Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 33,000

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

33K is my full-time salary at a language school located in central Bangkok.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?


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

I spend 5,000 per month on a newly-built condo, with a swimming pool, the usual fitness facilities but most importantly I share the cost with my significant other. Total cost is 10,000 baht per month.

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


I go the the language school three times a week, but at inconvenient times such as weekends or late in the afternoon. I’m a slicker for managing my money so I spend exactly 450 baht a week or 1,800 baht a month on this. The other 3 days a week, I’m teaching online using my own computer.

Utility bills

About 800-1,000 baht a month, which includes air-con every night. Water is about 100 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

90% of the time it’s street food, which I take back to my apartment. This comes to about 200-250 baht per day. Supermarket shopping I budget and spend about 1,000 baht a month for.

Nightlife and drinking


Books, computers

I have an English TV subscription that sets me back about 500 baht per month. Books are free online if you know where to look.

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

I'm a Brit living on a pittance, being paid illegally, having to scrape by each month just to have a savings pot that is slowly being wiped out by inflation.

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

If I had a better salary, many things are bargains here. I can buy a bottle of coke for around 15 baht, which is about 40p, or fresh food from the market for about 50-70 baht.

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

At least 50,000 with the potential to earn more.

Thailand, especially Bangkok's cost of living, has gone up tremendously over the last few years. Sure, I might be saving some cash but in the grand scheme of things it’s a small amount of money. In the future, another 5-10 years from now, your standard 33-35k job isn’t going to be enough to live on and I pity anyone who wants to do it.

You really need to have a long term plan for Thailand and especially have a back up plan. Forget TEFL. Long term that’s going to the pan. Wages are stagnant and like I said, in another 5-10 years people will still be fighting over 33-35k jobs.

Once you have to return to reality, you’ll wish you'd planned ahead and took the time to properly acquire the right qualifications needed if you want to teach long term, otherwise you’ll be left with no real skills and back stacking selves.

My circumstances are different but I have stuck around for three years doing an education degree, but ultimately I’ll be back in the UK soon acquiring these qualifications as I’m still in my twenties and don’t want to end up with a decade of tefl experience and still scraping the bottom of the barrel with these low paid TEFL jobs.

Phil's analysis and comment

You certainly got it all off your chest in that last few paragraphs, Eva and I wouldn't disagree with a word of what you said. Those of us in Bangkok are all noticing how the cost of living has crept up and up. You say those 35K jobs won't cut it in five years time but I'm not sure they even do now. Your '50K with the potential to earn more' is far nearer the mark for Bangkok. It's becoming one expensive city, especially if you have Western tastes. 

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