Working in Bangkok
Monthly Earnings 55,000 baht a month on average
Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?
40,000 from my government school job, around 3-5,000 from weekend teaching.
Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?
Around 20-25,000 a month
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
5,000 baht a month for my studio apartment near my old workplace. It's got a pool and gym, plus 24 hours security, so I know my motorbike is safe.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
2,000 a month, I have my own motorbike which is fuel-efficient, so it costs me around 300 baht a week for petrol (Gasohol 95) to commute to and from the school 30km away. I don't drive efficiently by any means, I keep the speedometer as high as it will go all the way if I can. If I drove efficiently, the cost would go down to around 200 a week. Rest of the time, I use the BTS/MRT and taxis. Sometimes I will splurge to visit my girlfriend, and that's a flight away for me, so around 3-4,000 on flights.
Near government rates, so I pay around 1,500 a month with air con running every night and at weekends when I'm in. Water is only 30 baht a month (15 baht a unit). I was surprised the first time I received my bill because I used the shower liberally twice or three times daily.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
I don't cook in my studio apartment to avoid smells so I spend almost nothing on supermarket shopping. I spend around 100-150 a day on food, which is going down because food at the school is good and costs me 20-25 baht a plate/bowl. I help myself to fruits that my lovely Thai coworkers feed me from their gardens. I used to spend a lot on coffee, but now I drink instant coffee which is free at my school. That's taken 100 bahts off my daily spend.
Nightlife and drinking
As far as drinking goes, I can't handle alcohol in this climate, so one or two bottles of beer a month is enough for me. I'm more of a fan of eating out than getting drunk, so my spending on night outs are close to zero. At weekends, I'm a Japanese food fiend and will happily spend a lot of money on sushi, but I'll do that just once or twice a month these days. That comes to around 1,000-2,000 on sushi alone.
I have a notebook and iPad, so I spend nothing on computers. I buy three books a month from Kinokuniya at Siam Paragon, so let's say around 1,000.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
I'm comfortable, my motorbike has dramatically driven down my transportation costs and given me so much freedom, so for now, I'm content, but I would ideally like to be earning a lot more because I intend to start an MEd course as soon as possible, and obviously postgraduate education is quite expensive.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Back in the UK, I'd be paying 65-68 baht a litre for petrol, but I spend less than half that here, so with a fuel-efficient vehicle, it's a bargain!
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
I'd say 40-45K a month in Bangkok is a fair estimate.
Phil's analysis and comment
Jay also had the following to say on the topic of teacher salary - "I could NOT survive on the 25-30k some teachers here are making, and I wouldn't want to either. When I was hunting for jobs, I was so glad I had savings - it's allowed me to be more stubborn and hold out until I found a job that I thought would pay me enough to have a semi-decent standard of living. I grew up without much and my family taught me how to be economical with money, so being frugal is second-nature to me. However, there's being frugal, and then there's desperately clinging onto the fading Thailand dream. If I could only get 30k a month jobs, I'd just pack my bags and go to Vietnam where they're paying teachers a lot more on average. I also just wanted to highlight that investing in a motorbike like a Yamaha Fiore or something can and will cut down on transportation costs immensely, and that living outside of the BTS/MRT network drives down costs"
Jay sounds like a sensible chap and I'm impressed that he's managing to save half of his salary. You would need to do quite a few hours at the weekend to make 5,000 baht. But I do know one teacher who teaches three hours on a Saturday morning and does six hours on a Sunday - that's 9 hours at 700 baht an hour, which adds up to over 6,000 baht for just one weekend. So it can certainly be done.