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 10th May 2021

฿31 to one US Dollar
฿43 to one Pound Sterling
฿38 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.65 THB to one Philippine Peso

Christopher

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 38,000

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

My job income after tax is about 36,600 baht. I also have savings (made in the USA over the years) and other alternative (digital) investments

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Since I:
- am not a materialist (don't buy stuff)
- don't care about other people's opinions
- am not much for night life (night clubs, rooftop bars, etc.)
- don't care about the high-life (been there, done that)
- don't travel much (but still go to pattaya, hua hin for bi-monthly trips)
- walk a lot
I can actually save at least 10,000 baht per month. If you have self-discipline and think smart, it is possible. Furthermore, I don't have kids and my Thai girlfriend is pretty low maintenance.

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

12,000 baht per month for a decent condo with a clothes washer, small kitchen, a/c, smart tv, internet included, utility bills included,a private little backyard and garden.

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

Transportation

Under 2,000 baht per month (lots of walking, which is great for exercise purposes and economic benefits, etc.)

Utility bills

Included in the rent

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000-10,000 baht per month. I don't ever cook home.

Nightlife and drinking

Zero

Books, computers

Computers purchased before arriving to Thailand

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

Since I am not a needy person I have a lot of Power. The more you need out of life and other people, the less power you have. I really don't need a "high" standard of living.

Food quality is important. If you are smart you can get quality on the street if you look for it (ex. quality barbecue chicken at good prices, stay away from the rice and noodles, target foods dense with protein content). Also, I don't smoke, drink or do any drugs.

When I visit Pattaya, etc. I take the bus for 120 baht vs a taxi for over 1,000 baht. I stay at decent hotels/resorts but nothing over the top. I am pretty simple, so a decent meal(s) on the weekend at a good restaurant is enough for me to be content. Materialism and "fancy" experiences do nothing for me. On Sundays, I walk to JJ market for exercise and kebabs.

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

Food is cheap. Walking is cheaper.

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

That depends on the individual. I can do just fine but I realize that I am different. However, I would say that my salary is the minimum requirement to get by on and have basic needs met and have a little entertainment money for a single "no strings attached" person.

Phil's analysis and comment

It sounds like you really enjoy walking. Me too. It's just a shame that Bangkok must be one of the worst cities in the world to indulge in that pastime. 


Morty

Working in HCMC, Vietnam

Monthly Earnings 160K

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

145K from full-time teaching and 15K from investment income.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

130k into a range of financial assets such as ETFs and crypto.

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

7.5K for an apartment (bed n bog with air-con) and it's just one kilometre from work in the heart of the city. Like-for-like accommodation is more expensive than Thailand, but the higher salaries offset this. I'm sure it's more aligned with Thailand in the provinces.

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

Transportation

Zero. Bought a second hand rust-bucket bicycle for 1,000 baht and I cycle everywhere. Worth a mention that the Grab app is excellent and Grab taxis are cheap here.

Utility bills

Zero, because it's included in the rent. I run the air-con on 26 degrees pretty much constantly when I'm home.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I only eat out so never go to supermarkets. However, I mostly eat like the locals during the week so probably around 100 baht/evening. The school meal is free and I generally skip breakfast. I like a McDs breakfast on the weekend with the odd Indian thrown in for a treat. I'd say around 8,000 a month.

Nightlife and drinking

This used to be massive but now pretty much zero. However, I like massages on the weekends and I'd throw those into this bucket. So let's say 3,000. It should be noted that the nightlife is more sedated than Thailand. There's a chilled coffee-cafe scene here. It's kind of more laid back and more sabai - if that's even possible!

Books, computers

Zero. The 11k Acer laptop and 3k Samsung phone (bought on Lazada-Thailand in December 2017) are still going strong.

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

Excellent. I want for nothing. I normally have around 10,000 floating around to spend on whatever I want. If nothing presents itself, I just whack a wedge of bitcoin on the ledger.

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

The food in Vietnam is great and possibly a shade cheaper than Thailand.

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

I reckon a cool 30,000 would see you alright. That would provide a basic lifestyle and no savings, but, hey, you'd survive.

Phil's analysis and comment

Sounds like you're earning a great salary in a cheap place to live. That's a sure way to keep the bank balance healthy!

Could you even afford to splash out on a nicer bicycle? 


Peter

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 400k + benefits

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

This is a full time salary. I am the Principal of a good (but not top tier) international school in Bangkok. I am not allowed to take additional paid employment.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At least 250k, most of which is invested in long term mutual funds to provide an income during retirement.

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

I live in a 2-bedroom 80 sqm condo next to Benjasiri park. Whilst the rent is paid directly by the school, it was advertised at 45k.

