William

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 75K (after tax)

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

55K salary plus 20K housing allowance for full time teaching in a Satit school (Mon-Fri). There was opportunity to earn more with extra classes at the school, but I valued my free time. It was my first year after gaining QTS back in the UK. I was definitely underpaid for my qualifications but I feel it was a fair salary given my teaching hours and workload.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Early on, I was saving 40K baht a month, but as my food habits changed, this decreased over the year. By the last month I was probably saving 25K baht/month. I finished the year with 400K baht saved in my Thai account over 12 months which works out to 33K/month. However, this doesn't take into account flights I paid for from my British account though, which included some international trips.

Overall, I'm about £4,000 up for the year which isn't great, hence why I've decided to move on.

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

20K Baht month for a 45 square metre condo in an expensive part of Bangkok. It was only 10-minute walk from my school though. I was told by the lady at the bank when I went to deposit my rent every month that it was expensive.

I liked my condo (apart from the horrific noise from traffic 24/7). Back in the UK I was paying £1,000 (all in) a month for an apartment at basement level with limited natural sunlight in a city in the Midlands. So in comparison, Bangkok felt like a bargain.

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

Transportation

I spent 100 baht every week on grab bikes to get to locations where my hobbies were at. I would occasionally get the BTS one stop when I was feeling lazy or it was too hot/rainy to walk. About 1,080 baht/month in total.

Utility bills

From September to December my electricity bills started off very low. It went crazy from January time. Last electricity bill was 1,800 baht/month.

Water - Really cheap like 150 baht month?

Internet - Was set up for me at 680 baht/month.

Sim card - I paid 1,800 baht for the whole year back in August. Never run out of data, but couldn't make phone calls on it. There was never a moment when I had to make a phone call throughout the year.

800 baht month for condo cleaning (I know it could have been cheaper but I didn't mind tipping the cleaning maids for making my condo look brand new.)

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is where I spent most of my money. In the first three months I ate a lot at the food courts and was barely spending anything. The novelty wore off, and then the realisation that the food wasn't the best quality. During these three months I was probably spending 10K baht/month on food.

I went through a stage of buying food from Big C to eat at home, but I found that to be just as expensive as buying groceries back in the UK. Especially for my imported fruits such as grapes, avocados, strawberries & apples.

By the end of my time in Bangkok I was probably spending 20K-25K baht/month on food which involved a lot of eating out with a drink. Any normal restaurant that isn't a food court seemed to be 300 baht for food + 100 baht drink.

The impulsive snack buys from 7/11 didn't do my savings (or my waist line) any good though.

I generally felt a lot healthier towards the end of my stay in Bangkok.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't drink alcohol. If I did, I probably wouldn't have saved anything.
Dates would probably cost a couple of thousand baht for food & drinks on at a rooftop bar. My mocktails would cost 200-300 baht/drink. A couple of dates went up to 4,000 baht, which was bruising.

Books, computers

Nothing really. I spent £3 a month on netflix (brought it when living in Latin America years ago), but it so negligible I forget about it. I would cancel it but I wouldn't get Netflix so cheap again.
I should read more, I brought a kindle before coming to Bangkok with the intention of reading more..... good intentions but poor execution.

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

Comfortable and stress-free while knowing that my future self would struggle financially if I stayed.

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

Rent. The housing market in the UK is just broken, and makes it impossible to justify moving back. Next door in my condo building was empty all year. Supply outstrips demands here.

Other than that I don't see Thailand as a cheap country. Even the holidays I went in while living in Thailand weren't cheap. A good hotel in most destination will cost 1,500 - 2,000 baht/night. That quickly eats into your monthly salary.

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

50K baht - you could survive but I feel that life wouldn't be much fun.
75K baht - I was comfortable but aware that I wasn't going anywhere fast.
115K baht - I feel like you could start saving some decent money for the future.

I would return to Thailand if I landed a job that paid 130k baht + which with more international teaching experience I hope I will be able to compete for.

I spent 9 years as a TEFL teacher around the world (not in Thailand) and always felt comfortable on my TEFL salary wherever I lived. I wouldn't recommend living in Bangkok on the TEFL salaries I see advertised unless you absolutely have to live in Bangkok.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you William. This survey shows just how expensive Bangkok is getting if a teacher can't really make the numbers work on a 75K salary. There was a day when 30K was considered the minimum salary required to work in the capital but those days are long gone. Then a figure of 40-50K became the minimum. Should we be revising that to an even higher number now is the question? A lot of teachers seem to think so!  


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