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 25th July 2024

฿36 to one US Dollar
฿47 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.62 THB to one Philippine Peso

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?   


Gareth

Working in Ayuthaya

Monthly Earnings 45,000

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

45,000 baht is my take home salary from my teaching position at a Thai secondary school in Ayuthaya. I've been working at the same school for four years.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Generally around 15,000 baht per month.

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

I share a small townhouse with another teacher from the same school and the rent is 8,000 baht a month, so 4,000 each. We split everything 50/50 from utility bills down to improvements that we know aren't really the landlord's responsibility. The house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen and a nice garden and sun terrace. I love living here because there's enough space for two people without ever getting on top of each other.

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

Transportation

Next to nothing. I invested in a fairly spiffy mountain bike and it's about a 5-minute cycle to school. Not much fun during a heavy downpour but it's certainly a great way to stay fit and save money. During the weekends, I'll take it out for a longer ride and explore the province (although I know it pretty well now)

Utility bills

Around 5,000 baht a month. It's fairly high because we both sleep in our respective rooms with the air-con on and we'll turn it on in the living room when we are both at home at the weekend. Water and Netflix come to about 600 baht but I've included that in the 5K.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I used to eat out at local Thai restaurants and food courts quite often and although it was only 30-40 baht a meal, the portions were too small and I never felt full. Now I've mastered the art of 'Thai food pimping'. I buy a load of cheap chicken and vegetables at the market, cook it all up in one go and then store it in the freezer. Then I buy my Thai meals to take away and add a little bit of my own cooking to basically double the size of the meal. I bet the overall cost of the meal still doesn't break 60 baht. I never touch western food at all. I just got bored with it a long time ago. So I guess my food and supermarket bill comes to around 6K.

Nightlife and drinking

What nightlife is available in Ayuthaya doesn't really appeal to me anymore and despite the bright lights of Bangkok being only an hour or so away, I can rarely / never work up the enthusiasm. I'll have the ocassional bottle of wine or glass of craft beer at home but I'm not the sort to have a fridge full of Leo and just sit and drink myself into a stupor. If I averaged a thousand baht a month, I'd be surprised.

Books, computers

I do enjoy computer games and I probably spend 3-4,000 baht a month on games and computer-related stuff. I'd much rather have a night in with the Playstation than a night on the tiles.

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

It's pretty basic. I always say 'I live like a Thai but with a few luxuries thrown in'. And that's just how I like it. I'm all about reducing life to a stress-free minimum and I've gone a long way to accomplishing that.

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

Food at the market. It's unbelievable how cheaply you can pick up a bunch of asparagus compared to the crazy money they want in the supermarket

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

I can live very comfortably in Ayuthaya on 30K but then again, my needs are few. 30K would be my absolute minimum though. The 45K I earn certainly gives me money on top to treat myself whenever I want.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Gareth. 'Thai food pimping' is something I do as well (adding a bit of your own home-cooked food to flesh out the meagre portion size of a Thai street food take away) That aside, it seems you live happily in Ayuthaya on 45K. 'Living like a Thai with a few luxuries thrown in' is probably a very good way to describe things. 


William

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 75K (after tax)

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

55K salary plus 20K housing allowance for full time teaching in a Satit school (Mon-Fri). There was opportunity to earn more with extra classes at the school, but I valued my free time. It was my first year after gaining QTS back in the UK. I was definitely underpaid for my qualifications but I feel it was a fair salary given my teaching hours and workload.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Early on, I was saving 40K baht a month, but as my food habits changed, this decreased over the year. By the last month I was probably saving 25K baht/month. I finished the year with 400K baht saved in my Thai account over 12 months which works out to 33K/month. However, this doesn't take into account flights I paid for from my British account though, which included some international trips.

Overall, I'm about £4,000 up for the year which isn't great, hence why I've decided to move on.

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

20K Baht month for a 45 square metre condo in an expensive part of Bangkok. It was only 10-minute walk from my school though. I was told by the lady at the bank when I went to deposit my rent every month that it was expensive.

I liked my condo (apart from the horrific noise from traffic 24/7). Back in the UK I was paying £1,000 (all in) a month for an apartment at basement level with limited natural sunlight in a city in the Midlands. So in comparison, Bangkok felt like a bargain.

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

Transportation

I spent 100 baht every week on grab bikes to get to locations where my hobbies were at. I would occasionally get the BTS one stop when I was feeling lazy or it was too hot/rainy to walk. About 1,080 baht/month in total.

Utility bills

From September to December my electricity bills started off very low. It went crazy from January time. Last electricity bill was 1,800 baht/month.

Water - Really cheap like 150 baht month?

Internet - Was set up for me at 680 baht/month.

Sim card - I paid 1,800 baht for the whole year back in August. Never run out of data, but couldn't make phone calls on it. There was never a moment when I had to make a phone call throughout the year.

800 baht month for condo cleaning (I know it could have been cheaper but I didn't mind tipping the cleaning maids for making my condo look brand new.)

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is where I spent most of my money. In the first three months I ate a lot at the food courts and was barely spending anything. The novelty wore off, and then the realisation that the food wasn't the best quality. During these three months I was probably spending 10K baht/month on food.

I went through a stage of buying food from Big C to eat at home, but I found that to be just as expensive as buying groceries back in the UK. Especially for my imported fruits such as grapes, avocados, strawberries & apples.

By the end of my time in Bangkok I was probably spending 20K-25K baht/month on food which involved a lot of eating out with a drink. Any normal restaurant that isn't a food court seemed to be 300 baht for food + 100 baht drink.

The impulsive snack buys from 7/11 didn't do my savings (or my waist line) any good though.

I generally felt a lot healthier towards the end of my stay in Bangkok.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't drink alcohol. If I did, I probably wouldn't have saved anything.
Dates would probably cost a couple of thousand baht for food & drinks on at a rooftop bar. My mocktails would cost 200-300 baht/drink. A couple of dates went up to 4,000 baht, which was bruising.

Books, computers

Nothing really. I spent £3 a month on netflix (brought it when living in Latin America years ago), but it so negligible I forget about it. I would cancel it but I wouldn't get Netflix so cheap again.
I should read more, I brought a kindle before coming to Bangkok with the intention of reading more..... good intentions but poor execution.

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

Comfortable and stress-free while knowing that my future self would struggle financially if I stayed.

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

Rent. The housing market in the UK is just broken, and makes it impossible to justify moving back. Next door in my condo building was empty all year. Supply outstrips demands here.

Other than that I don't see Thailand as a cheap country. Even the holidays I went in while living in Thailand weren't cheap. A good hotel in most destination will cost 1,500 - 2,000 baht/night. That quickly eats into your monthly salary.

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

50K baht - you could survive but I feel that life wouldn't be much fun.
75K baht - I was comfortable but aware that I wasn't going anywhere fast.
115K baht - I feel like you could start saving some decent money for the future.

I would return to Thailand if I landed a job that paid 130k baht + which with more international teaching experience I hope I will be able to compete for.

I spent 9 years as a TEFL teacher around the world (not in Thailand) and always felt comfortable on my TEFL salary wherever I lived. I wouldn't recommend living in Bangkok on the TEFL salaries I see advertised unless you absolutely have to live in Bangkok.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you William. This survey shows just how expensive Bangkok is getting if a teacher can't really make the numbers work on a 75K salary. There was a day when 30K was considered the minimum salary required to work in the capital but those days are long gone. Then a figure of 40-50K became the minimum. Should we be revising that to an even higher number now is the question? A lot of teachers seem to think so!  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 430 total

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