Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 110,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I work at an international school and my take-home pay is around 110K a month, which includes a housing allowance and end-of-year bonus. I also get a return air-fare once a year, which comes in handy for the annual family visit.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

The answer is as much as I can, because I'm 35 now and have no intention of working past 55. If things go well, I might retire even sooner. I try and send back at least 50K a month to the UK because banks over there are offering pretty attractive interest rates these days if you're willing to tie up your money for several years.

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

I pay 10,000 a month for a one-bed condo in the Bangkok suburbs. It's nothing special and it's a fairly old building with only the basic facilities but I get on well with the staff and I've never felt any reason to move. I don't want to spend any more than 20% of my remaining salary anyway. As long as I've got my comforts like a decent TV, a nice fridge, etc and the neighbours aren't too noisy, that's really all I'm looking for.

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


I use motorbike taxis and the skytrain/metro and this comes to around 1,500 a month I guess.

Utility bills

Usually around 2,000 baht depending on how hot the weather is and how much I need to turn the air-condition on. It's always nice to get April and May out of the way isn't it? I thought it was particularly hot this year.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I'm very much a single guy so there's only me to take care of. I do have a lady friend who I see at the weekends and we'll go out and eat together but generally, she's very good about paying when it's her turn (she earns nearly as much as I do so why not?) I get school lunches provided, I usually skip breakfast, so most days of the week there's only an evening meal to find and I rarely pay above 100 baht a time for that, including a soft drink. Even with supermarket and 7-11 shopping, I bet the total spend doesn't break 8,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

I got bored of the nightlife scene ages ago. I'll have a Friday or Saturday night out maybe twice a month but it's never anything too heavy. Let's say 4,000 a month tops and I'm always in bed by midnight.

Books, computers

I do enjoy reading and I download stuff from Amazon and pick up second-hand reads from various bookshops. It probably averages out around 2,000 a month.

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

I'm perfectly happy with it. I'm simply not a great drinker or socializer and if you're neither of those, that monthly pay packet will stretch much further. One section I think you should include in these surveys is travel because most of my spare cash goes on travelling in Thailand. It's a huge country and over the past ten years, I've got to see well over half of its 77 provinces. Which probably leads me nicely to....

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

Everything associated with domestic travel. Long distance bus and train fares are an absolute steal if you've got the time on your hands, and in most cities outside of the obvious tourist destinations, you can get cracking hotel rooms for less than a thousand baht a night. One thing we do get at my school is a generous amount of time off and as soon as I see the chance to take off for a few days, I grab it with both hands. I've already got four trips planned in the the rest of this year.

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

In Bangkok? If I wasn't desperately trying to save as much money as possible for my hopefully early retirement, I would say 50K at a pinch. But I think you could put 50% on top of that if you were a serious night owl. Nearly every fellow teacher, every foreigner I know, who struggles with money and barely has a pot to piss in in the week leading up to pay day, drinks too much.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Eddie. Yes, I've been investigating those UK bank account interest rates myself and couldn't resist a slice of the action. Smart move indeed. And although 110K is a very decent salary, why fritter it away when you're simply not a party animal and prefer quiet nights in with a good book? Keep stashing it away son, because take it from me, you'll be well into your fifties before you know it. And that's when you'll start reaping the rewards and be able to spend your golden years travelling even more!

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