, BRT, MRT and/or the riverboat a few times per week. The average price per trip is thirty baht each way. I also take public buses occasionally, averaging about ten baht per trip each way. I’m going to say this adds up to about 750 baht per month. I rarely take taxis, but sometimes they’re the only transportation available . I might take a taxi three to five times a month. Total transportation cost per month = 1,000 baht.

Utility bills

As mentioned before, my girlfriend covers all of the utilities and I cover all of the rent. So I don’t personally pay for any of the below utilities. My electricity is five baht per unit and comes to about 2,000 baht per month. The AC runs constantly any time we’re home. Water is almost always 200 baht per month. We have a 10 Mbps DSL internet connection via True, (690 baht per month) We also have the True Gold HD cable TV package (1,000 baht per month)

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is possibly my biggest expense each month. I eat a mostly healthy diet and each visit to the supermarket will give me a week’s worth of groceries. I generally eat a light breakfast on the go, eat lunch at my school (50 baht), cook dinner at home 3 nights a week, and eat outside maybe 5 times a week or so. It’s really hard to calculate, but all in all, I suppose I pay from 7,500 to 10,000 baht per month on food. Yes, I eat like a king, but it’s mostly healthy food that helps me stay in shape.

Nightlife and drinking

I’m not a heavy drinker. However, I do like to have a few nights out each month with my buds. Said nights usually include a nice dinner, a few beers and a taxi home. I rarely drink more than 5 beers per night out. My buds and I generally go to somewhere like Khao San Road . One night out usually costs me about 500 baht. I’d say those nights out average to about 1,500 baht a month total.

Books, computers

I pretty much never buy books, maybe only two or three per year maximum. I might buy a new computer every two to three years. Let’s just suppose a new laptop costs 15,000 baht. 15,000 baht divided by 36 months equals 417 baht per month. Let’s just say 450 per month after the few book purchases each year.

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

One sentence: I live in a comfortable home, eat extremely well, put back some money each month, have a low-stress job with months of vacation time each year, I travel domestically within Thailand and also internationally at least a few times each year, my apartment is decent, though not awesome, and my life is generally quite worry-free.

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

The fact that you can buy food in small portions for a low price. The Export Shop, which can be found in many Thai shopping malls, is also a great bargain. Rent can also be cheap if you know where to look. I pay roughly the same here in Bangkok for rent as I did in a second-tier, far less international northeastern Chinese city.

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

In order to afford only the bare essentials I would say 20,000 baht. This person would have to have practically no social life and a lot of skill in resisting temptation. However, this number could be lower if they split their expenses with another person. However, even if rent and utilities were split with another person, their lifestyle still wouldn’t be very glamorous. In order to live “acceptably,” I would say 30,000 baht is the bare minimum for Bangkok.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Daniel for a very detailed cost of living survey. In fact so detailed, I had to cut some of it out because unfortunately we have limited character space for the answers. OK, what we have here is clearly a guy living well within his means and living very happily on less than 40K a month in Bangkok (which I am always saying is the bare minimum I would want to earn)

I notice Daniel only 'tops up' his salary with 1-2 hours of private teaching each week, so there's little doubt he could push himself harder in that area and earn more money - but I'm guessing he simply doesn't want to - he's happy with his lot. He goes out a few nights a month, lives in a decent place close to all the transportation links and eats very well indeed. Life is happy and simple so why rock the boat and have the stress of taking on extra work?

He's also stashing away about 100-120,000 baht a year. It's not a fortune - and I hope he's got health insurance covered - but it's probably enough for a trip home once a year.


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