Ellen

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 40-70,000

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

I earn 40,000 baht per month, working 20 hours per week. I am not required at the school when I am not teaching so I often partake in private classes, corporate teaching and do freelance writing projects. Income can change month to month, depending on how hard I work but 50,000 tends to suit me just fine. If I have something I need to save for, a trip or an expense, I can just work harder.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Nothing, I am not really a saver. I know it is irresponsible and at 32, should probably be preparing for the future but right now, living, for now suits me just fine. I have a few small debts from impulsive past travel on credit cards etc so anything left over, I pay back or take a trip somewhere. I get reduced flights as my girlfriend is cabin crew for an international airline so I am also lucky enough to be able to go home quite easily when I need to.

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

I live in a one-bedroom condo with a pool and gym for 11,000. My school offered me free accommodation but it was quite dated and without air-con and I like a really homely living space. 11,000 was a bit out of budget but figured I wouldn't need a gym membership on top of this and find gyms to be really expensive in Thailand.

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

Transportation

Next to nothing really. I love walking...especially in hot weather and I walk a lot. My school is a ten-minute walk away and I find Grab is really cheap for short motorbike trips. My BTS station is currently part of the new-build free routes to the surrounding 5 stops, including Ladprao, which is where I often go. I often visit friends in the On Nut and Ratchathewi areas but taxis are so cheap here compared to home

Utility bills

Electricity is usually around 1,500 with water no more than 300 baht. I pay 500 baht for my home wifi and mobile sim-card which is so cheap considering my data allowance. I don't get insurance with my school, so I pay around 1,000 baht for this.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't like Western food and I find food to be so cheap in Thailand, I don't even have a plate or a fork in my condo!
Breakfast is coffee. I pay 100 baht a week with my colleagues and one of our teachers cooks a superb lunch for us each day. Day-to-day, I will have a 50 baht dinner and maybe a can of Leo to go with it. I spend a bit more when socializing with friends, but they are all Thai and I am very happy with local food. I eat out a bit when my girlfriend is back in Bangkok and we like trying new places but this is just a few times a month.

Nightlife and drinking

TOO MUCH! I never go to clubs or anything, but I meet with friends for dinner and beers maybe more than I should. Again, it is always local bars and restaurants so inexpensive, but again, maybe I do this a bit too much and this is where most of my income, alongside clothes shopping goes.
When my girlfriend is back here from the country she is based in with her airline, we tend to go somewhere nice, stay out too late and we really love craft beer. Craft beer is crazy expensive in Thailand but this is no more than a couple of times a month.

Books, computers

Nothing, I have my own laptop and any books I get from used book stores.

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

I have an incredible standard of living in Thailand because it suits my preference just fine. I could never afford to get a decent place to live and socialise as much as I do here, in the UK. I eat so well here and feel much healthier in Thailand than I do at home as I eat fresh ingredients and exercise much more. I can hear the moaning about pollution already but, 'sabai sabai'.

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

Food, accommodation and travel. I love taking trips/holidays and the domestic flights in Thailand allow you to be in a destination on other people's bucket lists for next to nothing....in an hour!
I absolutely adore food and the best food in Thailand is usually the cheapest.
I also like vintage and second-hand clothing and in the UK, it tends to be more expensive than designer-wear, in Manchester anyway. I absolutely love shopping for clothes in Thailand and the second-hand stores and local-designer clothes at JJ are unbelievably cheap.

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

I see people on groups saying you need a minimum of 100,000 baht to live in Bangkok and I just genuinely don't know where these people go, or what they do.

Fine, I don't save any money but I could if I wanted to. I could cut down on things I loved a bit and work harder but I am happy as I am for now. I eat well, travel, see friends and go shopping often.

Prior to moving here permanently, I was offered salaries much higher than my 40,000 but I loved my school the second I stepped foot in it and feel day-to-day happiness is more important. My 40,000 + bits extra here and there are fine for me and working with the Thai military, I feel it gives me an air of safety in Thailand that is worth ten times my salary.

I think you need a Western income to live a Western lifestyle here but if I wanted that, I would live at home. I like and appreciate anything Thai and it is why I live here so the food, local bars, beer gardens etc are all part of why I love it.

What I really love so much about Thailand is you can make it suit all budgets. I have spent 8,000 baht in one night before and also managed to make 250 baht last a week - it is up to you and anything is possible in this dynamic and beautiful country!

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Ellen for such a detailed survey and such a good read! I got to the end of it and thought 'hold on! I know this young lady!' So I put two and two together (Manchester, age, past experiences, etc) and this could only be Ellen the stand-up comic LOL. 

I strongly urge you to read the hot seat interview that Ellen did for Ajarn over 5 years ago (my God, hasn't time flown) because it was obvious from that interview that one day Ellen would return and make Thailand her permanent home. She loved this country so much. And I'm made up that you are making a great success of it.

I'm not going to analyze the figures in your survey, Ellen, because you argue them so convincingly. Thank you for your contributions to Ajarn over the years and if we ever get the chance to meet, the craft beers are on me! 


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