Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

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Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 29th March 2020

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฿40 to one Pound Sterling
฿36 to one Euro
฿20 to one Australian Dollar
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Andy

Working in Pak Phanang Town in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Monthly Earnings 30,000

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

30,000 is my monthly salary from a Thai government school. I work Monday-Friday, 8 am - 3 pm, with some flexibility in there. I also have extra income from my home in USA that I rent out while I am here. That gives me an extra $650 USD per month. I'm sure I could find money another way and not even teach, but the teaching gives me a work permit so I don't have to cruise to Malaysia doing visa runs every year. Plus I love these little kids, it's just fun messing around with them all day at school. English is also taught by their Thai teacher and they go hard in there, so in my class we just play games to reiterate the lesson they have already learned. So again, it's more fun than a money deal.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

It changes every month. I like to travel a lot so when I'm not working I spend my money. I really don't spend my extra income, but do get through the 30,000.

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

I rent a town-house for 3,500 baht per month. with water and electric included.

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

Transportation

I have two motorbikes, which I bought cash. One is a used 125cc scooter and then a bigger 250 cc bike that was deal from a small bike shop, it was maybe in several accidents or something but I keep it running clean nowadays. Gas costs around 800 baht a month.

Utility bills

They are included in the rent mentioned above.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out a lot, but also go to Tesco often. I live with my wife and she can cook really well. I pay a food bill for two people and still only spend 8,000 a month. Seafood is very cheap here, plus fishing is free and we fish weekly.

Nightlife and drinking

Maybe 3,000 baht a month. Nightlife is Thai karaoke or food spots with booze. There is a sports bar I hit with my wife's brothers often as well - Go Liverpool!

Books, computers

I pay for data and wi-fi and it's about 1,500 a month for my wife and I.

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

I really like it or else I wouldn't do it. I am also living here for my wife. Her grandmother raised her as a child and is now very old. Being able to spend time together is nice and what's important in our lives. My wife has three brothers and an uncle who gets faded all day long and go fishing off the nearby pier, - so that's a lot of fun for me.

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

Rent, seafood and Thai food. Also traveling around is very cheap within Thailand and to other nearby countries.

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

Living in Pak Phanang could range from 15,000 - 50,000 baht a month. I know people here spending both amounts monthly and both doing just fine in different ways. Even the guy doing 15,000 a month could reduce that by drinking fewer lemon teas each day!

Phil's analysis and comment

Andy, I think you could be the first teacher in our cost of living section who catches his own dinner. Also, I kind of admire the way you have integrated with your wife's family, be it cheering on Liverpool in a sports bar or fishing off the pier with the faded uncle (I assume 'faded' means stoned or drunk? I'm not familiar with the expression) 


Nate

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

I work at a private language school and earn 50,000 baht per month. Keep in mind I work long hours, generally totaling around 46 hours a week.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I focus on being incredibly frugal, I could be putting away up to 20 thousand baht per month, but realistically I like to shoot for about 5K - 10K baht per month as a general goal.

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

I live in a studio apartment located only a couple minutes away from the BTS by foot. The apartment is nice and modern and located in Onnut, which is a nice and well-developed area in Bangkok. The apartment is relatively expensive at 10,000 baht per month. This doesn't include my utility costs either.

Rent takes up 1/5th of my total salary, although once again my apartment is quite nice, modern and conveniently located.

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

Transportation

I take the train to my work's nearest station for 15 baht, and then a motorcycle taxi the rest of the way for 50 baht. Then I do this in reverse in order to get back home. This amounts to 130 baht per working day for transport. At 20 working days per month, that's 2,600 baht per month for transport.

Utility bills

On average my electricity bill amounts to around 2,000 baht per month. I try to be conservative with my air-conditioner and only use it during essential periods, but that's easier said than done in the Thai climate.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I have takeaways for all my meals. At work we order from a local restaurant and a dish is 50 baht. After work I'll typically eat at my local food court for around 40 baht. I can quite comfortable survive on about 90 baht per day for my meals. These are tasty, nutritious and filling meals as well.

Of course on occasion I like to treat myself to Western food when the craving strikes me, but I'm quite a simple guy and find myself happy to subsist on Thai food for the most part.

Nightlife and drinking

When I first arrived in Thailand I drank frequently and to excess, but now I've largely grown out of it. I find you can only drink so often before you get bored of it. These days I rarely go out or drink much at all, however I still do have the rare beer or two when I'm hanging out with a mate, or the mood strikes me.

I largely tend to go to my local bar and have a coke and play pool instead now though. A coke only costs 40 baht, whereas a beer will run you about 100 baht.

