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 16th September 2019

฿30 to one US Dollar
฿38 to one Pound Sterling
฿34 to one Euro
฿21 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.59 THB to one Philippine Peso

John

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 29,000

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

29,000 (most schools in Chiang Mai offer B25,000 as the norm!)

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

Zero

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

6,000

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

Transportation

3,000

Utility bills

2,500

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

12,000

Nightlife and drinking

4,000

Books, computers

500

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

I exist.

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

Crap food.

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

For a single person who doesn't have a life B20,000. To have a life then B30,000. For a family with a good lifestyle at least B40,000.

Phil's analysis and comment

John sounds a little bit jaded and I don't blame him. I would hate to live in Chiang Mai on 29,000 baht a month. Numerous people have tried to convince me down the years that Chiang Mai is substantially cheaper to live in than Bangkok but I've never bought into it. And any teacher with the experience of looking for work in Chiang Mai will tell you how low the salaries seem to be (generally)
Chiang Mai would be a fantastic place to retire to for someone who's made their money but surviving up there as a common or garden TEFLer can't be easy.


Dave

Working in Chacheongsaw

Monthly Earnings 34,000

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

34,000

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

10,000

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

4,500 – a big old two-bedroom house with huge gardens, a circular driveway gates garage outside rooms, covered area basement (too scared to go down as the trapdoor is very small) – no BS its nice.

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

Transportation

3,000

Utility bills

1,300

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

3,000

Nightlife and drinking

3,000

Books, computers

120 on games

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

I know I have no future but for the time being life is not to bad.

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

Food

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

Honestly I don’t know – If you make 50k you spend 50k you make 30k you spend 30k. My mate who was out here on an expat salary was making 2500 quid a month with no rent or bills and he spent it all every month

Phil's analysis and comment

For those who don't know it, Chacheungsaw (where Dave lives) is about an hour's commute from Bangkok. I'm sure Dave will forgive me when I say that it's hardly the Las Vegas of Eastern Thailand. In fact I sometimes think its only claim to fame is that you can spell the name fifty different ways! A teacher's salary of 34,000 will go a long way in Chachoengsaw (there's another one)
It's worth pointing out that Dave runs a motorcycle (probably an essential) and sounds a bit like a health food freak. Most of his food spending seems to go on milk and muesli. Have I got that right Dave?


Patrick

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 65-70,000

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

Between 65,000 and 70,000 a month, at a good university

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

Up until recently, about 35,000 a month. I just bought a car, so my savings is down to 20-25k a month

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

Nothing, my wife (who is Thai) and I bought a small row house out in the suburbs which we stay in. (but see my transportation bills….)

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

Transportation

22,000 (12,000 for a car, and 10,000 for taxis

Utility bills

4,000

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10,000

Nightlife and drinking

4,000

Books, computers

5,000

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

I love my job, I only have to go in four days a week (Tuesday to Friday), and teach about 15 hours a week. Outside the class work is high, but when and where I do it is flexible. The only thing I want is a nice, big house with a yard. I will buy it in about 3 years. When kids come along though……

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

Taxis (the “magic car” as I call it, since it is a car that drives, parks, fuels, navigates and maintains itself). Also food is great and cheap, and anything that involves labor (maids, laundry, gardeners, electricians).

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

I was quite happy back when I lived on 20,000, but I saved nothing. Now, I would have to say 35,000 – and that is only if you already have all the toys you need, and can stay away from sukhumvit.

Phil's analysis and comment

Patrick sent this to me by way of introduction
"I and my (Thai) wife are both university professors at a good Thai University (I teach economics and government). We live in a small row house up in Don Muang, about 30 km from work, while we save money for a larger house. Our combined income is about 1.5 million a year, and we save a bit more than half of it -- most months. Our biggest expense by far is taxis, we both use them a lot.

Phil says - You can have a very nice lifestyle with a combined income of 1.5 million a year and you can see from the figures that Patrick doesn't skimp on food and utilities, he runs a car and also fills his shopping trolley with gay abandon. I like the point that Patrick makes about labor. I'm always amazed how little it costs when you hire a Thai worker or 'handyman' to come and do a job for you. The most difficult part is finding one!


