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 18th May 2024

฿36 to one US Dollar
฿46 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.63 THB to one Philippine Peso

Sammy

Working in Hat Yai

Monthly Earnings 32,000 baht

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

My boyfriend and I both work at a government school and earn the same salary (32K)

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)?

We live in a 3-bedroom apartment (2.5 bedrooms would describe it better) and we pay 10,000 baht a month which includes wifi, pool, sauna and laundry facilities.

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

Transportation

Scooter rental is 3,000 baht a month with fuel costing roughly 300 baht on top.

Utility bills

Water is cheap - the most we've paid so far is 70 baht and electricity usually comes to 800 / 900 (we hardly ever use the a/c as we're on the corner of the building so there's always a good breeze, however, the fan is on 24/7) We have gym memberships too, costing 1,100 each month

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food varies - we cook and go out equally as much so I'd say about 7- 8,500 p/m. We've found a place that serves amazing Thai food for under 60 baht per meal so that's the usual spot. My boyfriend eats much more than me though so he probably spends about 11,000 or so p/m

Nightlife and drinking

Hmmm, we've made a few mistakes here and blown over 1,500 baht in a night (umm, each) so we're trying to limit it - but we enjoy the odd Chang with friends so I'd say about 1,000 baht per month.

Books, computers

I still have both from home but the boyfriend is into games so I guess he could easily spend over 2-3000 baht a month on those.

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

It's really comfortable for us. We try save as much as possible to travel so sometimes it could be better but for now we're happy and are able to explore and eat well and do 'coupley' things like movies and picnics quite often.

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

Definitely the price of water! Thai food, scooter taxis (if you know how not to get ripped off) and market clothes / household items (we got a big fan, iron + ironing board, hangers and plates for 1,100 baht - something unheard of back home.

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

I would say no less than 32,000. I think if our accommodation was cheaper then it would be fine but after a while you need your own space, especially if it's a long-term venture. 40,000 baht would be awesome though.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think you're paying the perfect amount for accommodation. 64K a month coming in between you and your partner and just 10,000 of that going on what sounds like a very nice place. Sounds good to me.

I'm sure 64,000 baht a month affords a couple a very nice living in Hat Yai, which although a large city, doesn't have the temptations of Bangkok I'll bet.

Almost 20,000 baht a month on food though. My word, you guys must eat like kings! What are you eating when you're not at the 60 baht-a-meal Thai restaurant?


John

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 105,000 baht

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

I work at a private school in Bangkok (with 400 students) My basic salary is 95,000 and I can earn another 10,000 from private students.

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

A large portion of my paycheck goes to paying off school loans and credit cards, but I can still save about 30,000 baht per month.

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

The school provides free housing for their teachers. My wife, daughter and I live in a four-room town house.

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

Transportation

We usually spend 1,000 baht a month on gas for the car, plus maybe around 300 baht for taxis here and there.

Utility bills

Utilities and maintenance are covered by the school.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We eat out maybe every other night, so plus groceries maybe 3,000 per month

Nightlife and drinking

The nightlife scene doesn't really appeal to me. I'll go out with friends and drop maybe 200 baht a couple of nights a month.

Books, computers

Internet and phone plans come out to around 1,000 per month.

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

My family and I live very comfortably. There isn't much that we have to worry about. I sometimes get the itch to move to a "better" school with more prestige and name recognition, but I always come back to the conclusion that I'm very happy where I am.

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

It has to be the food. Thai food is amazing, and Bangkok has a wide selection of international cuisine when you want something different.

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

I've built up my salary working at the same school for nearly a decade. I've lived on 30,000 per month when I was single and didn't have any problems. I'd say in the 30,000 to 40,000 range is a fine place to start for Bangkok living, if you don't mind staying away from the expensive restaurants and nightlife most of the time.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you John. That's a fine package you've got there sir! I can't understand why you would do the private students though when 95K plus free housing and utilities is a great deal already. 

Was there some mistake with the monthly food spend John? 3,000 baht seems awfully low for a family of three unless you've found some ridiculously cheap Thai places. Even then that's only 250 baht a week each. That can't be right? LOL


James

Working in Mae Sai (Chiang Rai Province)

Monthly Earnings 28,000

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

I earn 28,000 from my job at a private school. I have also in the past earned up to 2,500 baht a month from private tutoring, but don't do that all the time.

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

14,000. It is easy to live cheap in the North. I have lived months on less than 12,000 before when I needed to save.

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

My girlfriend and I pay 3,500 for a small one-room apartment in an apartment block with a few other farang teachers. We don't have a kitchen, but we have set up a camping stove in our little covered outside area which has a sink. We mostly need to go out to eat but that's cheaper anyway. Wi-fi is included.

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

Transportation

We rent a motorbike from our landlord for 2,000 baht a month and put in about 250 baht of petrol in each month. That is good for all our day to day transport needs. We go to Chiang Rai town once every two weeks or so which is 46 baht each way on the minibus. We could ride the bike for less but it isn't the nicest journey, especially in the rain. Might spend 100 baht on taxis while we are there. Going to Chiang Mai costs about 600 baht return, but we only do that once every 2 months or so.