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

Transportation

Whilst the school provides a car, I rarely make use of it (except for trips outside Bangkok). I prefer to rely on trains and taxis and probably spend up to 5k in a regular month.

Utility bills

3k per month usually covers the electricity, water and internet. The school provides me with an unlimited mobile phone package.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Whilst (fairly decent) food is provided free at school, I do like to visit good restaurants in the evenings and on weekends. This is therefore my biggest monthly expense at approximately 40k

Nightlife and drinking

Working as a Principal means that I have to be discreet. Parents have conservative views about what my social life should entail. The position also means that going to the pub after work with colleagues is awkward. Fortunately, I have friends in Bangkok who I met outside of teaching, so I'm not too lonely. In short, there is almost no spending in this category.

Books, computers

School provides me with a desktop in my office and a laptop to take home. There is also an excellent library that all staff can access free of charge. So, zero spending here

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

Whilst I work long hours compared to classroom teachers, I have an excellent standard of living. My rule is that I will work Saturdays when required (from home). I always keep Sundays and most of the school holidays for myself. My salary means that it is always possible to go somewhere nice during the end of term breaks (well it was until Corona).

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

Tax. In the UK about 30% of my income was taken at source. In Thailand I pay approximately 15%

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

If you have no interest in saving or covering unexpected expenses, then I think 50k would cover a reasonable life in Bangkok. I am lucky that my job provides me with the power to save for retirement (10 years away). As I own no property, and received no inheritance, old age would be a worry without my salary.

Side note - I submitted this survey as I find them really interesting reads, but I haven't seen one from a Principal / Head of an international school. These salaries vary wildly. The range that I am aware of is 200k (I was offered this by a small but good British school) to almost a million baht (a friend earns this amount leading one the most prestigious schools in Bangkok).

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a million, Peter. This is the first ever cost of living survey from an international school head teacher and like many others I'm sure, I've always been interested in how much they earn, Now we know. 400K a month. Wow!. And that's not taking into account all those lovely benefits such as having your 45K rent paid and being provided with a car, etc.

What I found most interesting is how tricky it is to enjoy a drink after work. I completely understand where you are coming from though. We've all had those nights where one drink turns into two and two turns into six. You have to be discreet in your position. It wouldn't bother me personally because I'm not much of a drinker these days but I wonder if the school frowning on boozy nights out would be a deal breaker for some?   

One thing's for sure, stashing away 250K a month, you've got a golden retirement ahead of you. It would be interesting to know what your plans are once you've turned your back on campus for good. Those long-term mutual funds are great investments! I only wish I had got into them sooner instead of taking terrible advice from a financial advisor here. My wife, who is far more knowledgeable about investments than me, puts all her spare cash into those funds. I always regret not listening to her advice years ago.


Jamie

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 30,000 + 15,000 (from partner) = 45,000

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

I receive 30,000 baht a month from a private language school here in Bangkok, located in one of the city's shopping malls. I also get 15,000 a month from my girlfriend who is lucky to have a higher paying job, so can share bills with me.

Disclaimer: I am a student here (from UK) doing an internship, finishing a degree related to teaching and at the start of my TEFL career.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Usually between 15,000-20,000

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

I pay 10,000 a month for a condo that is within 5 minutes walking distance to the BTS.

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

Transportation

I spend 2,500 a month on transport. Although the condo is located next to the BTS, the language center isn’t. I usually have to get either a bus or a motorbike to the MRT. Then coming back, a motorbike from the MRT to the condo. It all adds up!

Utility bills

Usually between 600-1,000. That includes the electricity, wifi and water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is usually between 9,000-10,000 a month. Certainly no big Western style restaurants at the salary I am currently receiving. Normally, it would be a big C type of food court or grabbing a few things from the local market nearby.

Nightlife and drinking

Very rarely. My budget doesn’t allow for this. If I was to make it a regular thing, a higher salary would be required.

Books, computers

I have a decent DELL computer (1-2 years old) and a recently brought an Ipad air. You can download pretty much anything for free nowadays.

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

It's OK, if I was comparing myself to a Thai person. I live in a decent condo, I take motorbikes/MRT to work, I eat better food then some. However to really enjoy myself here and not to feel restricted I need a higher salary and unfortunately, due to my internship, I do feel pretty trapped.
Although I do save a slight amount, this money is for both myself and my girlfriend for the future, so I have to be mindful and not ‘dip’ into it.

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

The price of food can be cheap and also inter-provincial travel. For example, I can get to Samut Sakhon for just 22 baht on a local air-con bus.

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

I have always said you need at least 50,000. My 30,000 baht salary is pretty low for a native speaker with teaching experience. It’s certainly not a salary I want to be living on for too long.

Luckily, in a few months I will have been here for one year and I’ll be asking for a pay-rise. If I don’t get it, I’ll go elsewhere.

