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 21st June 2024

฿37 to one US Dollar
฿47 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.62 THB to one Philippine Peso

Steve

Working in Phitsanaloke

Monthly Earnings 35,000

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

I work at a large government school in Phitsanaloke (which for those who have never heard of it, is about 5 hours north of Bangkok) My full-time salary is 35K and there is little chance to earn anything above that so 35K is what I need to survive on and budget for.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to put away at least 5-10,000 baht a month, which in pre-Covid times was very doable. It hasn't happened for a number of months though.

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

Accommodation here can be very cheap and I live in a 3,500 baht a month studio apartment. The building owner is connected to the school I believe so it was the school who recommended this place to me when I arrived in Thailand several years ago. It's nothing special but it has hot water and the air-con is decent. The building itself is very old though and starting to crumble in places.

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

Transportation

I bought my own second-hand motorcycle a couple of years ago so I spend just a few hundred baht a month on gas and maintenance. You need a motorcycle to get around in these rural Thai towns. Only a fool or someone with plenty of time on their hands, relies on the public transport system. Unless you live next door to the school of course. Having your own motorcycle makes life so much easier.

Utility bills

Never much more than a thousand baht for water, electricity and internet. I only turn on the AC for half an hour in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening to take the humidity out of the room.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I budget for around 300 baht a day on food and I find with that amount I can eat out twice a day ad make breakfast in the apartment. So let's call that 9-10K.

Nightlife and drinking

This is a quiet town and most of the nightlife is what I would call a Thai scene. That's not to say I don't go out with Thai staff from time to time (I'm only one of three foreign teachers at the school) but we all split the bill when we go out for a meal and a few drinks. My share never comes to more than about 700 baht so if I go out once a week, then that's 3,000 a month I guess.

Books, computers

Almost nothing. Although I did just buy a new desktop computer for around 30,000. This category tends to be the odd large purchase so difficult to give it a monthly figure.

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

I work through an agency and have a sort of misguided loyalty towards them because they found me this job and I love the school. However, I'm still waiting for last term's bonus and my 35K isn't always paid as promptly as it should be. I live a very month-to-month existence and it's not an idea situation. When my rent is due on the second of each month, and my salary gets paid into the bank a week late, I'm relying on savings to cover the rent.

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

Most things to be honest. I live a very Thai lifestyle and there are not that many Western temptations up here.

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

As ridiculous as it sounds, you could survive on 10,000 baht and not go hungry. That doesn't mean I would like to try it though.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Steve. Yes, I've known a few teachers in the same boat as you, where they stay loyal to a particular agent who found them a decent job. But at the end of the day, the employer has a responsibilty to make sure your well-earned paycheck goes into the bank on the same day every month. OK, sometimes one or two days late is acceptable but it shouldn't happen very often. I hope you manage to sort things out. 


David

Working in Chonburi

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

I work in a large secondary school in Chonburi and my full-time pay is about 50,000 a month after tax. Obviously with the Covid situation in this province being particularly bad, the school is closed and tuition has switched to completely online (I could rant about this for pages and pages but of course this isn't the place)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At the moment I'm saving about half of my salary but in normal times, that would go down to about 10K if I'm lucky. I'm not particularly good at saving.

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 in a typical 'lower-end' apartment building and pay 5,000 baht a month rent. I keep saying I'll look for something nicer but I'm going to have to spend at least double on the kind of place I want. It's quite nice only spending 10% of your income to put a roof over your head.

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

Transportation

I take motorcycle taxis to and from work (they are plentiful in this neighborhood) and that's 40 baht a day - so maybe 800-1,000 a month. I've thought about buying my own bike but never taken the plunge.

Utility bills

This bill has doubled now I'm spending virtually all my time at home and now comes to around 2,000.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I've actually found that I'm eating less and spending less on food at the moment with restaurants closed and not going to school and popping into 7-11s en route for an ice cream or a chocolate bar. I've got my food spending down to around 5,000 a month and order most of my meals from a local Mom and Pop restaurant. They charge just 50 baht a dish.

Nightlife and drinking

That's been zero for months. I only drink if I socialize and there are no opportunities to do that right now. I do miss a good night out in Pattaya!

Books, computers

I buy the odd book from Amazon but it's hardly worth taking into consideration. I had to spend a few thousand on upgrading my equipment to teach online but that's just a one-off investment.

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

Well at the moment, it's a 'forced way of living'. I don't like it but I've got used to it. I certainly miss seeing people and the excitement of being in a live classroom. I'm praying we don't have to live like this for too much longer.

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

Most things really but especially food from neighborhood hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

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

50,000 is a decent amount. I'd love to earn more but with 50K I never feel I go without.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a lot Dave. You seem to be using the lockdown and teaching online situation as an opportunity to save some money. I think there will be plenty of others who are reaching for those apps and ordering expensive food deliveries and generally buying stuff online. And of course it's up to the individual how they live their lives.  


Tim

Working in Hanoi

Monthly Earnings 150,000

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

150,000 baht equivalent is my full-time salary. I also occasionally earn free booze by playing guitar in bars.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I aim for half and always slightly underachieve it. Let's say 70K.

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

My rent is 17,000 baht a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

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

Transportation

I have two motorbikes. Petrol costs 2,000 per month. I usually take taxis when trapising around some evenings, which come to about 2,000 per month. I cycle and walk a lot too.

Utility bills

About 3,000 a month for electricity, air-con and water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Regular weekly shopping comes to about 4,000 baht a month with some convenience store pop-ins adding an extra thousand. Restaurants and/or delivery a couple nights a week add another 6,000. So that's about 11K a month I think.

