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 26th May 2022

฿34 to one US Dollar
฿43 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.66 THB to one Philippine Peso

Patrick

Working in Hong Kong

Monthly Earnings 370,000

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

I have a full-time job in an international school which pays me 250,000 baht a month. My wife works at the same school and earns 50,000 baht as a TA. I also do some tutoring which brings in an additional 50,000 bath. I consider my tutor money my play money. I charge between 2,000-4,000 baht per hour.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I save around 135,000 bath a month. My wife saves half of her salary as well. We place a lot of value on putting a bit away for a rainy day. We don't really feel like we are shorting ourselves though. Hong Kong isn't nearly as expensive as people think

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

Our apartment, which has three bedrooms and is brand new, costs about 70,000 baht.

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

Transportation

We spend around 1,000 to 2,000 baht a month. Public transport is dirt cheap in HK and is so remarkably efficient and well run!

Utility bills

Utilities are paid every two months in HK. For gas, we pay 2,000 baht every two months and for electricity 3,000, water is every two months as well and for this, we pay 1,000 baht. We have the best internet package we could find at 1,200 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We go out to eat at least once a week, which will cost us around 1000 baht (per week mind you). Food shopping will cost us around 30,000 I suppose, because we are past that stage were we like to eat shit haha!

Nightlife and drinking

I love to party in Thailand, but HK is really just a place for me to live and work, so I don't spend any money on that at all. We do enjoy a nice bottle of wine every once in a while, so maybe 2,000 baht? By the way, alcohol in HK is actually way cheaper than in Bangkok.

Books, computers

I download my books and have a laptop from work, so nothing

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

I think we have a great life here. Could we spend more? Of course, but you need to have goals. We are saving what could be considered a few salaries back in Europe every month. As a 29 year old that isn't too bad. HK is incredibly well organized, safe and exciting. It kinda makes me wish I had left Thailand earlier.

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

The public transport system is very cheap and efficient. Healthcare as well is just fantastic and for free!

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

I would say you could do so on 80,000 baht but would you want to? I suppose it all depends on your priorities. As a married man I feel the need to provide for the future, but if I was a single man I'd perhaps give it a crack

Phil's analysis and comment

It sounds like an amazing life in Hong Kong on that sort of salary. I've been at least seven or eight times and it was certainly an amazing city in the past. As Patrick says, very well organised with a great public transport system. Not sure I ever fancied living and working there though. But a fantastic place for a four-day city break.  


Justin

Working in Rural Chaiyaphum (in Isaan)

Monthly Earnings About 85,000 - 90,000 baht (my wife makes another 15,000 baht)

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

Me: I work as an independent, online tutor, teaching 17 hours a week to Chinese and Russian students. I charge between 1,000-1,500 baht per hour and make 85,000-90,000 baht per month.

My wife: She's a Thai government teacher. Her net salary is about 15,000 baht. (this is important since we share expenses)

I live with my wife and son, so the expenses are based on a family of three who live in Isaan long term.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Monthly savings for a family of 3: 50,000-60,000 baht per month.

Me: My bank statements over the last year reveal I have spent 27,000 baht per month. Meaning I'm saving about 50,000-60,000 baht per month.

My wife: She earns 15,000 baht per month and spends all of it. However, as a local teacher she gets yearly pay rises and a great pension when she retires so she's fairly secure.

I think many new teachers in Thailand fall into the trap where they look at how much they saved last month and think they can do the same every month for year. It's often the once a year, adhoc costs which can eat into your savings.

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

9,000 baht per month. A year ago I bought a 3-bedroom house in a small town in Isaan. I put down a 20% deposit using past savings from teaching at schools and online here. I pay the mortgage and it comes to about 9,000 baht per month.

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

Transportation

Total: 6300 baht per month.
- Fuel - 4,800 baht
- Car insurance - just 1,000 baht on average
- Car and scooter maintenance - about 500 baht on average.

I own a car which I finished paying of a couple of years ago, and a scooter here. My wife's school is a 60 km round trip and she pays the fuel for the car. The fuel prices have obviously skyrocketed. If you have a kid and want to live here long term, then you're going to need to get a car at some point.

Utility bills

Total for 3 people - up to 4,000 baht per month.

My wife pays most of the utility bills:
Electric - about 1,000-1,500 baht per month.
Water - about 200-300 baht per month.
Internet - 750 baht per month.
Wife's phone - 400 baht per month.

