Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 38,000

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

I make 38k (after taxes) teaching prathom and another 20k at a language school across the street. My Thai wife is also a teacher and she adds another 15k or so all told (I suppose we should count that as it all goes into the same pot). Over the last few years I've held various combinations of jobs...sometimes making more (up to 100k), sometimes less (down to 35k), but basically maintained the salary level I'm at now

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

These days about 12-19k, most of which goes into a special file labeled 'dowery dosh' (we're hitched but've not had the bash, or sale, depending on your perspective).

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

We've got a one-bedroom condo on Ram for 7,600. It ain't flashy, but we find it roomy enough and I like being one of only a handful of foreigners around (not including my African brothers, who make a pretty good showing themselves). It's only a 7-12 baht 10 minute bus ride to work, which is good and saves cash

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


a few thousand baht. When out for pleasure, I don't blink at taking taxis.

Utility bills

Maybe 2,600.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Probably 6,000, maybe more. Off to Greyhound tonight. You know.

Nightlife and drinking

4,000. sometimes twice that if I'm feeling the thirst for the carbonated depressant more than usual.

Books, computers

2000. (An addiction to the New Yorker (weekly) magazine doesn't come cheap. We also send money to my wife's mom every month since she covered the cost of a surgery a couple years back, and spend regular money on things like short trips to Amphawa or new glasses or whatever comes up. It's very different than the early days when all I did was teach, sleep, and wander around the urban circus of Bangkok stopping occasionally to spend 5 bucks here or there.

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

I'd say I (we) live pretty well. We both work a lot but find time to do cultural stuff, get out of Bangkok for weekends every now and then, go out with friends, and fill the fridge with tasty food

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

Foot massage, clothing for the missus, high-speed internet, and food. Also DVDs on the street, travelling by air (usually), and taxis. Taxis are almost always a good value if I can't take a bus or BTS or whatnot.

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

30k. But that's just 'survive'. For his soul to survive, add at least 10k. A guy needs a proper riceless feast, a brand new hardcover book, and a decent hotel on travels every once in a while. Then there's tickets to a show, a talk, entrance to a club. At a certain point the (free) fascination of Bangkok street life loses it's power to please the mind. It also all changes when you make the transition from travelling teacher to local foreign teacher.

Phil's analysis and comment

To use one of my grandmother's favorite expressions - here's a bloke with his head screwed on. Matthew knows his numbers and he's got a very set idea on the kind of lifestyle he wants to lead and the kind of lifestyle he deserves. When you work as much as Matthew does, you're entitled to treat yourself in the odd snazzy restaurant and escape to the beaches for the occasional weekend. Why the hell not? However much Matthew is earning, he knows that the potential is there to earn 100K a month. How does he know? Because he's already done it. It's all about juggling around a combination of jobs. But reading between the lines - it doesn't sound as if Matt is into 'killing himself' any more with those punishing schedules that he took on when he was a younger man.

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