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 13th June 2024

฿37 to one US Dollar
฿47 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.63 THB to one Philippine Peso

Marcus

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 90,000

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

I work at a reputable international school (a proper international school) and although my full-time salary is a decent 90K, I'm classed as a 'local hire' rather than an overseas one, so I don't receive the higher salary and benefits package that they do.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to save between 40-50,000 a month, which leaves me around 40-50K to live on. I've never been one of life's great savers so I'm frantically trying to put away as much as possible for the future. My parents recently passed away (less than a year apart) so I received a share of around £200,000 from the sale of a property and some savings they had. I appreciate this is a massive financial leg up but I won't let it affect my saving strategy.

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

I've always been very frugal when it comes to accommodation and I live in a small studio apartment in a no-frills building for 5,000 baht a month. I've never had any interest in socializing with other tenants around swimming pools or in lobbies and gyms. I like to get home from work, go straight to my room, lock the door, and escape into my own quiet little world.

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

Transportation

I live relatively close to work so depending on my mood, I either take a 10 baht songthaew or ride several stops on the MRT. Throw in a few Grab taxis every month and I bet this expense still barely breaks a thousand baht.

Utility bills

I pay around 2,000 baht for my electricity and 300 for water. Internet and Netflix, etc probably push this category to around 4K a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

A bowl of Cornflakes and a couple of slices of toast is my morning ritual. I get a free lunch (and it's a very decent lunch) at school, which just leaves me with an evening meal to find. I never splash out more than a 100 baht on this. At weekends, I never fall for the lure of western food either. You could say I'm not a great eater so I keep this bill down to around 6K I guess. What's that? 200 baht a day on average. Yes, that sounds about right.

Nightlife and drinking

I'll go out once a week with several of my teaching colleagues and we'll do a nice pub and maybe end up with a Thai meal and more beers at somewhere cheap and cheerful to end the night. I'll happily sip a beer by the side of the railway tracks. It's the good company that matters. Let's say 6,000 baht a month.

Books, computers

I do enjoy my computer gaming so this could come in at around 2,000 a month.

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

I'm a bit of a loner, by choice. I've got a string of failed relationships with Thai women behind me. I just find trying to forge relationships exhausting and too demanding of my time. I've lived in Thailand for six years and still find that western-Thai culture gap way too wide to negotiate on a daily basis. Living a very quiet, solitary lifestyle makes me happy. I enjoy being with colleagues at work but my time alone is far more important. Sorry, that's a rather indirect answer to the question isn't it?

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

You can still eat out and eat well for under a hundred baht if you're not too fussy about laminated menus that are slightly sticky to the touch and you don't risk poking your head into the kitchen or food prep area.

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

I could be the wrong person to ask because my material needs are so few. I could easily 'survive' in Bangkok on 40K a month but a lot of people might analyze my lifestyle and say that I go without or miss out on a lot of things.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Marcus for a very honest survey and a glimpse into your lifestyle. There's nothing wrong with a being a loner. I look back on some of those mammoth bedsit Playstation sessions I had back in the mid-90s (before I met my wife) and they were most enjoyable. You do whatever works for you. Saving over half of a 90K salary and I'm sure resisting many temptations is pretty impressive though. 


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.   


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 428 total

Page 3 of 86


Featured Jobs

English and Science Secondary Specialist Teachers

฿75,000+ / month

Myanmar


Fun Native English Teachers

฿44,000+ / month

Thailand


Kindergarten Teacher

฿45,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month

Thailand


English, Science and Math Teachers

฿42,300+ / month

Thailand


Female European Kindergarten Teacher

฿35,000+ / month

Chumphon


Featured Teachers

  • Don


    American, 61 years old. Currently living in USA

  • Robert


    American, 60 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Barry


    Australian, 59 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Svetlana


    Belarusian, 39 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Nevraisa


    Filipino, 35 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Rylan


    Myanmarese, 26 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!