Working in Chiang Mai
Monthly Earnings 38,000
Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?
38,000 for a full-time job at a bilingual school teaching English 20 hours per week.
Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?
20,000. Maybe a little more or less depending on the entertainment category.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
I paid 24,000 for 6 months rent in a condo. It has a living room and a bedroom that are separate, a large wrap-around balcony, an outdoor-kitchen, and a great, unobstructed view of the mountains. I really had to haggle with the lady because she wanted 7,000 per month.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
500 for gas. I already purchased a motorbike for 20,000.
Roughly 1,800. 500 for water and electric, 850 for cell phone and internet, and 400 for laundry. No TV.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
8,000. 6,000 for restaurants and 2,000 at the supermarket.
Nightlife and drinking
Zero. I have enough books already and I also have a Kindle. I don’t pay for anything in the computer category either.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
My standard of living is better than it was in the US.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Getting paid for a job that’s fun, cheap food, massage, muay Thai fights for free (sometimes) when I show a Thai license and school ID.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
15,000 to survive, 25,000 to spend, and 35,000+ to spend and save. I think it’s a good idea to take care of some start-up costs like paying for your rent upfront and buying a used motorbike from an auction.
Phil's analysis and comment
When someone says their standard of living is better in Thailand than it was in their homeland, you can't really argue with that. In fact there is very little I can pick apart in Davis' no-nonsene approach to living and teaching in Chiang Mai. His salary of 38K is a lot better than many teachers do in that part of the world so as long as Davis acts sensibly - which he clearly does - he's going to do well up there. Well done that man for negotiating his rent down from 7,000 to 4,000 and then paying six months upfront. There's a recession on! The bargains are there if you ask people to sharpen their pencils.