Timothy

Working in Chonburi

Monthly Earnings 45,000

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

About 45,000 baht. I teach and live just outside Amphur Muang, Chonburi.

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

Not much. I have two daughters, a house loan, and a car payment that take my savings. Occasionally I'll manage to put 3000 baht in my savings account.

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

We just finished building a three bedroom two bathroom house. It's paid for with the exception of a small loan that runs us 3000 baht a month.

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

Transportation

15,000 baht. Car payment and gasoline.

Utility bills

5000 baht. Two phones, electricity, and water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10,000

Nightlife and drinking

Do you mean going to the zoo and buying ice cream? 1000 baht.

Books, computers

1000 baht (unless I go to Kinokuniya Bookshop in Bangkok then it might be a LOT)

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

We are middle class but we're not putting anything away for the future at this point.

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

Food and taxes. If I didn't buy western food our bill would be a lot lower.

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

A single teacher could get by on 20 grand here. I suppose I could get by on 30 with a family, but it would be tough.

Phil's analysis and comment

My father always had a saying - "running a car will keep you poor" and while that's not always the case of course, a whopping third of Tim's salary goes into keeping his four wheels on the road. On the other hand, he'll soon be in the position of not having to pay rent of any description. It's always nice when your accommodation overheads don't include a rent bill every month, despite the fact that property here doesn't have a great re-sale value unless your front door opens on to the beach or you're five minutes walk from an international school.

 


Jon

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 75-80,000

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

70-85k a month from both university work plus extra jobs. I teach 15 hrs a week at the university and another 15 to 18 at outside gigs.

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

I try to save 20k but mostly that goes towards traveling.

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

21,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house with maid's quarter' near The Emporium

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

Transportation

not much since I don’t need transport to work. I guess around 1000 a month just getting around.

Utility bills

4500 baht a month. I like air-con! There is also cable and ADSL plus 4500 for a maid

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

as little as 50bt a day with the weekly restaurant meal or two and monthly trips to Carrefour at around 2000bt. All in I’d say around 5000bt

Nightlife and drinking

around 2000-3000b

Books, computers

I like books and magazines, 1500 on books and computers

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

Middle class I guess. I buy toys constantly and take at least 2 serious trips a year. Favorite hobbies are golf and Scuba…both expensive.

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

Food and hotel rooms if you don’t mind staying in cheaper digs

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

In Bangkok I think 25,000 to scrape by and 40,000 to live comfortably.

Phil's analysis and comment

Interesting one. I'm presuming that Jon is a single guy. If that's the case, then 70-85K a month is a good amount of money. A single man can live very, very comfortably on that income in Bangkok. That said, Jon certainly works hard for it. 30-33 contact teaching hours a week and probably a fair bit of travelling is no picnic. Scuba, golf and boys toys don't come cheap and I'm not surprised Jon only manages to stash away 25% of his salary. I would be looking to save more than that but it's different strokes for different folks I guess. I don't think there's any need to pay 21K a month for rent and what on earth do you do with the two bathrooms you're not in? The Emporium by the way is one of Bangkok's premier shopping malls and certainly one of the swankier areas of town.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 295 total

Page 56 of 59


Featured Jobs

SAT Verbal Teacher

฿800+ / hour

Bangkok


English Teachers for Adults / Kids

฿105,000+ / month

China


Fun & Caring NES Teachers for Mid-October Start

฿42,000+ / month

Thailand


Full-time Native Japanese Teacher

฿50,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Conversation Teachers

฿33,000+ / month

Bangkok


NES Teachers

฿68,000+ / month

China


Featured Teachers

  • Matteo


    Italian, 45 years old. Currently living in Italy

  • Peggy


    American, 41 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Maxime


    French, 25 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Bill


    American, 55 years old. Currently living in USA

  • Manuel


    Filipino, 35 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Karven


    South African, 42 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Walter van der Wal from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


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.


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?


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?


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

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


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

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