Working in Sukhumvit, Bangkok

Monthly Earnings About 90,000

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

I work at a mid-range international school in Sukhumvit. My basic pay is 80,000 plus 4,000 for extra responsibility plus around 150,000 in bonuses spread out over a two year contract. I could do extra tuition in the evenings but I'm lucky enough not to need the extra cash and would prefer to use the time on hobbies.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?


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

I live in a fairly nice 1-bedroom condo close to MRT Petchaburi in downtown Sukhumvit. It is 19,000 a month but recently I paid 180,000 up front for a ten-month extension so 18,000 a month. It is not a brand new building but it is nice enough: friendly and efficient security and juristic office, reasonable gym and nice pool, conference and lounge rooms etc.

My apartment itself is around 50 m2 with a double room, bathroom and large kitchen/living area equipped with a sofa bed for guests, TV, desk for me to work at, kitchen table and chairs, microwave, fridge freezer and built in electric hobs. There is no oven. There is a small balcony.

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


I walk and get public transport mostly. I am within walking distance to school and at the weekends I rarely venture out of Sukhumvit. Maybe 1,000 a month on MRT, BTS, canal boats combined and another 500 on motorbike and car taxis.
Not more than 1,500 baht overall.

Utility bills

Electricity roughly 1,000 a month. I am fairly frugal with it. I use air-con very low for an hour in the morning while I get ready for work and sometimes give it a quick blast if I am in for a long time and it is very hot. Mostly I just use a fan to keep cool. TV is around 600 a month and phone about the same. Water between 70 and 90 baht a month. I reckon it would be less than 3,000 a month overall.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is a tricky one to judge as I don't monitor it closely. Monday to Friday I spend 40 baht on breakfast each day - 20 baht on a big bag of fruit and 20 baht on a rice box from the friendly lady on the soi by the canal. I eat lunch for free at school.

In the evenings I either cook something simple for myself or eat locally. I reckon I spend 100 baht a day Monday to Thursday. 7/11 bills add up with things like ice creams, crisps, fruit juice drinks, grotty sandwiches and so on so call that 100 a day.

At the weekend I probably spend an average of 500 a day so overall maybe 2,000 a week. I spend about 1500 a month at Tesco on basics so overall probably around 10,000 a month.

Nightlife and drinking

This is a fair chunk of expenditure for me. Although I don't drink Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, I go to a languages social where I practice French and Thai each Tuesday as well as out with colleagues each Friday. Then Saturday and Sunday it's anyone's guess. I would guess around 3,000 a week or 10-15,000 a month.

Books, computers

Very little - 1,000 a month spread over a few larger purchases throughout the year.

I take learning Thai very seriously and have weekly lessons with an excellent teacher that costs roughly 5,000 a month. I also do meditation and massage on a Wednesday and sometimes go on weekend trips out of Bangkok.

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

I live very well. I don't have to worry about what I spend, but at the same time I have a fairly frugal lifestyle anyway so it doesn't feel like I'm missing out. I can afford to do all the things I want/need to do so I'm lucky.

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

Eating out without question.

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

Some people seem to be able to get by in Bangkok living on 35 to 40K but I would say that is more or less impossible if you want any kind of nice life, especially in the middle of the city. You also need to take account of visa, passport and travel home expenses which are not mentioned here. I would not live here on less than 70K a month, but if I had to survive here I would say 50K would be the absolute minimum.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Tommy.  Now here's a guy who earns a very decent teacher salary in Bangkok (certainly for a single guy) but still lives well within his means. Although 18,000 baht a month in rent is a fair chunk of change, it's still only 20% of Tommy's salary. He's left with a massive 80% to spend on food, entertainment, travel, etc but doesn't really go overboard on any of that stuff, even choosing to be frugal with the air-conditioning. No surprises that he manages to save up to 40K some months. 

I don't disagree with Tommy's 'survival' figures either. Even 50K in Bangkok wouldn't get you much of a life these days.  

On a final note, I always wonder with well-paid international school teachers, how much of their free time the job consumes. Is there a lot of preparation and extra-curricular activities that aren't possible to turn down?  

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