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.

Submit your own Cost of Living survey

Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 7th October 2022

฿37 to one US Dollar
฿42 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Debra

Working in Songkhla

Monthly Earnings 47,000

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

I work at a medium-sized Thai school in Songkhla, southern Thailand. My full-time salary is only 32,000 baht a month (I say 'only' because it's more than enough to live on down here) but I add another 15,000 baht a month by taking on axtra after-school lessons and the odd bit of corporate work (which pays in the region of 600 baht an hour)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

On a good month, when I'm teaching more hours, I can save 25,000 easily but I would say it averages out at closer to 20K. It's a statement of the obvious but you don't have time to spend money if you're busy working.

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

I share a one-bedroom apartment with my Thai partner for 6,000 baht a month and we split the rent right down the middle. It's a very good-size apartment and we've made it really homely but it's in a fairly old building. I bet it would cost at least 50% more if it was in a newer build. Most of our neighbors are professional, office people types so thankfully we aren't kept awake at night by noisy parties.

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

Transportation

I have my own scooter, which I rent for 2,000 baht a month and gas costs me an extra few hundred. As many teachers have said in these cost of living surveys, when you live outside the major cities and tourist areas, you need a motorcycle to get around. I would be lost without mine!

Utility bills

About 2,000 baht a month covers everything - electricity, water, internet, etc. We don't run the air-con all that often and it's always the air-con that jacks up the 'leccy' bills.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I'm almost entirely vegetarian these days so actually I'd rather cook at home than eat at restaurants. To be honest, I've been in Songkhla for three years already so get tired of the choice of eateries. When I go out with a group of Thai friends, they always insist on treating me despite my best efforts to pay my share. I would say my monthly food bill barely breaks 7,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

Songkhla's not a particularly lively town at night and what's available is more of a Thai scene anyway. I'm usually so tired from my day at work that I prefer to curl up on the sofa with a good book or a Netflix series. I might go out with a group of Thai friends once a week and chip in a few hundred baht towards the total bill.

Books, computers

Probably about 1,000 a month. I'm an avid reader and get through a lot of books, but you can download a lot of stuff for free and teachers often swap paperbacks with each other at school.

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

Brilliant. As I said earlier, I can save 20-25K a month easily and that 400K a year allows me to travel home once a year (although I haven't been back to England for several years due to Covid) and allows me plenty of opportunity to travel around gorgeous southern Thailand. I also put a little bit away into a pension plan. I'm sure it'll be nowhere near enough to secure a nice retirement but it's better than nothing.

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

Fruit and vegetables at the local market. I have my regular market stalls that I go to and I can come home with two bulging shopping bags for 300 baht.

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

You could survive here, even 'live quite comfortably' down here on 25,000 baht but that extra 20,000+ really does make a difference. I love working in one of Thailand's more out-of-the-way towns. I did six months in Bangkok when I first arrived in Thailand and it just wasn't for me.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Deb. It sounds like a fairly simple life (probably far to simple for some) but you seem extremely happy with your lot and that's what matters. As you say, that extra 20,000 a month means you can comfortable travel home for a holiday each year and enjoy a few extra luxuries. Well done!  

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. 


Rick

Working in Samut Prakan

Monthly Earnings 37,000 baht

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

I teach English full-time at a bilingual kindergarten., My salary is 37,000 plus I receive accident insurance and free lunch and snacks at school.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 15,000 baht

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

I pay 4,200 baht a month for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with hot water, an air conditioner and a nice space with a sink and power outlet for cooking out on my balcony in a simple but clean and modern building.

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

Transportation

0 to 500 baht. I walk to work and to nearby markets, parks and temples. I occasionally take the songtaew to go to immigration or shopping centers on weekends, so most months add up to no more than about 70 baht. During school breaks, I’ll take taxis to travel around though, which can add up.

Utility bills

About 500 baht for water and electricity, plus about 500 for internet and phone.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

1,500 baht. I mostly eat free food at work, but also have a cold tea/ice cream addiction and like to buy food at the market on weekends.

Nightlife and drinking

This is zero. I don’t really drink and I would probably be fired if I got caught out partying due to COVID. My school is very strict about us not catching and spreading COVID to students.

Books, computers

I study Thai online for about 600 baht an hour, two hours or so a week. I also buy digital copies of video games sometimes, no more than about 1,000 baht a month or so.

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

Bougie by local standards, cheap by farang standards.

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

Food, water, rent, basic cost of living, etc. Especially outside of Bangkok. Imported stuff and things oriented towards foreigners can be quite expensive, but if you live like a Thai, even a bit of a more middle / upperclass kind of Thai, you can really cut costs.

Inflation has definitely been starting to hit though and I’ll never get a raise at my current job. I intend to quit at the end of this school year and then switch to an education visa. Studying Thai is another thing that is extremely cheap here. Like $1000USD for a visa and a year of classes at some schools. I plan on living on an education visa in Chiang Mai while I do a one year Masters of Education online before finding a new job.

