Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 30,000 baht

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

I earn exactly 30,000 baht a month. Not a baht more and not a baht less.

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

None. If I've got 2-3,000 baht left over at the end of a month, then I live better the following month.

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

I've got a studio apartment about 10 minutes walk from BTS Onnud. I pay 6,000 baht a month. When I came to teach here almost a year ago, 6,000 baht was the absolute maximum I wanted to spend on rent. This was the best place I could find in that price range and trust me, I looked at an awful lot of rooms.

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


I use the sky-train twice a day and I'll take the odd taxi at weekends if I'm really in a hurry to get somewhere. Probably about 1,500 a month I guess.

Utility bills

I've got air-conditioning at the apartment but I rarely use it. I simply couldn't afford to have a utility bill of more than 2,000 baht on top of the 6,000 baht rent. During the cooler season, I find the room is cool enough with the balcony doors open and during the hot season, I'll either sit in my boxer shorts and suffer or treat myself to an hour of two of A/C.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try to limit myself to 200 baht a day on food (even less if I can) On Monday to Friday I manage that quite easily (but eat only Thai street-food or grab something from the market) I find that by having a good breakfast (toast, eggs and cereal) I can keep lunch and dinner light. I do like a fast food splurge at the weekend though and that just knocks your budget for six.

Nightlife and drinking

I do love my Friday and Saturday night out and I can easily spend 1,000 baht in a night. Bloody hell - that's 8,000 baht a month on entertainment. And they're only normal beer bars as well. There are no ladies involved. Honestly.

Books, computers


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

Surviving in Bangkok on 30,000 baht a month is not easy. Every one hundred baht note is precious. I could dip into my savings if I wanted but why should I? I came here to live on 30K baht a month and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Probably for another year at least.

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

Food is a real bargain - especially if you know which markets and food-stalls to go to and become a regular customer.

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

I haven't got an answer to this question because I don't think there's a limit on how much you can spend in a big city. Big cities all over the world have a horrible knack of sucking up money. The problem with 'surviving' on X baht a month is that an 'unexpected bill' can cripple you. I needed some emergency dentistry work done last month and that cost me almost 20,000 baht. I had to dip into my savings for that. I had no choice!

Phil's analysis and comment

Having to raid the piggy bank to pay a dentist's bill. Eating a large breakfast so he can skip on the day's other two meals. Sitting and sweltering on the sofa because he can't afford the electricity bill. Is this a prime example of what it's like to try and survive in Bangers on 30 large a month? OK, I could suggest that Ken cuts down on the entertainment - but going out on the lash twice a week is not excessive and neither is 1,000 baht a night. Wouldn't that be about 2 beers and some bar snacks in a nice Sukhumwit jazz club these days? 

Why don't you tell us how much you spend each month and what lifestyle you lead on a teacher's salary in Thailand. Just e-mail me the answers to the questions above. We would love to hear from you.

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