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 7th October 2022

฿37 to one US Dollar
฿42 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

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.  


Tyler

Working in Phuket

Monthly Earnings 36,000

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

I work in a Thai private school in Phuket and I am a full-time employee. My salary is 36,000 baht a month.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I am lucky I can save 2,000 - 3,000 baht.

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

Condo rent is 6,000 baht. Keep in mind that I rented this condo before the Phuket Sandbox began (My same condo is around 8,000 baht now). It is very small, around 28 sq metres, The amenities are nice, it has a swimming pool and a gym. I use the gym at my condo so I do not have to pay an extra 1,000 baht for a gym membership.

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

Transportation

I own a scooter and I pay 2,000 baht a month for it. I rented it from a friend of a friend. If you just go to any rental shop you will be charged a premium 3,000 - 3,500 baht a month for a basic scooter. DO NOT TAKE A GRAB! it costs 100 baht to go 1 km down the street (not joking).

Utility bills

Electric I pay 1,500 but that is with me having the AC on all night. My water bill is usually around 300 baht, and I pay 600 baht for home wifi and unlimited data for my phone.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is where you will spend all of your money. If you live in Phuket town or anywhere where it has less tourists Thai food will be around 50 to 100 baht. Western food will be 200 to 300 baht a meal.

If you live by the beach expect to be paying 120 - 200 baht for Thai food. If you want to eat Western food you will spend 300 to 400 baht a meal.

Supermarket shopping isn't too expensive. You can get chicken breasts for about 40 baht a kilogram in Makro. Fruit and vegetables are more expensive in Phuket than other provinces.

Nightlife and drinking

I cant afford to drink at all. One beer near a touristy area will set you back 150 to 200 baht. Expect cocktails to be around 200 to 300 baht at happy hour.

Books, computers

I brought my own computer and my school provides me with books so I spend no money there at all.

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

Would never want to live like this again. It's a never ending struggle at the end of every month.

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

The beaches are free. There is beautiful nature all around with a very peaceful vibe.

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

To survive and not have to transfer money from your savings, probably 45,000. To live comfortably you need around 60,000.
I really do not suggest to work in Phuket for a salary less than 45,000. Yes you get the beaches but the way you have to live and the constant struggle for money is not a good way to live. I will be leaving Phuket once my contract is up. I cannot live like this.

Phil's analysis and comment

I'm always curious about the lives of teachers who work in towns or cities that are predominantly tourist areas like Pattaya, Hua Hin or Phuket. There must surely be a great temptation to 'do as the tourists do' and go to their restaurants and bars, etc. It must be hard seeing tourists enjoying themselves and feeling almost like you've not been invited to the party. However, I'm sure there are many teachers who manage to block out all that noise if only for financial reasons. I get the impression from Tyler's survey that he wants to live a part-time tourist lifestyle while being a 36,000 baht a month teacher at the same time...and that must be tough.  


Robert

Working in Ang Thong

Monthly Earnings 35,000

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

I work at a Thai government school in Ang Thong and my full-time pay is 35,000. For this I teach about 16-18 contact hours a week. I only do two hours on a Friday morning so I'm free to leave at lunch time, which is nice. I'm also paid directly by the school and it's great not to have to shout at an agent down the phone and ask why my salary isn't in the bank (been there, done that!)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to put away 5,000 baht every month and I do manage it most months. That 60K a year mostly goes on short trips to various Thai islands. I like to travel whenever we have a school break.

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 a small studio in a fairly new apartment building. Over the past year, the restaurant has closed, the little convenience store has closed, the gym has been locked up for months and there's a mysterious green substance floating on the surface of the swimming pool. Some mystery person is also taking a whizz in the elevators. But my studio apartment is OK. I've got a hot water shower, a new air-conditioner and there's also a wardrobe and a little bedside table. I've also put up a few pictures to make it look homely and you can get a nice rug from Homepro for a few hundred baht.

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

Transportation

I have my own small motorcycle so that's just a couple of hundred baht each month on petrol. Repairs are as cheap as chips here! Without your own wheels in Ang Thong, it's tough to get around.

