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 8th December 2022

฿35 to one US Dollar
฿43 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿23 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.63 THB to one Philippine Peso

Jack

Working in Upcountry

Monthly Earnings 140,000 baht

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

I earn around 60,000 a month from my job here at a Thai university and I do a lot of online teaching (Including dissertation advising) which brings in another 80,000 baht or so on average - so around 140,000 per month

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

Not as much as you would think

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

We live in a fairly large house and the rent is around 15,000 baht per month.

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

Transportation

See comment section below

Utility bills

See comment section below

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

See comment section below

Nightlife and drinking

See comment section below

Books, computers

See comment section below

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

Life is pretty good. We live fairly simply and have enough saved to avoid intense money worries, but having expenses outside of Thailand while living in Thailand eats away income pretty quickly.

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

Housing. We live in a fairly large house with a large yard and pay about the same as my daughter is paying for a student sized place back home.

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

Survive? When I first came to Thailand I was supporting a wife and two small children while only getting 220 Baht an hour in Bangkok. If one is Thai or lives like an entry level Thai worker one can live on between 10-15,000 baht a month, but quality of life at that wage is not going to be very high

Phil's analysis and comment

Jack chose not to answer the expenses questions in the usual way but had the following to say in terms of a summary.

"I will use slightly different categories than the ones posted. My wife has a budget of 35,000 baht to take care of all household (including food) and her personal expenses. For gas and car usage, eating out four times a month, lunch and other personal expenses for myself I spend around 15,000 baht. So you could say we live on around 50,000 baht a month here in Thailand.

However, I also have a daughter in university in the West and I send her around 35,000 baht a month (although she graduates in a little more than a year and that money will get cut off), and also I was supporting my son until recently while he was going to university and I also have to pay a long-term student loan of my own of around 20,000 a month.

So my income covers everything and we have some savings from my working outside of Thailand for a few years. If I can keep up the income stream from a few more years our expenses will decrease significantly and we can save up a bit more for retirement"

There's something quite incredible about Jack's survey. Here's a guy working out there in upcountry Thailand. Not Bangkok! - but out in the sticks. And he's earning enough money to put a daughter in The West through university and did the same for his son as well. Unbelievable!

I keep hearing stories of teachers making great money from online teaching. Surely this has to be the future. 

Jack also had the following to say on the topic of how much does one need to earn to survive in Thailand.

"The answer really depends. If you are single and wanting to spend a year or two on an overseas adventure, one can get by on a pretty basic (30,000) salary but if one goes through a normal life cycle of marriage, kids, the demands on your earnings go up. What you "need" is not really an important question, the question you should ask is what can you get and decide if the total package of money and lifestyle is better than one's other options.


Alex

Working in Nonthaburi

Monthly Earnings 85-110,000 baht a month

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

I earn 85,000 to 110,000 baht a month purely from teaching private students at my house. (see Phil's comment section below for more info)

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

I try to save 20K a month, which I put into a savings account for my daughters. However there can often be unexpected expenses, for example this month, both daughters were ill and had to stay in hospital. That cost me 20,000 baht right there.

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

I pay nothing as the house is owned by my wife. It's a 3-bedroom detached house in a very secure moobaan (housing estate) with a nice swimming pool - but rubbish gym.

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

Transportation

I spend 9,000 baht a month on car repayments and 2,000 baht on petrol. Before I bought my own wheels, I was spending 6,000 baht a month on taxis so it is not that much more.

Utility bills

4,000 baht on electricity as I have the air-conditioning on at night and when students are here. 700 baht internet, 300 baht water. I was spending 1,000 baht a month on CTH (satellite TV) but I canceled that because they lost the football coverage.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I give my wife 12,000 a month for food and sundries for the family but I often have a monthly Villa Supermarket splurge where I spend about 3,000 baht and frankly don't see a lot for it. But any expat who walks around Villa will know all about the temptations. We go to a mid-range restaurant about twice a month so 3,000 baht for that.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't really go out in the evenings, but every couple of weeks I have friends round for a BBQ and so I spend a couple of thousand baht a month on that.

Books, computers

I sometimes buy UK children's books so about 300 baht a month.

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

I have a great work life balance. I get to spend a lot of time with my family and live in a nice house in a safe moobaan. It's a standard of living I would be unlikely to ever achieve in the UK. There are two more expenses I'd like to mention. We go away about three times a year which costs about 15,000 baht each time. And my eldest daughter has just started school at 60,000 baht per term (10,000 baht per month)

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

Most of the obvious has been mentioned in previous surveys, so I will go with cuff-links, I have a really large collection of them.

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

This question I find very difficult to answer as it obviously depends on circumstances. For a family I think less than 70K a month would be a struggle. A single person would get by on about 40K in Bangkok, 30K outside Bangkok. Someone who likes the nightlife too much would need 150K at least.

