Working in Khon Kaen
Monthly Earnings 33,000 baht per month
Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?
I work at a government school from 8am-4pm Monday to Friday. Up to this point I haven’t done any extra teaching outside of this, but I am considering checking out language centres now that I have my work permit. I know there is tutoring available too at KKU, but I haven’t tutored before, so I need to gain experience first, I think.
Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?
I can save 10,000 baht per month (or more depending). I usually send $300 USD home each month via Western Union and my parents deposit it for me in my US bank account. After that I usually have extra money at the end of the month, so I’d say I could save closer to 12,000 baht per month.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
I have a nice and quiet apartment (except for some nights when the dogs bark) and my own room is 3800 baht per month, plus utilities. I know I could find cheaper in the area, but I’d probably be unhappy if I moved to a “cheap apartment.”
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
I take a songtaew to school each day and if I go downtown on the weekends, I take a tuk-tuk home. So, the songtaew is around 500 baht a month and the tuk-tuks are 300 a month. I eschewed renting a motorbike or renting one, since I live close to the school and the songtaew goes to the city center.
My water bill is 200 baht a month and my electric usually is around 1500 baht a month.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
Usually I always eat out for dinner, but I either go to a Thai place where dinner costs 35 baht or I get a big salad for 50 baht or I get a ½ chicken for 65 baht. I have toast for breakfast and I eat lunch at school. So, I’d guesstimate I spend around 3,750-4,000 baht a month on food.
Nightlife and drinking
I spend around 2000 baht on alcohol for the month usually, but lately I’ve been cutting back, so the number probably has dropped. I also spend around 2500 baht for my “dating” life each month.
I lost my kindle, which sucks, so if I need more books I sometimes go to a book swap place. But, I haven’t bought a new book in a while, since I loaded up when I was in Chiang Mai at a cheap bookstore.
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
It’s better and more comfortable than back home in America. Even though I send money home each month, I still live well enough. But, I am a single 27 year old male, so I don’t have a girlfriend or kids to support.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
The street food and taxis are cheap. Even the tuk-tuks are okay, since a 5 km ride can cost you 70 baht, which isn’t a great deal, but compared to back home, it’s real cheap.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
To survive? I would say here in Khon Kaen, you could survive on 15,000 baht a month, but it would be scrimpy living. To live comfortably, I’d say 20,000 baht, assuming you don’t have debt to pay back home.
Phil's analysis and comment
I have been to Khon Kaen a couple of times and it has always struck me as a nice town to live in. Ted certainly sounds organised - he sends a bit of money home, he enjoys a night out, feeds himself well, etc - and he certainly sounds very happy. I probably wouldn't go along with his idea of 20,000 baht being 'enough to live comfortably' but I live in the big city and of course, there's always going to be more temptations and more to spend your money on.
What's most interesting is that Ted is now looking to 'increase his earning potential' by doing extra work at language centers or whatever he can find. At the moment, he's in an ideal situation. He's working Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 4.00pm so he's got plenty of spare time on his hands. Ted's got five evenings a week and all day Saturday and Sunday to maximize his earning potential. But despite being a young man with plenty of energy (I assume) he doesn't want to kill himself! If I were in Ted's shoes, I would have a plan A and a plan B.
My plan A would be to give up maybe 2-3 evenings a week to extra teaching work and keep my weekends free. The longer I live and the older I get, the more I seem to appreciate my weekends off. I always hated working weekends. It's easier said than done of course because so many language centers are only busy at the weekend - especially if you are going to teach kids. Personally, I would be tapping into the evening adult student market before I entertained the idea of giving up Saturdays and/or Sundays.
My plan B would be to bite the bullet and accept weekend work but I would want make it worth my while. Forget the bullshit two hours on a Saturday afternoon stuff (ruining my whole day for a few hundred baht) If a language center is going to drag me into work on a Saturday or Sunday, then give me at least 5-6 hours of teaching. That's going to be maybe an extra 8,000 baht a month plus. That's worth my while! And I still have my evenings and one day at the weekend free.
If Ted lives very comfortably on the 33,000 baht a month he earns now (and he clearly does) - imagine what it's going to feel like with an extra 8,000 in his pocket?