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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Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 7th July 2020

฿31 to one US Dollar
฿39 to one Pound Sterling
฿35 to one Euro
฿22 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.63 THB to one Philippine Peso

Nick

Working in Suphanburi

Monthly Earnings 40,000

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

34,000 is my full-time salary with the rest coming from private students. I live with my Filipina girlfriend who is also a teacher and she makes around 21,000 baht a month. We split expenses on a lot of things.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

15-20,000. We tend to plan a large trip once a month because we like to explore the world. That can change the amount that we save each month.

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

I live in a well kept apartment complex that costs me around 4,000-4,500 a month, split between me and my girlfriend. This includes water and electric (a/c).

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

Transportation

I rent a scooter from a Suzuki shop and I pay 1,800 a month, plus about 100 baht a week for gas. We take the minibus around the region once a month or so for 200 baht total.

Utility bills

Included in accommodation as mentioned above.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We spend about 6.000 baht a month on food, about 500 baht a week for groceries, and about 1,000 a week for eating out at various places. We tend to eat at a 'fancy' place once a week or so, i.e. pizza, sushi, McDonald's.

Nightlife and drinking

We rarely go out for entertainment and we spend a minimal amount on drinking, only buying a case of Leos to split with our Filipino friends once or twice a month.

Books, computers

We don't purchase much of this to consider it.

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

We live a good life, planning our trips out and always being conscious with our spending, but not too much that we don't enjoy our luxuries.

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

Food, rent, beer. You name it.

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

If you are able to 'do as the Thais do', then you can earn around 30,000 with no sweat for an individual.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Nick. So what we have here is a couple of teachers living together with a joint income of over 60,000 baht. With less than 5,000 being spent on accommodation and 6,000 on food (the main expenses) you're both left with almost 50,000 in the kitty to spend in Suphanburi. Doesn't surprise me at all that you enjoy 'a good life'.

My best Thai friend comes from Suphanburi and he's fiercely proud of it. I've been there with my wife several times and I think it's a lovely town. Yes, it's quiet and there isn't an awful lot to do but I've always admired the polite, softly spoken locals and the whole place is kept immaculately clean. I could quite easily live in Suphanburi. It's not too far from Bangkok either. 


Tim

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

My wife and I work together and have a combined salary of 50,000 per month. We both work Monday to Friday from 7:30 am till 4:30 pm. Sometimes on the weekend, my wife tutors children in both English and Thai. With the extra tutoring, we are able to maybe bring about 3,000 baht extra a month.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

We are able to save between 15,000 - 20,000 per month. We have a 2-year-old daughter that will be starting school soon, so we might possibly save a little less. Also, we are going to have another baby in the next 7 months. After that baby is born, we have to put him or her in nursery till 5:00 p.m. or have a family member take care of him or her for about 5,000 a month.

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

The cost of our condo is 5,000 per month. It's roughly 25 sqm, with a small living room, kitchen, and medium-sized bedroom. Also, there is a balcony looking over the horizon of the Chao Phayra river.

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

Transportation

I have been driving a car for the past two years. The roads are quite tricky to drive on in Thailand, therefore, you can constantly have to be aware of your surroundings. The cost of our car payment is roughly 8,500 per month. Each year, we have to pay car registration / tax of about 2,000 baht and 1st class car insurance of around 11,000 baht. The cost of fuel is 2,000 a month, because I constantly have to drive my family around.

Utility bills

Electricity cost 1,000 per month. I can't live without the air conditioner, because I always sweat a lot from the high amount of humidity. Water costs about 100 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Each week, my wife and I go shopping at local Big C. We pay 4,000 each month. We cook meals each day and bring our own cooked food to work.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't have much of a night life, and usually just buy a beer or a bottle of wine sometimes. Sometimes I walk around a local Thai market.

Books, computers

We bought a used laptop for about 3,600 baht a few years ago. Throughout the week, we share it together.

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

The standard of living seems stable. My wife and I are able to have our needs met and are able to save. However, I would like to relocate to a rural area of Thailand. After years of living in a concrete jungle, it wears you down. There is always constant noise and the sound of ambulances racing around. The smell of the air has hints of oil and other toxic smells. Where I live, there is an oil refinery factory. Each day of the week, a mask has to be worn to try to block out some of the harmful smells.

