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 17th December 2018

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿41 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.62 THB to one Philippine Peso

Sue

Working in Just outside of Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 45,000 per month

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

My basic salary + 8,000 housing allowance. There is opportunity for extra teaching which gets paid at an hourly rate, so this can make the salary on average to around 50,000 per month.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

It depends, but usually not much as there is always something that needs to be done. Pay school fees for kids or fix something on the car etc.

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

The rent is 15,000 per month for a house in a gated village.

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

Transportation

I spend around 1,500-2,000 on gas as I drive everywhere. It depends if I do a weekend trip somewhere or not - so this amount can fluctuate each month.

Utility bills

I spend in total around 2,000 per month for electric, water, internet and Netflix.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I am lucky to have a kitchen so I try to cook at home. If I go out to eat, the restaurants in my area are not very expensive. So I guess I would spend around 3-4,000 per month.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't really go out in the evenings and apart from the odd glass of wine, I don't drink so this expense is very low. In total I would say around 2,000 per month. However, I do like to do activities at the weekend and holiday times with my family, so I tend to pay for short trips to an island or have a weekend in Bangkok. This I do around once a month. So I guess I would add in around another 6-7,000 for this.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

It is average. I am not living a life of luxury and I do have to keep an eye on what I spend. However, when I compare to what I would earn and living costs back in my home country I will say that I am still better off here in Thailand. The main reason is that not all my salary has to go on paying bills and food shopping. So, although I don't really save any money, I can enjoy travelling and relaxing at home without working all hours and stressing over money.

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

As a female, one of the best bargains is the luxury to go to the hairdressers. Compared to a Western country the cost is extremely cheap and the service great. So to get a hair cut, nails done, the typical extra treats that girls like, are very affordable here in Thailand.

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

How long is a piece of string? It really depends on each individual's lifestyle and expectations. As I have a family, I am not spending money on an exciting social nightlife. However, I am not able to live in a studio apartment either, so I have to spend a little more on rent than most of my single co-workers do in the area I live. For myself, I would like to have a steady income of around 70,000 baht per month so I can have some savings each month to put towards my kids future education.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Sue. I take my hat off to you because you do incredibly well to take care of kids, have plenty of short vacations, live in a nice apartment and enjoy the odd glass of wine, etc - all on about 45-50,000 a month. You must be quite a wizard with the household budgeting. 

The main thing Sue is that you feel you have a far better standard of living here than you would back 'home'. I guess that's the main thing, right?

Good shout out for the beauty salons as well. My wife amazes me when she tells me how little she pays for manicures, pedicures, etc. All that girly stuff is certainly a bargain in Thailand! 


Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the 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.    


Web

Working in Ko Samui

Monthly Earnings 45,000

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

Full time salary from employment at a college.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

8,000 - 15,000 baht. For this past semester I have split my time between living on campus (free!) and renting out a house which greatly affects my ability to save.

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

I pay 9,000 baht a month for a decent small house not far from Lamai beach.

English teachers on Ko Samui can easily find a house or apartment in the 8,000 - 10,000 baht range. Some teachers, living in groups or couples, pool their money together to rent out full on private pool villas in the mountains or in the lush interior of the island for about 20 - 30k+ a month.

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

Transportation

I rent a decent bike and pay a little more than most teachers living here. I pay 3.7k for a Yamaha Aerox and 400 - 600 baht a month on gas, sometimes more.

Utility bills

I have a good landlord who charges me the 5 baht per unit government rate for electricity which keeps my bill low and my AC on all night. The electric bill usually comes to about 9-1200 baht which is considered high but I know many of my co-workers usually only pay 500+ baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out most nights and budget myself 7,000 baht. I also have access to free breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the college I work at which also helps to stretch my budget further. Maybe I spend another few thousand on snacks and supplementing my budget for meals that exceed my daily spend of 200 baht for food.

Small mom and pop Thai restaurants are generally still quite cheap here in Samui and there are night markets more or less every night of the week which provide plentiful options to choose from at fair prices.

Western food is abundant in Samui and prices range from affordable to exorbitant. Saying that, I eat Western food quite often as I've had time to explore the island and find the best spots. A European style breakfast at one of my favourite French style cafes (eggs, bacon, toast, fruit juice, sliced fruit, sausage, and a coffee) comes to just over 200 baht which I think is rather good value.

Nightlife and drinking

I'd say an average a night out can easily add up to 1,500+ baht. A bottle of Thai beer in Samui averages 80 - 120 baht. Cocktails vary between 80 to 250 baht.

I go out for drinks with friends 2-3 times a month on the weekends.

Books, computers

I was lucky enough to be provided a Mac at my college so no costs there, though I do buy a book from time to time, say 500+ baht a book.

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

Very comfortable and could be even more if I chose to save less.

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

Thai food. Lots of choices and very affordable.

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

At least 40,000 baht, that way you can still save a bit and sample what life on Samui is all about.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks for that Web. An interesting glimpse into the life of a teacher on Koh Samui and what stuff costs on a 'paradise island'.  45,000 a month sounds like a pretty decent salary for working on one of the big name Thai islands. 


