Working in Bangkok
Monthly Earnings 115,000 baht
Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?
When I first came to Bangkok a few years ago, I landed a teaching job at a mid-tier international school and made just over 60,000 baht per month. I now work more at one of the largest international schools, and make about 115,000 per month after taxes and deductions.That doesn't include bonuses, flights, insurance or the housing allowance of approximately 40,000 baht per month. (Yes, the big schools really are like this.) My Thai wife has her own income of about 15,000-20,000 baht per month.
Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?
I'm paying off multiple student loans and also own a car, so debt and the other expenses below eat up a lot of the potential savings. I put away at least 20,000 per month or more depending on the time. That will go up after the loans are paid off in about two years, and my wife can work full-time.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
Until last year I lived in a 2-bedroom townhouse near one of the BTS stations for 12,000 baht per month. It's surprising how many deals you can find if you go off the beaten path. To be closer to work I moved into a 25,000 baht per month condo.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
The car payments are 11,000 baht per month, and I also frequently use public transportation when I want to avoid bad traffic in central Bangkok, and because my wife uses the car more. It probably comes out to a total of 14,000 baht per month for both of us.
I pay an average of 2,000 - 3,000 per month for the electric bill and another 1,000 for the internet connection. I don't even count the water bill since it's usually so low.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
We love good food and we're happy to go to nice restaurants or get street food depending on the mood. This is something we don't keep track of, so I can't put an accurate figure on it. It might be around 15,000-20,000 baht per month. We also have a dog that eats a lot and other household items, so add another 4,000 to that.
Nightlife and drinking
This is something we don't spend much on, but if you count going out to movies and other activities, it probably adds up to only 3,000 baht per month.
My job provides a laptop. If I buy books, it only averages out to maybe 500 baht per month.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
It's comfortable, but not luxurious. I would probably change that to be more positive in a few years once our debts our paid off.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Without a doubt, food. Even when you compare some of the expensive restaurants to ones in other major world cities, it's significantly cheaper. Clothes can also be purchased at a bargain at some places. Cars and some other items end up being more expensive.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
It depends completely on your standard of living and your goals. Yes, I earn a really good salary, but I come from a family that focused on being conservative in spending, unless it's food or an 'investment' like education. I save a lot compared to others, but my job demands a lot of time--up to 60 hours per week for years now. Others would be happier working and earning less, but spending more. It's all perspective.
Phil's analysis and comment
Not much to say about Daniel's survey really but the future looks very bright indeed. As a couple, Daniel and his partner are pulling in 135,000 baht a month - with the potential to earn more in the years to come. A couple are always going to live well on that sort of income in Bangkok. As Daniel has said, it's just a case of getting all those debts paid off and then he's going to be walking along 'easy street'