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 at a private language school and earn 50,000 baht per month. Keep in mind I work long hours, generally totaling around 46 hours a week.
Q2. How much money can you save each month?
If I focus on being incredibly frugal, I could be putting away up to 20 thousand baht per month, but realistically I like to shoot for about 5K - 10K baht per month as a general goal.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
I live in a studio apartment located only a couple minutes away from the BTS by foot. The apartment is nice and modern and located in Onnut, which is a nice and well-developed area in Bangkok. The apartment is relatively expensive at 10,000 baht per month. This doesn't include my utility costs either.
Rent takes up 1/5th of my total salary, although once again my apartment is quite nice, modern and conveniently located.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
I take the train to my work's nearest station for 15 baht, and then a motorcycle taxi the rest of the way for 50 baht. Then I do this in reverse in order to get back home. This amounts to 130 baht per working day for transport. At 20 working days per month, that's 2,600 baht per month for transport.
On average my electricity bill amounts to around 2,000 baht per month. I try to be conservative with my air-conditioner and only use it during essential periods, but that's easier said than done in the Thai climate.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
I have takeaways for all my meals. At work we order from a local restaurant and a dish is 50 baht. After work I'll typically eat at my local food court for around 40 baht. I can quite comfortable survive on about 90 baht per day for my meals. These are tasty, nutritious and filling meals as well.
Of course on occasion I like to treat myself to Western food when the craving strikes me, but I'm quite a simple guy and find myself happy to subsist on Thai food for the most part.
Nightlife and drinking
When I first arrived in Thailand I drank frequently and to excess, but now I've largely grown out of it. I find you can only drink so often before you get bored of it. These days I rarely go out or drink much at all, however I still do have the rare beer or two when I'm hanging out with a mate, or the mood strikes me.
I largely tend to go to my local bar and have a coke and play pool instead now though. A coke only costs 40 baht, whereas a beer will run you about 100 baht.
I don't spend too much money on physical books as I tend to consume all my information/entertainment from my laptop. I'm on my laptop virtually all the time during my time off from work, but this isn't really a regular cost as I already own it.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living?
I try to be mindful of the way that I spend my money, but overall I live pretty comfortably/safely. I can treat myself whenever I want, I just prefer to live a conservative lifestyle, I don't see the appeal in blowing all my cash, and I don't think it'd make me any happier. I did happen to get lucky with the job I landed and get paid about 10,000 more than the average teacher with the same qualifications. However, once again, as mentioned earlier, keep in mind the hours I work are relatively long.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
I find that the food here is very reasonably priced, but really everything is significantly cheaper compared to my home country of Australia.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
The average salary of around 38K is enough to live on, but you're not going to have too much fun doing it or have much of a chance to save. I think my salary of 50K is quite comfortable and provides me with the option to both have some fun when I feel like it and also stow away a bit of cash.
If you're going to move to Thailand you're really moving here for the lifestyle, so you want a wage that you can at least afford to go out a few times a week on.
Phil's analysis and comment
Thanks Nate. The most ever classroom contact hours I used to do was back in the mid 90's when I would regularly do 38 hours a week. It included 6 hours during the day from Monday to Friday, a conversation class a couple of evenings a week and a five-hour TOEFL prep course on a Sunday. Then there was the preparation on top but thankfully I had got that down to a fine art and it wasn't too time-consuming.
But I used to treasure those Saturdays off I can tell you. When you are younger and have more energy, you can do those sort of punishing schedules but there were some days, particularly after those evening conversation classes that would finish at 8.30 pm, when I would crawl home with barely the strength to make a sandwich. The extra money is always nice but sometimes you find yourself with no time to spend it. Striking a good work/life balance is not always easy. I found teaching too many hours for too long led to almost a mild depression. Take care of yourself!