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 18th June 2019

฿31 to one US Dollar
฿39 to one Pound Sterling
฿35 to one Euro
฿22 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.60 THB to one Philippine Peso

Baron

Working in Nakhon Pathom

Monthly Earnings 164,000

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

I receive a salary of 54,000 a month and this includes a housing allowance of 8,000. I tutor for groups as well and a group of students can pay in excess of 1,200 baht per hour. Tutoring income averages 30,000 per month. I also receive 80,000 in passive income from investment properties in my home country.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

This is kind of skewed, since I receive passive income from my home country. As an aggregate amount, I can save between 110,000 and 130,000 per month.

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

I have a newer three-bedroom / two-bathroom townhouse near the school. I pay 10,000 per month.

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

Transportation

After nearly two years here, I decided to buy a car. The payment is 6,000 a month. I also have a motorbike that I bought with cash. Usually I spend 2,000 a month on gas. I don't live far from the school.

Utility bills

I do pay a lot for utilities, as I use my air conditioning without remorse. It runs around 2,500 to 3,000 a month. My phone is prepaid, so that's 550 baht per month. Water is cheap, around 200 baht a month. Internet and cable is a bit high, 1,400 baht per month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

There is a local lady who shops, cooks, washes/presses clothes, and cleans my townhouse for a flat fee every week. So the grocery bill every week is 1,000 baht. This gets my son and I home cooked Thai food every night and a clean house. We rarely eat out as I don't like processed food.

Nightlife and drinking

As far as nightlife goes, I am in bed at 10. I did not come here for that sort of lifestyle. If I do drink, it is a glass of wine (or two).

Books, computers

I brought over a new laptop from the States. I will be buying a new one this year. I like the idea of having a laptop at work and home. That way I don't look like a "falang" teacher with a backpack! As far as reading, I download many books from pdfdrive. I also have a subscription on Amazon. I bought a new tablet last year. A friend brought it to me when they visited the US.

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

Simply amazing. We eat better, live comparably, and travel more here than we could ever do in the US. Here, I have a total of three months off per year. That doesn't even include the personal and sick days I have in my contract. In the US, I got two weeks (I never got to use) of vacation per year.

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

Bargain? Everything except Western goods. This would include laptops (made in China), tablets, cars, some furniture, name brand clothing and shoes.

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

I have read nearly every posting in this section for the last two and a half years. I started following it before I came to Thailand. There are many factors to consider when answering this question. My costs are little bit higher, as my son is here with me. If I were alone, I would have a place that costs less and food costs would be lower. Air conditioning would be lower as well.

I am not in Bangkok, therefore the cost of living is lower. I have bought food here and in Bangkok and I can honestly say I have paid twice as much in Bangkok for the exact same food. My townhouse would cost 2-3 times my current rate as well. If I had to pick a number, for my area, I know several teachers doing "OK" on 30,000 baht a month.

A note to readers out there. I am not a "school" trained teacher. My degree is in business administration. I am also a 20 year veteran of the military, a training officer. Come here with the right attitude, and you can make good money.

Phil's analysis and comment

Interesting survey, Baron. When I read that you were earning 164,000 a month in Nakhon Pathom, my first thoughts were 'well, that's almost enough money to BUY Nakhon Pathom'. Joking apart. it sounds like you have more money than you'll ever need. I'm just wondering 'why Nakhon Pathom?' unless of course you came for a no-frills, peaceful Thai lifestyle because no disrespect to the town - it's a pretty quiet backwater. 

Putting the 80,000 baht 'passive income' aside, your 84,000 teaching income is still enough to live like a king. So not surprised you have a local lady who takes care of all the cleaning, washing, cooking, etc. In your position, I'd do exactly the same.   



Terry

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 105,000

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

That is my full-time monthly wage (including a housing allowance) at an international school. Also inclusive of health insurance and return flights to the UK. I've had opportunities to do private lessons but I really appreciate my time off and it doesn't seem worth it.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At the moment I'm not saving anything as I have a new born baby with all the extra costs that includes. Also my partner is not working full-time anymore. Before that I could easily have saved 10,000-30,000 depending on how luxurious a month it was.

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

I live in a large 1-bedroom condo for 25,000 downtown. It is an older building but for the huge 100 square metre space, it is a great deal. I used to live in smaller trendier condos but it just wasn't feasible once the baby came along.

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

Transportation

About 8,000 a month on taxis to work and weekend trips to various places in the city.