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

It depends on where in Thailand you live. I could probably get by on 10,000 baht a month if I cut out entertainment expenses and really took advantage of free food, water, internet, electricity and whatnot at my job like some of the Thai staff do. Plus, if I moved to one of the smaller, more run down apartments in the area that cost like half my current rent.

Phil's analysis and comment

Interesting survey Rick. You've certainly embraced that 'living like a Thai' lifestyle. It's not for everyone but you certainly seem to be managing OK. Samut Prakan must be one of the cheapest provinces in Thailand for accommodation but you're still doing well to get a one-bedroom apartment for less than 5,000 a month. I wouldn't advise downgrading though. I also think that 1,500 baht a month on food is one of the lowest totals I've seen, but if you have no problem eating the school lunches, then why not take advantage of it? So that's about 50 baht a day on food, even allowing for weekend treats, wow!. Good luck with your future plans.  


Ned

Working in Ireland

Monthly Earnings 145,000 baht (before tax)

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

That is from a full time government school. I get two months off in summer (July and August), two weeks at Christmas, one week at Halloween and two weeks at Easter. My working hours are 08.40 to 15.00.

My salary works out at 145,000 baht before tax, and I get about 115,000 baht once the government is done with me. A similar take home pay to what I got in Thailand actually. I worked as a teacher in Thailand for four years before returning home.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Absolute peanuts.

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

I rent a two-bedroom house in a nice area with a nice garden for about 48,000 baht (an alarmingly huge chuck of my salary). I paid 9,000 for a similar house in Thailand.

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

Transportation

You ready for this?? In my first year back my annual car insurance cost is 105,000 baht! My annual car tax is 10,000 baht. Finding gas at less that 70 baht per litre here is a cause for great celebration.

Utility bills

Electricity - 4,000
Wifi - 1,090
Phone - 700

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I work hard to keep our weekly food shop to under 4,000 baht so about 12,000. A nice meal at an Asian restaurant is a nice treat at 2,000 baht a pop, lets put another 8,000 in for that.

Nightlife and drinking

Not much room for that. A six pack for home will cost you 500 baht.

Books, computers

Library here is fantastic so no big costs here.

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

I don't want for much but I am saving nothing either.

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

In Ireland? Absolutely nothing. I miss Thailand!

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

I'm surviving at the minute so I guess my salary? To properly live though? Pop another 60,000 on top please.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Ned for an interesting combination of 'cost of living' and 'great escape'. The price of certain things really does sound mental compared to Thailand. Nowonder you miss the old place at times. 48,000 baht a month for rent? Wow! When I have nothing better to do and purely out of idle interest, I sometimes go on the popular UK property sites like Rightmove and Gumtree to see what the situation is and I'm just flabbergasted. Even a bedsit in a fairly rundown area of a city will cost you £700 a month and renting a room in someone's house doesn't cost much less. It's a huge chunk of salry to just fritter away.  


Gavin

Working in Pathum Thani, near Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 55,000

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

I've worked at my particular school for five years and over time my teaching load has decreased and I've moved into other areas like teacher recruitment and curriculum development. Actually, because we now have 25-30 foreign teachers, the teacher recruitment has become almost the biggest part of my daily job. I teach about 10 hours a week compared to 20 in the past but my salary has increased thanks to the extra responsibilities.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to save anything from 5,000 to 20,000 a month. 20K is only doable if I don't do any travelling or have any large purchases though.

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

I live in a 3-bedroom house with my Thai partner and that costs 12,000 baht a month to rent. I pay all of that amount and my partner chips in with the utility bills. That's kind of the arrangement we've always had. She only earns around 20K a month so it feels unfair to make her split the rent down the middle. It's a nice place, down a quiet soi on a well-maintained and secure housing complex. The neighbors are friendly and we have a small front and back garden.

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

Transportation

I have a motorcycle I use to go the 5 kilometres to work and back so with the odd taxi fare at the weekend and a few skytrain fares, this expense probably comes to around 2,000 a month.

Utility bills

As I said, my partner takes care of this expense. I don't think it ever comes to more than about 3,000 baht for electricity and water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Both my partner and I pretty much stick to Thai food all the time. She doesn't like Western fast food and I fell out of love with it a long time ago. I'll sometimes splurge on a Chinese or Indian meal and have it delivered but otherwise, it's Thai food all the way, either street food or low-end places. I'd say if you factor in supermarket shopping, 7-11 purchases etc, this must be 12,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

Yes, we like a night out. Usually we'll catch the BTS into Bangkok and have a few drinks at somewhere like Khao San Road. If you do this just once a week, you can blow hole in 12,000 baht a month easily.

Books, computers

I'm not much of a reader or gamer. I do like my Netflix series (around 450 baht a month) so I'll normally fall asleep in the armchair in front of the box if we don't go out drinking. A day's work always tires me out.