Phil's analysis and comment

Alex also had this to say about his private student empire.

"The amount I make from private students varies due to cancellations but not massively as I have a two-lesson cancellation policy per ten lessons and the ten lessons must be paid for in advance. I live in a middle class area with no other foreigners so I charge 1000 baht per hour. I teach in the evening and weekends and my weekdays are totally free to spend time with the family. I also have a couple of friends come to mine at weekends as I am very busy at this time, and they teach a few lessons. As they are friends I only take a small percentage from them"

I have a guide on the website about teaching freelance and if you can hit it right - as Alex has done - it can be a very good living.. It's all about location, location and location. And as Alex says - surround yourself with potentially premium, high-paying customers and word of mouth will soon take you all the way.

And good to see that he has a strict cancellation policy in place. This a business! It's YOUR business! Thai students can be the cancellation champions of the world and cancellations will kill your business if you don't set down the rules right from the start. When I used to teach private students at home, I had exactly the same cancellation policy. 

I was trying to work out how Alex's teaching hours would be broken up. By my reckoning he would need to teach at least 20 hours a week at home to make that 80K income. I'm guessing that in the evening he starts at about 4pm after schools close. So he might squeeze three to four hours in each evening. Even three hours would amount to 15 a week from Monday to Friday. And he can probably do in the region of eight hours at the weekend. It's certainly doable if you've got yourself well-organized.


Troy

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 65,000 baht

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

My salary is 40,000 baht from a government school English program and I also earn 25,000 baht doing extra classes for a language school and private tutoring

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

I like to alternate my months. One month I will save 40,000 and the next month I will splurge out and go partying or travelling. This balances things for me and keeps me entertained as well as saving a fair bit of coin.

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

I live in a condo that has a rooftop pool, gym and a 28 square metre room with a huge balcony - and I only pay 3,900 baht per month. Living nine kilometres from the city center really does make a huge difference to your cost of living, especially accommodation.

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

Transportation

It varies from month to month, but I have my own motorbike so about 200 baht for petrol.

Utility bills

On average my utilities are 2,000 baht and mobile phone is another 599.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I don't normally eat at restaurants or cook my own food because it's a hell of a lot cheaper to eat 40 - 70 baht meals at footpath restaurants. I would say 200 baht a day for three meals is very doable.

Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife is good out here as there are tons of university bars close to Ramkemhang University. Big beers are around 90 baht and a bottle of whiskey and soda around the 700 baht mark

Books, computers

Not applicable.

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

I lead a very comfortable life in Ladprao and manage to save some coin for travel and the odd trip back home to see the family. The key to saving money is to eat local food, live in cheap comfortable accommodation and refrain from going to tourist areas every weekend. 7/11 is also a sneaky way to burn through your cash because of all the home comforts you can find there.

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

Hands down the food and accommodation if you're willing to live outside the "tourist areas"

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

I started off with a 35,000 baht salary and I found it quite difficult to adjust my standard of living. Eating western food and drinking at Sukhumvit every weekend burnt through my salary very quickly. If you can adjust and learn to eat and live smartly then 35k is certainly doable and you could save 5 to 10k a month too.

Phil's analysis and comment

Troy is clearly a man who's careful with his money and his lifestyle certainly wouldn't be for everyone. He lives in a very modest apartment (it has to be for less than 4,000 baht regardless of where it is) and he shuns Western food in favour of a triple daily dose of streetfood. But it's a standard of living that works well for Troy. He has plenty of cash to keep back for those trips home and weekend vacations in Thailand, etc. It's simply a case of where your priorities lie.

One of the things I enjoy about these surveys is how no two people's thought processes are ever the same. Everyone comes at things from different angles and I applaud Troy for hilighting the temptations of the local 7-11. I've never given it much thought but he's absolutely right. I pop into my local 7-11 about three times a week and although I'm only there to buy one thing, I always end up coming out with more. 7-11 can be an impulse buyer's worst nightmare.  

Keep these cost of living surveys coming guys. You're doing a great job! Apart from the jobs page, this is the most popular section of the ajarn website. People love reading this information. And don't worry if you've sent me a survey and it's not on-line yet. I have it safe. I just like to space them out a bit.

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.


Tim

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 100,000 baht

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

I have a full-time job at an international school. My gross salary is 110K baht but comes out at just under 100K baht after tax.

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

30-40,000 baht a month.

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

I pay 16,000 baht for a 45sqm 1-bedroom condo with a great swimming pool near central Bangkok

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

Transportation

I drive a 300cc sports bike which guzzles up far more fuel than a scooter - so close to 1,000 baht / month.