Utility bills

Electric is around 3,000-4,000 per month. Internet and phone costs around 2,500 per month. I can't remember water charges but it is very low. Maybe 100 baht per month, possibly less.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend less than I used to on my own food. During the week I budget 300 baht per day. I get school lunch subsidised by the school. Some days I spend more and some days less. Weekends can be a lot more. Probably I average 1,000 per day on food at weekends by going to nicer restaurants and ordering in food.

Nightlife and drinking

I'll usually have a night in a pub at weekends with quite a few beers. Usually this will be about 1,500 baht. Depending on the place this could be a few hundred more or less. During the week I sometimes have a couple of beers in cheaper Thai places along with food. It's much better value costing only around 300 baht.

Books, computers

I wouldn't put anything here as a regular cost. Occasionally I will purchase a new phone, laptop, PC parts, repair a device etc. This can range anything from 1,000 to 30,000. But not regular expenditure.
I usually borrow books or download them but occasionally buy something in the bigger mall bookstores.

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

Before I had a baby I would have said I had a fantastic standard of living in Thailand, especially in comparison to my standard of living in the UK as a teacher. However, since having a baby and having just one income in the household, I am starting to feel the pinch financially as I can't really save money easily like before without cutting some luxuries from my life. It is still much better than how I would be living in the UK though.

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

Rent is a real bargain considering the central locations you can live in Bangkok and the comparative price in Western cities. Transport around Thailand and in Bangkok is extremely cheap also.

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

To just survive as a single person with no dependents I think 30,000 would probably be enough. It wouldn't be a great existence though! However it's all subjective. For me, after recently having a baby, my wage is not enough as I want save money and maintain a nice lifestyle. Most likely I will be moving on from Thailand to do that.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Terry. I've always said that the decision of whether or not to have children is one of the biggest choices you make in life (if not THE biggest). My brother has two kids and with them comes a whole heap of financial responsibility. It simply means you have to cut your cloth accordingly. It's a shame in a way that you are feeling the pinch because 105K a month is a very decent salary - and it's not like you spend excessively in other areas. You could take on some extra work to earn more money, but like you say, you appreciate the time off. There's more to life than working all the hours godsend if your heart isn't really in it. Anyway, good luck to you mate!    


Sue

Working in Just outside of Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 45,000 per month

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

My basic salary + 8,000 housing allowance. There is opportunity for extra teaching which gets paid at an hourly rate, so this can make the salary on average to around 50,000 per month.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

It depends, but usually not much as there is always something that needs to be done. Pay school fees for kids or fix something on the car etc.

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

The rent is 15,000 per month for a house in a gated village.

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

Transportation

I spend around 1,500-2,000 on gas as I drive everywhere. It depends if I do a weekend trip somewhere or not - so this amount can fluctuate each month.

Utility bills

I spend in total around 2,000 per month for electric, water, internet and Netflix.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I am lucky to have a kitchen so I try to cook at home. If I go out to eat, the restaurants in my area are not very expensive. So I guess I would spend around 3-4,000 per month.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't really go out in the evenings and apart from the odd glass of wine, I don't drink so this expense is very low. In total I would say around 2,000 per month. However, I do like to do activities at the weekend and holiday times with my family, so I tend to pay for short trips to an island or have a weekend in Bangkok. This I do around once a month. So I guess I would add in around another 6-7,000 for this.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

It is average. I am not living a life of luxury and I do have to keep an eye on what I spend. However, when I compare to what I would earn and living costs back in my home country I will say that I am still better off here in Thailand. The main reason is that not all my salary has to go on paying bills and food shopping. So, although I don't really save any money, I can enjoy travelling and relaxing at home without working all hours and stressing over money.

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

As a female, one of the best bargains is the luxury to go to the hairdressers. Compared to a Western country the cost is extremely cheap and the service great. So to get a hair cut, nails done, the typical extra treats that girls like, are very affordable here in Thailand.

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

How long is a piece of string? It really depends on each individual's lifestyle and expectations. As I have a family, I am not spending money on an exciting social nightlife. However, I am not able to live in a studio apartment either, so I have to spend a little more on rent than most of my single co-workers do in the area I live. For myself, I would like to have a steady income of around 70,000 baht per month so I can have some savings each month to put towards my kids future education.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Sue. I take my hat off to you because you do incredibly well to take care of kids, have plenty of short vacations, live in a nice apartment and enjoy the odd glass of wine, etc - all on about 45-50,000 a month. You must be quite a wizard with the household budgeting. 

