Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 38,000

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

I teach at a private Thai school in Bangkok and my salary after tax is around 38,000. I teach about 16 hours a week but I'm at the school considerably longer than that of course.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Almost nothing. Even a fairly modest lifestyle uses up the 38,000 baht I earn.

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

I've only been here for several months and this is my first teaching gig so I'm still on the first rung of the ladder so to speak. I stayed in a cheap guesthouse at first but soon realized I needed my own place. I currently share a one-bedroom apartment with a Thai colleague (which he owns) and I give him 5,000 baht a month to cover rent and utilities, etc. It's not an ideal situation by any means, and I'm looking for my own place at the moment but don't really want to spend more than about 8,000 a month. I haven't found anything yet in that price bracket that I have fallen in love with though.

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


I get the air-conditioned bus to work and it's only a ten-minute journey so this expense is barely 500 baht a month.

Utility bills

Those bills are covered in the 5,000 baht 'rent'. The air-conditioning always seems to be on when I'm home so I can't complain at that amount.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This seems to be the one area where I struggle to keep costs down. Because I share a flat, I don't feel like cooking when my flat-mate is at home, even though we share a decent size kitchen. It just feels awkward. So I grab a bite on the way home and I tend to find myself in Western or fast food restaurants that I can't really afford. I bet when you throw in the cost of buying supermarket essentials, this is at least 12,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

I will meet some other farang colleagues at a downtown sports bar once a week and we'll have a few beers and watch a football match on TV. It's very easy to burn through 1,000 - 1,500 in a single evening so this is probably around 6,000 a month.

Books, computers

Nothing really. I use the computers at school.

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

It's OK at best. I would love another 10-15,000 baht a month. Now that would make all the difference! After I take out my rent, food and modest entertainment costs, I'm left with barely 500 baht a day as excess pocket money. Certainly not enough to think about having nice weekends away, etc. Even after such a short time, It's beginning to feel like merely an existence. When I did my research, I knew living in Bangkok on this sort of income wouldn't be easy but I've still been shocked at how pricey Bangkok is once you move away from 'Thai-style' living.

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

Bus fares and taxis.

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

I think this is a difficult and 'grey' question because I am certainly surviving on 38K and could probably survive on less. Perhaps a better question might be 'how much would be enough for the kind of lifestyle you'd like to have?' and for me the answer would be around 50-60,000.
I'm going to see out the current school year and then see if I can find a better-paying job.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Joseph. You said something important in that survey - the fact that you're on the first rung of the ladder. As an inexperienced, new arrival, most of us had to start somewhere. We've all been on that first rung, living in less than ideal apartments and not quite having enough money in our pocket to do the things we want.  But trust me, things do get better as you move from job to job and chances are that you'll eventually reach your financial goal. Don't give up!

Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the most popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.       

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