Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

I work full-time at a large Thai private school and take home around 50,000 baht after tax and various deductions. I don't do any private or online work or have any other sources of income. I find my full-time job tiring enough and value my weekends off.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

In a good month, I can save around 10,000 baht but looking at my bank balance this year, I've managed to save around 85K since January, so it's averaged out at less than 8,000 baht a month. Much depends on if I decide to have a weekend away and do some travelling.

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

I live in a large studio apartment in a newish development and pay 8,000 baht a month (excluding bills) Having worked in Bangkok for several years, lived in three different apartments and looked at many others, I think 8,000 is about the minimum you need to spend for somewhere half decent. The apartment comes with a large balcony and a really good bathroom (both of those things are important to me) I'm up on the 18th floor so it's nice to come home from a tough day at work and sit out on the balcony and watch the sun go down.

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


I use motorcycle taxis just to zip up and down the soi and then the BTS to get to work. It takes me about half an hour door-to-door and it's always nice not to have to rely on buses or taxis and never be sure how long your morning commute is going to be. I spend about a thousand baht a month on transportation.

Utility bills

I avoid turning on the air-conditioning whenever possible, in fact I can't remember the last time I used it. Even on humid days, I'll keep it switched off and just lounge around in my boxer shorts. There's only me here! So again, this comes to barely a thousand baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is the one area of an average teacher's expenditure that fascinates me because I think controlling it is a real challenge. It's very easy to give in to your Western cravings and splash serious cash on pizzas and fast food. I try to stick to Thai food and street food as much as possible and allow myself a Western splurge just once at the weekend. I actually find the less you eat Western food, the more you can go without it. I have teaching colleagues who order sausages and pies and all sorts from delivery companies and I swear half their salaries must disappear on 'tastes of home'. It feels such an unnecessary waste of money to me. But even my Thai food diet, the odd 7-11 snack and supermarket shopping must set me back 12,000 baht a month. Yes, 300-400 baht a day sounds about right.

Nightlife and drinking

I'd go as far as to say I can't afford it. There isn't much of a drinking culture at the school among the foreign staff anyway. I probably go out a couple of times a month and always try and keep the bill down to a sensible level.

Books, computers

Zero. My trusty laptop is still going strong so I download as much as I need for free.

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

It's OK but I often feel as if I'm just 'treading water'. If I put my mind to it, I could probably add another 10-20K to my monthly income but I value my evenings and weekends off too much. I am starting to think of maybe heading off to pastures new once the Co-vid situation is over to a place where I can earn perhaps a bit more. Vietnam sounds quite appealing.

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

Anything I pick up on my Sunday jaunts down to my local Thai fresh market. You can buy fruit and ready meals for less than half of what you'd pay at the supermarket. The quality may not be as good but even so, it's a huge saving.

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

Well, I 'survive' on 50,000 but I certainly wouldn't like to drop below that. If you are serious about teaching as a career and want to put some coin away for the future, then I think you should be aiming at a minimum of 70-80K.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Ken. I like this survey because it comes from what I would class as 'a teacher on an average Bangkok salary' (probably above above average in fact) and yet you still avoid turning on the a/c, can't really afford to go out drinking that much and view Western food as only a 'weekend treat'. But I do get where you are coming from. 

I agree with what you say about food. This is an expense that can spiral out of control if you are constantly giving into your Western cravings. In fact, I was looking at the delivery websites just last night and who doesn't fancy a bit of proper sausage or some nice bacon or an Indian curry? But once you start totting up the contents of your shopping cart, it can be silly money.  

Please 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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