Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 60,000

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

20-25 hours a week teaching English online with one company. That brings in about 40,000 baht. My real estate investment from the US brings in another 20,000 baht.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Nothing, I have a newborn baby and stay at home with my fiancé preparing to go to America next month.

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

We pay about 9,500 baht for our 2-bedroom, 2 bath-room house with parking and views of a private farm and small stream.

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


7,000 baht a month on our used car payments
3,200 baht a month on gas (we drive at least two hours a day including the commute for classes)

Utility bills

400 baht for electricity
620 baht for high speed internet
Nothing for water

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000 baht a month shopping at track.
10,000 baht a month eating out at mid-priced restaurants.
6,000 baht a month eating out cheap.
Remember this is for 2 people.
Nothing for alcohol.

Nightlife and drinking


Books, computers

I spend at least $600 baht on books, electronics and paperbacks.

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

Upper middle class lifestyle.

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

Accommodation and Thai food. In Boston where I’m from this house alone would be more than 75,000 baht a month at least. Thai food in Boston is 300 baht or more for pad Thai or any Thai meal.
Also buying a condo or house, if you can get a home equity loan or any loan from America that can be amortized, it is a real bargain. The monthly amount is the same or less than renting the same place.

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

I always thought this was a weird question. As a single person you could probably survive in Thailand on less than 10,000 baht a month if you have a small room with no AC, cooked and ate rice every day, slept most of the day, walked everywhere, didn’t drink, and got your water from the cheap refill stations around the city.

If you want to have a family and live a Western style middle-class lifestyle, you need more than 60,000 baht since doctor bills, baby costs, emergencies, and other random costs come up a lot. You could “survive” for less but to me surviving isn’t as good as enjoying life.

Phil's analysis and comment

I don't personally think there's anything 'weird' about the question 'how much do you need to earn to survive as a teacher in Thailand?'  The question implies how much would you need to earn to live a basic lifestyle.  Eating rice, drinking cheap water and lying on a bed all day is not living a basic lifestyle, that's barely existing. Good luck back in America anyway.

Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.    

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