My phone - 1,000 baht per month (I have super fast, unlimited internet so I can teach away from my home)

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Total food and household expenses for 3 people: 17,000 per month. For regular food and household expenses for the 3 of us, we're spending about 15,000 baht per month. Once a week, we'll go out for a nice hot pot, mookata, or some nice Western food at an awesome Western resort 20 km away from my home. This is another 2,000 baht or so.

Nightlife and drinking

Total - 2,000 baht
I buy a 24 bottle box of really nice Thai cider (called Moose if anyone's interested). This lasts me about a month, and costs 1,500 baht. I sometimes have a beer if we go to a nice restaurant. So that adds another 500 baht per month.

Books, computers

Hardly anything, so I'll include miscellaneous and adhoc expenses here:

Total - 3,000 baht per month

1. School fees - 2000 baht per month.
He goes to a good private school in the town we live in. The fees include tuition, extra class at the end of the day, transport etc.

2. Gym - 750 baht per month.
I pay a monthly subscription to use a gym and pool at a hotel.

3. Laptop - Averages at 300-400 baht per month
An adhoc expense which I only need to pay every 5 years or so. But, it's essential for me to have a good computer.

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

We're certainly comfortable and I can save well. I'm 31 years old and have lived in Thailand for nearly 10 years, so my priority is to build a decent nest egg for retirement and pay off the mortgage.

Thailand is a great place to forget about your worries....until it's too late to fix your problems.

Living in Isaan, I've seen so many retirees get into financial problems here with stricter visa regulations, not having a retirement fund, as well as many teachers having issues getting a permanent teacher's license. That's why I studied for an iPGCE, switched to a marriage visa and started building a student base to tutor independently online.

However, I have friends in China encouraging me to go back there where I could more than double my current salary. Meaning after a few years, I wouldn't need to save any more money.

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

The basics that you need to survive by yourself are cheap. What you want to be happy and what you need in order to build a family and live here the rest of your life is expensive.

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

It depends on how long you want to live here for.

I once only spent 3,500 baht in a whole month (not including rent or utilities) It was horrible. If a teacher is in dire straights then you could do that for a month...but not every month.

I've worked and lived here as a single person before getting married here in Isaan, so these are my thoughts:

For a single person in Isaan living 6 months - about 15,000-20,000 baht per month
For a single person in Isaan living 3 years plus - about 25-30,000 baht per month.
For a family of three like my family - about 40,000 baht per month.

The important thing though, is if you want to live here for the rest of your life and don't own your house or have any other assets or income, then you probably need to save another 30-40% on top of your monthly expenses, and place them into long term investments.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Justin for the detailed breakdown of the income and spending for both you and your wife. Very interesting. You sound like you have a very good handle on all things financial.

"It's often the once a year, adhoc costs which can eat into your savings". Very true. And that's coming from someone who had to just spend 45,000 baht on a new air-conditioner.  


Tiago

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 64,000

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

64K is my full-time salary in a large private school. Before Covid I was able to make an extra 8-15k a month by teaching after-school lessons. I'm hoping to have those again next term but now I can really only just count on my full-time salary.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

10K every month plus my end-of contract bonus (about 90K every year). I also support my wife back home (she's finishing her teaching degree so she can also move here and work) and have to pay some monthly bills from there as well (student loan, health insurance, pension and social security), which means I have to send about 20K back home each month.

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

I pay 7,000 Baht a month for a studio apartment. It's quite small but enough for one person. The condo is new, has got good facilities (gym, pool) and only a 10-minute taxi ride from the school where I work.

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

Transportation

3,500 baht on commuting (mostly taxis) plus the occasional MRT or BTS trip to the city center on weekends.

Utility bills

Electricity is 700-900 baht and water another 90 baht. Internet costs 900 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10K a month. I'm not a big fan of Thai food, so on the weekends I like to treat myself to some Western food.

Nightlife and drinking

Very little. 1-2K a month.

Books, computers

Kindle e-books: 500, streaming services: 1,000 and cinema: 500-1,000

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

Comfortable. I eat Thai food or cook during the week but on weekends I eat whatever Western food I'm craving. I go to the movies two-three times a month. I travel inside the country when I'm on holiday (half term and summer break), send a considerable chunk of my pay check back home and still manage to save 10K every month. I rarely drink, so I guess that helps.

I was also able to save and pay for my Cambridge Delta course (£3,000) which is something I could never have afforded back home. So, yeah, living here has been good for me, financially.