Books, computers

I don't spend too much money on physical books as I tend to consume all my information/entertainment from my laptop. I'm on my laptop virtually all the time during my time off from work, but this isn't really a regular cost as I already own it.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living?

I try to be mindful of the way that I spend my money, but overall I live pretty comfortably/safely. I can treat myself whenever I want, I just prefer to live a conservative lifestyle, I don't see the appeal in blowing all my cash, and I don't think it'd make me any happier. I did happen to get lucky with the job I landed and get paid about 10,000 more than the average teacher with the same qualifications. However, once again, as mentioned earlier, keep in mind the hours I work are relatively long.

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

I find that the food here is very reasonably priced, but really everything is significantly cheaper compared to my home country of Australia.

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

The average salary of around 38K is enough to live on, but you're not going to have too much fun doing it or have much of a chance to save. I think my salary of 50K is quite comfortable and provides me with the option to both have some fun when I feel like it and also stow away a bit of cash.

If you're going to move to Thailand you're really moving here for the lifestyle, so you want a wage that you can at least afford to go out a few times a week on.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Nate. The most ever  classroom contact hours I used to do was back in the mid 90's when I would regularly do 38 hours a week. It included 6 hours during the day from Monday to Friday, a conversation class a couple of evenings a week and a five-hour TOEFL prep course on a Sunday. Then there was the preparation on top but thankfully I had got that down to a fine art and it wasn't too time-consuming.

But I used to treasure those Saturdays off I can tell you. When you are younger and have more energy, you can do those sort of punishing schedules but there were some days, particularly after those evening conversation classes that would finish at 8.30 pm, when I would crawl home with barely the strength to make a sandwich. The extra money is always nice but sometimes you find yourself with no time to spend it. Striking a good work/life balance is not always easy. I found teaching too many hours for too long led to almost a mild depression. Take care of yourself!  


Gus

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 48,000

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

I work full-time Monday to Friday and clock in before 7.48 am and clock out by 4,00 pm.
I teach 20 contracted hours (much better than where I was teaching before) I also tutor on the side from Tuesday to Thursday which brings in 900 baht/hour but there are occasionally things that come up with my client, warranting a cancellation. My good Thai friend got me this gig so I’m pretty open with my scheduling “policy” but to be honest, I’m pretty much anytime after I finish my “day job” so I could care less what time I get 'booked' by my client. Then again, I just teach one client. LOL
I was also doing some online tutoring but have given that up for a while.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Honestly, after having read all of these posts in the cost of living section, I don’t know what the hell you all are drinking, but if you’re a single guy or woman, you CAN most definitely live on MUCH less of an income than what people on here are preaching. I can assure you that. I have an earning potential of about 55K a month and after bills, I can easily save 30-34K.

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

I pay 9,500 baht a month for a brand spanking new condo near the BTS.

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

Transportation

1,080 Baht for a 40-ride rabbit pass, which covers my to and from school expense just fine. I only take the BTS and never really find myself taking the MRT. Of course, since I do go to the gym (aside of the gym I have in my condo) in Phrom pong I do eat into those passes so sometimes I may spend a little more (500 baht) on an extra pass.

Utility bills

700 baht/month on electric as I do like to run the air-con a bit when I’m home or if I forget some days to turn it off when leave for the gym. 599 on internet and 500 on my local phone bill. Then about 3,000 on my credit card bill.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't skimp on food. I pay for breakfast at the school but they include free lunch, which is usually great. I end up cooking my own dinner and an additional meal since I do training. In that 6,000 a month, I spend about 600-700 on protein drinks after the gym. I also try and eat 4-5 meals a day

Nightlife and drinking

I don’t really go out at all to party. Maybe 1-2 weekends out of the month. I'm not much of a drinker to be honest.

Books, computers

I have my own MacBook. The school I work at provides laptops too and plenty of office amenities to work with.

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

I’m honestly really happy. I simply don’t understand (and find it comical) how people can sit and write this stuff — saying you won’t/can’t live well with anything less than 40 or 35K. I was living well enough with 35K at the old school I was teaching at and that was even before I was tutoring. All while eating well, commuting and having a gym membership. Oh yeah, and I live in the city! You guys are crazy.

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

Food, rent and utilities. I used to live in Hawaii since I was both stationed there in the military and went to college there. And I was spending 50% of my income on rent. So I can tell you right now, I’m living the dream. Then again, I’m just a simple dude.

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

35K will do just fine. 48K will do you more than just fine. 50-55K (like me) is honestly more than enough. My recommendation is to have a little side hustle. It won’t hurt. Thanks for reading!

