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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Dave

Working in Narathiwat

Monthly Earnings 30,000 baht

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

My basic income comes from working at a private school. Occasionally I do some extra teaching for a few hours per week, but I make peanuts on that.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 10,000 max. It used to be more, but since meeting my current girlfriend about a year ago, food expenditures have drastically risen, as we like to eat out in relatively expensive places.

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

I rent an unfurnished two-bedroom house for 4,000 baht.

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

Transportation

About 500 baht monthly on gas for my scooter, some of its occasional repair costs, plus gas for my partner's car. Total amount no more than 1,500 baht/month.

Utility bills

I don't have a/c but run two dehumidifiers almost 24/7, especially during the rainy season, which adds up to about 400 baht for electricity.
Water costs me somewhere like 70-80 baht.
My mobile internet and home wifi bills total around 1,400 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't cook at home and share most of the restaurant bills with my partner.
Costs vary between 5,000 and 8,000 baht a month, which includes meals during trips to Central Festival Hat Yai where we like "splurging" on meals in medium-cost restaurants.

Nightlife and drinking

Nothing. Zero baht.

Books, computers

Still using my old laptop, bought in my home country of The Netherlands.
Reading I only do online.

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

Basic but comfortable.

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

Accommodation. 4,000 baht is about 110 euro, which would be impossible to rent anything within the home country.
Eating out in The Netherlands is obscenely expensive too. In Narathiwat Town you can get a full meal made to order for 20 baht. There is no comparison.

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

One can survive on 15,000 baht, but I would never try that!

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Dave. Good to hear from a teacher right down there in Thailand's 'deep south'.  It sounds as though you live well enough on 30,000 baht a month. It would be nice to know what your partner earns and contributes to the monthly budget, although I notice you do share the cost of meals out.  


Josh

Working in Yangju, South Korea

Monthly Earnings 54,000 baht (equivalent)

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

The salary listed, converted to Thai Baht, is after all deductions (insurance, pension and housing bills).

I work at a small private language institute about 32 kilometers north of Seoul and technically it is a full time salary. I see quite a few teaching jobs here in South Korea paying the same (2.1 million won per month before deductions). However my total working hours, AT MOST, are roughly 25 a week. I teach a maximum of 4 classes per day back to back. My working hours are from 2:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m, but I go in a bit early to get ready for the day.

I don't engage in any extra work, at least not yet. In fact I quite enjoy having my mornings and early afternoons off. I wake up, read my news outlets, drink coffee, go to the gym and head off to work. Too easy right?

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Well, South Korea has different prices to Thailand for sure. Like anywhere else, this all depends on one's lifestyle. If I were a dedicated hermit, I could probably save $1000 US, or, 33,000 baht a month. But I've been doing this a long time - too long in fact. So, when reality comes calling, I save between the equivalent of 17,000 to 25,000 a month.

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

This is one perk for teaching in South Korea (sadly, perks like this are slowly fading). My apartment is paid for by the school. Granted, I certainly would prefer a different location, as I am a bit out in the middle of nowhere (but, not like being out in the middle of nowhere in Na Kae).

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

Transportation

I would say the equivalent of 1,800 Baht.

Utility bills

Most likely around 2,100 Baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Ah, yes. I don't hold back on this. If I want something, I normally do not deny myself. I normally, NORMALLY, allow my budget to be about 1,000 Baht a day. With that I can either go out to eat or shop for cooking up a masterpiece at home.

Nightlife and drinking

Well, the nightlife is around. But, I'm close to a newly developing mini-town, so it is slow going . I seem to be the only foreigner in this area, so I'm not a fan of being a "Johnny-no-Friends" at the local pub. I usually stay in, drink my beer/wine and enjoy my time watching movies, sports and chipping away at a book before I go to bed. I do go out about twice a week, though. I meet up with a few folks and enjoy some of that famous Korean BBQ or I head down to Seoul.

When we refer to the other "Nightlife" well, that is usually for Koreans. Foreigners here don't necessarily have that option on a wide scale platform, as one would see in Thailand or in those designated spots famous for this topic.

