Ni Luh Kim

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 42,000 (before tax)

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

I work full-time (Wednesday - Sunday) for an English learning center. I do not have any private or online gigs. After tax and social security the net pay is around 39,000.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

It is only my first year in Bangkok. My husband and I work for the same English school (different branches of course). We manage to save around 5,000 baht a month. Bearing in mind, we have just moved to Bangkok and are settling in and have acquired a new rental apartment closer to our centers in Lad Phrao. Once we are settled, I’m sure that we will be able to save 10,000 baht easily.

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

We share our expenses. Our apartment which is actually a monthly hotel room is 16,000 baht per month with electricity at 1,000 baht and 45 baht for water.

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


We purchased a rent to buy scooter when we arrived at the beginning of the year. We have one more payment and then it will be ours. The rent to buy has been 2,800 baht per month and petrol is around 400 baht for the month since moving closer to work.

Utility bills

Our electricity cost is roughly 1,000 baht. We’ve noticed that having a timer on the AC has been a huge saver. My husband is also a gamer and with a newer style TV - it has been energy efficient. At our previous condo, the electricity bill would go up to 3,000 baht per month. I also enjoying cooking at least three times a week.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Our supermarket shopping is roughly 600-800 baht per week. We shop weekly so we also have fresh fruit and vegetables. We usually purchase lunch and dinner on the weekends around 50-80 baht per meal from Saturday - Tuesday.

Nightlife and drinking

We haven’t really experienced night life due to COVID regulations. Alcohol is quite pricey but when we do have a little something-something we head to the 7/11 downstairs and could spend around 300 baht on beers and ciders or 800 baht on a bottle of vodka and enjoy ourselves at the hotel

Books, computers

I’m a real bookworm. I enjoy a book store in Siam which is a real journey. When we head to the bookstore, I usually purchase 3-4 books at a time around 250-550 baht a book.

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

Our standard of living is pleasant but simple. We have learnt to save for some of the things which are more costly or align with our interests. For example, I enjoy spas so I save around 6,000 baht for 2 months and enjoyed a quiet afternoon at a spa at the St Regis hotel. My husband on the other hand is able to purchase PS4 games regularly.

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

A real bargain is definitely heading down to a fresh food market and packing your basket with a whole broccoli, three potatoes, an onion, a tomato and some garlic for only 50 baht. It’s always a really huge shock. I come from South Africa and these things are five times the price back home compared to over here.

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

If you’re a simple person (not having many lavish dinners or alcohol parties) you could survive on 35,000-40,000 baht. I think it’s important to enjoy the little pleasures and every occasion does not have to a be spending spree.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Ni. I guess you could save a bit of money by moving out of hotel accommodation couldn't you? That part of your survey reminded me of a teacher I worked with in the mid-90s at a private language center. He also lived in a hotel but it was one of those short-time joints where people pay by the hour and are at the busiest once the bars and pubs close. He stayed there for a whole year if I recall and never once got a decent night's sleep due to all the comings and goings in the wee small hours. Strange times indeed.   

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