Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 35,000

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

I work at a small Thai secondary school just outside Chiang Mai and my full-time salary is 35,000. I don't do any other work on the side.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Little to nothing but I only teach to cover my living expenses and 35K is about what I need to maintain an OK lifestyle in Chiang Mai.

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

I bought my own small one-bedroom condo a couple of years ago for 1.8 million baht and it's relatively near the centre of town. I didn't figure on it being an investment but it was nice to purchase my own place and not have to worry about rent or needing to move around.

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


I have a small motorcycle (as most long-term expats seem to do) because getting around Chiang Mai is so much easier on two wheels. I guess this costs me about 1000 baht a month on gas and minor repairs, etc. I've never really thought about it to be honest.

Utility bills

I like to run the air-con whenever I'm home so this is what really bumps the bill up, especially in the hot season. The bill usually comes to around 2-3,000 baht but money well spent!

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out all the time but not at expensive places or western food joints. I have about half a dozen places where I go for my main meal after school and it never comes to more than about 80 baht with a soft drink. I guess if you throw in the weekly supermarket trip and popping into 7-11 for snacks, this bill comes to around 7-8,000 baht a month. I'm not a huge eater.

Nightlife and drinking

Virtually zero. I have the odd beer at home but don't go out much at night unless I'm invited to someone's leaving or birthday do. I bet this doesn't break a couple of thousand a month. I generally live a quiet life.

Books, computers

I'm not much of a gadget / IT person but I do enjoy reading. I probably spend a couple of thousand baht a month on books off Amazon. An evening in with a good book is my idea of a perfect evening.

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

It's as good as I want to be. I'm not a night owl or someone who throws money away. I have decent savings stashed away after I took early redundancy from my job in Europe and teaching is really just something to keep me busy (not that I don't care about the job I do) Teaching pays the bills and gives me enough spending money on top.

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

Meals in local restaurants and hotel rooms once you move outside of the big cities.

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

Despite what I hear many people say, Chiang Mai is not a cheap city to live in. I burn through 35K even with my extremely modest lifestyle. If I was a younger person and my salary was my only source of income, with maybe no real savings to speak of, I'd want at least 50-60K. I don't speak to many teachers earning that kind of coin up here though.

Phil's analysis and comment

It's a nice position to be in Jim, to have feathered your nest elsewhere and just teaching for something to do and to provide you with your basic living expenses and a bit on top. I've worked with a number of teachers in the same boat and they always seemed like the happiest teachers to work alongside. It's a life almost with no stresses! 

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