Books, computers

I have a very nice LG, which I bought for about 20,000 baht. With regards to books, I have to really search. I don't enjoy on-line books as much as I do a physical book but there are a few places that offer English reading selections, although the selection tends to be directed towards the modern "snowflake".

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

Considering the fact that wages in this industry here have been stale for quite some time, with prices ever increasing, I would say that I still live rather well. I am single with no kids, so I don't have that worry added to my life. Also, as I don't work even 30 hours a week, the money I make is rather good. I see many charlatan teaching jobs here that require 10-hour working days, paying the same wages. It really has gone downhill in some aspects, here in the Land of the Morning Calm.

I have taught in Thailand before and despite my efforts to make an honest go of it, I did not enjoy myself for different reasons. Though I am not totally giving up on that option, as I never was really in a location I truly wanted to be in and that was dictated by certain circumstances. So who knows what the future holds?

I consider my standard of living here to be decent. I don't have to work hard (though I love my job) for the money I make, most things are at my disposal and I am looking out at snow as I write this. I love snow.

I could do more with my time here without question but I think the stars aligned in the right place, so that I don't have to worry about too much this time around. I like this pace.

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

Public transportation (taxis, buses, Seoul Metro Subway)...clean, cheap and no hassles like one would experience in Bangkok (we all know what they are).

Korean food can often be found at very good prices but even that is changing. I think the "bargain" is the overall package. I receive medical insurance, participate in the National Pension plan and don't worry about taxes eating away at my salary

My rent is free and I work at a good school that offers anything I need in terms of resources. I get all the holidays (including Christmas) and my personal 10 working days of vacation time. I also receive a bonus and ticket home at the end of my contract. Granted finding a school in Korea that does what it is SUPPOSED to do may be a real bargain. So I'm thankful .

I don't think Thailand can compete with this, at least on the scale of a private language institute.

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

I would suspect one could get by on about 30,000 baht. Normally the rent is taken care of by the school so that allows a higher degree of financial flexibility .

Phil's analysis and comment

Many thanks Josh. It's always good to hear from teachers who are not only teaching in other Asian countries but also have experience teaching in Thailand. It sounds like you are much happier where you are now.

I spent over a week in Seoul several years back (I know it's not exactly where you live and work) and I was very impressed. I thought the city had a terrific vibe - lots to do, plenty of nice affordable restaurants and I found the locals every bit as friendly as those in Thailand. I would certainly love to go back one day. 

Years ago, your first thoughts when contemplating a move to work in another Asian capital city was 'oh but the cost of living is so much higher'. But with Bangkok becoming noticeably more and more expensive these days, it's perhaps not quite the issue it was. 


Gio

Working in Pattaya

Monthly Earnings About 64,000

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

I make 50,000 from my regular mid-tier international school job and another 14,000 (give or take) with my private classes.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I put aside about 15 to 20,000 baht a month. This goes towards an annual trip back to the UK, my general future and any emergencies that might come up. I could probably put aside more if I lived more frugally but hey, I didn't come to Pattaya to live like a monk!

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

I rent a nice modern studio condo in Jomtien for 12,000 a month. This place is walking distance from the beach and comes with a gym, pool and free housekeeping

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

Transportation

I bought my motorcycle on monthly installments of 3,600. It's a brand new Honda and serves me good for whizzing through the streets of Pattaya or taking trips down the coast. Petrol is about another 1,500-2,000.

Utility bills

About 1,200 to 1,800 depending on how hot the season is.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is one of my guilty pleasures, biggest expenditures and motivations for living in expat-friendly Pattaya.

As my apartment doesn't have a kitchen, I eat out almost every night. Also, I'm not a big fan of Thai food, so I can only really bring myself to eat Thai 3 or 4 nights a week, meaning the other days I cave in to temptation of Western or Japanese food which eats up maybe 10,000 a month. I take trips to Punch and Judy, Carl's jr, Shabushi, pizzerias and various Indian restaurants far too often I admit.

Nightlife and drinking

Another guilty pleasure and motivation for living in Pattaya. Before coming here, I lived in the boonies of Suphanburi where I was the only farang in a 50km radius and the "nightlife" consisted of a bottle of Lao-khao and some mosquitos. Coming to Pattaya with all it's temptations and actually having western friends here is like being in Disneyland.

