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 25th May 2024

฿37 to one US Dollar
฿47 to one Pound Sterling
฿40 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.63 THB to one Philippine Peso

Leo

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 55,000 baht

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

I make 55,000 baht monthly from my full-time teaching job. I could make more money if I taught after school for about an hour but I don't. I'm pretty tired by the time school ends so I just go home.

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

I can save about 25,000 baht a month. I don't spend much on clothes or high tech items.

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

Right now I spend 8K baht a month for a studio apartment next to the BTS train line. The 8,000 baht a month includes 2,000 for utilities such as electricity, wifi, water and a parking spot. The studio is pretty small for two people so I plan on moving out very soon.

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

Transportation

1,500 baht, It costs me about 50 baht to get to work and back. Taxis are so cheap here so I take one everywhere I go. Taxis, when shared, are much cheaper than taking the train line

Utility bills

2,000 baht a month - It's standard in my apartment. I know it sucks

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10,000 baht a month. Lunch is free at my school. I always eat out for dinner. I eat out almost everyday, because its easy to do. I know I should eat at home more often because it's healthier but I usually get home too tired to cook

Nightlife and drinking

500 baht. I don't drink very often or go to any clubs. I'm not much of nightlife party person. Kinda lame I know, but that's just me

Books, computers

I just bought myself a new computer for about 28k baht but I normally don't do that of course. I normally spend about 500 baht on miscellaneous computer stuff. I don't normally buy books, I know I should but I haven't.

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

Extremely comfortable and simple. I eat anything I like without caring too much about the price. I'm not worried about not having money to pay for important bills like rent, transportation and food. All my needs are met here.

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

Transportation - taxis are incredibly cheap. Food - you can eat some delicious chicken with rice for about 1 US dollar. It does not get any better than that.

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

25,000 - 30,000 baht a month, In my opinion all your needs are met with that amount of money every month. Housing, food and a little extra for whatever else you want.

Phil's analysis and comment

I don't think that 25-30k is enough in Bangkok so sorry to disagree with you there Leo. However you do sound like someone who wouldn't have much trouble surviving on that amount (only 500 baht a month on going out will certainly help)

Good point about sharing taxis. If you have three people travelling a short to medium distance, a taxi can work out half the price of the skytrain. Plus you are going door to door.

Free school lunch is always a decent benefit too. I know it probably isn't five-star cuisine but it's going to save you best part of a thousand a month. It all helps!


James

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 50,000 baht on average

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

I work part time so my earnings vary from month to month. A good month will see me earn 65,000, a bad month 45,000 and I don't get paid holidays (roughly 10 weeks a year), I still probably average about 50k a month though.

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

A good month 30,000, a bad month 15,000.

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

I pay 7,000 baht a month for my apartment. It's within walking distance to the BTS so it's convenient although I do hate not having a kitchen or even a fridge.

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

Transportation

I buy 40 trips a month for the BTS which is just over 1,000 baht. Motorbikes and taxis probably cost another 1,000 a month, so 2,000 baht a month

Utility bills

I sparingly use the air-con and I have few appliances. With my phone included I pay about 1,000 a month on utilities.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat cheaply. I nearly always eat street food so probably about 150-200 baht a day. With the occasional meal out I'd put it at around 8,000 for the month

Nightlife and drinking

I like to go out at least once a week but I'll often hit cheap bars and drink cheap drinks. 5,000 a month

Books, computers

My 4-year old laptop hasn't died on me yet. I pick up maybe one or two books a month often to help me learn Thai, but probably no more than 500 baht a month.

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

It's comfortable but I'm not exactly making a lot of money either. I save just enough to do a little travelling and enjoy myself.

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

Street food - where else in the world can you buy a meal for as little as 35 baht?

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

30,000 to survive, but you won't have much money for luxuries. 40,000 to get by and enjoy yourself from time to time. 50,000 to live comfortably without saving the megabucks. 60,000+ and I think you'd be pretty comfortable here.

Phil's analysis and comment

It would be interesting to know how many hours a week James has to teach to make that average 50,000 a month because that's not bad if he considers himself to be 'part-time'. 

Why haven't you splashed out on a fridge James? The very basic models are quite cheap here. 


Beck

Working in Krabi Town

Monthly Earnings 33,000

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

I work in a Thai primary school and my salary is 33,000 baht a month

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

10,000 baht. I could actually save more if I didn't ever eat Western food or drink any alcohol or go out.

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

6,000 a month plus utilities. It's a room with a balcony and its own bathroom. its modern and clean but very small.

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

Transportation

Nothing because I have a friend with a bike but very occasionally I'll get a bike taxi for 20 baht

Utility bills

200 baht for water and at least 600 for electricty, depending on how much air-con i use.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Around 7,000 baht per month. Western food costs more, but sometimes I need a change from Thai food

Nightlife and drinking

1,000 baht but it depends. Some months I don't go out at all, other times I really need to.

Books, computers

E-books keep me sane, 3,000 baht-ish.

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

It's okay. I don't have a kitchen, so no cooking, and sometimes it can be hard to get a balanced diet. You really need a bike so you can get around easily, but then that adds to your expenses too. Some people rent houses, but they cost way more than apartments. You can get cheaper rooms than 6,000 baht, but you pay for what you get.

