Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 45,000

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

I teach at a private Thai school in Chiang Mai and my take home salary after tax is 34,000. I top things up by teaching private students at the weekend and sometimes do a bit of language centre work, which is steady work but doesn't pay as good an hourly rate as when you organise your own private students.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to save at least 10,000 baht, which is doable in Chiang Mai if you can hit 45,000 a month.

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

My girlfriend and I rent a one-bedroom apartment about 5 kilometres from the city centre and that costs 8,000 baht a month plus bills. My girlfriend was paying half of the rent up until a couple of months ago because she's between jobs at the moment.

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


I have my own motorcycle and my school and all my private students are within a five-mile radius, so this isn't a great expense at all. Just a few hundred a month for gas and the odd running repair.

Utility bills

Electric and water come to about 1,000 baht a month. We only have the air-con on in the evening when we are both at home. My girlfriend never turns it on if she's home alone during the day. She says it affects her sinuses or something like that.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My girlfriend is a fantastic cook and whips up some great meals in the wok. She'll spend about 1,000 baht a week buying fresh ingredients from a nearby market. We do like to go out a couple of times a week for a meal (she'll eat Thai food and I'll go for something Western) but that never comes to more than about 500 baht for the two of us. So I would say when you add it all up, our monthly food bill is about 8,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

My nightlife days are behind me and frankly, I don't miss the scene at all. I got bored of it very quickly. I would much rather stay in and watch a movie with a nice big plate of popcorn.

Books, computers

I do like my technology and my gadgets but difficult to put a figure on this, although a couple of thousand baht a month sounds about right.

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

I'm satisfied with it. OK, it's hardly what you would call a rock 'n' roll lifestyle but we don't feel as if we go without anything. It's not like we are even missing the 20K that my partner used to earn either. Chiang Mai is a big city and there are numerous temptations and no limit to what you could spend, but we are not night owls, we don't do spas and massages, and we eat well but quite cheap. I often refer to it as a Thai lifestyle with a few Western treats included.

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

Fresh meat, fruit and vegetables from the local markets. Shop where the locals go and you can't go wrong!

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

Most teaching jobs in Chiang Mai still pay in the neighbourhood of 30,000-40,000 and I would say that's more than enough for most folks. You might not save a great deal but you won't go short of anything.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Nathan. As you say, it's not the most exciting of lifestyles but who cares as long as you and your partner are both happy? You are certainly not alone when it comes to getting bored of the nightlife. Many of these cost of living surveys are from expats echoing your thoughts entirely. I think it's an aspect of life in Thailand that many guys get out of their system after a year or two.

Keep your woman on the job hunt though or she'll get too comfortable with lazing around all day watching Thai soap operas on the idiot's lantern. Hmmmm.......she's a good cook though isn't she? LOL 

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