I tend to go out about 3 times a month on Walking Street or some other part of Pattaya. Some nights I'll only spend a couple of hundred while others I can spend up to 3,000 or 4,000 depending on how much I want to drink or whether I want "company". Also, we sometimes go away on weekends away to Bangkok or Koh Samet. Because of this, I'll put my nightlife budget at the higher end estimate of 15,000

Books, computers

I have a trustly laptop that sees me through for work, while books and other materials I "borrow" from school so I don't spend anything on this.

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

I have a great life at the moment. As a young, single dude with a good bunch of mates, I have a standard of living I'd never have back in the UK. My job is really good fun, I teach English and PE to primary school kids of all different backgrounds (as to be expected in international Pattaya).

On a typical day, I get to school for 8am, teach four classes and I'm always out of work by 4:30 pm at the latest. I'll go home, jump in the pool, change and go grab some dinner. At weekends, I'll go out in town or travel somewhere. It's also just about the best place in the world to be a single dude and to think I used to work double the hours, pay thrice as much for everything, be far more stressed and spend a fortune on dull nightlife in the freezing cold UK makes me laugh.

I'm sure at some point, I'll want to move to greener pastures and "plant my stake and settle". But for now, I'm happy where I am.

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

Accommodation for sure. I could never dream of having a condo like I do back in the UK, especially at this cost. Transport is really cheap as are general services. The nightlife is also far more affordable than the UK where clubs charge you crazy cover charges before you even get in.

Also travelling is a bargain. AirAsia and Lionair are really cheap and I regularly take trips out of Thailand to other countries.

The only things that are costlier are electronics and Western food.

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

Really, it all depends on you. I'm sure you can survive on 25k in Pattaya but thats just that- surviving. That would basically mean living in a grubby, Thai style apartment in a far flung part of the dark side with your neighbours being a pot bellied, chain smoking, drug addict from Germany who ignores you and a vendor who starts banging about and playing awful Thai music at 6am.

You'll eat rice every day and look on in jealousy as everyone else heads out to have a great time on Walking Street while you're wondering if you have enough pennies to eat for the rest of the month. Certainly not the lifestyle most expats want in Pattaya.

Really, to have a half way decent life with an apartment that isn't a fleapit, occasional Western meals and the odd night out here and there, I'd say you'd need at least 35,000 a month but really, it is all down to you, your lifestyle, needs, expectations and how well you budget.

Pattaya certainly isn't for everyone but it really does have something for every budget.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Gio. Always interesting to get a cost of living survey from someone living and teaching in Pattaya, because let's face it, there's nowhere in Thailand quite like Pattaya when it comes to Western temptation in all its many guises.  It certainly sounds as though you enjoy life well on 64,000 a month - nice accommodation near the beach, nights out whenever you want, plenty of Thai and Western food, and you still manage to pocket 15-20K at the end of each month. Can't be bad. 


Rick

Working in Ayutthaya

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

My full-time salary is 45,000 and I make 5,000 from other sources.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I really try I can save 35,000 to 40,000 but it's usually around 20-25,000. It depends on how often I go out or how busy I am.

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

Nothing. My girlfriend owns the house.

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

Transportation

Probably 500 baht on fuel for the bike. Another one or two thousand baht for transport around Thailand (this increases during school holidays).

Utility bills

650 baht for internet, up to 1,500 baht for power and 200 baht or so for water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

If I go out a few times a month, this can be up to 5,000 but usually 2-3,000 on restaurants and supermarket shopping. My girlfriend cooks at home mostly so that saves me a ton of money.

Nightlife and drinking

If I go out properly (to Bangkok or Pattaya, etc) I spend loads. So depending how often can mean between 5,000 and as much as 20,000.

Books, computers

Very little, if any.

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

Awesome, a lovely lifestyle with nice options to expand everywhere.

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

Fresh food in markets and public transport (including flights)

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

20,000 to survive and have a decent existence. But above 35,000 and if you have your affairs in order and an eye on your finances, you won't go far wrong

Phil's analysis and comment

Nice one Rick. So your girlfriend owns the house (always nice when there are no rental costs to worry about) and most times, she cooks at home and saves you even more money in the process. She sounds like a keeper! 


