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 31st March 2020

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿41 to one Pound Sterling
฿36 to one Euro
฿20 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Peter

Working in Rayong

Monthly Earnings 100 - 200K per month

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

My teaching salary is 35K and my online income is anywhere between 80-160K per month. I don't really need the salary, but I teach because I enjoy it. Having smiling, happy faces every day beats staring at a laptop. Luckily I can juggle both during a normal school day.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I typically save all my online income as my school salary is more than enough to survive on in Rayong.

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

I live in a condo for 7,000 per month, which has a nice pool and a gym.

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

Transportation

About 500 baht for fuel. I have my own motorcycle so my only expense is fuel.

Utility bills

Zero for electricity since it is included in my rent. The water bill is typically 200 baht per month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Probably about 10K per month.

Nightlife and drinking

Zero. I don't drink and there is no nightlife in Rayong.

Books, computers

Zero. I have my own laptop, which I use to work online as well as teach.

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

Very good compared to my home country (South Africa). Having two incomes and being able to save one of them also helps.

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

Safety. I know this is not a country that most Americans, Brits, or Europeans would consider safe but compared to South Africa it's very safe. Everything is relative.

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

It all depends on your lifestyle. I would say that you shouldn't depend on only your teaching salary. Find extra revenue streams where you can, and you'll thrive, not just survive.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Peter. 100,000 to 200,000 baht a month is a hell of a salary range. How many months a year do you hit the 200 mark?

I would love to know how many hours of online teaching you do a month, given that you have to fit that around your full-time job, and also your hourly rate.  I know there are many teachers who do well with the online stuff but not sure many are making 160K if it's purely a second job. I stand to be corrected though.  

My old pal, Johnny Reid, read this and made a good point - "many teachers keep the bricks and mortar gig just for the work permit and visa, it certainly isn't for the money"


Hansie

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 65,000

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

65,000 is my salary for working 4 days a week as a general manager in a language school in central Bangkok. I used to work in an A-tier international school as a sport coach but decided to work less, start a business online and work just 4 days a week. My salary dropped by half, but I just work 25 hours a week now and do not teach anymore. We have a 1-year-old daughter, so I like spending time with her and to work from home too.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

On my salary nothing, but I'm married and my wife earns a great income (220K nett per month as a director for an advertising company). Also we bought a couple of condos as investments. We also bought a house next to the BTS in the suburbs of Bangkok. As a couple, we can save maybe 60K a month after all expenses.

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

We have a 25K mortgage for our house and about the same for the two condos, which we rent out.

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

Transportation

We have a car and I use the BTS. I would say about 6,000 baht a month.

Utility bills

About 3,000 for electric bills and another 1,000 for internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I'd say about 10-15,000 a month on dining out and 10,000 a month for our monthly shopping at Tesco Lotus.

Nightlife and drinking

I used to be a nightlife fan, but after marriage and now with a child, I go out maybe once a month. We'll call that about 3,000.

Books, computers

I use a 4-year old laptop at home.

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

Compared to when I arrived in Thailand a decade ago, I would say I lead an upper middle class lifestyle.

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

Eating Thai food, luxury hotels and anything that is labor intensive.

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

Hard to say because it depends on the person. For someone here on a 1-2 year adventure, I guess 40-50K a month would do but that would be just a break-even figure.

If you take yourself seriously as a teacher and think about the future - healthcare, pension, savings, kids, trips home, full-time nanny etc, you are coming closer to a minimum of 120K a month and with a family even more. Anything less than that and in my opinion you shouldn't be here. I pay 70,000 a year for health insurance alone.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Hansie. I guess 65K a month for 4 days is a week is not too bad, especially if it allows you to spend more quality time with your daughter. It helps no end when you have a wife bringing in over 200K a month but I'd be interested in knowing how stressful and time-consuming that position is. Do you wish you saw more of her? Does she often bring her work home? etc.

