Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 100,000 Baht

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

I work at a small international school in Chiang Mai. I earn 35,000 baht a month teaching Monday-Friday. I also have two rental properties in the United States. After all my costs, I net 65,000 baht per month from them.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I save 60,000 baht a month.

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

I paid $30,000 USD (1,000,000 baht) for a nice one-bedroom condo outside old town Chiang Mai. The reason I did this is because with no mortgage or rent to pay, it freed up more of my fixed income. My only cost is HOA, electric, water, and internet, which totals about 3,000-4,000 baht a month to live in my condo. If I rented this same condo with utilities it would be around 10,000-12,000 baht a month.

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


I have a Honda 150 cc motorbike. I spend 600 baht on gas, 500 baht on upkeep, plus a red truck to get around town once in a while. Total: 2,000 baht a month

Utility bills

Electric: 1500 baht
Water: 250 baht
Internet: 650 baht (land line 60 meg)
Phone: 400 baht

Total: 3,000 baht a month

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try and eat from the morning markets about 80% of the time. I can eat well every day for 100 baht. I mix in some street vendors and hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurants.
Total: 5,000 baht a month

Nightlife and drinking

I try and push most of my money into this category.
Dating: 10,000 baht
Drinking: 6,000 baht
Smoking: 2,000 baht
Massage: 3,000 baht
Shopping/Movies: 1,000 baht
Total: 22,000 baht a month

Books, computers

1,500 baht a month

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

I would say upper-middle class Thai level. I don't want for anything.

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

The quality of life. In terms of human connection and social environment, it is so much better here than in the Western world. Here you can be yourself and date any women you desire, make friends very easily, and be treated very well. I have never experienced so much acceptance from other people. Also cheap flights around South East Asia can be had for around 5,000 baht so you can get a round-trip air ticket to any other South East Asian country.

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

Just to survive 20,000 baht a month. To be comfortable 40,000+ baht a month.

It really helps to build some type of passive income first in your home country. Even a simple $500 a month from renting out your house or something from investments could give you an extra 15,000-20,000 baht a month to live on, depending on the exchange rate of the time.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you for that Michael. Now here's a classic example of a teacher teaching perhaps more to keep himself busy than anything else - and there's nothing wrong with that. Actually, Michael, with a nice 65,000 baht income from your rental properties, I'm surprised that you don't go for something a little more 'part-time' and with fewer hours. Even 65,000 is probably more than enough in Chiang Mai, but I'm sure you enjoy working where you do.

After so many cost of living surveys where long-term teachers seem to have turned their back on the entertainment scene, it was strangely refreshing to hear from a teacher who likes a drink and a smoke and probably heads for home as the sun is coming up (not on a workday of course) Different strokes for different folks! You do whatever makes you happy as long as work doesn't suffer as a result.     

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