Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 155,000

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

My all-in average monthly income (after tax) is 155,000. The vast majority of this comes from my main job at a fairly decent international school where I work as an EAL teacher (117,000). The remainder comes from teaching small group exam prep courses on Saturdays (1,500 baht per hour which is paid at the end of every course <45,000 baht every 5th Saturday>).

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

100,000 - and it's the Saturday work that makes all the difference (without that I'd be saving half as much). I was seriously considering giving up Saturdays until I thought about retirement. If I don't work Saturdays, I'll need to do another 25 years before I have enough money to retire. With Saturdays that amount of time is reduced to less than 15 years. Right now I'm 37.

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

17,000 for a fully furnished one-bedroom condo (80sqm). It's a fairly old building but in great condition. The location is great for work but it's a couple of kilometres to the nearest BTS/MRT stations. Strictly speaking I only pay 8,500 baht as my partner pays half the rent.

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

a) Transportation

Very little. I live close enough to work to walk and run a little scooter that drinks about 50 Baht of 91 a week.

b) Utility bills

About 3,000 baht. This includes electricity, water and internet.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I'd guess about 10,000 baht per month. Meals are free at school (Thai / Western buffet) which means that I usually only have to pay for dinner.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Maybe 2,000 a month. I used to be out on Sukhumvit at least twice a week wasting my money and liver. Thankfully, gradually aging and working Saturdays have put a stop to that. I now go out perhaps once a month

e) Books, computers

Generally nothing. I have a computer but don't spend anything on it unless it breaks. As for books, there is a great book exchange at work that is free.

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

Busy but fun. Working 6 days a week is a lot, but I genuinely enjoy the Saturday classes. Teaching young adults who have actually chosen to be there is a refreshing experience. I also feel quite lucky that my (wonderful) Thai partner earns a decent salary by local standards (80k+), pays half the rent and generally takes care of herself. The only thing that we really do spend money on is travelling, this year alone we've been back to Europe twice, Japan once and are planning a break to Taiwan in October.

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

Tax! Back in the UK, income tax, national insurance, council tax, VAT and duties really added up!

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

I spend about 40,000 baht per month including rent. If I travelled less I could cut this back to 30,000 but life would be dull. And I'd be in trouble when I hit 65.

Phil's analysis and comment

Wow! Here's a guy that's feathering his nest and looking to retire in his early 50's. Way to go James! 

I was going to ask what you intended doing once you have put away your board-markers for good. I guess it might be a lot more travelling eh? but you do a good bit already. James also mentioned that one of the reasons he loves to travel is because of the favorable exchange rate between the Thai Baht and other currencies. I'm with you there James. All hail the mighty Baht.

James earns a fine teacher salary. We can all see and appreciate that. But what I would like to highlight is the fact that James has a Thai partner who also brings home the bacon and pays her way. A half share of the accommodation rental being just one example.

I'm also lucky enough to have a Thai partner who earns an excellent salary by local standards and it goes without saying how much easier and more comfortable life becomes. "Let me pay for dinner. It must be my turn" or "I'll just go to the gas station to fill up with petrol before we drive down to Hua Hin"

I've also been on the flipside of the coin, albeit many years ago. I've had the Thai partner who sells a little bit of food here and there and moves from one hare-brained, money-losing scheme to another. Most of the time, she would rather just lie on the sofa, watching Thai comedy shows and cackling like a nutter. Let me tell you - the first type of partner is better.     

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