Buying a condo or two as an investment (and then renting them out) is something my wife has considered many times but as yet, she hasn't taken the plunge. 


RJ

Working in Central Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 53,000 - 65,000

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

My standard monthly salary is 53,000. During term time I also teach 'after school' lessons (during school hours) which make me another 8-12K a month.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I'm more than happy living a 'Thai lifestyle', eating street food and enjoying a simple day to day life. My rent, bills and monthly expenses are low, and I *could* comfortably save half of my salary each month. That's not to say I have. Since 2015 I have traveled extensively, visiting almost all Asian countries. I've had the most amazing four and a half years and wouldn't change it for the world, but it has come at a cost of having almost no savings.

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

I pay 10,000 baht for a fairly modern studio apartment with amazing views overlooking Sukhumvit. The condo has a swimming pool, decent gym and a sauna.

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

Transportation

I own a motorcycle and use it to ride to work, as well as the odd trip to the shopping malls. I spend approximately 100 baht every two weeks on fuel.

Utility bills

Government rates electricity 800 - 1,500 a month.
Internet and phone contract - 800 baht
Water - 50 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I much prefer Thai food to Western food and most of the time I'm happy eating 50 baht street food, so food expenses are fairly low.

Nightlife and drinking

I find drinking in bars to be more expensive than back home in the UK. Fortunately I rarely drink these days, and will only drink in bars if there is a special sports occasion.
Maximum 2,000 baht a month.

Books, computers

Maximum 1,000 baht a month.

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

I often hear expats moaning about living in Thailand, but apart from the pollution in Bangkok I can't find many complaints. I love it. My standard of living is far better than it was back in the UK.

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

If booked in advance, air fares to other countries in Asia.

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

If you're a single guy with no dependents and you're happy to live a simple life, I'd say 40,000 baht is enough to live a relatively comfortable life in Bangkok. Of course you would have to prioritize what to spend your money on, as it wouldn't allow for a nice condo, travel, regularly eating out and other luxuries - and certainly not savings for the future.

My 'live for today' attitude, prioritizing travel over saving, will probably be seen as irresponsible by most, and I'd tend to agree. But do I regret it? Not really, as I've had the time of my life over the past four years, and you never know what the future holds.

That being said, having recently reached the big 30, I realise it would be a foolish move not to plan for the future. For this reason I am (reluctantly) returning home next year to gain my professional teaching qualifications, in order to return to Bangkok on a much higher salary. For a young guy 50-60k is fine, but I wouldn't want to live on that kind of salary for the rest of my working life.

Phil's analysis and comment

RJ, I'd love to introduce you to my sister-in-law because I think you would get on famously. She's probably a good few years older than you but she has travelled all over the world. If you tell a travel story, she's got a travel story to top it. Her mantra is 'spend life gathering experiences and creating memories you'll never forget. One day you will be too old to do these things. Don't worry about the future because it will generally take care of itself'

I suppose many cautious folks will see that attitude as reckless but I often think she has a point. I think it's great that you've done loads of travelling and seen so many places. They are memories no one can take away from you. 

We're a long time dead! 


Nick

Working in Suphanburi

Monthly Earnings 40,000

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

34,000 is my full-time salary with the rest coming from private students. I live with my Filipina girlfriend who is also a teacher and she makes around 21,000 baht a month. We split expenses on a lot of things.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

15-20,000. We tend to plan a large trip once a month because we like to explore the world. That can change the amount that we save each month.

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

I live in a well kept apartment complex that costs me around 4,000-4,500 a month, split between me and my girlfriend. This includes water and electric (a/c).

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

Transportation

I rent a scooter from a Suzuki shop and I pay 1,800 a month, plus about 100 baht a week for gas. We take the minibus around the region once a month or so for 200 baht total.

Utility bills

Included in accommodation as mentioned above.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We spend about 6.000 baht a month on food, about 500 baht a week for groceries, and about 1,000 a week for eating out at various places. We tend to eat at a 'fancy' place once a week or so, i.e. pizza, sushi, McDonald's.

