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 31st March 2020

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿41 to one Pound Sterling
฿36 to one Euro
฿20 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Richard

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 75 - 100K

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

My salary from my full-time job in an international school is about 75,000 nett. Unfortunately, as I have a PGCEi (and therefore not QTS) I get paid significantly less than most of my colleagues. I'm currently trying to obtain the QTS but this is difficult to do from Thailand. The rest of my income is from private tuition, which is reasonably lucrative at 1,000 to 1,500 baht per hour.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Usually 40,000 - 60,000 per month, depending on how much I earn.

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

11,000 a month. I have a studio room in a new condo very close to a BTS station. Its only about 40 sqm but I live alone so it's OK.

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

Transportation

Despite living near public transport, I rarely use it. I much prefer my two-wheeled death trap. Petrol comes to about 800 baht a month.

Utility bills

My room is smallish and new so the AC isn't too hungry. Electric, water, phone and net come to about 2,000 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

During term time, school provides a half decent buffet lunch for free. Unfortunately this means I've got to listen to my colleagues whinge whilst I eat. So during term it's probably 6,000 a month and more like 10,000 in the school holidays.

Nightlife and drinking

Not too much. I very rarely pay for 'company' and avoid the all you can eat / drink buffets in 5-star hotels that many of my colleagues rave about. I'd rather watch football or have a few beers and chat with a mate or two. Let's say 6,000 a month.

Books, computers

Almost nothing. I've had my current laptop for a few years and get great reads from the school library (that's one of the best things about international school work). I'm guessing that unless you're mining bitcoins or running a website, computer expenses are generally going to be zero?

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

To be honest it's decent enough. But when the rest of the teachers in you school earn 30K+ more than you do and are given flights and bonuses, it doesn't feel great, especially when a minority of these qualified teachers have minimal subject knowledge and classroom management skills. Hopefully I'll get the QTS badge within a year and then brush this chip off my shoulder!

If I could give one piece of advice to any aspiring teachers thinking of working overseas, get qualified at home FIRST. It's an investment that pays for itself very quickly. And don't believe people who tell you that international schools work their teachers too hard. In my experience, it's easier than working in Thai schools, better paid, with more holidays.

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

My bike! 100 baht for a full tank of gas. 600 baht for a year's insurance and tax. 500 baht goes to 'on the spot fines'. It's very cheap and fun (and dangerous?) on two wheels

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

If you don't have kids, don't drink, avoid other 'tempations' and have a rich relative about to pass away and bequeath you enough cash to retire on, then 40K should do it. If you do have kids and do need to save for retirement, well that figure would be much higher, perhaps even as high as 150K?

Phil's analysis and comment

75,000-100,000 a month is not bad at all in Bangkok though Richard, especially when you are only paying about 15% of that for your accommodation. I'm sure it must be frustrating though to see all your colleagues earning significantly more plus benefits for technically doing the same job. 


Stephen

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 125,000

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

This is my full-time salary (including a taxed housing allowance) working at a medium-sized international school in the center of Bangkok.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

60,000 to 65.000 baht and in this amount I include the provident fund part we can use via work.

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

25.000 for a one-bedroom condo about one hundred meters from the MRT. It is a bit noisy every now and then outside but that is what you get with a central location. The building has excellent facilities with two pools and two gyms (no need for a gym membership).

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

Transportation

There are months where I rent a motorbike to drive to school, because it is faster than the MRT and shuttle bus connection to work, but only in the dry season.

If I rent a motorbike it is 3,000 baht a month, plus a few hundred for gas. On top of that. the occasional taxi and use of MRT/BTS. Let's say about 5,000 baht. If I do not rent a motorbike it is probably around 3,000 baht a month on average.

Utility bills

Around 1,300 for electricity, 100 for water and 1,500 for AIS (a combination of a mobile phone sim, home internet and TV channels), so in total about 3,000 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

During the weekdays I get free breakfast and lunch at work. In the evening I usually use Polpa - pretty decent and healthy food for a reasonable price. Every now and then I order in, but I never cook at home, no point really with everything you can order, get delivered or just eat outside. On the weekends I have a splurge occasionally, so probably around 20 to 25,000 on food. Eating well is important to me :)

Nightlife and drinking

This really depends if I go out or not. Sometimes I meet people at the weekend and have a few drinks, sometimes I just stay in and do a bit of gaming. I do think nightlife and drinking is overpriced in Bangkok and you often pay Western prices or more if you really want to go out. Obviously there are plenty of good deals around and some places offer decent value, but if you want to go out for a night and drink cocktails it is not any cheaper than back home. I rarely go out for a full night, but I can have drinks at a pub or the occasional rooftop bar (though I am always on the hunt for happy hours with these rooftop bars). Let's say on average 8,000 baht a month.

