Working in Shanghai

Monthly Earnings 150,000 (including a housing allowance)

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

My full-time teaching salary is the equivalent of 150,000 baht net. That includes a generous housing allowance.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

We live on 50,000 baht a month. After servicing our credit cards and topping up our mortgage repayments we save about 75,000 baht per month.

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

My packages includes a monthly housing allowance. This completely covers our rent, which is approx 45,000 baht a month.

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


School buses are provided. We use the subway on the weekends but a single journey is no more than 40 baht. I would say no more than 500 baht a month for a family of three.

Utility bills

Our electric bill usually comes in at about 1500 baht a month. That's with two air-cons running all night. Heat in winter and cool in summer. Gas and water are about 1,000 baht a month each.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Supermarket and wet market shopping approx 10,000 - 15,000 baht per month. Eating out adds another 5,000 baht a month.

The supermarket prices in Shanghai are almost the same in Thailand. The restaurants too, depending on the level of luxury.

Nightlife and drinking

Don't do nightlife. I occasionally have a few beers with friends on a Friday outside of a Family Mart near my compound. Approx 1,000 baht a month. No more than that.

Books, computers

I have a Kindle and a good book usually lasts me a month, so not even 200 baht a month. I purchase a PS4 game from time to time, which could be between 1,500 - 2,000 baht.

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

I would say that we are far better off in Shanghai than Bangkok. I could barely save 10,000 baht a month when I worked in Bangkok with a young family. Now my family's future is looking good.

I would say we live a life comparable to the middle class in the U.K. My son goes to football practice every week. My wife and I have gym memberships and I have a good life insurance policy. We can afford clothes from places like Ralph Lauren, Timberland, Marc Jacobs, Nike and Adidas. In Thailand these clothing items were out of the question due to high prices, even clothes purchases from Zara/H&M were very infrequent.

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

In Shanghai I would say that mid-range international cuisine is really inexpensive. We have been to great boutique restaurants and never spent more than 2,500 baht total.

Our favourite bargain has to be 11/11, this is a famous shopping day in China. It is done online through Taobao (Chinese eBay). The discounts on there are phenomenal.

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

I would say anything between 120-150k baht net in Shanghai, depending on your circumstances.

In Bangkok, we struggled on 65,000 baht. 100,000 baht and we'd have been OK in Bangkok, but that said, Thailand is getting more and more expensive.

Phil's analysis and comment

Good to hear from a teacher in China. Thanks James. China always seems to be a bit of a Marmite teaching destination if you've already spent time teaching in Thailand - you either love it or hate it. But it's clearly been a wise move for James and his family.

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