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 27th June 2019

฿31 to one US Dollar
฿39 to one Pound Sterling
฿35 to one Euro
฿21 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.60 THB to one Philippine Peso

Marcin

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 80,000+

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

My school pays me 80,000 BHT/month (including taxes). I also make about 10,000 bht/month teaching extra classes, substitutions etc. So let's say my monthly income is about 90,000bht/month.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Nothing really. My wife, a Thai teacher, lives in another province, where we own a house. I therefore have to pay for a house there (mortgage), my condo in Bangkok and I'm also studying for a Masters degree at ABAC. Too many expenses - no saving really at this moment. It will hopefully change once I graduate some time next year.

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

In Bangkok it is about 8,000 Baht with all the utility bills (studio), my house in the province is about 12,000 with all the utilities.

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

Transportation

6000 - 7000 BHT / month (petrol, tolls)

Utility bills

Not much, electricity bill is about 2000 (condo + house), water is something like a 100 (again, for both), phone bills about 1500, internet about 1200 (condo + house).

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Not much, I started cooking myself, so probably something about 8000 BHT

Nightlife and drinking

I stopped going out in Bangkok because I got bored. I go out sometimes with the wife. Not more than 2000 BHT/month, but it used to be much, much more!

Books, computers

Nothing really, a few hundred baht.

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

Very, very comfortable

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

Transportation and food

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

I would say 50,000 in Bangkok and 40,000 in the provinces.

Phil's analysis and comment

Marcin sounds as if he's carefully building his future in Thailand. Responsibility has come a-knocking and he's swapped those steamy nights on the lash to mince around the kitchen with a measuring jug. You can't knock it. I'm just surprised that Marcin feels the need to add an extra 10,000 baht to what is already a good salary of 80,000. I would personally work out how I could live on that 80,000 and use the extra free time for exactly that - free time. At least until the university studies are over. But there are always those who will say make hay while the sun shines and if you're fit enough to do loads of hours, then why not go for it.  


Martin

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 115,000 baht

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work in an international school which pays me 115,000 baht a month, of course up to 18,000 of this goes in tax each month. On top of that my son gets a free place at the school plus we get all the other bits and pieces such as healthcare, two-year visas, etc.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I give myself a target of 30K every month, which is a very realistic target and could probably be higher.

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

I pay 17000 baht a month for a three-bedroomed house, which does seem a little on the steep side but is by far and away the nicest area of Bangkok I’ve ever lived in.

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

Transportation

Around 4000 to 5000

Utility bills

Electricity averages at 2000 per month, TV 1200, Internet 650, water 150, Muubaan fees 450, Phone 150, in total about 4500 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I get free lunch at work so most of my cravings for western food are satisfied there. My wife and I tend to cook at home so I’d be surprised if we spend more than 8000 baht a month on food.

Nightlife and drinking

Around 5000 baht a month

Books, computers

Books and computing equipment are such rare purchases that the answer has to be just a few hundred baht a month, if that.

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

I’m a lucky man.

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

Taxis and maids.

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

In Bangkok, I think a couple with children and only one wage-earner would not want to be taking home less than 50000 a month long term. Having said that, it’s amazing how one’s lifestyle can creep up as one’s income increases. I spent the whole of 2004 working in the south of Thailand for 22500 baht a month and felt that I had a good lifestyle.

Phil's analysis and comment

It's not often we get a proper international school teacher earning a proper international school salary venture in to the ajarn cost of living section. What is there to say? Martin earns a small fortune by Thailand teacher standards. He's obviously got a lovely house. There's a maid somewhere in the equation and he also pays 'moobarn fees', which is probably a monthly payment that goes towards the upkeep of Martin's housing estate and compound security. Sounds nice doesn't it? And that's the kind of lifestyle that a salary in excess of 100K can get you. Personally though, I would be looking to save considerably more than 30,000 a month out of such a whopping salary, but even 30,000 baht a month will get you a couple of very nice holidays abroad every year.  


Anthony

Working in Samut Prakarn

Monthly Earnings 45,000+

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work in a government school and earn 45k per month. I do you have a couple of private students who I teach at my home, which edges it up towards 50k some months.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I give myself a target of 20K every month. To be honest that is a very realistic target with my outgoings, but I find there is always something that crops up and it involves spending money. The term just gone I managed to bank 10k per month, but next term by hook or by crook I will bank 20k each pay day for a rainy day.

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

I pay 5k for a modern two floored town house in a quiet area. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a front and back garden. I used to rent a 10k serviced apartment, but with utilities it was too much. Only downside to a house here is the unwanted creatures that tend to stroll in uninvited of an evening. Everything else about renting a house is positive for me.

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

Transportation

Very little. I have a scooter and commute back and for to work on that. I am literally around 7 minutes away on the bike from the school and I spend around 500baht on fuel per month.

Utility bills

My electric is around 900-1,0000 and the water is around 100baht. I do shower believe me but the water bills are great here. I spend around 400 per month on the internet. All told, around 1,500 on utilities.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I love my food and eat both Thai and Western food. Obviously if I eat more Thai food I am able to save the pennies. Sometimes though I crave the Western cuisine. Roughly around 5,000-10,000 per month. It varies from month to month.

Nightlife and drinking

Not a heavy drinker. Will have the odd bottle of beer or glass or red wine at home now and again. Maybe 1,000 A month.

