Working in Pathum Thani, near Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 40,000 - 50,000

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

I work for a private language school and should teach around 25 hours a week (so it's a decent workload when you factor in the prep time) I have a guaranteed salary of 40,000 baht and I used to be able to bump that up to 50,000 baht by teaching over 25 hours a week, but business has dropped off significantly since Co-vid came along (although that's not the only reason for the drop) So for the past year or so, I've had to get used to living on 40,000 and be grateful to get that. I know it's causing a significant strain on the school owner's finances.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Next to nothing. I'm just drifting from one month to the next at the moment and waiting for things to improve.

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

I share a 7,000 baht a month studio apartment with my Thai girlfriend. In the past, when my partner was working, I paid 5,000 plus bills and she would chip in with 2,000 of her own. However, she hasn't paid anything since she lost her job in August and I am now supporting her 100%. I would be lying if I said the situation hadn't put a strain on our relationship and that's no fun when you're living in the same 30 square metres.

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


I can take a local bus from my apartment building to the school so this doesn't break 500 baht a month. I've even thought about buying a bicycle to save the 500 baht and hopefully get a bit fitter at the same time, but at the moment I'm still on the bus.

Utility bills

We try to be as frugal as possible with the air-conditioning because that's the thing that sends those monthly bills through the roof. Usually it's about 2,000 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We have a great little Thai restaurant on the ground floor of the building that charges about 60 baht a dish, so my partner waits until I get home in the evening and we'll order something from downstairs and eat together in the room. Wrestling with the elastic bands on our bags of garlic chicken and rice is something of a daily ritual. We try to keep the monthly food bill down to about 10,000. We rarely / never do Western restaurants. They are just too expensive and my partner doesn't care for Western food much anyway.

Nightlife and drinking

I'll occasionally have a couple of beers on a Friday night with what work colleagues remain but I don't make a habit of it. Conversation usually turns to the three of us wondering what the future holds and that's no way to spend a Friday night.

Books, computers

Nothing really. I have a 5,000 baht smartphone and a beat-up old laptop.

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

It isn't great trying to support two of you on 40,000. Even 50,000 isn't really enough. Every time we discuss having a long weekend away, we add up the costs and decide to stay home. We are definitely going without, but as I said, I'm hoping better times are just around the corner.

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

Thai food from hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

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

I really think you ought to change this question Phil to 'how much money does anyone need to earn in order to have a decent lifestyle?' If you are talking about just 'surviving', then I'm surviving perfectly well on 40K and could probably exist on less - but who would want to?
Of course, if you change the question, you then have the problem that everyone has a different interpretation of the word 'decent' but for me it's being able to afford weekends away, an annual trip back home to see the family, good health insurance, saving maybe 20,000 a month and eating and drinking more or less what you want, whenever you want (within reason) And even as a single guy in Bangkok, I can't see anyone doing all that on less than 80-100,000 a month. So I'm not even halfway there am I?

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Nigel for an honest survey that certainly pulls no punches. These are desperate times for a lot of private language schools I know. I guess not only have student numbers dropped off due to Co-vid but also many have turned to studying online. 

I think you're probably right and we should change that final question but as you say, we all have a different definition of 'decent lifestyle' (as the wide variety of these surveys have proved)

It sounds like getting your partner back in work should be a priority. Even an extra 20,000 coming into the household every month would make a big difference.  

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