Working in Japan

Monthly Earnings 220,000 Baht (all in)

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

I teach in a university and earn about 180,000 for my classes. I also do testing on the side (Cambridge Assessment, IELTS etc.) which accounts for the rest.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

These days, I would say in the 50,000 baht range.

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

My wife and I rent a house in the 'burbs for 30,000 baht. It's a nice quiet place with a little garden, elderly neighbors, an oasis from the city. I don't mind the drive to work at all!

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


My car is paid up but other things are expensive here. Car tax and mandatory insurance etc. is about 5,000 a month. I also spend about 5,000 on gas and another 5,000 on highway tolls.

Utility bills

See above re expensive! Electricity about 4,000 baht, gas the same, water about 1,000, communications (cell phone plans, home wifi) about 7,000.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Supermarket bills come to about 40,000 baht for the two of us. We don't do a lot of restaurants but we do takeout once or twice a week, so add about 5,000 for that. I usually eat out for lunch too so another 5,000 for lunches.

Nightlife and drinking

At my age? No thanks. I can hear my coworkers whine and moan at work for free; why would I spend money to hear them do it at night? I probably spend about 5,000 baht for wine and beer to enjoy at home.

Books, computers

My Kindle is my friend so less than a thousand here. I included the cell phone and internet hookup costs above.

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

We live well, don't have to worry about money at all (no kids at home anymore), and can travel when we want (my schedule has 4 months free time built in) - or could until the 'Rona'.

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

In Japan? You gotta be kidding.

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

In my opinion, a couple with no kids needs at least 100,000 baht a month to live well. A single person with no obligations could get by on 70,000 if they watch their wallet.

Phil's analysis and comment

Back in the early 90's (when I started teaching in Thailand) Japan was always the promised land, the land of milk and honey, the country you moved to if you were a serious teacher who wanted to make some serious dough. Countries like China and Vietnam (which are now seen as more lucrative alternatives to Thailand) rarely got a mention. But over the years, Japan's popularity as a TEFL destination seems to have diminished considerably. 

It's always had that reputation as an expensive place to live and there are some big numbers in Kuma's survey. North of 40,000 baht a month for rent and utilities. 15,000 baht a month to run a car. 40,000 baht for supermarket bills for a couple, ouch!  

Still, 220,000 is a decent salary and you do well to save about 25% of it.   

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