Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 38,000

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

I teach at a medium-size Thai school near the centre of Bangkok and my take-home pay after tax is around 38,000 baht. I do not teach any extra classes or do private students so I try to live on that 38K as best I can.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Virtually nothing. I find that 38K just about covers my basic living costs. I should explain that I am a new (ish) TEFLer in my late fifties and I've already had a successful business career in Europe so managed to save a fair amount during that time. I could have retired in Thailand and lived off my savings but needed something to do.

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

I rent a studio apartment fairly near my school for 10,000 baht a month. It's comfortable enough for one but still feels a bit basic because I haven't got around to fully furnishing it yet. It's a newish building and has all the facilities such as gym and swimming pool. I get on well with the staff and enjoy living there.

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


I can walk to my school in 10-15 minutes so my only transportation expenses are sky-train and taxi fares at the weekend, depending on what I'm up to.

Utility bills

This comes to about 2,000 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

The apartment building has a solid restaurant on the ground floor that does Thai meals (and the odd Western offering) for about 60-80 baht a dish. I eat here most nights from Monday to Friday. I'll have maybe one fast food splurge at the weekend. I make breakfast in my apartment each morning and also prepare a salad for lunch, which I take to school in a plastic container. I could eat at the school but don't really like the food they prepare. Probably around 7-8,000 baht a month in total.

Nightlife and drinking

This sets me back about 12,000 baht a month. I like to go out a couple of nights a week, usually on a Friday or Saturday. Now the football season has started, I enjoy getting together with a group of friends and watching a match on TV. If you can limit yourself to 3-4 beers, it's still a relatively cheap evening.

Books, computers

I have a five-year old laptop and I tend to download books for free, so this isn't much of an expense at all.

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


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

It's enjoyable enough, but on months where I fancy doing some travelling, I will more often than not have to dip into my savings. I also go back to Europe at least twice a year. I couldn't afford to do that on my 38K salary either.

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

In Bangkok, I would consider myself at the very bottom end, so I'm going to say 35-40K a month. That's enough to put a decent roof over your head, eat fairly well and have a few nights out. But it doesn't leave an awful lot of money for much else.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Paul. I've worked with a few guys like you down the years. Gentlemen in their fifties and sixties who have already made their coin and are teaching for basically 'something to do' but that doesn't mean they don't care about the job they do in the classroom. It's a nice position to be in, knowing that you aren't that reliant on your monthly paycheck. I've always found guys like Paul to be the most relaxed, easygoing teachers to work with. There's no pressure on them! 

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