Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 45,000 - 50,000 baht a month

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

I earn 35.000 Baht a month at a private school on a 10-month contract, with an end-of-year bonus which is a bit more than my monthly salary. I also earn anywhere between 12.000 and 18.000 Baht a month teaching Dutch to private students.

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

I try to save at least 10.000 a month and often manage to save more than that. It all depends on how many extra classes I teach.

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

I live in a studio apartment and I pay 6.350 Baht per month rent. It’s a relatively new apartment and it’s safe and quiet. I would like to move to a larger apartment, but my ideal location is too expensive.

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


The bus to school costs about 400 Baht per month and I spend around 800 Baht on taxis and the BTS. Add the costs of an occasional flight or minivan out of town and I think it is about 2500 per month.

Utility bills

Water is cheap, only about 150B per month. Electricity is about 1.500B and internet 350B per month. I rarely make calls so my phone bill is about 200B per month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I almost never cook. If I do, it’s spaghetti bolognese as Thais can’t seem to get it right. Around my school I can only buy Thai food so at night I fancy a nice western meal. I can’t eat rice all the time! I spend about 350B on food during the week and 600B at the weekend. That’s about 11.000 Baht in total.

Nightlife and drinking

I like my beer and meeting up with friends, only I try to take it easy during weekdays. I think I spend around 10,000B per month.

Books, computers

People send me e-books and I don’t play video games.

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

I’m pretty comfortable at the moment but I don’t have any kids to take care of.

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

Transportation in Thailand is amazingly cheap, as well as food (supermarkets not so much) and clothes. Here I can go to an Indian tailor and buy a shirt, trousers and a tie for 1600 Baht. I could only buy a shirt back home for the same amount.

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

For a single young teacher in Bangkok 40,000B per month minimum and for someone with a family 80,000B per month.

Phil's analysis and comment

How nice to have a Dutchman complete one of our cost of living surveys. I've been lucky to travel around The Netherlands several times and it's easily my favourite country in Europe. Amazing country and fantastic people! And if there's a nationality on earth who know how to enjoy life - it's the Dutch.

One of the things that blows my mind about The Netherlands is the standard of spoken English there. Ask a road-sweeper for directions and the information will be given to you word-perfect!

Before I make some observations about Dutchboy's figures above, here are some more words he had to say on the topic of his future in Thailand.  

"In my opinion the salaries are not high enough. I'm still young, don't have any kids and don't have student loans to pay off. My girlfriend also has a job and earns 21.000.

I'm doing alright at the moment but I have to teach extra classes on top of my full time job. This costs me time and energy which would be better spent focusing on my full time job.

But I also think about the future and ask myself; do I want to live in a studio apartment for the rest of my life? What about retirement? If I had kids to take care of, I wouldn't have enough money to offer them a bright future. Let's be honest, would you put your kids through the Thai education system?

So I have to make a decision, either move away from teaching, or go back to university and get some proper teaching qualifications and try to find a job at an international school. But even then, most of them don't offer great salaries. I would be on a higher wage teaching back home compared to my salary here. You can earn much more money elsewhere"

I've got my trusty calculator out and factoring in bonus and private students, Dutchboy earns somewhere between 45 and 50K baht a month.

I think here we have a guy with his head screwed on (to use one of my Mother's favourite expressions) Dutchboy admits that his current lifestyle - although enjoyable now - probably can't last forever, especially if he decides to raise a family. There's nothing wrong with contemplating the future and being prepared. 

I like the ratio of rent to income. 6,350 baht plus bills is less than 20% of his total income. And although 10,000 baht a month on beer sounds a lot (to me anyway) he doesn't spend extravagantly in other areas. Oh, and there is of course a partner bringing in another 21,000 baht a month. A couple with no kids will always live well enough in Bangkok on 70,000 baht a month - especially when rent is such a good deal.  

What's also refreshing to hear is that there is clearly plenty of private work around for a teacher of Dutch. Things may have changed, but in the past I worked alongside many a French, German and Italian teacher who could always find private students, but never enough of them to make ends meet and provide them with a decent monthly income.

But in all fairness, often those teachers' command of English was not good enough to hold down a full-time job teaching English as the target language. Dutchboy obviously doesn't have that problem. 

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