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

The cost of rent is quite cheap in Thailand, compared to the U.S. By driving a car, I don't have to worry about a taxi fare, a shady tuktuk driver, or a hell-bent van driver. I like the freedom of driving and being able to go where I want. However, I can't throw caution to the wind and must be careful of other drivers' reckless behavior. Motorcycles seem to swap lanes a lot and get into my blind spots.

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

In order to survive and live a minimalist, barebones lifestyle and still have all needs met, a person would need to make between 30,000 to 40,000 a month.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think you do very well Tim to be raising two children (well, soon to be two children), run a car and still save a decent percentage each month on a joint income of 50,000. I would imagine it means keeping your food and accommodation bills as low as possible but I guess it can be done!


Jardel

Working in South Korea

Monthly Earnings A little over 60,000 baht

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

This is my full salary before taxes or any deductions. All of it is coming from my one and only job at a public middle school. It's also noteworthy that in Korea you're not allowed to make money elsewhere. You're only allowed to be in Korea for what your visa allows.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At least 25,000 baht without even trying, which I regularly don't. If I was frugal that month about 35,000 baht. The two months out of the year I'm on vacation I save a little over 15,000 baht.

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

I had the option of getting free housing or taking housing allowance of about 10,000 baht. I chose the former so I didn't have to deal directly with the landlord who doesn't speak English or have to put a hefty deposit down which my school took care of.

The place itself is a studio apartment but with proper compartments, not like the room and washroom you get in Thailand.

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

Transportation

I live close enough to walk to work. The subway and bus costs about 32 baht which is my main form of transportation. The only time I use taxis are on the weekends when I'm out late past operating subway hours. It's about 400 baht getting to my place from the bars/clubs.

A month sets me back about 2,000 baht

Utility bills

Korea is seasonal so on average 500 baht for the power (air-con or heating) bill and only 130 baht for water. So 630 baht I guess.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

A monthly deduction of about 2,000 baht covers breakfast and lunch at school. I eat out the rest of the time because it costs just as much to cook it at home. A refrigerated meal at a convenience store costs 90 baht. Eating out at the weekends with friends is 250 per meal. So a total of about 6,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

I'm honestly out almost every weekend to socialize. Most clubs are cover free, the few that have fees will set you back no more than 200-300 baht. I mainly drink beer and the occasional cocktail. Domestic beers are 90 baht, imported beer 170 baht and cocktails 130-180 baht. In a month I spend about 7,000 baht.

Books, computers

I'd say nothing. My computer works fine and I only bought one text book to learn Korean that cost 460 baht.

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

I'd say good. I don't pay rent and my utility bills are cheap. I can eat out everyday if I want and I can go out every weekend if I want. The weekends I don't go out is because I may want to sleep in and not because of money.

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

I guess rent. Although not as cheap as Thailand, still half the price of back home.

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

Assuming your employer does not cover the 10,000 baht housing for you, I'd say 40,000 baht for all your basic needs met plus spoiling yourself on the weekend.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Jardel. I'm quite surprised you could survive in South Korea on the equivalent of 40,000 baht a month. But the 60,000 a month you are earning certainly sounds like enough to meet your needs. We'll also be having a 'great escape' interview with Jardel in the coming week so look out for that one. 


James

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 90-100K

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

I work for a fairly famous private Thai school which pays me 60k a month. I do a full Saturday at a language school which brings in another 16k. I also do a couple of classes online in the evenings from Monday to Thursday. I work quite hard but my jobs are all quite chilled.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Can be as much as 40k a month but as I have a family with 2 kids, there are a lot of things to pay for at various points in the year. My youngest child is just a baby and my wife has quit her job to stay home and take care of her. So over the next few years I won't be saving nearly as much.

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

We live in a 4-bedroom townhouse in the suburbs. The rent is 10,000 a month. I spent quite a lot when we moved in on getting it up to a standard I was happy with and now consider it to be a real bargain.

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

Transportation

I have a motorcycle. 500 baht or so a month.

Utility bills

About 3,000 all in for electricity, water and fast internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I have been in Thailand for over 15 years and although it took a long time, I am now quite happy eating Thai food most of the time. My wife is a very good cook, which really helps. I take 200 baht to school each day but rarely spend more than half of that. We visit our local market almost every night to buy fruit and snacks etc. I do still enjoy a pizza or burger from time to time but not often. Overall I would say about 8-10,000 a month.

