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 3rd March 2024

฿36 to one US Dollar
฿45 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿23 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Jeff

Working in Pattaya

Monthly Earnings 118,000 (after tax)

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

My full-time salary is 118K, plus a housing allowance of 20K and food allowance of around 2K per month because I don’t eat the school dinners.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I could save plenty, but I’m not great with money and am prone to impulse purchases. Previously (8 years ago) I was teaching in the UK and living paycheck to paycheck, also racking up debt just to keep afloat. I arrived here in Thailand with around £25,000 of credit card/loan debt and paid it all off in about 4 years. I lived comfortably while paying off that debt so I should probably start chucking 25K Baht into a savings account now I’m debt free, but I haven’t got around to that yet.

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

I pay 20K per month for a 3-bedroom detached villa in a nice moobarn with a swimming pool and park included.

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

Transportation

I drive to work in my car and it's not too far to school. A few years back I could fill the tank for around 800 baht, but now it costs around 1,400. I reckon I fill the car about twice a month if my wife and I don’t head off for a road trip holiday. So let’s say 3,000 a month.

Utility bills

Electricity comes in around 4,000 usually and water around 300.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We cook a couple of times a week and the rest is delivery - around 12K per month. We’ll usually go to a street food restaurant and have the occasional western treat maybe once a week.

Nightlife and drinking

We don’t go out drinking very often, but do like a drink at home. This is probably the biggest expense at around 15K.

Books, computers

I’m a bit of a gaming and movie geek. I have 3 consoles and I’m signed up to the various subscription services (PS Plus, Xbox Live, Switch, Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus) so it’s fair to say I spend a fair chunk each month. I honestly couldn’t tell you the monthly average accurately, though.

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

Compared to my previous life in London, I live like a King.

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

Street food, Bolt taxi rides, Grab food. In the UK I never ate out or ordered delivery apart from on special occasions. Here it’s just part of life.

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

It’s a common cliché, but it all depends on lifestyle choice. Live and eat like a farang every day and you’ll need at least 80K a month in Pattaya. Live ‘Thai style’ and you can quarter that number. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Jeff. You sound like another teacher who is very glad they made the move from teaching in the UK to teaching in Thailand. It's a great move for those who have the qualifications. And I hear you on the cost of filling up the petrol tank thing; my wife is always moaning about it. 


Jonathon

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 full-time salary from a junior and secondary school in Central Bangkok (although I only teach older students) I have been working here about five years and I started on 30K a month, so the pay raises have not been too bad. There are ample opportunities to pick up extra work but I don't bother. I'm perfectly happy with 65K plus my partner's salary (I'll go into more detail on that in a later answer)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to save at least 20K a month but it doesn't always work out that way. Neither my girlfriend or I are really savers. We both like to live for the moment while we're still relatively young (late twenties) It's probably a strategy that will come back and bite us in the bum one day.

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

My girlfriend is a real estate agent so she has her ear to the ground where great value rentals are concerned. It's amazing what you can pick up as a one-year rental if you are prepared to be able to move out at a moment's notice with just a couple of suitcases. We are in a new-build condo with swimming pool, gym, etc and pay 10,000 baht a month to the unit owner, but I've seen the same size rooms advertised for almost double that in the same building.

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

Transportation

I'm a couple of stops on the skytrain to school and back each day so probably under a thousand baht a month. I'll spend a couple of thousand on Grab cars each month as well.

Utility bills

Electricity, water and telephone bills etc come to around 5,000 baht a month. I pay for all that.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We eat out probably four or five times a week at mid-range places and that easily comes to 10-12K a month. You can add another 10K for supermarket shopping. I pay the restaurant bills 66% of the time when we eat out and I also pay for the supermarket shopping.

Nightlife and drinking

We like our pubs and if I'm out with the girlfriend, we buy round for round. We can easily drop 3,000 on alcoholic drinks on a good night out. I occasionally go out with the teachers from work and will spend about the same. I would say 15-20K a month in total. This is all mounting up isn't it?

Books, computers

Nothing much. I'm not one for gadgets or computer games.

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

As I mentioned earlier, my girlfriend is a real estate agent and although her base salary is only 25K, she can bump that up to 45-50K with commission. So that gives us a joint income of over 100K I would say.
It's more than enough for the two of us but I'm aware we're probably not putting enough away for a rainy day.

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

Nothing ever strikes me as being an absolute bargain anymore but nothing is outrageously expensive either.

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

I survived in Bangkok on 30K and I survive well on enough on 65K. If you gave me more money, I'd just find other ways to spend it. On a completely separate note, I like reading these cost of living surveys but I always feel that there's not enough mention of what a Thai partner (if applicable) brings to the table. My girlfriend and I pool our incomes and while I pay the lion's share of the bills, she pays her way too. We're both on the same team, pulling in the same direction. I've worked with teachers who have come into work in the morning and kicked doors, screaming 'the b*tch has sent 10K to her idle parents again!' This is what's called a partner working against you and proving to be a drain on your finances. I can never understand why teachers get saddled with those kind of women.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Jonathon. You make an interesting observation about 'Thai partner income' and whether it makes life easier or harder. I too have worked with the door-kickers who are shacked up with partners whose idea of a full-time job is spread out on the sofa watching Korean soaps. Perhaps I need to think about incorporating a few 'partner' questions in these surveys?  


Tim

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 161,000

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

My full-time salary is 133,000 and there is a housing allowance of 28,000 on top.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

My wife is also a teacher, so we save her wage each month (100,000) and about 30,000 baht from mine too, so a total of 130,000.