Books, computers

None really. I have a good computer and download eBooks for my e reader using torrents. Our school has a well stocked library if I want the feel of a real book.

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

My standard of living is pretty nice. I always said I would not live in Bangkok for anything less than 100,000 a month and that was a few years ago. The cost of living keeps rising, but I live in a nice condo, eat well, have fun in life, go on multiple holidays a year and go to my work with a smile on my face. Can't ask for more really.

I noticed you also mentioned you would like to know how much time an international school teacher needs to prepare lessons and all.

We are required to be at school by 07:30 and can leave after 15:00. If I do that every day I probably need about another hour of work to have everything ready. Obviously there are busier times when there is a lot of grading to be done, reports are due or when there are parent teacher conferences. On average though there are multiple times a week when I am home before 16:00. On top of that, the students are really pleasant to work with, classes are small (max 22) and there are hardly any behavioral problems. Lastly we have about 14 to 15 weeks of (paid) holiday a year (7,5 in the summer, 3 in December/January, 2 in April plus some more) so it really is a great lifestyle. On top of that we get international health insurance which is fully paid, visa costs and 90-day reporting taken care of and free breakfast and lunch at school.

I do not say all this to brag, but I would advise anyone who has the opportunity to get certified as a teacher to go back home for a year or two, get certification and start living a decent lifestyle overseas. There are more than a hundred international schools in Bangkok and this number will only rise with more and more students enrolling. There are plenty of opportunities.

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

Transportation (taxis, MRT, BTS)
Thai food
Cinema is still pretty cheap compared to back home.
Domestic flights if timed well.

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

You can probably survive on about 50,000 a month, but that would not be living well. I would not work in Bangkok for anything under 100,000 a month. Anything lower than that and I think it is hard to live well, save money for retirement and go on a nice holiday every now and again.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Stephen. This is a good insight on what you can earn if you are willing to become qualified enough to work at one of Bangkok's better international schools.

You can spend what you like on food, entertainment and travel if you still manage to stash away 60,000 baht ever month.  

Sounds like you have a great lifestyle.


Joe

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 44,000

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

I work part time for 3 schools plus teaching online.
School A: 10 hours per week
School B: 6 hours per week
School C: 4 hours per week
Online: I'm usually booked in at 4 hours a week as schools B and C take up my evenings.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 5,000 baht, which is an absolute joke for an adult. My colleagues think I'm really getting ahead. I think they're deluded.

Aside from monthly essentials, I seem to sink 2,000 - 3,000 on ridiculously overpriced things like a visa run (as none of my three employers can seem to figure out how to process a work permit) or supplies for classes I teach that schools refuse to stock, silly things like pens and paper and board markers.

I also signed up for a gym which costs me 1,500 a month, although I paid for a year upfront and put it on a credit card. I never have time to use it as I'm always stuck in traffic going from one job to another from 7 am to 9 pm, so that was a waste of money and on weekends it's packed with idiots taking selfies of their abs or their new tits.

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

I pay 11,500 for my condo.

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

Transportation

BTS: 3,400
Taxis: 7,200 (about half of that is re-imbursed by school B)
Motorcycles: 2,400
Getting around Bangkok is an absolute nightmare. I've never spent so much time in transit.

Utility bills

Water: 200
Electric: 1,200

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Supermarket: 6,000
Eating out: 3,000
I cook nearly all my meals and rarely eat out unless it's street food. I find most restaurants here to be poor quality and expensive.

Nightlife and drinking

2,000 a month. I rarely go out as I find the music scene here to be lacking and again venues are overpriced. For the price of a night out in a crap 'club' with very pedestrian music you can attend a 3-day festival in Europe and hear some of the best artists ever.

Books, computers

Zero. I'm still reading what I bought before I came and will never buy a laptop here as they are very overpriced.

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

Quite poor. I seem to be working or traveling to and from work all the time and never really earning much money.