Stu

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 63,000 (before tax)

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

Full-time salary plus a housing allowance.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

10,000 to 20,000 baht depending on the situation

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

I pay 25,000 for a large townhouse in Bangna with my dog and girlfriend.

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

Transportation

1000 on gas for my car, but for big trips sometimes that can double. I use the BTS and motorcycles to get around locally.

Utility bills

Used to be around 5,500 a month until I had to pay to replace the ac, now it's closer to 2,500 including internet, wifi, mobile, electricity, water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Average grocery shopping once a week is 1,300 and I cook breakfast lunch and dinner every day for two adults. Eating out on the weekends in Thai places or sometimes delivery so about 5,000-10,000 per month.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't drink but enjoy other libations roughly that come to roughly 1,000 to 2,000 per month.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

I consider myself well off until I need to travel West or to go anywhere else.

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

Food, transport, massages.

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

Depends on the situation. I have student loans I need to pay, so I can barely afford it on a 60,000 salary but I would think to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and go for a Western holiday every year, you would need close to 100,000.

Phil's analysis and comment

Never underestimate the savings you can make by replacing an old air-conditioning unit if you have your own house or perhaps getting the handyman to give the unit a clean if you live in a rented property.  I replaced my main air-con a year or so back and the electricity bill came down from 6,000 a month to 2,500 (the air-con is switched on almost 24/7 at my place) 

Stu, I notice you spend almost half of your salary on rent. I hope your girlfriend is working and chipping in towards the costs. 


Harry

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 150,000

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

I am a 28-year old single teacher working at an international school and that is my salary after tax (including my the housing allowance)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I make an effort to save I can easily put aside 100,000 baht but normally the amount is closer to 60,000.

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

I live in a 30 m square condo and pay 13,000 baht a month rent plus around 5,000 baht for bills and maid.

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

Transportation

4000 baht per month on taxis to and from work

Utility bills

1,500 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10,000-20,000 per month. I eat out most evenings and regularly eat in nice (fairly expensive) restaurants.

Nightlife and drinking

15,000-25,000 baht. I have a very active social life and go out a lot. This can involve drinking beer in cheap Thai bars or cocktails at roof top bars. The amount will fluctuate but a substantial amount of the money I spend goes on my social life.

Books, computers

Zero.

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

I could not have a better standard of living as a teacher anywhere else in the world.

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

Massages, food, flights, hotels.

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

I make a lot of money but I save a large proportion of it. If I wasn’t saving I could live off 50,000 baht per month as a single person. Any less than that and I would have to really think about what I was spending.

Phil's analysis and comment

Harry says he couldn't have a better standard of living as a teacher anywhere in the world.  150,000 baht a month, a single guy sipping on rooftop cocktails - I don't doubt it for a second. 

Slightly off topic but I'm hoping to get an article soon from someone who worked in a Thai government school, decided the salary just wasn't enough to live on, and so returned home to get better teaching qualifications.

Fast forward, the teacher returned to Bangkok, got a job at an international school for a very nice salary package - and hates every minute of it. He wants nothing more than to go back to his old job for probably a third of the salary. He just finds the stress, pressure and all the extra work too much to cope with.  I would certainly love to hear more so keep your eyes open for that blog. 

Not saying for a moment that this is the case with Harry and his 150,000 baht a month but I think it stands to reason that for the salaries these international schools offer, they would certainly want their pound of flesh.  


Nikole

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 55,000 baht (before tax)

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

45,000 baht a month salary plus a 10,000 baht housing allowance

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Around 5,000 to 10,000, but only because I'm currently supporting my family with my salary. Otherwise I'd wager I could save around twice as much.

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

I pay 7,500 baht for a studio, 30+ square meters in size.

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

Transportation

2,500-3,000 depending on the month. I take a motorbike taxi to and from work every day.

Utility bills

Around 1,000 for phone, 1,500-2,000 for electricity (I'm an air-con addict) and 900 for internet

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Probably my biggest expense. I'd estimate around 8-10,000 per month for meals, daily coffee, and groceries (for the whole household).

Nightlife and drinking

Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 for going out, but this usually means movies or shopping rather than drinking. ;)

Books, computers

I download what I need and I'm still using the same computer my dad gifted me 5 years ago, so zero.

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

I don't have much room to complain.

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

[Some forms of] transportation, Thai massage, street food (in terms of convenience as well), and healthcare.

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

I think it depends heavily upon the individual and how much they're willing to kind of "go local". For anyone who's been here as long as I have and misses the occasional taste of a Western lifestyle, I'd say you could easily be comfortable at 40,000 baht a month (assuming no dependents).

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Nikole. I would call this an 'above average' teacher salary even for Bangkok - and I would think yes, you can live quite comfortably as a single person on 55,000 a month and paying about 10,000 baht for rent and bills. With those figures you are left with 45,000 a month and that equates to 1,500 baht a day to spend on yourself. It's a different kettle of fish when you are supporting other family members though. Hopefully that won't last forever.  


Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the 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.    


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 272 total

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