Donald

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 30,000 - 32,000 baht

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

I earn just over 30,000 baht a month at a school in Bangkok

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

Virtually nothing. When you earn 30K a month and you are living and working in Bangkok, there's just nothing left over. I take my hat off to other teachers in my position that can save money.

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

I pay 6,000 baht a month for a studio apartment. The room itself is nothing to write home about but the building is clean and safe and I like the management.

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

Transportation

I take a combination of bus and sky-train to work and that probably comes to about 1,500 a month. I also try to use public buses at the weekend instead of taxis in order to keep costs down.

Utility bills

I have air-conditioning but seldom use it. I'm on the 12th floor, so if I open the door to the corridor and the door onto the balcony, I get a nice breeze coming through. It's been a lot hotter this month though. People told me that April and May could be hot but they didn't tell me just how hot!

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Fortunately, I live in an area that's heaving with basic Thai restaurants and street-food stalls. Eat at these places and it's not too difficult to keep your daily food spend down to below 200 baht. I will sometimes have a fast food splurge at the weekend but only because I crave something other than rice. I guess with supermarket shopping on top, my food bill comes to about 7,000 baht a month. That's still almost 25% of my monthly salary though and I'm always trying to figure out how to get that lower.

Nightlife and drinking

I very rarely go out. I have a couple of good drinking pals and we'll do a Saturday night down the Sukhumwit a couple of times a month. That can cost you 2,000 baht a time once you get your beer legs on.

Books, computers

I'm lucky to have quite a lot of free time at school so I use the school's computers and internet. To be honest, the last thing I want to do when I get home in the evening is spend those precious hours aimlessly surfing more internet. For me, the evenings are for watching TV or perhaps studying some Thai.

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

30,000 baht in Bangkok probably isn't enough for a lot of people. I survive well enough but there is little room for luxuries But I think the more you earn, the more you want. If I earned 50,000 a month, what would I do with the extra 20K? I'm not even sure.

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

Only the cost of riding the public buses comes to mind. The street-food is cheap enough at let's say 30-40 baht a dish, but in all honesty, that's all it's worth.

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

You can survive on 30K for sure but 40-50K in Bangkok is probably the minimum a Western teacher should be aiming for.

Phil's analysis and comment

Here we go again - the old 'can a teacher live on 30K a month' debate. It's not going to go away is it? I look at Donald's survey and I think here is someone living within his means and probably enjoying himself immensely. He's in a foreign land, absorbing a foreign culture, learning a language, making friends. And of course he's got food in his belly and a roof over his head. I don't know how old Donald is but I'll take a guess at mid-twenties. Life is nearly always exciting at that age. But if it were a teacher in his 50s giving us the same figures as above, well that's a different story. 


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