Working in Hat Yai, Songkhla

Monthly Earnings 31,500 + overtime (usually close to 40,000 total)

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

I work full-time at a college. My overtime hours generally involve one-on-one or small group teaching, but sometimes fill-ins for other teachers at larger schools.

I should note that my contract for the coming year (2020 - 2021) included a pay raise. I worked for various companies in America between 1999 - 2015 and never once received a raise. It's a more responsible culture out here.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At least 60% of my income, sometimes more. I am from America, a country where my generation has almost zero savings and loads of debt. As such, I made sure to reverse this situation in Asia. Also, a very overlooked opportunity in Thailand is the S.E.T. (Stock Exchange of Thailand). Unlike the Western stock markets, Thai shares are very cheap and have loads of potential upside. Not to mention, the covid hysteria caused a small, temporary dip in share prices - anyone smart enough to invest in February or March has seen at least a 50% return as of this writing (June).

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

7,000 baht per month for a condo in a building with two pools, library, lounge, recreation areas, rooftop garden, etc. I pay around 70% of the rent and my girlfriend pays 30% while she works on building up her sandwich / pastry business.

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


Next to nothing. I walk and bicycle a lot. I live within walking distance of my school. I rent a 2nd hand motorbike from my friend and spend at the absolute most 500-1,000 on gas / petrol. I enjoy taking long drives in the countryside, along the coast, etc.

Utility bills

During the covid hysteria, the government has slashed electricity to the wonderful rate of 88 baht per month. This will end soon, and I expect to be paying about 1,000 -1,200. When I lived alone, I was paying 400, but I also use a lot less air-con than my girlfriend would prefer. Set the timer so that it switches off at 2am (ha ha). We share the costs of utilities. We have our own washing machine and as a consequence the water bill can be as much as 500 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

As I mentioned above, my girlfriend has a nice little food business, so I eat like a king and very rarely go out to restaurants.

Nightlife and drinking

I'm a semi-professional musician, so 'nightlife' for me usually involves working and being compensated for all drinks and food. I very rarely go to a bar unless music is involved. I enjoy high-quality vintage wines and single malt scotch, but I have 'connections' so I don't pay too much.

I suppose it's worth mentioning that I finally quit smoking (cigarettes) about 8 or 9 months ago. In America, cigarettes are insanely expensive, and I was never a heavy smoker but it still took its toll on my income, not to mention my health. I tried to quit many, many times and kept failing. It was a lot easier to stop smoking here in Thailand as the lifestyle is a lot less stressful compared to the West. I had some help from the Thai government program where you can get free / discounted nicotine replacement products, etc. I stepped down my dosage using the gum and have been nicotine-free for most of this year already! I'm in favor of smoking more medicinal varieties of plant material however, especially since they are being legalized. ;-)

Books, computers

I use wifi at the public areas of my condo. I'm a book addict, and there happens to be a free book exchange at the local university. If I'm traveling, I'll pick up books at hostels, etc. I always re-donate the books when I'm finished with them, so the cost is about zero. The last time I actually purchased a new book was Bruce Springsteen's autobiography in Rotterdam, NL back in 2017, for I think 15 euro.

The local public library is right across the street from where I live, but for some reason they've been closed since last year. It's a pity because it's a very nice facility. I don't think they have many English-language materials though.

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

180-degrees different from, and infinitely better than, what it was in America.

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

Rent and healthcare - the two things that tend to keep Americans broke. Also transportation is reasonably priced here. It is difficult to compare with the U.S.A., since that country does not have reliable, responsible, affordable transportation systems anywhere within its borders. I grew up thinking the NYC subways were supposed to be the envy of the world, 5555!!

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

Depends on one's definition of 'survival'. If the word is taken literally, as in 'not dying', then perhaps 1,000 baht. Monks live on less than that.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Ian for a very interesting survey. We don't hear from too many foreign teachers who dabble in the Thai stock market but I guess they're out there. My wife does quite well with Thai shares but she's often moaning that she doesn't have enough free time to devote to analyzing the market, etc. She has a couple of friends who buy and sell shares far more seriously and they make great money! 

All in all, it sounds like you enjoy life here in Thailand far more than you did back home and you make some good comparisons. 

Good luck with the pastry business! 

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