Tommy

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 150,000 baht (give or take)

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

125,000 is my full time net salary from a fairly decent international school. The other 25,000 isn't fixed and comes from tutoring students in the run up to their exams (IGCSEs and A-levels).

There are some months where I receive significantly more - August for example when I receive a 13th month bonus and May when I get my flight allowance. 150k is a 'typical month'

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

80 -100,000 a month, occasionally more when the 'extras' are paid. To me, this feels like a lot. I used to teach in the UK and saved the equivalent of 10k a month (although I suppose I was paying into the teachers' pension scheme).

For a professionally qualified teacher (QTS or equivalent), I can't see a financial reason to work in the UK. Despite the lack of a proper pension, a person with zero savings can comfortably fund a reasonable retirement of indefinite length with 20 years of savings (in my opinion anyway).

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

I pay 13K (my girlfriend pays another 13K). We've got a 2-bedroom condo in a building with nice facilities within walking distance of Mo Chit BTS. My girlfriend is Thai and works as an auditor. She earns more than I do and we generally keep our finances separate, which suits us both.

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

Transportation

The BTS to work and back (80 baht per day) and an occasional taxi comes to a few thousand a month. Not a major expense.

Utility bills

1,000 for electricity, 100 for water, 350 for internet (these numbers are low as 50% of the bills are met by the girfriend) and 500 for my phone. So about 2,000 per month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

A lot. I like food, a lot. Breakfast is cheap and lunch is free at work. Dinner and weekend meals are usually expensive though. I'd guess 20 - 25K a month covers an average month. During the long school holidays however....

Nightlife and drinking

A like a pint (several pints), but only do this a couple of times a month. I'm north of 40 now so am happier having a few in the Black Swan than in the bars and clubs around Sukhumvit. So maybe 2,000 a month?

Books, computers

I buy books when I go away on holiday, but it's not a major expense. Neither are computers (I've never seen computers as a monthly expense - you buy one every few years right?)

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

Incredible. I have a comfortable life in a world-class city and save well, especially at these uncertain times. A lot of expats I know in other fields of work have lost jobs and returned to their home countries. Whilst I am aware of teachers being affected financially, everyone in my circle of friends has kept their jobs, and the money has kept flowing. We who work in international education are lucky, very lucky.

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

Everything that isn't imported specifically for the expat market, and even these products aren't the kind of things that eat up the salary (I'm thinking of cheese, sausages and the like that cost several times the price they would back home). Otherwise, rent, local food, utilities, transport (apart from buying a car), home help etc. are all favourably priced.

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

I think you could live here (Bangkok) relatively comfortably for 50,000 per month. Don't do it though unless you are already independently wealthy. For everyone else, I'd suggest investing money and time into a professional teaching qualification (not a PGCEi or CELTA) that allows you to work in state schools in countries who export their systems of education (UK, USA, France etc). Once you have this then salaries of 100-200,000 per month are the norm and you can build a real life in Thailand.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Tommy. I guess when a foreign teacher earns 150,000 baht a month and his partner earns even more, it's going to result in a fantastic standard of living.


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