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

Natalie

Working in Ratchaburi

Monthly Earnings 48,000 baht

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

I work in a government school English program and my salary is 32,000. I also earn 16,000 from private students.

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

15,000

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

I pay 5,500 baht for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the centre of town.

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

Transportation

Hardly anything on transportation. I walk everywhere

Utility bills

My utilities are quite expensive as I run two air conditioners and have cable TV and internet, so an average 3,500 baht per month

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend a lot of money on groceries and eating out as I rarely cook. I also shop at a more expensive supermarket so my monthly spend is about 10,000 baht including alcohol

Nightlife and drinking

I rarely go out so 2,000 baht on nightlife per month

Books, computers

Nothing

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

Great standard of living and can afford to buy most of the things I want and need without worrying and am able to save each month too

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

Best bargains are fruits and vegetables and delicious street food

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

To survive 25,000, to live 30,000 and to really enjoy life 50,000.

Phil's analysis and comment

"To survive 25,000, to live 30,000 and to really enjoy life 50,000" I like that and I bet that rings true for any teacher who works in a small town. There is a HUGE difference between earning 30,000 and 40,000. That extra 10K can make such a difference to your lifestyle over the course of a month. 

16K a month from private students is a decent income. It would be interesting to delve a bit deeper and find out what natalie charges students per hour. What can the English language learners of Ratchaburi afford to pay?


Dion

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings Around 40,000 baht

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

I work at a private school in Bangkok and my salary before tax is 40,000. I also teach private students and that gets me another two to three thousand baht a month.

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

I put at least 5,000 baht away each month. I am saving this for travelling or buying big ticket items such as a new computer or camera.

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

I live in a small and modern studio apartment that costs me 13,000 a month.

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

Transportation

Roughly 1,000 for BTS, 500 for motorbike taxis during the week. In addition, maybe 2 or 3 taxi rides on the weekends.

Utility bills

I pay about 2,500 baht for electricity, water, internet and mobile phone package

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Maybe 100-200 baht on weekdays and 400-500 baht a day on weekends

Nightlife and drinking

I would say about 8,000 a month on nightlife as I normally do something of a night on the weekend that involves drinking.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

It's okay. I had a high standard of living back home. I live quite comfortably but I'm not exactly saving for any international travel as such. It's a good thing I am happy to explore Thailand and I do a weekend away maybe every couple of months.

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

Food and taxis are definitely the biggest bargains for me.

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

20,000 baht a month to survive, 30,000 to live comfortably. 40,000 to make it worthwhile. Anything over 40,000 would open up options such as saving, travelling or living a bit more lavishly.

Phil's analysis and comment

I really like this survey because for me it showcases a typical Bangkok teacher, earning a typical Bangkok teacher's salary and spending typical amounts of money. This is absolutely what you will be living like if you come to teach in the capital on 40,000 baht, although some might consider 13,000 baht on apartment rental as a bit of a luxury.

When you are earning 40,000 baht a month, 8,000 going on nightlife is the most you can afford. 8,000 going on food is the most you can afford. And when you add together your accommodation, food and entertainment costs, you are lucky to be left with 5,000 baht a month left over and this is exactly what we see in the figures above. And that 60,000 baht a year in savings is used for things such as the odd weekend away in Thailand (where you're probably going to be watching the pennies) It certainly isn't enough money for a trip home as well.

In conclusion - is 40,000 baht a month enough to live on in Bangkok? In my opinion no. 


Axel

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 127,000 baht

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

I do not work for a school but for a company actually. I'm a big fan of this section and I thought I'd contribute too even if not teaching related.

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

I save a lot less than what I should. I put away 20k at the beginning of each month and usually save what is left by the end of the month. That is never more than another 10k.

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

I pay around 30,000 baht for a one-bedroom condo (55 sq metres) in the city centre.

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

Transportation

I use a mix of taxis, motorbike taxis, Uber and BTS, whatever is more convenient at that time. I'd say probably 100 baht per day minimum.

Utility bills

Utility bills was included in the rent but It's about 1,000 to 1,200 baht per month for electricity, 100 baht for water, 800 for internet and 500 baht for Netflix

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This where it hurts I spend around 2,500 baht weekly at the supermarket. I buy a lot of imported food and that costs quite a lot here, much more than back home in Scandinavia. And maybe another 16k in eating out. I like to treat myself on weekends to nice places.