Phil's analysis and comment

Some pretty strong opinions there from Gus but I think he sums it up in one of his answers - he's a simple guy. His food bill is a fairly modest 6,000 baht a month (that's only 200 baht a day), his living accommodation is 9,000 and apart from those two expenses - what else? he goes to the gym. I'm not knocking the lifestyle at all but I'm guessing there are plenty of folks out there (the ones who say 35K isn't enough) who like to do some travelling, go home to see the family once a year etc. And that can add 10,000 baht a month to expenses. 

900 baht an hour for a private student is not too bad. Quite a nice lucrative sideline there.   


Ryan

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35,000

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

35,000 Baht is my full-time salary. It's a decent Thai private school, across from Central Rama 2. I wish I made more money obviously, but I am not a certified teacher. I am a college graduate with the ability to teach and a smile goes a long way. I teach conversational English to grades 2-6. 20 classes per week. Mon-Fri, 8ish-3:00.

I've also done several odd jobs that brought in random bits of cash: weekend English camps, commercial & movie extra work and tutoring professionals on "The Millionaire Mind" - some seminar in Singapore that preaches how to make more money. I played CDs and we all had open discussion about what the CD was saying. All of these jobs were great fun!

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Zero - I even dip into my saving most months.

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

6,000 baht for a dirty old apartment near Victory Monument. But I'm all about location not comfort, although it does have air-con. The BTS and minivan set up is really good. I hate Los Angeles traffic and Bangkok is the same. For me sitting in traffic is the worst, and living on Rama 2 defeated the purpose of why I have chosen to live in Bangkok for the time being. I'm here to go out and get loose.

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

Transportation

BTS card - 1,500 baht
Minivans - 1,000 baht
Taxis - 2,000 baht

Utility bills

1,500 baht for electric and water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10,000 baht. I eat out for every meal. I love Thai food. Victory Monument has food options available all day and it's easy for me to find something good and inexpensive daily. I'm not picky and will eat whatever.

Nightlife and drinking

20,000 baht. I like to go out. It's finally starting to get old/redundant and I am beginning to miss my old CA life to a slight degree. The CA dispensaries helped treat my anxiousness, now going out daily does and drinking in Bangkok ranges in price. A typical week involves partying at RCA, Khao San, Sukhumvit, and a BUI student event in Ekamai/Thonglor.

Books, computers

Iphone only - data is cheaper than home also.

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

Hectic by choice. I love it. It's been a strong 2 years, but it's time to hang it up in another few months maybe after Thai New Year and return to a nice CA summer. I'm 24 years old, and graduated college at 21. I was not ready to commit to some company for a solid tender to begin my money making. I felt it would be best to go get loose for a while. I planned for 6 months to a year but things continued going smoothly, and here I am today. This is now a second home for me, and I can see me coming back for multiple holidays. I have gone out so much in the last two years, that I feel comfortable getting around on my own, speaking the language a fair bit, and making multiple quality Thai friends. Thailand is great.

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

Rent, transport, traveling around Thailand, and traveling to nearby countries. Then I would add beach-front accommodation, tourist activities, fake bootleg shopping items, Thai food, and partying in certain spots.

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

20,000 baht to survive paycheck to paycheck. I personally wouldn't stay here only to survive and would prefer CA in that case. I would also never live in a survival mentality. I am only blowing savings here because I can. That all changes if my situation was not a 24 year old head-in-the-clouds male. If you are looking to do this as a long term deal, I would recommend 65,000+ for Bangkok, and to set up that retirement account early because Thailand more than any other country I have seen really values their young teachers. The other teachers at my school were better teachers than me, yet I would get all the praise for being the youngest who just smiled a lot. Your appearance is commented on often and additionally helps secure employment.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Ryan. I think you would be the first to admit that you're something of a 'party animal' and doing stuff like saving money and planning for the future is not on your agenda. But it sounds like you've had the time of your life and at 24 years old, you know it's now time to head back home and knuckle down to a career perhaps. Thailand will always be here for holidays and you've already got memories that will last a lifetime! 


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.     


Ellen

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 40-70,000

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

I earn 40,000 baht per month, working 20 hours per week. I am not required at the school when I am not teaching so I often partake in private classes, corporate teaching and do freelance writing projects. Income can change month to month, depending on how hard I work but 50,000 tends to suit me just fine. If I have something I need to save for, a trip or an expense, I can just work harder.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Nothing, I am not really a saver. I know it is irresponsible and at 32, should probably be preparing for the future but right now, living, for now suits me just fine. I have a few small debts from impulsive past travel on credit cards etc so anything left over, I pay back or take a trip somewhere. I get reduced flights as my girlfriend is cabin crew for an international airline so I am also lucky enough to be able to go home quite easily when I need to.