Nightlife and drinking

I enjoy a drink but I am not really into the Bangkok scene too much. I think the Sukhumvit bars and restaurants are overpriced and not that much fun. I do like to indulge in a hotel buffet but only for a very special occasion. I meet a friend for a few beers around the Khao San area once or twice a month. I also like going to see my Thai football team sometimes. Other than that it is a couple of beers or a few Thai whiskies at home. Maybe 3-5K a month.

Books, computers

Very little. I have a Netflix account and buy maybe half a dozen books a year from Amazon.

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

Comfortable. I kind of lead a Thai lifestyle and I think if you are ok with that then you can have a good life here and save money too.

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

Lots of things are still very cheap here. Rent, Thai food, flowers (!)

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

A single, disciplined veteran of Thailand could probably 'survive' on as little as 15k a month. It wouldn't be much fun though.

Phil's analysis and comment

James earns a very decent salary but still leads what he calls 'a Thai lifestyle'.  It's not for everyone but it certainly works for James. It means some months he can save getting on for half of his salary. 

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.    


Daniel

Working in Hong Kong

Monthly Earnings Roughly around 105,000 Baht

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

I work two jobs Monday to Friday. A kindergarten job 8:30 to 1.00 and in a learning centre 3.00 -7.00. The kindergarten pays better as it is part of the school system and between the jobs it is a 60:40 split between kindergarten and centre. I'm normally well shattered at the end of the day but I do have fun in the process.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I am a father of a young boy and the cost of living is extremely high here but my wife brings in a similar income too. It sounds alright in Baht but in Hong Kong, it is just a basic income. Which is why I am on this site and read through so many of these!

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

We live in a 2-bedroom apartment quite far out and it costs us 55,000 baht a month and that is pretty much the average here. It has a basic gym and pool but when I see the cost of living here, my eyes fall out of my head. People who live in the centre of Hong Kong itself keep telling me there are too many "temptations" so my wife so has turned down my requests to move down there. Hong Kong is just too fast-paced for me now and the people in general are quite cold.

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

Transportation

I personally spend around 3,000 Baht most months but during the hot months I take taxis a wee bit more so closer to 5,000.

Utility bills

This can be close to 20,000 baht during the summer months and just a tad over 10,000 baht in Winter. I'm breaking into sweats typing this.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We have half of our meals at home and half out and that figure is roughly 15,000 to 20,000 a month.

Nightlife and drinking

I do not really enjoy the scene here. It's not like the "Land of Smiles" here and also as a new dad, I am trying to phase this out entirely. Let's put that at zero.

Books, computers

I read a lot of e-books and do a lot podcasts but I do not really spend anything on it except for the wifi and the device itself.

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

It is decent for sure and I am happy with what I have but it is more the mentality of the place I do not like. I have plenty of Thai friends here and I just prefer the friendliness of the Thai people. I enjoy their 'life is for living' attitude.

Hong Kong is a beautiful and safe city regardless of what people tell you about the political situation here.

I have taught here for over 10 years now and I feel like it is time to move on. Given my experience and qualifications and after some emails and browsing through your site, I feel I will be in the 50-65,000 baht range. A big jump down in salary but then the cost of living is also drastically lower. It seems more possible to actually save money in Thailand and have more fun outside of work too.

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

Well in Hong Kong the transport network is world-class and there are so many restaurants. If you eat as the locals do, you will find some real gems here. Apart from that everything is on the pricey side. It is very similar to Japan but minus the manners and friendliness.

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

If you are single, anything over 70,000 baht can get you similar to a 30,000 baht lifestyle in Thailand, which is neither here nor there. If you have a family then 100,000 baht is close to minimum in Hong Kong.

Value for money is poor in Hong Kong. Seems like in Thailand. what you pay is what you get. It is not always the case in Hong Kong.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Daniel. I think this is possibly our first cost of living survey from a teacher in Hong Kong and nothing of what you've said has surprised me. We know the rental fees are in the stratosphere but 55,000 baht a month for an apartment! Bloody hell! 

I've been to Hong Kong about ten times. I think it's an amazing place for a 4-5 day break or a long weekend. It's worth going for the food alone. But no, I could never live and work there. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 330 total

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