Utility bills

200-300 baht for electricity and water. I'm something of a tightwad when it comes to turning on the air-conditioning (that thing just eats up the juice) I might stick it on for an hour in April when the temperature becomes unbearable, otherwise I have four fans (one in each corner of the room) battling it out.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try to keep this cost down as much as I can but find it difficult. Even at a hole-in-the-wall joint an evening meal with a large beer can cost 150 baht. That's 5,000 a month right there. Thrown in some patong-ko and moo ping for breakfast on the way to work and a 7-11 lunch (I like the sausage and cheese toasties) and you can easily eat your way through 10K even as a single bloke.

Nightlife and drinking

There's nowhere to go out in Ang Thong unless you go out with a group of Thais and although I do have Thai friends I prefer to keep them at arm's length when it comes to night-time partying. No, I like a beer with my evening meal and a couple at lunchtime if I'm not working. That'll do me.

Books, computers

We have an old bookshelf at school where past foreign teachers leave dog-eared paperbacks before going on to teach elsewhere. I've read 'Confessions of a Window Cleaner' four times. Sometimes it's the boredom that can kill you.

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

It's OK. One of the reasons I left Bangkok was because I could never seem to make ends meet. I was earning 40,000 baht a month and it didn't seem to go anywhere. I was always skint before the end of the month. At least here in Ang Thong I'm not living on cans of tuna from the 24th onwards.

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

I can go down the fresh market and come back with a great big bag of fruit for 150 baht. I'd love to get myself organised and buy fresh meat and fish but I'm hopeless in the kitchen. I'd probably burn the condo down anyway if I was allowed access to a gas ring.

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

35,000 is enough in rural Thailand because there's nothing much to spend your money on. You need at least double that in Bangkok though.

Phil's analysis and comment

Nice survey Rob, We always like to hear from the teachers in the 25-40K bracket because that's what so many foreign teachers get paid and have been doing for the past 30 years. We don't hear from many teachers in Ang Thong either.

Yes, it's hard to keep those monthly food bills down if you want to eat reasonably well. It think learning how to cook might be a good move if it gets you off the Chinese donuts and the 7-11 junk food (difficult to resist though isn't it?) The meat and fish can be really cheap at those morning markets.  


Max

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 47,000

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

47,000 is my total salary, excluding a small amount for a pension fund.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 10,000.

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

I pay 10,000 baht a month for a two-bedroom house with a garden.

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

Transportation

500 baht on gas each month for my motorcycle.

Utility bills

750 baht for water, electricity and internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out every day so with a bit of supermarket shopping, this bill comes to about 10K.

Nightlife and drinking

I have a few beers at the weekend but it doesn't amount to more than a thousand a month.

Books, computers

Maybe 100 baht a month on a game for my playstation.

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

Perfect. I do much better than I did in Europe. I earned more money in Europe, but I seem to have more spare cash here.

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

Going out to eat. 40 Baht for really good dishes is amazing value.

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

As a foreigner in Chiang Mai, you need around 25,000 to survive and 35,000 to live fairly well.

Phil's analysis and comment

Chiang Mai is always a difficult place to analyze in terms of cost of living because I always feel that it has all the Western temptations and trappings of Bangkok but teacher salaries are generally not as high as they are in the capital. That said, Max's salary of 47K is very decent for Thailand's 'second city' and it's clearly enough to live relatively well on. 


Jim

Working in Phattalung

Monthly Earnings 25K

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

25,000 is my take-home pay from a full-time job teaching English in a government school.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Zero.

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

I live in a large 3-bedroom terraced town house which costs 8,000 a month.

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

Transportation

Gas for my scooter is 1,000 baht a month and another 2,000 goes on the loan repayments for it, so transportation comes to 3,000.

Utility bills

I pay 1,000 for electricity, 100 baht for water and 600 baht for the internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I never cook at home and eat mostly from food-stalls. I would call this around 8,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

The final 4,000 baht a month goes on booze and smokes.

Books, computers

Zero

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

It's very much a hand-to-mouth existence. I have no extra money for savings, retirement, local trips or a flight home.

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

Street food.

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

I'd say 40,000. However, I'd recommend staying in your home nation because you'd be better off pushing trolleys around a Walmart parking lot.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Jim, a brutally honest survey there at what you might call the low-end of English teaching in Thailand. I think the figures throw up just one main question - how much longer can you keep doing it? There will be many teachers who say that 25K is more than enough to live on out in the sticks but like you, they won't be saving much or putting away money for their future years. I agree with you that 40K is a far more realistic figure to be aiming for. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 393 total

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