Working in China

Monthly Earnings 112,000

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

At the current (strong baht) exchange, I make about 90,000 after tax. This is a Monday to Friday schedule with no extra teaching. I also receive an annual cash flight allowance of 80,000 and a bi-annual completion bonus of 350,000 Baht (At current rate)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I save about 35,000 per month ( Not counting the 160,000 per month that I don't have to pay for my 2 kids to get their A-Levels ;). I also don't include my bonus, but if I did, my monthly savings would be about 50,000.

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

I live in a 110m2, 3-bedroom modern apartment paid for by the school.

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


Transport is about 400 baht per month. I cycle most places as there are dedicated cycle lanes throughout the city. On the weekends we take a taxi for a "supermarket run" and those get you around 3 kms for 40 Baht.

Utility bills

Electricity is about 300 Baht per month
Gas is about 100 Baht (stove plus hot water)
Winter heating is 500 per month (for 4 months)
100Mb internet connection plus phone (unlimited data) = 400 Baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is relatively cheap when I think about it: a take away noodle bowl can be 70 Baht but its a HUGE bowl, enough for 2 adults. Also restaurant portions are very big. They also have a lot of "all-you-can-eat" options here which are insane e.g. a seafood buffet at local hotel is 800 Baht, but it includes unlimited drinks (and that buffet had Alaskan King Crabs on the menu). Cheaper buffets run at about 300 Baht (steak, pasta, cheap sushi and free flow booze ;)

To be honest, we're still adapting to ordering the right amount of take-away food. Each time we walk into a local restaurant, point at the 3/4 pictures (multiple dishes, Thai style), and pay, we always end up with 'leftovers for days'

And it has to be said, the devil's juice is cheap - imported wine (not fruit wine) starts at 80 Baht per bottle. Local beers are between 8 - 20 Baht per can.

To actually answer the question: This family of four goes through about 40,000 Baht a month. We eat out a lot!

Nightlife and drinking

Included in the 40,000 above.

Books, computers

About 500 per month for books. Computer stuff is paid for by the school.

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

I wish I had moved sooner.

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

Life. I know it's not a market product but being able to 'be outside' with my family easily is fantastic. Being able to cycle everywhere or picnic in a selection of clean safe parks is fantastic.

We don't need to 'time everything to avoid the inevitable traffic. We can access world-class facilities with ease and people are genuinely friendly (forget the stereotypes. The only stereotype we've met is "the spitter" but other than that most people are friendly, gracious, and indifferent to you, the foreigner, and your existence.) And I say this coming from a person that speaks and reads Thai; one that has lived in Thailand for a decade and regularly goes back to visit my family.

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

In Bangkok, to really survive i.e. live in the staff apartment behind Big C for 2,000 per month - 10,000 Baht would be enough (but you're never getting on another flight in your life and will end up being one of those GoFundMe stories) These days, I think at a minimum, a single person with holiday/visit the family back home aspirations needs at least 50,000 Baht.

Phil's analysis and comment

Sounds like you are having a wonderful time in China, Marcus. I guess the words 'wish I had done it sooner' say it all really. 

China is always something of a Marmite TEFL destination; teachers either love it or hate it. But no guessing as to which camp Marcus falls into and having lived and taught in Thailand for a decade, he's well-qualified to make comparisons. China certainly sounds like a place to stash away money if you are making the equivalent of 112,000 baht a month plus bonuses. 

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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