Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 50,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I teach at a hotel in Bangkok. The salary is 50,000 Baht per month. The pay slip shows more than that because the hotel pays and manages the taxes for me. My Thai partner (not a teacher) brings in about 22,000 per month. Many of our expenses are shared.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Not much, as we are planning for our wedding and I’m paying back my US student loans (which are about 18,000 Baht per month). 2,500 Baht is put into my provident fund directly from my paycheck, and then we put aside another 3-5,000 Baht per month.

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

We live in a slightly older one bedroom condo about 15-20 minute walk from the BTS. It takes a motorcycle taxi less than 5 minutes to get to the BTS. It has a gym and swimming pool and the membership for this is included in our rent. Our rent is 10,000 Baht per month.

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


For me, I take a motorcycle taxi and the BTS to work every day. That adds up to about 1,500 Baht per month. My partner drives to work and he pays about 4,000 Baht per month for gas.We also have a car loan that we are paying on which is 7,600 Baht per month.

Utility bills

About 1,000 for the electricity, 700 for the Internet, 100 for the water, 450 each for our phones.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I usually take care of the food shopping for both of us and buy a lot of fruits and vegetables from a local market. During the week my lunches are provided at work, and I usually pick up market food on my way home from work for dinner. We eat in Western style restaurants about 2-3 times a month. All together about 6-8,000 Baht per month.

Nightlife and drinking

We usually go out every other weekend and spend 1,000 Baht per night for the both of us. I always like to have a bottle of wine in the fridge, so that’s another 1,000 or so per month. So, I would say about 3-4,000 Baht.

Books, computers

Books, computers : Internet is already factored into utilities.

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

Right now it is manageable, but it will be a whole lot better once these loans are paid off.

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

Taxi fares, massages, and the price of pineapple.

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

If you do not have burdensome student loans, or any other kind of debt that you are paying back, I would say 35,000 Baht to get by and still have some occasional luxuries.

Phil's analysis and comment

I would never ever advise a person to come and teach in Thailand if they have student loans to pay off. I would probably tell someone to look for work in the better paying Asian countries such as Korea or Taiwan. 18,000 baht a month - the loan amount that Jackie is paying off - is a huge chunk of your salary disappearing every four weeks. However, if anyone can make things work, then I think Jackie can, because she sounds extremely sensible. She goes out on the weekend just a couple of times a month and she manages to keep those utility bills low. There is also 72,000 baht a month coming into the household. Take off Jackie's 18,000 baht loan and you're still left with 54,000 baht a month. A couple can manage on that amount of cash for a period of time but life will certainly get a whole lot better once that loan is paid off!

Jackie only spends about 8,000 baht a month on food and restaurant eating for two people. She achieves this relatively low figure by doing a lot of her shopping at the local market. This piqued my interest because I've become a regular face at my local market as well. I got sick and tired of paying the supermarket's inflated prices for fruit and vegetables and thought "enough! I'm going to go local". Many of the market sellers now know me by sight and we have a bit of banter and I genuinely enjoy the whole market experience. And you do save an awful lot of money compared to shopping at the supermarket.   

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