Working in Bangkok
Monthly Earnings 70,000-80,000
Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?
70,000 – 80,000 baht a month at a good Thai university. My wife earns another 70,000 – 120,000 baht a month at the same university
Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?
Until last year, around 120,000 – 150,000 a month. We have been saving for more than 10 years, so at this point compound interest is definitely our friend, and accounts for some of the savings. We just started building a new house though, so we are drawing down on our savings now.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
We bought a very small 2-bedroom Chinese row-house in the suburbs, and renovated it (new bathroom, modern kitchen, aircon, and high speed internet), all for a bit more than 1 million baht – 12 years ago. Since then, nothing. Though again we just started building a new house, and once we run out of cash, we will take a loan for the rest. That will be 35,000 a month or so.
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
We bought a basic car back in 2008, it is paid for now. We bought a second, nicer car (used) a couple of months ago, we pay 24,000 a month for it, with a year and half of payments to go. We also take taxis a fair amount, to avoid driving/parking hassles when necessary, and use the expressway to cut down on commute times. So 24,000 + gas/tolls + taxis is around 30,000-35,000
5,000 a month or so, for 2 phones, A/C, internet, true, etc. I don’t skimp on A/C.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
Both restaurants and supermarket shopping, around 25,000 a month. We often bring market food back home, which is very cheap, but sometimes I cook, or we go to a nice restaurant by suburb standards. Basically, we are price-indifferent at this point – convenience is our only concern.
Nightlife and drinking
Part of the restaurant expenses. My wife doesn’t drink but I do.
We spend 15,000 baht a month on a live-in nurse for my wife’s parents. We buy phones, computers, books, stuff as we need it (and we will soon be buying more furniture) – it totals around 25,000 a month.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
One sentence, hell I can do it in one word - blessed. O.K. seriously, I have a very good standard of living. I have a career (not a job or a “gig”, a career – they are different) that I enjoy, which pays me reasonably well. I have a wife who often earns more than me - and plenty of savings. Things are not perfect but they are as close as any reasonable person could want or expect.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Anything involving labor, be it cleaning, gardening, laundry, handymen, etc. Also taxis, street food, mid-level suburban restaurants, some clothing, taxes, and nice wood furniture if you shop smart. Cars are very expensive, electronics a bit so, housing is cheap to rent but not to buy. You can get twice the house if you build it yourself instead of getting one in a development, but it is a lot of work in its own way if you do that, and you better know your contractor.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
Well, I said 30,000 baht a month when I first did the survey 10 years ago. I am not sure I could do it on less than 40,000 baht a month and I would not want to try. If my wife and I no longer worked, a lot of our expenses would go down, but still.
Phil's analysis and comment
Here we have two very good wage-earners living in the same household and with 160-200K baht a month coming in, you are always going to enjoy a nice lifestyle, especially if there are no children to look after. I think this is the first survey where we've featured costs for looking after elderly parents, which is interesting. I also think that's the highest transportation bill that we've ever had :)
You are very welcome to submit your own cost of living survey for this section of the ajarn website and I have created an online survey to hopefully make it a little easier.
However, I am getting a number of surveys where the teacher hasn't really taken much time and effort over it - and it shows. Sorry I can't think of another way to put that. As a result, the survey just becomes a list of figures. I think if you look back at the last half a dozen surveys or so, you get an idea of what we're looking for. Cheers.