Also, the work is utterly pointless and degrading. No one seems to be hiring full-time teachers at livable wages. As for teaching Thais, I've taught in quite a few different countries and am amazed at how Thais just don't seem interested in studying at all.

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

Nothing to be honest. Yes, street food is cheap but honestly, look at what's on that plate, or rather in the plastic bag. I'm constantly hunting for a filling meal that isn't 80% fat.

While condos rent out cheaper than flats in London, look at what you're getting - 20 sq meters is essentially a prison cell.

Public transport is pricey, unreliable, poorly managed and dangerously overcrowded. I'm just waiting for a fire on the BTS to take out half the population on a Tuesday morning.

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

I wouldn't consider living here for less than 100,000 a month. For those of us under 50 years old. we've got to manage our own retirement funds, so saving is the real reason to be working, otherwise you're just wasting your time.

I guess if you're absolutely useless and from some quiet village in Northern England then life here must be pretty amazing due to all the flashing lights, loud noises and loads of Thai people everywhere eating strange food 24/7.

For the rest of us, there are plenty of countries with cleaner air, better food, far better salaries, more ambitious people, nicer beaches, better booze and friendlier people. I just don't see the selling point of Thailand.

Phil's analysis and comment

Joe, there will be plenty of folks reading this whose reaction will be 'well, you know where the airport is'. I'm not one of those people. The main thing is that you gave it a go. And what you have found out is that Thailand is not for you. You'll move on (very shortly I guess) and hopefully you'll find what you are looking for.  Thailand isn't for everyone.  


Michael

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 100,000 Baht

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

I work at a small international school in Chiang Mai. I earn 35,000 baht a month teaching Monday-Friday. I also have two rental properties in the United States. After all my costs, I net 65,000 baht per month from them.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I save 60,000 baht a month.

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

I paid $30,000 USD (1,000,000 baht) for a nice one-bedroom condo outside old town Chiang Mai. The reason I did this is because with no mortgage or rent to pay, it freed up more of my fixed income. My only cost is HOA, electric, water, and internet, which totals about 3,000-4,000 baht a month to live in my condo. If I rented this same condo with utilities it would be around 10,000-12,000 baht a month.

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

Transportation

I have a Honda 150 cc motorbike. I spend 600 baht on gas, 500 baht on upkeep, plus a red truck to get around town once in a while. Total: 2,000 baht a month

Utility bills

Electric: 1500 baht
Water: 250 baht
Internet: 650 baht (land line 60 meg)
Phone: 400 baht

Total: 3,000 baht a month

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try and eat from the morning markets about 80% of the time. I can eat well every day for 100 baht. I mix in some street vendors and hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurants.
Total: 5,000 baht a month

Nightlife and drinking

I try and push most of my money into this category.
Dating: 10,000 baht
Drinking: 6,000 baht
Smoking: 2,000 baht
Massage: 3,000 baht
Shopping/Movies: 1,000 baht
Total: 22,000 baht a month

Books, computers

1,500 baht a month

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

I would say upper-middle class Thai level. I don't want for anything.

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

The quality of life. In terms of human connection and social environment, it is so much better here than in the Western world. Here you can be yourself and date any women you desire, make friends very easily, and be treated very well. I have never experienced so much acceptance from other people. Also cheap flights around South East Asia can be had for around 5,000 baht so you can get a round-trip air ticket to any other South East Asian country.

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

Just to survive 20,000 baht a month. To be comfortable 40,000+ baht a month.

It really helps to build some type of passive income first in your home country. Even a simple $500 a month from renting out your house or something from investments could give you an extra 15,000-20,000 baht a month to live on, depending on the exchange rate of the time.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you for that Michael. Now here's a classic example of a teacher teaching perhaps more to keep himself busy than anything else - and there's nothing wrong with that. Actually, Michael, with a nice 65,000 baht income from your rental properties, I'm surprised that you don't go for something a little more 'part-time' and with fewer hours. Even 65,000 is probably more than enough in Chiang Mai, but I'm sure you enjoy working where you do.

After so many cost of living surveys where long-term teachers seem to have turned their back on the entertainment scene, it was strangely refreshing to hear from a teacher who likes a drink and a smoke and probably heads for home as the sun is coming up (not on a workday of course) Different strokes for different folks! You do whatever makes you happy as long as work doesn't suffer as a result.     