Books, computers

I do enjoy a good book. Although it's rare these days that I'll go out and buy one. It's more like a yearly purchase than a monthly. So the answer is 0.

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

Well, my standard of living is of a very decent standard indeed and if it wasn't I wouldn't be here.

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

Pretty much anything you need can be bought in the right place for a bargain. With cars being the exception. Off the top of my head clothes, Thai food and dvds.

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

In a nutshell I wouldn't be here for less than 35k, but everyone is different and peoples needs are different. Some Thais manage surviving on 8k per month and some even lower. The key word is surviving, they are simply just surviving. For a Westerner to sustain a fairly decent standard of living anything under 35k in my eyes would be a struggle. 35k minimum.

Phil's analysis and comment

Anthony seems a level-headed kind of guy and I like his figures. He's a man who lives within his means. I think that he should easily be saving 10-20K from a salary of 50K in Samut Prakarn, but Anthony knows that already. His outgoings are not that high. I did laugh about all the unwelcome visitors you get when you rent a house. I've been there! I once rented a house for 8,000 baht a month in Bangkok that was being literally eaten alive. It's a tough job keeping those termites at bay and once they've developed an appetite for your plaster-board walls, there's very little you can do.


Andre

Working in Mae Sot

Monthly Earnings 35,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work in the English Program at a Thai School and earn 35k a month. There are no deductions so I put 35k in my pocket. Some months I make an extra 2-3k on the side selling a teak cutting board or teaching extra maths.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Realistically I can’t save anything. If I have money, I go out. Maesot has a lot of interesting places with beautiful woman and it would be a crying shame to sit at home to save money. When I moved here I got myself a lovely teak house, cable and internet, but I rarely spent my evenings at home using it. Actually, I use it from the twentieth of the month onwards.

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

3.5k a month for a large teakwood house with a garden in a quiet suburb. The house is on stilts which give me covered parking for my car. It’s cheap, because it’s about 10km out of town – it’s right on the border, so I don’t have to compete with NGO’s for rental space. It’s far away enough from school that I don’t bump into those little angels all the time, but I often have to commute back to town at night if I’m tired of my local watering hole.

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

Transportation

2-3k a month. What I save on rent I spend on transport. But I prefer to stay away from school. I have a car and bike, so that money goes for petrol and maintenance.

Utility bills

300baht for cable, 690 baht for internet, +/-120 baht for water and around 400 baht for electricity. I have air-con, but I only used it April and May. I prefer the fan, it’s cheaper and keeps the mosquitoes away.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

The local Tesco doesn’t stock western food, so I only buy dog food there. I never cook for myself, only when I have people over. Asian women really love it when you cook for them. I eat four times a day so food costs me on average 150 baht a day. Times that by 30 – 4500baht

Nightlife and drinking

Whatever money is leftover in my bank account, which is really not that much! But not much more than 5000baht.

Books, computers

Very little: It’s just not available here.

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

10,000 baht short of absolutely fantastic.

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

Tailored clothes, rent, the nightlife, and a Burmese maid at 80 baht a day.

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

There’s a number of volunteers here surviving on 3 000 baht a month (they get food and accommodation). I honestly can’t see how you can live here on less than 20 000 baht a month without becoming clinically depressed.

Phil's analysis and comment

Andre has kind of summed it up for me already - he's 10,000 baht short of a fantastic lifestyle. That said, he doesn't seem to be doing too badly earning 35K in what's a pretty remote area of Thailand. He's got a nice drum, a Burmese maid, a few mod cons. Sometimes you have to take a step back and say 'would I be able to fund this kind of lifestyle back home?' and the answer is probably no in many cases. He's in a nice part of the world doing what he enjoys. You can't really add to that.


Nicholas

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35-45,000 baht a month

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I get a 35,000 baht salary from the agency I work for and they employ me to do a full-time job at a Thai secondary school. Fortunately the schedule is quite light so I'm able to bump up my monthly gross with private students.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Very little. I'm lucky to stash 5,000 baht away.

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

I live in an apartment with my Thai partner. It costs about 8,000 baht a month with bills.

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

Transportation

1,000 baht

Utility bills

Between 2-3,000

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We don't eat out much but we do bring a lot of streetfood home. I guess about 6,000 baht a month all in.

Nightlife and drinking

About 3,000.

Books, computers

I use the internet at school and I'm not much of a reader so this expense is virtually zero.

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

The 10,000 baht a month I make from privates is the difference between a good month and an OK month. I don't want for anything on the kind of salary I earn but I know I can't go on like this forever. I can't afford a holiday back home for a start.

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

Food and transportation, although taxis are getting noticeably more expensive.

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

In Bangkok, anything under 40,000 baht a month is a bit of a struggle. I would love to live in a better apartment but you can't have rent eating up a third of your salary.

Phil's analysis and comment

Nicholas has really said it all for me. You're only 'surviving' on 35-45'000 baht a month in Bangkok. It's going to be great for a few years, but not something you can do forever. What about the trips home when the folks get ill? Or are you going to rely on Auntie Doreen to look after her favorite nephew and send you the cost of an air ticket? Surely you can't live like that when you are in your thirties and forties - a slave to family handouts. I don't know the exact ins and outs of Nick's situation but perhaps by being employed directly and not through an agency, he could add 5-10,000 baht a month to his salary. And all that money he could relistically save. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 290 total

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