Nightlife and drinking

We rarely go out for entertainment and we spend a minimal amount on drinking, only buying a case of Leos to split with our Filipino friends once or twice a month.

Books, computers

We don't purchase much of this to consider it.

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

We live a good life, planning our trips out and always being conscious with our spending, but not too much that we don't enjoy our luxuries.

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

Food, rent, beer. You name it.

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

If you are able to 'do as the Thais do', then you can earn around 30,000 with no sweat for an individual.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Nick. So what we have here is a couple of teachers living together with a joint income of over 60,000 baht. With less than 5,000 being spent on accommodation and 6,000 on food (the main expenses) you're both left with almost 50,000 in the kitty to spend in Suphanburi. Doesn't surprise me at all that you enjoy 'a good life'.

My best Thai friend comes from Suphanburi and he's fiercely proud of it. I've been there with my wife several times and I think it's a lovely town. Yes, it's quiet and there isn't an awful lot to do but I've always admired the polite, softly spoken locals and the whole place is kept immaculately clean. I could quite easily live in Suphanburi. It's not too far from Bangkok either. 


Tim

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)

My wife and I work together and have a combined salary of 50,000 per month. We both work Monday to Friday from 7:30 am till 4:30 pm. Sometimes on the weekend, my wife tutors children in both English and Thai. With the extra tutoring, we are able to maybe bring about 3,000 baht extra a month.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

We are able to save between 15,000 - 20,000 per month. We have a 2-year-old daughter that will be starting school soon, so we might possibly save a little less. Also, we are going to have another baby in the next 7 months. After that baby is born, we have to put him or her in nursery till 5:00 p.m. or have a family member take care of him or her for about 5,000 a month.

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

The cost of our condo is 5,000 per month. It's roughly 25 sqm, with a small living room, kitchen, and medium-sized bedroom. Also, there is a balcony looking over the horizon of the Chao Phayra river.

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

Transportation

I have been driving a car for the past two years. The roads are quite tricky to drive on in Thailand, therefore, you can constantly have to be aware of your surroundings. The cost of our car payment is roughly 8,500 per month. Each year, we have to pay car registration / tax of about 2,000 baht and 1st class car insurance of around 11,000 baht. The cost of fuel is 2,000 a month, because I constantly have to drive my family around.

Utility bills

Electricity cost 1,000 per month. I can't live without the air conditioner, because I always sweat a lot from the high amount of humidity. Water costs about 100 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Each week, my wife and I go shopping at local Big C. We pay 4,000 each month. We cook meals each day and bring our own cooked food to work.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't have much of a night life, and usually just buy a beer or a bottle of wine sometimes. Sometimes I walk around a local Thai market.

Books, computers

We bought a used laptop for about 3,600 baht a few years ago. Throughout the week, we share it together.

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

The standard of living seems stable. My wife and I are able to have our needs met and are able to save. However, I would like to relocate to a rural area of Thailand. After years of living in a concrete jungle, it wears you down. There is always constant noise and the sound of ambulances racing around. The smell of the air has hints of oil and other toxic smells. Where I live, there is an oil refinery factory. Each day of the week, a mask has to be worn to try to block out some of the harmful smells.

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

The cost of rent is quite cheap in Thailand, compared to the U.S. By driving a car, I don't have to worry about a taxi fare, a shady tuktuk driver, or a hell-bent van driver. I like the freedom of driving and being able to go where I want. However, I can't throw caution to the wind and must be careful of other drivers' reckless behavior. Motorcycles seem to swap lanes a lot and get into my blind spots.

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

In order to survive and live a minimalist, barebones lifestyle and still have all needs met, a person would need to make between 30,000 to 40,000 a month.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think you do very well Tim to be raising two children (well, soon to be two children), run a car and still save a decent percentage each month on a joint income of 50,000. I would imagine it means keeping your food and accommodation bills as low as possible but I guess it can be done!


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 318 total

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