Nightlife and drinking

It really depends, there are weekends where I could stay home and do nothing and weekends where I could spend maybe 10,000 but I'd say around 25k per month

Books, computers

I bought a computer last year so nothing this year and probably 500 baht per month on books. There is no section for this but I'd like to add that I do spend quite a big of money on clothes every month as well as we need to be perfectly dressed where I'm working and it could be sometimes another 10,000 per month. I fly back home twice and it costs me around 60,000 per year. My insurance, visa, work permit and cell phone bills are covered by my employer.

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

Pretty good, honestly except for the food and some alchohol it's much cheaper than back home. With the same salary I would never afford the same kind of lifestyle compared to in my country.

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

Taxis (even Uber X), Thai food, local restaurants, utilities like water bill.

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

That's a tough question to be honest. The lowest amount I have lived on was when I first arrived and that was 50k per month - and I still felt like I was living a very decent lifestyle here in Bangkok. If you want to live in the city center and enjoy life I'd say 45k to 50k at least.

Phil's analysis and comment

Axel is not a teacher but as he said in the survey, he's a big fan of our cost of living section, so we'll allow him to take part even though most teachers will probably not be that interested in what a 'company employee' is earning. 

That said, I've worked with many teachers down the years who have 'lucked out' and used teaching as purely a stepping stone to moving into other kinds of employment. Often a case of right place and right time, if you teach working adult students, you can sometimes make good contacts and hear of the most unlikely job openings. Foreigners welcome! You might be interested in reading this article I wrote a while ago on real-life stories of foreigners who have beat the 'teacher trap'.  


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. 


Gustav

Working in Samut Prakarn

Monthly Earnings 35,000 baht

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

I work at a private university and my salary is 35,000 baht for 15 contact hours per week.

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

10,000 baht

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

My condo costs 5,000 a month

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

Transportation

Fuel for my motorcycle is around a thousand baht a month.

Utility bills

Electricity, water and internet comes out to 1,200 a month

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I mostly eat Thai street food. I guess with a bit of supermarket and convenience store shopping, my total food bill is no more than 7K a month.

Nightlife and drinking

Nothing at all.

Books, computers

Books and other educational things come to about 500 baht a month

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

I've got quite a good standard of living. I live sufficiently comfortable without being concerned about living pay check to pay check.

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

Taxis and food. Nowhere else can you get a full meal for the cost of what it is here. And taxis, 60 baht for a 5 km trip. What a bargain!

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

To survive and live frugally, 20,000 baht a month is enough for a foreigner, but to live comfortably, I would say you need 35,000 baht+

Phil's analysis and comment

I'm not surprised that Gustav spends nada on nightlife. I live in Samut Prakarn too and there isn't an awful lot to do for a foreigner once darkness descends. What is available in terms of 'neon light entertainment' is very much a Thai scene. In fact one thing that constantly leaps out at me from these surveys is that most teachers will maybe go out for a drink once or twice a week and leave it at that - that's if they go out at all.

Bangkok has a reputation as being one of the great nightlife cities of the world (over-rated some would say) but once you settle down to live and work in this city, much of that nightlife is best left to the tourists. 


Bob

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 65,000

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

I work at an international school in Chiang Mai and take home a salary of 57K after tax. I can add about 8,000 baht to that by doing privates.

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

40,000 baht

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

I live in a bog standard studio apartment and pay 3,000 baht per month

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

Transportation

I have my own scooter (as most long term expats in Chiang Mai tend to do) and gas costs about a thousand baht a month.

Utility bills

Nothing. Electricity and water comes as part of the 3,000 baht rental fee.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

About 6,000

Nightlife and drinking

Booze and cigarettes I would say another 4,000.

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

I don't want for anything.

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

Food, accommodation and gas.

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

To survive in Chiang Mai, the bare bones would be 3K for a room and another 200 baht a day on food, so you could do it for 10,000 baht a month. Throw in a few beers and the odd oil massage and you're up to about 15K.

Phil's analysis and comment

I shudder at the thought of trying to survive in Chiang Mai on 15,000 baht a month with all those Western temptations but hats off to Bob for stashing away 40,000 baht a month in savings. By my calculations, he's 'surviving' on about 25K a month. Doable I would imagine but I bet there isn't a lot of money going on the likes of treats and travel. 


If anyone fancies doing a cost of living survey, I've now put the questions on-line to make it easier and quicker for you. Please spare half an hour if you can. 

A number of teachers complete the surveys with just a list of figures. I don't wish to sound ungrateful but that's not really what we're looking for. There needs to be some sort of 'story' behind the figures as it were (it certainly makes the surveys more interesting to read) Many thanks!


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 427 total

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