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

It's OK, nothing special. We have a joint income of around 75,000 and when you're a couple that likes their weekends away and enjoy the Bangkok pubs, you can burn through 75K very easily. If I'm honest, another 25K would be very nice

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

Fruit from the local market as opposed to paying supermarket prices. I don't go in the high-end supermarkets anymore. The price of goods in those places is getting crazy.

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

Let me say a few words from a recruiter's standpoint. The days of the 30K a month teacher are over, and if they aren't over they soon will be. You can't recruit a native English speaker for that sort of salary, period, well, only if they are truly desperate and have so many skeletons in the closet, you can barely close the door. You can't even get quality Europeans (non-NES) or Filipinos to work for a 30K salary these days either. The non-NES teachers know they are often better at teaching English than natives and as for the Filipinos, they aren't running away for a better life in Thailand like they were in the past. Thailand just isn't the TEFL attraction it once was.

But to answer the question, I would say at least 50,000 in Bangkok for a single teacher but a lot more than that if you've an eye on the future.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a lot Gav, always interesting to hear the thoughts of someone on the teacher recruitment front line. A lot of teachers will tell you that Thailand TEFL salaries haven't increased in the last twenty years and while I don't think that's entirely true (because there are more 40-75K salaries around nowadays), when I recruited teachers in the late 90's, we were certainly offering 30K+. And 30K went a hell of a lot further in those days because there was so little to spend your money on, You put a roof over your head, ate mainly Thai food because you didn't have the selection of Western eateries and you had the occasional weekend in Pattaya or Hua Hin because there were no low-cost airlines back then. Were they the good old days I wonder? 


Richie

Working in Canada

Monthly Earnings 120,000 (after pension reductions, taxes, health insurance)

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

Full-time elementary school teacher. I also trade stocks and on average probably make an extra 10,000 a month but lately more losses than profits. I pay 20,000 a month for my teachers pension which my school board matches (40,000 total).

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I save 50,000 a month split into two retirement funds. This is separate from my work pension.

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

My rent is subsidized by my school board and it comes to 14,000 a month for a two-bedroom house.

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

Transportation

No expenses, I walk to work. On school holidays I travel and I spend around 50, 000 for flights, hotels etc. I do this three times a year.

Utility bills

I pay for internet and satellite tv 8,000 a month. My school board covers electricity, water etc.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend about 15,000 a month.

Nightlife and drinking

None

Books, computers

Probably about 2,000 a month on kindle books.

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

I live in a remote community and there is not much to do in regards to nightlife. I enjoy going fishing, hunting and have use of a well-equipped gym at my school. I receive tax rebates from the government to offset the higher cost of living.

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

I am able to save a lot of money for retirement and rent is very low.

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

I lived in South Korea 15 years ago and was making around 95,000 a month. The pension was poor and I wasn’t saving much. I decided to return to Canada and teach here. While remote living is not for everyone, it is an easy way to save money.

I have 12 weeks off per year and still travel to Asia in July and August. The teacher pension plan in Canada is top notch however, you need to be fully certified to work in a school board. In 8 years (55) I will be able to fully retire with around a 90,000/ month pension. I will also have my personal investments for extra spending money. For someone newly certified in teaching, northern Canada is a great place to pay off debts and walk right into a full-time job. You may spend 2-3 years supply teaching in a large city waiting for a position to open up.

I am glad I left Asia when I did as it increased my earning and saving potential and I feel more valued as an educator. I still love to visit Asia and will retire there but I have no intention of working there again.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Richie. I think this is our very first cost of living survey from Canada but you've also taught in Asia of course. It sounds like you have a great life in a remote part of Canada. It probably wouldn't be for everyone but great if you're into hunting and fishing and the outdoor life.

On a side-note, I've let this survey slide but it was touch and go because it has little to do with teaching in Thailand. We'd love to get some cost of living in Thailand surveys if anyone has time.  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 393 total

Page 1 of 79


Featured Jobs

Female NES EYFS Teacher for January 2023 Start

฿40,000+ / month

Chon Buri


NES Primary Science / Maths Teacher

฿60,000+ / month

Rayong


Upper Primary (Year 6) Mathematics Teacher

฿60,000+ / month

Samut Sakhon


NES Math Teacher

฿45,000+ / month

Bangkok


Foreign Teachers for English Program (40-50K)

฿40,000+ / month

Nakhon Pathom


Fun Native English Teachers for Late October Start

฿42,000+ / month

Thailand


Featured Teachers

  • Abbas


    Iranian, 42 years old. Currently living in Iran

  • Nicolas


    British, 38 years old. Currently living in China

  • Jheddylhyn


    Filipino, 26 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Susanta


    Indian, 36 years old. Currently living in India

  • July


    Filipino, 25 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Anas


    Syrian, 44 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?