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

I live in a one-bedroom condo with a pool and gym for 11,000. My school offered me free accommodation but it was quite dated and without air-con and I like a really homely living space. 11,000 was a bit out of budget but figured I wouldn't need a gym membership on top of this and find gyms to be really expensive in Thailand.

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

Transportation

Next to nothing really. I love walking...especially in hot weather and I walk a lot. My school is a ten-minute walk away and I find Grab is really cheap for short motorbike trips. My BTS station is currently part of the new-build free routes to the surrounding 5 stops, including Ladprao, which is where I often go. I often visit friends in the On Nut and Ratchathewi areas but taxis are so cheap here compared to home

Utility bills

Electricity is usually around 1,500 with water no more than 300 baht. I pay 500 baht for my home wifi and mobile sim-card which is so cheap considering my data allowance. I don't get insurance with my school, so I pay around 1,000 baht for this.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't like Western food and I find food to be so cheap in Thailand, I don't even have a plate or a fork in my condo!
Breakfast is coffee. I pay 100 baht a week with my colleagues and one of our teachers cooks a superb lunch for us each day. Day-to-day, I will have a 50 baht dinner and maybe a can of Leo to go with it. I spend a bit more when socializing with friends, but they are all Thai and I am very happy with local food. I eat out a bit when my girlfriend is back in Bangkok and we like trying new places but this is just a few times a month.

Nightlife and drinking

TOO MUCH! I never go to clubs or anything, but I meet with friends for dinner and beers maybe more than I should. Again, it is always local bars and restaurants so inexpensive, but again, maybe I do this a bit too much and this is where most of my income, alongside clothes shopping goes.
When my girlfriend is back here from the country she is based in with her airline, we tend to go somewhere nice, stay out too late and we really love craft beer. Craft beer is crazy expensive in Thailand but this is no more than a couple of times a month.

Books, computers

Nothing, I have my own laptop and any books I get from used book stores.

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

I have an incredible standard of living in Thailand because it suits my preference just fine. I could never afford to get a decent place to live and socialise as much as I do here, in the UK. I eat so well here and feel much healthier in Thailand than I do at home as I eat fresh ingredients and exercise much more. I can hear the moaning about pollution already but, 'sabai sabai'.

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

Food, accommodation and travel. I love taking trips/holidays and the domestic flights in Thailand allow you to be in a destination on other people's bucket lists for next to nothing....in an hour!
I absolutely adore food and the best food in Thailand is usually the cheapest.
I also like vintage and second-hand clothing and in the UK, it tends to be more expensive than designer-wear, in Manchester anyway. I absolutely love shopping for clothes in Thailand and the second-hand stores and local-designer clothes at JJ are unbelievably cheap.

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

I see people on groups saying you need a minimum of 100,000 baht to live in Bangkok and I just genuinely don't know where these people go, or what they do.

Fine, I don't save any money but I could if I wanted to. I could cut down on things I loved a bit and work harder but I am happy as I am for now. I eat well, travel, see friends and go shopping often.

Prior to moving here permanently, I was offered salaries much higher than my 40,000 but I loved my school the second I stepped foot in it and feel day-to-day happiness is more important. My 40,000 + bits extra here and there are fine for me and working with the Thai military, I feel it gives me an air of safety in Thailand that is worth ten times my salary.

I think you need a Western income to live a Western lifestyle here but if I wanted that, I would live at home. I like and appreciate anything Thai and it is why I live here so the food, local bars, beer gardens etc are all part of why I love it.

What I really love so much about Thailand is you can make it suit all budgets. I have spent 8,000 baht in one night before and also managed to make 250 baht last a week - it is up to you and anything is possible in this dynamic and beautiful country!

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Ellen for such a detailed survey and such a good read! I got to the end of it and thought 'hold on! I know this young lady!' So I put two and two together (Manchester, age, past experiences, etc) and this could only be Ellen the stand-up comic LOL. 

I strongly urge you to read the hot seat interview that Ellen did for Ajarn over 5 years ago (my God, hasn't time flown) because it was obvious from that interview that one day Ellen would return and make Thailand her permanent home. She loved this country so much. And I'm made up that you are making a great success of it.

I'm not going to analyze the figures in your survey, Ellen, because you argue them so convincingly. Thank you for your contributions to Ajarn over the years and if we ever get the chance to meet, the craft beers are on me! 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 318 total

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