Nightlife and drinking

I go out 2-3 nights a week (very light on weekdays but not on weekends) Those nights out cost about 30,000 baht monthly.

Books, computers

I have my kindle and only use free books. There are lots of free books ! I have a 3-year old personal laptop that has survived me well and a school laptop - so no cost there. Average Western book is about 500 baht and I buy 2 or 3 a month.

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

It is an excellent standard of living when you work hard although you could survive here on a lot less.

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

Food and drink are inexpensive if you stick to local products (local beer and street food). Taxis are cheap. Normal motorbikes ( not vanity purchases) are also very good value by Western standards.

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

I know some people who earn maybe 40,000 baht per month. If you are young it's fine I suppose.

Phil's analysis and comment

I'm not very familiar at all with the teaching scene in Vietnam but not sure we've had anyone in our cost of living surveys earning as much as 150,000 baht a month. Rent only costing 11-12% of your salary is always going to be a bonus. It sounds like you've got a great lifestyle out there Tim but it would be interesting to know exactly how hard you work for it though.   


David

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 100,000 baht

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

I get 100,000 baht a month as a full time teacher at a mid-range international school.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 30,000

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

I pay 13,000 a month for a 2-bedroom condo in Dao Kanong.

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

Transportation

I used to get taxis to and from work for 4,000 baht (not anymore as I am working from home.) Grab taxis to go downtown add up to another 2,000 ( this is less now as I am not really leaving home)

Utility bills

1,500 baht for electricity (it’s usually less when I am at work) 100 baht for water and 600 baht for the phone + internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Due to the pandemic, I am ordering in a lot more so anywhere between 5,000-6,000 baht on Grab Food/ Food Panda, otherwise I get breakfast and lunch at school. Shopping at Tops / Big C every fortnight comes to about 600-1,200 baht. I also spend about a thousand baht at 7-11 every few days, buying things I don’t need but just want. I can most definitely spend less on food but I choose to order from the more expensive restaurants, etc.

Nightlife and drinking

I used to go downtown (pre- lockdown) once a week. A night out with good wine and food typically cost about 2,000 baht. A staycation downtown for two nights at a fancy hotel costs 3-4 thousand baht. I used to do this once a month pre-lockdown days.

Books, computers

I buy a few books on kindle every time I go to the beach but that feels like a long time ago.

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

My condo is small for the rent I pay. However, everything else is cheaper than back home.

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

Food (if you eat local), hotel costs (you get some really good deals if you look around)

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

Anything above 50,000 baht is good, however you won’t be saving much and will have to go on budget holidays and eat and drink more locally. No wine or cheese from supermarkets for you.

Phil's analysis and comment

In terms of living costs, working from home creates a swings and roundabouts situation doesn't it? You probably spend more on food because you order more expensive delivery options and of course, your electricity bill is going to increase. But as we can see in David's case, he's saving a considerable amount of money by not taking taxis to and from work and he's not doing any socializing.  


Stu

Working in Chanthaburi

Monthly Earnings 43,000-55,000

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

My base salary is 35,000. On top of that, I do after school classes twice a week and tutoring on Saturdays. The reason I put between 43-55,000 is that there has never been a month where I’ve done a full month of after-school plus a full month of tutoring. If the stars align, 55,000 is the maximum, but it’s normally just shy of 50,000.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Easily half of my salary, and even more now with COVID limiting travel.

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

Myself and my girlfriend live in a fairly large apartment, with a bathroom, living room, bedroom and a balcony. Rent is 5,500 and bills are never more than a thousand.

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

Transportation

2,000 for a bike, with maybe 200-300 baht on petrol. Maybe a couple of hundred on Grab taxis if we go somewhere to drink so that we don’t have to drive home.

Utility bills

1,000 for electricity water and wi-fi.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We spend about 6,000 in total, with that divided between groceries and restaurants. In normal times, we get lunch at school, and we have a few cooking appliances at home as well.

Nightlife and drinking

We don’t drink in the week (apart from when I watch football and then just a couple to settle the nerves). At the weekend, with bars and the clubs shut, a few beers or a bottle of whiskey is enough for a night in or at a friends house. I’m praying this number rises when places re-open.

Books, computers

A few kindle books a month, so maybe 1,000 at most.

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

Awesome. Having gone pay cheque to pay cheque when I lived in Bangkok and Lopburi, Chanthaburi is by far the best place to be in Thailand. 30 minutes in the one direction and you’re in the mountains for hiking and waterfall treks. 30 minutes the other way, you’re at the beach. The salary plus tutoring allows me to save a lot, and a girlfriend who’s in charge of the money allows me to save even more!

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

Relative to England, what isn’t a bargain here? Rent and food bills , gym membership, petrol prices; everything! The only annoyance is the two-price policy at national parks and waterfalls. Some places are 20 baht entry for locals, but 200 for foreigners. It lends to a divisive “us and them” mentality in my opinion.

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

In Chanthaburi, a salary of 35,000 is enough to survive and save a little bit. If your schedule allows it, a tutoring job can give you the spending money for weekends away or for trips to the islands.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Stu. You're singing the praises of Chantaburi there and I don't blame you. It really is a wonderful little province and probably my favourite place in Thailand when it comes to two or three-day getaways from Bangkok. What always strikes me is how much pride the locals take in Chantaburi; for starters, you rarely see a scrap of litter anywhere. You've got the magnificent church, that interesting old town part down by the riverside and the bustling gemstone neighborhood. If you've never been to Chantaburi, then put it on your list! I know Stu will back me up there. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 429 total

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