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

We pay 38,000 for a condo with a sky pool and yoga studio and gym included. It’s dog friendly too, so we pay more than the housing allowance for that ‘luxury’.

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

Transportation

About 6,000 baht.

Utility bills

Air-con is 3,600 and another 700 for water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Supermarket food comes to about 10,000 baht a month but we eat take-aways most nights so this equates to another 10,000 baht a month too for the both of us. On the weekends we like to splurge at nice restaurants and that comes to around 15K. So it's probably around 35K a month on food.

Nightlife and drinking

Once or twice a month we like to go out with friends and we'll spend about 7,000 baht on a good night out.

Books, computers

Hardly anything. I use a kindle to read books and my work gives me an iPad and Mac.

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

Fantastic.

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

Quality housing and food.

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

I’m not sure about surviving but I think if I was single and wanted to have a good time and save a little bit, I would need at least 80,000 baht a month

Phil's analysis and comment

Not much to add really. A couple living on a joint salary of over a quarter of a million baht a month are always going to have a pretty decent standard of living. 

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. We'd especially love to hear from more Filipino teachers being as there are so many here and so many looking for teaching jobs. Where are you all?  

Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here. 


Elijah

Working in Rayong

Monthly Earnings 25,000 - 30,000

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

25,000 is my full-time salary, but if I'm doing private teaching on the side, I can usually net another 5,000 a month.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I'm living paycheck to paycheck with my current lifestyle.

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

Rent costs 7,000 for a semi-detached town house, with another 200 baht on top for village fees.

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

Transportation

Probably gets the chunk of my pay at around 10,000 for the vehicles alone (a bike and a car both on finance). I also set aside 3,000 a month for petrol/gas.

Utility bills

Electricity bills keep on climbing recently, now sitting at around 3,000 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Whatever gets left behind goes on food.

Nightlife and drinking

Non-existent.

Books, computers

I generally don't read a lot, but when I do its usually from online sources or books from the night markets where they are dirt cheap (10 or 20 baht a piece). I have a cheap desktop from 4 years ago for 10K, internet is 650 baht a month.

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

Extra classes and private students keep me alive for the time being.

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

Definitely food, the necessary ones that'll keep you going and you can't get enough of (I'm looking at you Krapao Moo Khrop).

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

Forsaking everything else (hobbies, nightlife, coffee), 20,000 is survivable with all the necessities. Probably not a life that you'd pursue in a foreign country, but when you don't have a lot of options, something is always better than nothing.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Elijah. "Whatever gets left behind goes on food" is rather a sobering thought isn't it? Two thirds of your salary (even in a good month) goes on rent and running a car and motorcycle. That has to be at the root of the 'month to month' existence but if I were you, I'd firstly try to get a better-paying full-time job, even it's another 5,000 baht a month, and / or develop the private student part of your workload. I never think picking up private work is that difficult if you've got a bit of business acumen, put yourself out there, and earn yourself a reputation as a decent, reliable teacher. Word of mouth goes a long, long way in Thailand when it comes to hiring a private tutor.   


Dino

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 75,000

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

75,000 baht is my full-time salary and for that, I teach 24 x 40-minute periods = 16 hours a week. I teach grades 7,8,9 with a total of 300 students. Plus ten marking events per year.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

15,000.

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

I live in a 43 sqm studio apartment in the Silom area, which cost 16K per month. It's an older lower-grade apartment and has no swimming pool or fancy lobby.

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

Transportation

A couple of thousand baht a month.

Utility bills

Around 3,700 baht a month. Electric is around 2,500 plus 1,200 for internet and mobile phone.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

28,000 baht a month.
About 2,500 on two grocery shops a month for basic things like bread, milk, cheese etc. No meat or steaks! It's extra if you have lots of toiletries, cosmetics, lotions etc to buy in a given month. I'll spend about 2,500 baht on a weekend, eating out one night, at the movies, etc. Food delivery is 400-700 baht each time. From Monday to Friday, a basic rice and curry is 200-300 baht a day.

Nightlife and drinking

No nightlife or clubbing. Wine starts at 1,500 baht (62$US) and I can't afford it that often. Maybe at weekends with an evening meal at home.

Books, computers

Nothing. My phone is 7 years old and my computer is 8 years old.

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

It's pretty basic. I have one good meal out with friends at the weekend but Monday to Friday is super quiet. One luxury would be a foot massage once a month. I have one good holiday a year and an overseas holiday every 3 or 4 years.

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

Taxis are still cheap and also food courts and street food. Talking to my family back home, everything in Bangkok is now at western prices - a bag of groceries, a bar bill, electricity, etc.

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

To survive in Bangkok you need at least 50K a month and that would mean living in a flop apartment and eating meals from 7-11. With a salary of 60,000, you can start to save a bit and go out once a week.

Phil's analysis and comment

28,000 baht is a hell of a food bill Dino! That's getting on for a thousand baht a day. How many takeaways / food deliveries do you have a month? Food and rent are accounting for virtually 60% of your salary. Others may disagree but I think that's quite a cut.

There are a few opinions in your survey I would disagree with. I don't think 50K a month in Bangkok means a flop apartment and meals from 7-11. It won't give you a fantastic standard of living but you could certainly afford an 8-10K rent. And foot massages a luxury? I never have them but aren't they about 150 baht an hour or something?   


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 423 total

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