Marcus

Working in China

Monthly Earnings 112,000

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

At the current (strong baht) exchange, I make about 90,000 after tax. This is a Monday to Friday schedule with no extra teaching. I also receive an annual cash flight allowance of 80,000 and a bi-annual completion bonus of 350,000 Baht (At current rate)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I save about 35,000 per month ( Not counting the 160,000 per month that I don't have to pay for my 2 kids to get their A-Levels ;). I also don't include my bonus, but if I did, my monthly savings would be about 50,000.

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

I live in a 110m2, 3-bedroom modern apartment paid for by the school.

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

Transportation

Transport is about 400 baht per month. I cycle most places as there are dedicated cycle lanes throughout the city. On the weekends we take a taxi for a "supermarket run" and those get you around 3 kms for 40 Baht.

Utility bills

Electricity is about 300 Baht per month
Gas is about 100 Baht (stove plus hot water)
Winter heating is 500 per month (for 4 months)
100Mb internet connection plus phone (unlimited data) = 400 Baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is relatively cheap when I think about it: a take away noodle bowl can be 70 Baht but its a HUGE bowl, enough for 2 adults. Also restaurant portions are very big. They also have a lot of "all-you-can-eat" options here which are insane e.g. a seafood buffet at local hotel is 800 Baht, but it includes unlimited drinks (and that buffet had Alaskan King Crabs on the menu). Cheaper buffets run at about 300 Baht (steak, pasta, cheap sushi and free flow booze ;)

To be honest, we're still adapting to ordering the right amount of take-away food. Each time we walk into a local restaurant, point at the 3/4 pictures (multiple dishes, Thai style), and pay, we always end up with 'leftovers for days'

And it has to be said, the devil's juice is cheap - imported wine (not fruit wine) starts at 80 Baht per bottle. Local beers are between 8 - 20 Baht per can.

To actually answer the question: This family of four goes through about 40,000 Baht a month. We eat out a lot!

Nightlife and drinking

Included in the 40,000 above.

Books, computers

About 500 per month for books. Computer stuff is paid for by the school.

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

I wish I had moved sooner.

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

Life. I know it's not a market product but being able to 'be outside' with my family easily is fantastic. Being able to cycle everywhere or picnic in a selection of clean safe parks is fantastic.

We don't need to 'time everything to avoid the inevitable traffic. We can access world-class facilities with ease and people are genuinely friendly (forget the stereotypes. The only stereotype we've met is "the spitter" but other than that most people are friendly, gracious, and indifferent to you, the foreigner, and your existence.) And I say this coming from a person that speaks and reads Thai; one that has lived in Thailand for a decade and regularly goes back to visit my family.

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

In Bangkok, to really survive i.e. live in the staff apartment behind Big C for 2,000 per month - 10,000 Baht would be enough (but you're never getting on another flight in your life and will end up being one of those GoFundMe stories) These days, I think at a minimum, a single person with holiday/visit the family back home aspirations needs at least 50,000 Baht.

Phil's analysis and comment

Sounds like you are having a wonderful time in China, Marcus. I guess the words 'wish I had done it sooner' say it all really. 

China is always something of a Marmite TEFL destination; teachers either love it or hate it. But no guessing as to which camp Marcus falls into and having lived and taught in Thailand for a decade, he's well-qualified to make comparisons. China certainly sounds like a place to stash away money if you are making the equivalent of 112,000 baht a month plus bonuses. 


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


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 318 total

Page 4 of 64


Featured Jobs

NES Teachers

฿68,000+ / month

China


Kindergarten Homeroom Teachers (55-70K)

฿55,000+ / month

Bangkok


NES English Teachers

฿43,000+ / month

Bangkok


Fun Native English Teachers for May Start

฿42,000+ / month

Thailand


ESL Teachers for May 2020

฿30,000+ / month

Thailand


NES Kindergarten Teacher

฿42,000+ / month

Bangkok


Featured Teachers

  • Onder


    Turkish, 41 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Balvinder


    Indian, 40 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Elma


    Filipino, 30 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Melody


    Filipino, 42 years old. Currently living in Laos

  • Brincel


    Filipino, 21 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Anahid


    Iranian, 48 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


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?


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

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


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.


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.


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Walter van der Wal from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.