Thomas

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 40,000 to 50,000

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

I make a salary of 40,000 baht a month from my full-time job at a Thai school in downtown Bangkok and I also make 10,000 baht a month from doing a corporate class at a small insurance company two evenings per week. It's a sweet deal because the company job is pretty much on my way home; however since the Co-vid outbreak, the lessons have ceased because the firm want to save every penny they can. I guess English lessons are always going to be the first to go!

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to save enough to make the annual trip home to Wales to see my family and friends and enough for a few weekends away in Thailand. I love Koh Samet and Koh Chang! I would put this overall cost at about 100,000 baht a year and I just about manage it.

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

I share a studio apartment with my girlfriend and it costs 6,000 baht a month. I pay the whole amount because my partner only earns 15,000 and it feels unfair to ask her to contribute. If the Covid situation continues much longer, she could be out of a job soon. These are quite stressful times for many of us aren't they?

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

Transportation

I get to school and back by motorcycle taxi and then half a dozen stops on the sky-train. Throw in the odd taxi at the weekend and this is probably a couple of thousand baht a month.

Utility bills

Add on another 2,000 baht for this I guess.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try and keep this bill to as much under 10,000 baht a month as I possibly can, without going hungry of course. Even 10,000 baht a month is just 330 baht a day for two people so there isn't much scope for weekend Western treats. During the week I 'live like a Thai' as the old saying goes. I'll lunch on whatever lukewarm food the school is serving up in metal trays and I'll grab bags of food from street vendors on the way home. Food is the one area of life where I sometimes feel I'm going without. But you just can't do Western restaurants on a 40,000 salary when there are two mouths to feed. Maybe once at the weekend, but even then I feel guilty about lavishing 500-600 baht on one meal.

Nightlife and drinking

This is virtually zero. I go out drinking once in a blue moon. I enjoyed Bangkok after dark when I was younger but now I find it stale and boring.

Books, computers

I tend to just read articles while I'm surfing the internet. I'm not much of a reader.

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

Could be better. I really miss that extra 10,000 baht from the company work in the evenings. It doesn't sound like a fortune but it makes all the difference. My standard of living seems to plummet and I become more stressed out when I'm having to rely just on my full-time salary.

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

Street food is still very reasonable, although I do tend to notice portions getting smaller and smaller. Little over a dollar buys you a meal. You won't be patting your stomach and loosening your belt, but those meals fill the gap.

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

I've only ever taught in Bangkok so I only know how expensive this place can be. I think for a single guy, 40,000 is the absolute bottom end and even then you are not saving for any kind of future. I think 60,000+ would give you a much better lifestyle. As I've said, with just my 40,000 baht full-time salary and my partner's 15,000, that total of 55K really isn't enough. But we'll muddle on.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Thomas for such an honest survey.

"My standard of living seems to plummet and I become more stressed out when I'm having to rely just on my full-time salary"

I hear you loud and clear. I was in the same position for a number of years, earning a full-time salary and putting 10,000 on top with private work. That extra 10K does make all the difference. It pays your rent. It pays your food bill for a month. It gives you an extra 120,000 baht a year for travel. 

But as you say, these are stressful, uncertain times for many teachers (and those with low-earning Thai partners). Let's hope there are better times ahead.


Please send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the most popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.      


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