The main thing Sue is that you feel you have a far better standard of living here than you would back 'home'. I guess that's the main thing, right?

Good shout out for the beauty salons as well. My wife amazes me when she tells me how little she pays for manicures, pedicures, etc. All that girly stuff is certainly a bargain in Thailand! 


Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the 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.    


Web

Working in Ko Samui

Monthly Earnings 45,000

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

Full time salary from employment at a college.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

8,000 - 15,000 baht. For this past semester I have split my time between living on campus (free!) and renting out a house which greatly affects my ability to save.

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

I pay 9,000 baht a month for a decent small house not far from Lamai beach.

English teachers on Ko Samui can easily find a house or apartment in the 8,000 - 10,000 baht range. Some teachers, living in groups or couples, pool their money together to rent out full on private pool villas in the mountains or in the lush interior of the island for about 20 - 30k+ a month.

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

Transportation

I rent a decent bike and pay a little more than most teachers living here. I pay 3.7k for a Yamaha Aerox and 400 - 600 baht a month on gas, sometimes more.

Utility bills

I have a good landlord who charges me the 5 baht per unit government rate for electricity which keeps my bill low and my AC on all night. The electric bill usually comes to about 9-1200 baht which is considered high but I know many of my co-workers usually only pay 500+ baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat out most nights and budget myself 7,000 baht. I also have access to free breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the college I work at which also helps to stretch my budget further. Maybe I spend another few thousand on snacks and supplementing my budget for meals that exceed my daily spend of 200 baht for food.

Small mom and pop Thai restaurants are generally still quite cheap here in Samui and there are night markets more or less every night of the week which provide plentiful options to choose from at fair prices.

Western food is abundant in Samui and prices range from affordable to exorbitant. Saying that, I eat Western food quite often as I've had time to explore the island and find the best spots. A European style breakfast at one of my favourite French style cafes (eggs, bacon, toast, fruit juice, sliced fruit, sausage, and a coffee) comes to just over 200 baht which I think is rather good value.

Nightlife and drinking

I'd say an average a night out can easily add up to 1,500+ baht. A bottle of Thai beer in Samui averages 80 - 120 baht. Cocktails vary between 80 to 250 baht.

I go out for drinks with friends 2-3 times a month on the weekends.

Books, computers

I was lucky enough to be provided a Mac at my college so no costs there, though I do buy a book from time to time, say 500+ baht a book.

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

Very comfortable and could be even more if I chose to save less.

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

Thai food. Lots of choices and very affordable.

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

At least 40,000 baht, that way you can still save a bit and sample what life on Samui is all about.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks for that Web. An interesting glimpse into the life of a teacher on Koh Samui and what stuff costs on a 'paradise island'.  45,000 a month sounds like a pretty decent salary for working on one of the big name Thai islands. 


Stu

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 63,000 (before tax)

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

Full-time salary plus a housing allowance.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

10,000 to 20,000 baht depending on the situation

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

I pay 25,000 for a large townhouse in Bangna with my dog and girlfriend.

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

Transportation

1000 on gas for my car, but for big trips sometimes that can double. I use the BTS and motorcycles to get around locally.

Utility bills

Used to be around 5,500 a month until I had to pay to replace the ac, now it's closer to 2,500 including internet, wifi, mobile, electricity, water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Average grocery shopping once a week is 1,300 and I cook breakfast lunch and dinner every day for two adults. Eating out on the weekends in Thai places or sometimes delivery so about 5,000-10,000 per month.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't drink but enjoy other libations roughly that come to roughly 1,000 to 2,000 per month.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

I consider myself well off until I need to travel West or to go anywhere else.

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

Food, transport, massages.

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

Depends on the situation. I have student loans I need to pay, so I can barely afford it on a 60,000 salary but I would think to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and go for a Western holiday every year, you would need close to 100,000.

Phil's analysis and comment

Never underestimate the savings you can make by replacing an old air-conditioning unit if you have your own house or perhaps getting the handyman to give the unit a clean if you live in a rented property.  I replaced my main air-con a year or so back and the electricity bill came down from 6,000 a month to 2,500 (the air-con is switched on almost 24/7 at my place) 

Stu, I notice you spend almost half of your salary on rent. I hope your girlfriend is working and chipping in towards the costs. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 289 total

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