Working in Pathum Thani, near Bangkok
Monthly Earnings 55,000
Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)
I've worked at my particular school for five years and over time my teaching load has decreased and I've moved into other areas like teacher recruitment and curriculum development. Actually, because we now have 25-30 foreign teachers, the teacher recruitment has become almost the biggest part of my daily job. I teach about 10 hours a week compared to 20 in the past but my salary has increased thanks to the extra responsibilities.
Q2. How much money can you save each month?
I try to save anything from 5,000 to 20,000 a month. 20K is only doable if I don't do any travelling or have any large purchases though.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
I live in a 3-bedroom house with my Thai partner and that costs 12,000 baht a month to rent. I pay all of that amount and my partner chips in with the utility bills. That's kind of the arrangement we've always had. She only earns around 20K a month so it feels unfair to make her split the rent down the middle. It's a nice place, down a quiet soi on a well-maintained and secure housing complex. The neighbors are friendly and we have a small front and back garden.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
I have a motorcycle I use to go the 5 kilometres to work and back so with the odd taxi fare at the weekend and a few skytrain fares, this expense probably comes to around 2,000 a month.
As I said, my partner takes care of this expense. I don't think it ever comes to more than about 3,000 baht for electricity and water.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
Both my partner and I pretty much stick to Thai food all the time. She doesn't like Western fast food and I fell out of love with it a long time ago. I'll sometimes splurge on a Chinese or Indian meal and have it delivered but otherwise, it's Thai food all the way, either street food or low-end places. I'd say if you factor in supermarket shopping, 7-11 purchases etc, this must be 12,000 baht a month.
Nightlife and drinking
Yes, we like a night out. Usually we'll catch the BTS into Bangkok and have a few drinks at somewhere like Khao San Road. If you do this just once a week, you can blow hole in 12,000 baht a month easily.
I'm not much of a reader or gamer. I do like my Netflix series (around 450 baht a month) so I'll normally fall asleep in the armchair in front of the box if we don't go out drinking. A day's work always tires me out.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
It's OK, nothing special. We have a joint income of around 75,000 and when you're a couple that likes their weekends away and enjoy the Bangkok pubs, you can burn through 75K very easily. If I'm honest, another 25K would be very nice
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Fruit from the local market as opposed to paying supermarket prices. I don't go in the high-end supermarkets anymore. The price of goods in those places is getting crazy.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
Let me say a few words from a recruiter's standpoint. The days of the 30K a month teacher are over, and if they aren't over they soon will be. You can't recruit a native English speaker for that sort of salary, period, well, only if they are truly desperate and have so many skeletons in the closet, you can barely close the door. You can't even get quality Europeans (non-NES) or Filipinos to work for a 30K salary these days either. The non-NES teachers know they are often better at teaching English than natives and as for the Filipinos, they aren't running away for a better life in Thailand like they were in the past. Thailand just isn't the TEFL attraction it once was.
But to answer the question, I would say at least 50,000 in Bangkok for a single teacher but a lot more than that if you've an eye on the future.
Phil's analysis and comment
Thanks a lot Gav, always interesting to hear the thoughts of someone on the teacher recruitment front line. A lot of teachers will tell you that Thailand TEFL salaries haven't increased in the last twenty years and while I don't think that's entirely true (because there are more 40-75K salaries around nowadays), when I recruited teachers in the late 90's, we were certainly offering 30K+. And 30K went a hell of a lot further in those days because there was so little to spend your money on, You put a roof over your head, ate mainly Thai food because you didn't have the selection of Western eateries and you had the occasional weekend in Pattaya or Hua Hin because there were no low-cost airlines back then. Were they the good old days I wonder?