Chris

Working in Mukdahan

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 salary from the government school I teach at.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I'm being strict with myself I can save 20,000 a month. That would mean no drinking or unnecessary expenditure. A more realistic sum for me to save is 10,000 - 15,000 a month.

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

I pay 5,000 baht a month for an unfurnished two-bedroom house. Furnished apartments can be got for about 3,500 baht a month including internet, but they usually have inflated utility bills.

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

Transportation

I bought my own bike to use as my transport. I think I spend roughly 500 baht a month on fuel.

Utility bills

I pay all my bills directly myself:

Electricity - 1,200 baht a month. I use the air-con a LOT. I know the person who lived here before me and they usually paid 500-600 a month.
Internet - 1,300 baht a month for blazing fast 200 megabit internet.
Water - 80 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I probably spend in the region of 8,000 - 10,000 a month all in. If I am working I will spend about 200 baht a day on food. The food in the school canteen is the same as good street food and can be very affordable. I spend roughly 100 baht at school, and then another 100 baht at the local night market. This buys me a LOT of food. Let's just say I am a very BIG boy. So about 6,000 baht a month on day to day shopping.

I also do a monthly shop at Makro where I will get my western treats. This is when I buy my cheese, chips/french fries, and chicken wings/pork burgers. Apart from the cheese I constantly mix things up, combined everything usually comes to about 2,000.

Food is an area I could save big on if I wanted, I have worked out I could halve my food bill if I needed to. But at the minute I don't need to, so I just enjoy what Thailand has to offer.

Nightlife and drinking

200 baht maybe? I don't go out drinking and quit smoking. That has saved me 4,500 baht a month on its own. (I was drinking 2 big bottles of Chang and smoking 20 S&M a day)

I buy myself the odd bottle of beer every once in a while, but that isn't even monthly. Food is the only vice I have.

Books, computers

3,000 - 5,000 baht.

I just recently bought myself a new set of electronic gadgets, so I don't see myself needing to spend anything on them. But I am a keen gamer and usually buy myself at least one game a month.

I also have a Kindle, so I spend a minimal amount of money on books as I have a collection of over 8,000 I downloaded a few years ago. But if something is on offer for 99p in the Kindle store or hard to find for 'free' then I will buy it.

This money is the other area that is surplus money. I could cut this spending out if I wanted to, but now that I don't spend money going out drinking, this is my entertainment money.

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

My standard of living is really good. I love my job, and I can pretty much buy what I want now. Back when I was living in the UK I was constantly thinking about money, and whether I could afford something. Now that isn't really an issue anymore.

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

Everything. I moved from London, UK to Thailand so all the prices seem incredible to me.

Rent and food are the ones I appreciate the most though. In London I had a room in a shared house and I was spending 5 times as much as I do now for my two-bedroom house.

My food bill in the UK would be far higher than it is here, and I don't usually cook for myself here either! Being fat I will regularly buy myself two portions which I think is the real equivalent to a UK take-out meal. But it still only works out at 80 baht (or about £2) for my meal.

My students are constantly amazed when I tell them that pork fried rice can easily cost 300 baht (£7) in the UK.

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

This is the big question here in Thailand as answers vary so much. Part of that is people's understanding of 'survive'. So I'm going to give two answers, and both of these relate to Mukdahan and Issan in general, I'm sure in the more touristy areas things are more expensive and numbers would differ. I'm also single which obviously has a big impact as well.

To survive I think you can live off 15,000 a month. That will pay your bills, feed you and give you a very small amount of monthly spending money. However, you're not going to be saving anything, and unless you're like me and absolutely love teaching you're not going to have a good time. In the UK I was taking home 46,250 baht to be living this kind of lifestyle

Now, if you want to be able to save a bit of money and enjoy life then I would say that 30,000 would be my minimum. At the minute I spend roughly 20,000 a month. So at 30,000 a month I would be saving 10,000 a month which I think is a reasonable amount.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Chris. That's a nice comparison between life in London (which is of course a law unto itself when it comes to living in the UK) and life in North-East Thailand. It sounds like you are much happier where you are now. And if you could cut down on that considerable food bill, you would save even more - and probably get healthier into the bargain!  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 284 total

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