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 27th September 2022

฿38 to one US Dollar
฿41 to one Pound Sterling
฿36 to one Euro
฿25 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Winston

Working in Nonthaburi

Monthly Earnings 40,000

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

40K is my full-time salary only. I don't take on private students or extra work.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Around 7,000 baht, sometimes less, sometimes a couple of thousand more.

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

My one-bedroom condo costs 10k a month, with electricity and water included.

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

Transportation

1,500 baht

Utility bills

Electricity, water circa 3,000 baht, insurance another 3,000, mobile phone, fibre, monthly subscriptions etc. 1,000 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10-15,000.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't go to nightclubs or pubs. I only drink at home and this expense comes to around 3,000.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

It's comfortable but I can't really save a lot. The salary is not that great to begin with, and living in Thailand is not as cheap as it was. You need to cook rice and chicken, and stop drinking, buying snacks, or going out if you want to save another 10K. Don't take taxis, don't turn on the air-con, okay, that's another 3-4K saved. But why would you do that? I'd rather go home than live like this, only to save 300-400 USD a month.

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

I don't really know. You are not living in Bangkok nor in the peaceful countryside or near a beach. And feeling like "a fly in the milk" lol.

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

60K to live a safe, healthy, and comfortable life, and be able to travel locally, while also saving a bit. But not going out drinking.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Winston. I don't think we've heard from a teacher in Nonthaburi for some time but it was quite a popular destination for teachers in the past (and probably still is) because you are very near to Bangkok but don't quite have the temptations that you would have if you were living in the city itself, so your 40K a month probably goes that bit further. I wouldn't argue with your 60K a month for a comfortable lifestyle though - even in Nonthaburi!  


Tim

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 67,000

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

50,000 from a full-time job at a private school and 17,000 from private gigs (approx 500 baht per hour)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I can save approximately 37,000 baht each month. Once the cost of trips home and 3/4 trips throughout the country are taken into account, it amounts to approx 25,000 per month.

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

I pay 9,000 baht for a studio apartment which has fantastic facilities right on the MRT line. I can find the living space cramped at times but I prefer to spend my free time around the facilities on offer (gym, pool, study areas, lounge etc)

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

Transportation

Approx 2,000 a month including monthly MRT commutes to work and various buses on the weekends and minivan trips

Utility bills

Utility bills are really low - approx 90 baht for water and 800 baht for electric for the month. I will forego the air-con during the day but cannot sleep without it on during the night

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I have just started cooking at home so I am hoping this expense drops. However, I spend approx 13-15k on food a month. I generally eat out but have no real craving for Western food (the odd time a craving for a beefburger arises but that is about it)

Nightlife and drinking

Almost nothing. If I go out drinking it would be for a beer or two and no more. I would say I go out drinking maybe once a month and it amounts to maybe 250 baht a month

Books, computers

None

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

Comfortable without being excellent. Even if I was earning a gigantic salary, I would live the same way each month anyway. The only difference would be in the frequency of trips home or the type of places I can stay when I do splash out on holidays

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

Taxis are the ones I see most frequently mentioned here and I would have to say that I would agree. I also think that accommodation is a real bargain here, despite living in a "box" that same "box" would cost 40K baht upwards at a minimum where I am from

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

50K to survive and 80K to be comfortable (both after tax)

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Tim. So when the figures are totted up, you manage to live in Bangkok on just over 40K a month while still managing to save 25K, which is decent. As you say it's a lifestyle that's 'comfortable without being excellent'. I think 40K is definitely at the very bottom end now for Bangkok. 


Eva

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 33,000

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

33K is my full-time salary at a language school located in central Bangkok.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

14,000

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

I spend 5,000 per month on a newly-built condo, with a swimming pool, the usual fitness facilities but most importantly I share the cost with my significant other. Total cost is 10,000 baht per month.

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

Transportation

I go the the language school three times a week, but at inconvenient times such as weekends or late in the afternoon. I’m a slicker for managing my money so I spend exactly 450 baht a week or 1,800 baht a month on this. The other 3 days a week, I’m teaching online using my own computer.

Utility bills

About 800-1,000 baht a month, which includes air-con every night. Water is about 100 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

90% of the time it’s street food, which I take back to my apartment. This comes to about 200-250 baht per day. Supermarket shopping I budget and spend about 1,000 baht a month for.

Nightlife and drinking

None.

Books, computers

I have an English TV subscription that sets me back about 500 baht per month. Books are free online if you know where to look.

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

I'm a Brit living on a pittance, being paid illegally, having to scrape by each month just to have a savings pot that is slowly being wiped out by inflation.

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

If I had a better salary, many things are bargains here. I can buy a bottle of coke for around 15 baht, which is about 40p, or fresh food from the market for about 50-70 baht.

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

At least 50,000 with the potential to earn more.