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

Rent. Here it's about 11% of my income whereas back home it's usually 40-50%. Transportation here is also a bargain: even taxis are affordable. I also like the range of options (taxis, buses, MRT/BTS, songthaew).

And also food. If you don't have a problem living on Thai street food and/or cook, you can save a lot of money and still enjoy Western food on the weekends.

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

This is obviously quite subjective but if you're single and not into partying and drinking and don't need to eat Western food every day, you can survive on 30-35K but I'd be surprised if you could save some money and travel. For that I think you'd need to make 40-45K at the very least. To play it safe, I wouldn't recommend moving to Bangkok if the pay is less than 50K a month.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Tiago. 20K is a fair chunk of your salary to have to send home every month so I can understand how much you miss the extra classes that you've lost due to Covid. So basically you are living on around 44K a month and saving 10K of that. I agree that in Bangkok, at least 50K would make life more comfortable. Good call on the rent as well. As you say, it's just 11% of your income here, whereas back in your home country, it would be around four time that percentage.   


Winston

Working in Nonthaburi

Monthly Earnings 40,000

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

40K is my full-time salary only. I don't take on private students or extra work.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Around 7,000 baht, sometimes less, sometimes a couple of thousand more.

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

My one-bedroom condo costs 10k a month, with electricity and water included.

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

Transportation

1,500 baht

Utility bills

Electricity, water circa 3,000 baht, insurance another 3,000, mobile phone, fibre, monthly subscriptions etc. 1,000 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10-15,000.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't go to nightclubs or pubs. I only drink at home and this expense comes to around 3,000.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

It's comfortable but I can't really save a lot. The salary is not that great to begin with, and living in Thailand is not as cheap as it was. You need to cook rice and chicken, and stop drinking, buying snacks, or going out if you want to save another 10K. Don't take taxis, don't turn on the air-con, okay, that's another 3-4K saved. But why would you do that? I'd rather go home than live like this, only to save 300-400 USD a month.

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

I don't really know. You are not living in Bangkok nor in the peaceful countryside or near a beach. And feeling like "a fly in the milk" lol.

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

60K to live a safe, healthy, and comfortable life, and be able to travel locally, while also saving a bit. But not going out drinking.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Winston. I don't think we've heard from a teacher in Nonthaburi for some time but it was quite a popular destination for teachers in the past (and probably still is) because you are very near to Bangkok but don't quite have the temptations that you would have if you were living in the city itself, so your 40K a month probably goes that bit further. I wouldn't argue with your 60K a month for a comfortable lifestyle though - even in Nonthaburi!  


Tim

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 67,000

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

50,000 from a full-time job at a private school and 17,000 from private gigs (approx 500 baht per hour)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I can save approximately 37,000 baht each month. Once the cost of trips home and 3/4 trips throughout the country are taken into account, it amounts to approx 25,000 per month.

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

I pay 9,000 baht for a studio apartment which has fantastic facilities right on the MRT line. I can find the living space cramped at times but I prefer to spend my free time around the facilities on offer (gym, pool, study areas, lounge etc)

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

Transportation

Approx 2,000 a month including monthly MRT commutes to work and various buses on the weekends and minivan trips

Utility bills

Utility bills are really low - approx 90 baht for water and 800 baht for electric for the month. I will forego the air-con during the day but cannot sleep without it on during the night

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I have just started cooking at home so I am hoping this expense drops. However, I spend approx 13-15k on food a month. I generally eat out but have no real craving for Western food (the odd time a craving for a beefburger arises but that is about it)

Nightlife and drinking

Almost nothing. If I go out drinking it would be for a beer or two and no more. I would say I go out drinking maybe once a month and it amounts to maybe 250 baht a month

Books, computers

None

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

Comfortable without being excellent. Even if I was earning a gigantic salary, I would live the same way each month anyway. The only difference would be in the frequency of trips home or the type of places I can stay when I do splash out on holidays

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

Taxis are the ones I see most frequently mentioned here and I would have to say that I would agree. I also think that accommodation is a real bargain here, despite living in a "box" that same "box" would cost 40K baht upwards at a minimum where I am from

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

50K to survive and 80K to be comfortable (both after tax)

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Tim. So when the figures are totted up, you manage to live in Bangkok on just over 40K a month while still managing to save 25K, which is decent. As you say it's a lifestyle that's 'comfortable without being excellent'. I think 40K is definitely at the very bottom end now for Bangkok. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 385 total

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