Utility bills

I would say an average of around 2,000 baht a month including internet and mobile phone.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I get a free lunch at school and usually spend another 100-200 baht on a restaurant meal on a weekday evening. I go to mid-range restaurants maybe 2-3 times a week at around 400-800 baht a pop. So altogether, probably close to 10,000 a month. But I sure eat well!

Nightlife and drinking

I usually have a least one big night out a week where I'll spend around 2,000 baht. I'll spend even more if its a big music festival where tickets alone are close to 3,000. So let's say 10,000 baht a month at least.

Books, computers

Books - maybe 500 baht a month? Computers - I'm still using a 3-year old laptop, which cost around 20,000 baht, so depreciating the cost out its around 800 baht a month for both.

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

Definitely comfortable. I can live well with absolutely zero money concerns. That said, Bangkok has plenty of opportunities for top end dining and shopping that are well beyond my means

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

Even though prices are rising, street food and local restaurants are still a great deal for how good the food tastes. Local market clothing can also be an incredible bargain

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

I suppose it all comes down to what your used to. Although you could survive with a very spartan lifestyle on 20k a month, I wouldn't want to live in Bangkok on less than 40,000 or even 50,000 baht a month

Phil's analysis and comment

Always nice to hear from the big earners at the international schools LOL. However, despite earning a top salary, Tim is clearly not a person to throw money about for the sake of it. He lives well within his means and that's what it's all about. There's a nice half a million baht a year going into the savings account. 

"Bangkok has plenty of opportunities for top end dining and shopping that are well beyond my means" - I wouldn't worry about that Tim. You're doing fine. You can enjoy a 400 baht meal in Bangkok every bit as much as one that costs five times more. And as for the high-end shopping malls, stand back and feel pity for the folks who need to surround themselves with all that shit. It brings nothing to your life.

Take care on that big bike my man.


Steven

Working in Satun

Monthly Earnings 46,000 - 56,000

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

I work at a public school with an English program and get a 36,000 baht salary from that. I also make 10,000-20,000 extra a month from on-line teaching and tutoring neighbours.

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

Quite a lot because there's nothing to spend your baht on in a rural town. From my salary I save about 20,000 a month, plus whatever tutoring I do, so I can realistically save up to 40k a month

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

I rent a really nice detached house for 4,000 baht a month.

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

Transportation

I have my own motorbike and gas is about 22 baht a litre at the moment, so probably less than 100 baht a month on gas.

Utility bills

I pay about 1200 for utility bills and 650 for internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food down here is about 40-50 baht a meal and there's no Pizza Hut or McDonalds to fritter away cash on

Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife is cheap too, as it's almost non-existent. A big Leo beer at a restaurant is 70baht.

Books, computers

Virtually nothing.

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

Very, very comfortable. I've lived here five years now and have a very nice set-up with a piano, oven, TV and Xbox and a fully furnished house. There's very little to do in a small town like this, but I've equipped my house and lead a comfortable busy life, while managing to save a ton.

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

Food of course and lately, gas. My 40 baht a month water bill always makes me chuckle too.

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

I comfortably get by on less than 20,000 baht down here, and if I could just do tutoring in the evenings and quit the day job, that would be doable - and great at the same time.

Phil's analysis and comment

An interesting survey from Steve there and much to comment on.

When you're earning up to 56,000 baht a month in a town where there's nothing to splash your cash on - and spending just 4,000 baht on your accommodation - you're always going to be saving plenty and Steve's figures prove it.

Steve practices what I'm always preaching - make your home environment as nice and comfortable as possible. That way you're not going outside 'looking for things to do' because you can't stand being at home. He's got his piano, his X-box console, etc. Steve enjoys just staying at home. There might be folks who'd say 'well you could sit in the house and play games anywhere in the world. He's not enjoying what Thailand has to offer'. But Steve's probably not interested in strolling around the market or riding bicycles around a public park and chatting to locals. He's been in Satun five years already. Perhaps the novelty of 'being in Thailand' has long worn off? It's all about doing what YOU want to do and how YOU want to live your life.

I get the impression Steve could be surrounded by glitzy shopping malls and all the fast-food joints under the sun, he'd still live the same lifestyle. 

What interested me most about this survey was Steve's final comment about possibly giving up the day job and surviving on the income from his on-line tutoring and private students. It begs the question 'how little work is it possible to do and still enjoy life? What's the minimum number of well-paying hours you could teach, earn enough to get by and yet have LOADS of free time to enjoy? 

Keep these cost of living surveys coming guys. You're doing a great job! Apart from the jobs page, this is the most popular section of the ajarn website. People love reading this information. Even my brother, who's a bank manager in England, loves reading them! 

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.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 398 total

Page 57 of 80


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