Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 400k + benefits

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

This is a full time salary. I am the Principal of a good (but not top tier) international school in Bangkok. I am not allowed to take additional paid employment.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At least 250k, most of which is invested in long term mutual funds to provide an income during retirement.

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

I live in a 2-bedroom 80 sqm condo next to Benjasiri park. Whilst the rent is paid directly by the school, it was advertised at 45k.

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


Whilst the school provides a car, I rarely make use of it (except for trips outside Bangkok). I prefer to rely on trains and taxis and probably spend up to 5k in a regular month.

Utility bills

3k per month usually covers the electricity, water and internet. The school provides me with an unlimited mobile phone package.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Whilst (fairly decent) food is provided free at school, I do like to visit good restaurants in the evenings and on weekends. This is therefore my biggest monthly expense at approximately 40k

Nightlife and drinking

Working as a Principal means that I have to be discreet. Parents have conservative views about what my social life should entail. The position also means that going to the pub after work with colleagues is awkward. Fortunately, I have friends in Bangkok who I met outside of teaching, so I'm not too lonely. In short, there is almost no spending in this category.

Books, computers

School provides me with a desktop in my office and a laptop to take home. There is also an excellent library that all staff can access free of charge. So, zero spending here

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

Whilst I work long hours compared to classroom teachers, I have an excellent standard of living. My rule is that I will work Saturdays when required (from home). I always keep Sundays and most of the school holidays for myself. My salary means that it is always possible to go somewhere nice during the end of term breaks (well it was until Corona).

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

Tax. In the UK about 30% of my income was taken at source. In Thailand I pay approximately 15%

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

If you have no interest in saving or covering unexpected expenses, then I think 50k would cover a reasonable life in Bangkok. I am lucky that my job provides me with the power to save for retirement (10 years away). As I own no property, and received no inheritance, old age would be a worry without my salary.

Side note - I submitted this survey as I find them really interesting reads, but I haven't seen one from a Principal / Head of an international school. These salaries vary wildly. The range that I am aware of is 200k (I was offered this by a small but good British school) to almost a million baht (a friend earns this amount leading one the most prestigious schools in Bangkok).

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a million, Peter. This is the first ever cost of living survey from an international school head teacher and like many others I'm sure, I've always been interested in how much they earn, Now we know. 400K a month. Wow!. And that's not taking into account all those lovely benefits such as having your 45K rent paid and being provided with a car, etc.

What I found most interesting is how tricky it is to enjoy a drink after work. I completely understand where you are coming from though. We've all had those nights where one drink turns into two and two turns into six. You have to be discreet in your position. It wouldn't bother me personally because I'm not much of a drinker these days but I wonder if the school frowning on boozy nights out would be a deal breaker for some?   

One thing's for sure, stashing away 250K a month, you've got a golden retirement ahead of you. It would be interesting to know what your plans are once you've turned your back on campus for good. Those long-term mutual funds are great investments! I only wish I had got into them sooner instead of taking terrible advice from a financial advisor here. My wife, who is far more knowledgeable about investments than me, puts all her spare cash into those funds. I always regret not listening to her advice years ago.

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