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

A good balanced meal for 80 baht but food and accomodation are more expensive here than other places in Thailand

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

To just survive, around 20,000 baht I would say.

Phil's analysis and comment

When I look at Beck's survey, I see a typical teacher earning a typical Thailand TEFL wage. And that's great! We need more of these figures because I'm sure the vast majority of teachers perusing these surveys and thinking of coming to teach in Thailand, will be earning this sort of dough. 

Take note of some of Beck's answers. The e-books keep me sane. I need my Western food from time to time. I need to go out for some nightlife now and again. Of course you do to all three! If you can't afford to treat yourself to a night out, a hearty steak and chips or a few nice books every so often, there's just no point being here is there? You're not here to live a work and sleep existence.

I would have thought 33,000 baht in a Thai town (albeit a more expensive Thai town) would get you an OK standard of living - and that's exactly how Beck describes it.


Jay

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 57,000 - 60,000

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

I work at a private school in Bangkok and earn 51,000 a month from the school before tax. Also around 6,000 a month from extra classes/tutoring. So about 57,000 - 60,000 in total.

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

Each month I put at least 15,000 into savings.

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

My rent is 12,000 a month for the one-bedroom condo I live in.

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

Transportation

I spend about 4,000 a month on getting to and from work. I take a motorbike taxi to get around most of the time. On weekends, my better half nearly always pays for taxis so I'd say 5,000 tops.

Utility bills

Electricity and water comes to about 1,100 a month. That's with 2 air-con units / cooker / TV / games console

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't really spend too much on food. I get a free lunch at school and normally pick up something easy to eat on the way home, or my other half brings something back from work. I'll do a 'big shop' on a weekend and spend about 1,000 baht on that. We may eat out once or twice a week also but that's about it really. So say around, 6,000 at the most.

Nightlife and drinking

I'm just about to become a father, so my nightlife at the moment is non-existent. Back in the day I raged!! I sometimes have a few beers with the guys once every few weeks and I'm partial to a couple of beers after work if that counts?

Books, computers

I spend a fortune on books about babies at the moment. Or it certainly seems that way!

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

Comfy. Not so much hi-so but more so-so. But getting there.

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

Accommodation. I am actually looking to buy a new place and it keeps crossing my mind that I could never afford a pad like this back in the UK.

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

I used to be on 30,000 a month before tax and I lived 'OK' on that. I had an apartment, a half stocked fridge/ice bucket and a social life. But come the end of the month I was skint. I could live on 25,000 at a push I think.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Jay. 60K a month is not bad at all, certainly for a single person or as I guess in your case, someone who lives with another wage earner. But of course, you're about to become a proud father and I bet there's no amount of money you could spend on the new arrival right? Good luck with everything. I wish you well.


A plea for your kind help.

There never seems to be a shortage of teachers out there who are good enough to take part in our cost of living survey - and that's fantastic! I'm extremely grateful.  Could I also get a few of you to help out with updating our region guides if possible. I would love your feedback if you are teaching outside Bangkok. Here is the list of towns and cities covered in our region guides. Please don't feel that you have to answer every question. If you just want to fill in a couple or three answers then that's an enormous help! Muchas gracias. 


Rehan

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 140,000 baht

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

I work at a public university. My salary is 130K and I earn another 10K a month from proofreading on-line.

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

65-75,000 baht.

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

I live in a condo in downtown Bangkok in a very good location, which sets me back 22,000 a month

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

Transportation

I live walking distance from work so daily transportation charges are negligible. However I do travel back home to see my family (in another Asian country) every month. That usually costs around 15-20,000

Utility bills

Electricity and water, between 500-1000 baht per month. Internet is paid for by my employer.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't have a kitchen in my condo so end up eating out, usually street food or not expensive food - I'd say around 5,000 a month

Nightlife and drinking

I usually go out once a week with my colleagues for dinner and drinks and maybe once a week with friends. Plus when I visit my family I take them out for meals. Probably around 10,000 per month.

Books, computers

I do actually like buying gadgets and books so usually if I have money leftover after saving my target I spend it on that. Around 5,000 per month. I usually give 5-10,000 to charity, depending on how much I've left over after saving.

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

Excellent. I can pretty much afford to eat and buy what I want, I have enough social life, and by keeping my lifestyle modest I can save for the future.

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

The food. You can get food at whatever price point you want here. Fresh ingredients can be expensive though so it probably works out cheaper that I don't cook. Taxis are also really cheap compared to other countries even Asian ones.

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

I think foreigners can live in Bangkok very comfortably on 50,000 baht a month. Below that, you could probably still do OK if you found a cheap place to live.

Phil's analysis and comment

I'll always tip my hat to someone who lives well within their means. Someone who earns a very decent wage but still insists on living a modest lifestyle. That's exactly what we have here with Rehan and this allows him to save a very tidy 75,000 a month. 

"Fresh ingredients can be expensive though so it probably works out cheaper that I don't cook" - that might well be true but as I always say, when you cook at home, you don't save money but you DO eat better. I'm surprised Rehan doesn't have some sort of kitchen set-up when the rent is over 20,000 a month.

Nice to see someone doing their bit for charity as well.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 427 total

Page 55 of 86


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