Thailand, especially Bangkok's cost of living, has gone up tremendously over the last few years. Sure, I might be saving some cash but in the grand scheme of things it’s a small amount of money. In the future, another 5-10 years from now, your standard 33-35k job isn’t going to be enough to live on and I pity anyone who wants to do it.

You really need to have a long term plan for Thailand and especially have a back up plan. Forget TEFL. Long term that’s going to the pan. Wages are stagnant and like I said, in another 5-10 years people will still be fighting over 33-35k jobs.

Once you have to return to reality, you’ll wish you'd planned ahead and took the time to properly acquire the right qualifications needed if you want to teach long term, otherwise you’ll be left with no real skills and back stacking selves.

My circumstances are different but I have stuck around for three years doing an education degree, but ultimately I’ll be back in the UK soon acquiring these qualifications as I’m still in my twenties and don’t want to end up with a decade of tefl experience and still scraping the bottom of the barrel with these low paid TEFL jobs.

Phil's analysis and comment

You certainly got it all off your chest in that last few paragraphs, Eva and I wouldn't disagree with a word of what you said. Those of us in Bangkok are all noticing how the cost of living has crept up and up. You say those 35K jobs won't cut it in five years time but I'm not sure they even do now. Your '50K with the potential to earn more' is far nearer the mark for Bangkok. It's becoming one expensive city, especially if you have Western tastes. 


Scott

Working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Monthly Earnings 91,500 baht equivalent

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

Full-time salary (after tax) from a large private school, including housing allowance.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Most months I save about 30,000 baht. This is split evenly between cash savings and investing in an index fund. I try to save a bit of extra cash for travelling during the summer break.

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

I live in a serviced apartment which costs about 13,500 baht a month. This includes twice weekly cleaning and internet.

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

Transportation

I have my own bike so it costs me very little to get back and forth to work. Grab bikes are really cheap when going on a night out.

Utility bills

Electricity and water costs about 1,500 - 2,000 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is probably my biggest expense. There is so much good food in HCMC. I eat out several times a week so this is usually about 15K a month.

Nightlife and drinking

HCMC is a really social city, there is always something going on. This is one of my biggest expenses although I am trying to be more strict with myself in this area. I usually spend about 15K a month.

Books, computers

I have a work laptop so I don't spend anything on computers. I have an audible account so usually access books in this way.

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

I feel that my salary gives me a decent enough living standard currently and I am able to save a decent amount each month without sacrificing my living standards. I really appreciate living in a city where rent is affordable enough to not have to rely on a partner or roommates.

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

Eating out here is really reasonable, especially if you are eating at local restaurants.

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

You could live on about 40,000 baht a month here but you need to be earning more if you want to save anything and afford to travel.

Phil's analysis and comment

Interestingly we put up a great escape survey just yesterday from a teacher who taught in Thailand for four years but moved to work in Vietnam in 2019. He sounded like he was really enjoying life there and felt Vietnam had many advantages over Thailand. Scott's cost of living survey also paints quite a glowing picture.  


Anne

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35,000

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

35,000 baht is my full-time salary.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Approximately 9,000 baht.

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

My one-bedroom condo is 10,000 baht a month and the building has a swimming pool and gym. My condo itself has a washing machine out on a decent size balcony, a king-size bed and all the basics such as microwave, fridge, table and chairs, couch, vanity, an air conditioner (which I dont use) and a large closet.

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

Transportation

I walk to many places and take the BTS or MRT just about everywhere else with an occasional cab home. I budget about 300 per month on transportation.

Utility bills

Phone costs 310 baht per month. I use my unlimited data as a hotspot for online Zoom teaching for my government school and watching Youtube videos etc. Water is about 300 baht and electricity last month was about 480 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I budget 11,500 baht a month. I dine out about three times per week and enjoy very simple home cooking which consists of stir-fries, salads, soups stews, sandwiches...and too many homemade desserts.

Nightlife and drinking

I do not drink and usually just have a Coke with others who are having beer or cocktails. For me, it's the company and not the drink that matters.
I go to the gym, markets, museums, exhibits and walking tours, most of which are free or low cost. I also do yoga in the park and take walks along the river at night. I budget around 1,600 for entertainment.

Books, computers

I have Kindle free from my daughter's Amazon account and brought two laptops with me so no additional expense there so far.

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

I could spend much more than I do but I choose to live well within my means and I am very content.

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

Rent! Back home I rent my condo out for $1500 US and here only pay $300 US per month.

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

As a single person, I would say about 35,000 baht. Savings are important to survival.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Anne. If anyone asks me, I always tell them that living in Bangkok on 35,000 baht a month is nigh on impossible but Anne is certainly doing her best here to prove me wrong. She leaves in decent accommodation, eats well, enjoys what the city has to offer...and still manages to save 9,000 baht a month. I'm sure there is some pretty tight budgeting going on but well done.  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 392 total

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