The future? I’ll be going back to the UK, getting a PGCE and getting a decent, serious paying job, hopefully at a private or international school in Bangkok. It sure beats running around at a language center for 30,000 a month.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Jamie.  You're almost living the life of the 90's language school teacher - 30,000 baht a month and a third of it going on accommodation. In the 90's it was doable because there was far less to spend your money on and Bangkok was a much cheaper place to live anyway. But times have changed, and as you say, 50,000 is a much more realistic target.

Not to worry though. You seem focused on your goals and the only way is up! I'm sure better times are not too far away.  


Thomas

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 40,000 to 50,000

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

I make a salary of 40,000 baht a month from my full-time job at a Thai school in downtown Bangkok and I also make 10,000 baht a month from doing a corporate class at a small insurance company two evenings per week. It's a sweet deal because the company job is pretty much on my way home; however since the Co-vid outbreak, the lessons have ceased because the firm want to save every penny they can. I guess English lessons are always going to be the first to go!

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to save enough to make the annual trip home to Wales to see my family and friends and enough for a few weekends away in Thailand. I love Koh Samet and Koh Chang! I would put this overall cost at about 100,000 baht a year and I just about manage it.

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

I share a studio apartment with my girlfriend and it costs 6,000 baht a month. I pay the whole amount because my partner only earns 15,000 and it feels unfair to ask her to contribute. If the Covid situation continues much longer, she could be out of a job soon. These are quite stressful times for many of us aren't they?

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

Transportation

I get to school and back by motorcycle taxi and then half a dozen stops on the sky-train. Throw in the odd taxi at the weekend and this is probably a couple of thousand baht a month.

Utility bills

Add on another 2,000 baht for this I guess.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try and keep this bill to as much under 10,000 baht a month as I possibly can, without going hungry of course. Even 10,000 baht a month is just 330 baht a day for two people so there isn't much scope for weekend Western treats. During the week I 'live like a Thai' as the old saying goes. I'll lunch on whatever lukewarm food the school is serving up in metal trays and I'll grab bags of food from street vendors on the way home. Food is the one area of life where I sometimes feel I'm going without. But you just can't do Western restaurants on a 40,000 salary when there are two mouths to feed. Maybe once at the weekend, but even then I feel guilty about lavishing 500-600 baht on one meal.

Nightlife and drinking

This is virtually zero. I go out drinking once in a blue moon. I enjoyed Bangkok after dark when I was younger but now I find it stale and boring.

Books, computers

I tend to just read articles while I'm surfing the internet. I'm not much of a reader.

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

Could be better. I really miss that extra 10,000 baht from the company work in the evenings. It doesn't sound like a fortune but it makes all the difference. My standard of living seems to plummet and I become more stressed out when I'm having to rely just on my full-time salary.

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

Street food is still very reasonable, although I do tend to notice portions getting smaller and smaller. Little over a dollar buys you a meal. You won't be patting your stomach and loosening your belt, but those meals fill the gap.

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

I've only ever taught in Bangkok so I only know how expensive this place can be. I think for a single guy, 40,000 is the absolute bottom end and even then you are not saving for any kind of future. I think 60,000+ would give you a much better lifestyle. As I've said, with just my 40,000 baht full-time salary and my partner's 15,000, that total of 55K really isn't enough. But we'll muddle on.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Thomas for such an honest survey.

"My standard of living seems to plummet and I become more stressed out when I'm having to rely just on my full-time salary"

I hear you loud and clear. I was in the same position for a number of years, earning a full-time salary and putting 10,000 on top with private work. That extra 10K does make all the difference. It pays your rent. It pays your food bill for a month. It gives you an extra 120,000 baht a year for travel. 

But as you say, these are stressful, uncertain times for many teachers (and those with low-earning Thai partners). Let's hope there are better times ahead.


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 355 total

Page 5 of 71


Featured Jobs

English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month

Thailand


Mathematics Teachers

฿25,000+ / month

Bangkok


NES High School Teacher

฿45,000+ / month

Bangkok


PE Teacher (Cambridge Curriculum)

฿2,800+ / month

Bangkok


Qualified Full-Time Filipino Teachers

฿20,000+ / month

Bangkok


Fun Native English Teachers for Mid-May Start

฿42,000+ / month

Thailand


Featured Teachers

  • Dr


    American, 47 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Andrew


    Canadian, 25 years old. Currently living in Canada

  • Julia


    Russian, 25 years old. Currently living in Russian Federation

  • Godelle


    French, 61 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Kevin


    American, 44 years old. Currently living in USA

  • Raymond


    Filipino, 36 years old. Currently living in Saudi Arabia

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.


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

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


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?


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.


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?


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

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


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.