Working in Pathum Thani, near Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 60,000 baht in a good month

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

I'm in my mid-fifties and supposedly semi-retired in Thailand but I made friends with a local school owner, offered to help her out by doing a few lessons to keep me busy, students liked me, and it unfortunately snowballed from there. Never make the mistake of telling people on your moobarn (housing estate) that you're an English teacher. I'll quote silly prices like a thousand baht an hour and they'll say 'when can you start?' My friendly face and harmless demeanour have definitely been my downfall.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I live relatively comfortably on 30K a month. If I have a big expense like a trip abroad or I need to replace the washing machine, I can dip into my savings.

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

I bought a two-bedroom, two-storey house several years ago with my Thai partner for about 3.5 million I think it was. Thankfully, the neighbors are all good people and the moobarn has maintained its standards. I just couldn't do condo living.

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


I have a little motorcycle for zipping around the moobarn. I put a few hundred baht in the tank each month and it's probably enough to go around the world twice.

Utility bills

The air-con is blasting from the moment I walk in the door to the moment I leave so my electricity bill is usually around 3-4,000 (even more in the hot season) Water, phone, internet, Netflix and all that stuff comes to around another thousand.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

About 7,000 baht per month. I do that thing whereby you buy salads and fresh stuff from the local market and eat healthily for 3-4 days, then because I can't be bothered to go to the market twice in the same week, the last three days tends to be a diet of pot noodles and flaming hot Monster Munch.

Nightlife and drinking

I got the bars out of my system many moons ago. Wild horses couldn't drag me out for a night in Bangkok these days. Too many arseholes around. I do like a can of beer at home though and can sink three or four most nights. Shall we say 3-4,000 a month?

Books, computers

I find it hard to concentrate on a book and I'm getting more and more bored with the internet and the social media thing. Even my smartphone is five years old! How people can spend 30K on a bloody phone is beyond me!

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

It's perfectly fine. Sometimes I begrudge the number of hours I work but that's totally my fault for not being able to say no. Some of it isn't even English teaching. It's more like babysitting. I 'teach' a 6-year-old boy and his little sister twice a week and I'm holding up flashcards to teach them present continuous and running across the room to slap me on the head. "What's this man doing?" Slap! "That's right - he's swimming". Slap!
Sometimes on the motorcycle ride back to the house, my head is still stinging.

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

Anything that's labour intensive like having something cleaned or painted or chopped down.

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

Even if I didn't have savings to fall back on, I would still say 50-60K is enough for Bangkok. You're not living the life of Reilly but you're more than surviving. I guess a big factor would be how much you spend on accommodation.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Graham. Your survey brought to mind a couple of teenagers I taught at my house for around 18 months in the late 90s. Every Sunday at 1.00pm I used to dread that doorbell ringing. The only reason I kept up the lessons was because I liked their father. He was a good man but his two kids were a complete waste of time. They would pinch each other under the table and giggle for the entire duration of a 90-minute lesson. I counted every single second until it was over. Never do private lessons just because the money is good!

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