Utility bills

Utility bills for water and electricity range from 300 baht to 1200 baht a month for the two of us depending on air con usage. The average is about 600 baht a month with air con every day for a couple of hours.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food can be very cheap if you eat out locally (street food 20-40 baht / restaurants 35-60). A few restaurants that serve Western style food (about 100 baht for a burger) If we do cook something then it is usually to cook in a larger group of teachers. Including 7/11 snacks I pay on average 100-250B a day for food and drink if I'm at home in Mai Sai.

Nightlife and drinking

There isn't much night life in Mae Sai, but I don't mind that too much. If I do go out for a beer then a large Leo will probably be 70 or 80 baht. Sitting with others teachers from the school having a beer at the apartments cost 55 baht a beer from 7/11. I go out in Chiang Rai once every 3 or 4 weeks with teachers who live there, and one night will cost me about 600 baht

Books, computers

I don't spend any money on this really. There is a nice second hand trade in book shop in Chiang Rai where I have exchanged books and spent a maximum of 150 baht over the year.

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

Comfortable and happy while saving. We could live more extravagantly if we wished, but instead we save our money to spend on travel during our holidays.

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

Rent and eating out are very cheap.

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

If you did not want to save any money but still wanted to ensure you always had funds for visa extensions and unexpected costs, while occasionally treating yourself to western comforts or a night out, 20,000 should be enough, but 25,000 would be more comfortable.

Phil's analysis and comment

James lives in a one-room apartment with his Thai partner. They are usually referred to as studio apartments and in England we often give them the rather unglamorous title of 'bedsits'. You really need to get along with someone if two of you are going to share such a confined space - or work different shifts perhaps. 

I'm sure James is a fine fellow but his lifestyle is just not for me, despite the fact that he lives and works in one of the most beautiful areas of Thailand. However, some may consider sitting around on the floor cross-legged and sipping large Leos with a bunch of other teachers part of the exotic adventure. I don't know.

When I planned the questions for these cost of living surveys many years ago, I wasn't interested in a teacher's age. Perhaps I felt it was too much of an intrusion. However, this is one of those surveys where I would love to know how old the writer is. If James was in his early to mid twenties, then his lifestyle is one I can imagine someone 'tolerating' for several years but not so much for a guy perhaps in his forties or older.

Everything that James mentions above I have done and experienced myself - the small, shared studio apartment, the living on about 400 baht a day, the diet of cheap streetfood meals, the occasional Western splurge and the saving up for a weekend away. In your twenties you're just grateful to be living in Thailand. But I think it's natural to seek out a better standard of living and a few more creature comforts as you get older.


Sarah

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 33,000 - 59,000 baht a month

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

I earn 28,000 - 34,000 via my hourly contract with the university + flexible, paid office hours) Plus 5,000 - 25,000 baht a month from private local gigs: professional editing, curriculum/program design and consultation, and NES teacher recruitment)

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

If I were choosing to save, I could realistically save 20,000 baht out of just my university paycheck (considering that it is a month I do not have any extra free-lance projects) - but all of my "gain" is being invested into opening the Chiang Mai Community House - a dream project of mine to provide FREE arts and education programs for the local community.

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

I pay 5,500 for a gorgeous two-floor traditional house with a terrace on each end of the upstairs, privately tucked within a wraparound, well-cared for garden, and naturally shaded by a variety of trees. (I only pay 2,750 for rent, as I share all my living expenses with my husband)

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

Transportation

600 baht, which includes fuel for motorbike, commute to work. I have a 32 kilometre round-trip (4 days per week) plus a dozen or less kilometres for monthly errands

Utility bills

This is the most complex category for me. Home is 1500 baht (electricity, water, wifi) Home improvements = 50,000฿ (I bought a new air conditioner, refrigerator, windows, and had some remodeling done to suit my preferences upon moving in this house in March 2016.) Community house expenses are rent: 8,000 baht. Utilities: 2,000 baht. Remodeling: 24,000 baht (and still more to come, it's a work in progress);

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My husband and I shop at our local street market and cook at home. He pays for our dining expenses but being the farang, I spend about 1,500 baht on Western treats and eating out Western-style with friends. I know where the best 5 baht Thai teas are and where to get the best somtam and khao soi for 25 baht. My trees are overflowing with lemons, mangoes, papaya, passion fruit, and bananas - and often my Kuhn Mae will bring some great cooked meals over so I'd say I'm quite lucky.

Nightlife and drinking

Since my community house is my "baby" and I tend to work on several private contracts simultaneously, I do not partake in the night life. I made sure to live it up in Bangkok last year, while I lived there, but now as I enter my 30's and am married, my priorities have shifted and I get a lot more satisfaction out of realizing my dreams and serving the community. I even gave up smoking and drinking completely in order to make this transition a reality.

Books, computers

Books I happily receive for free from colleagues that are outbound. Computer was as a birthday present to myself I bought a new iPad Air 64gb for 24k; and I pay 53 baht/month for my website.

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

See Phil's comment section below.

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

Food, massage, beauty treatments, sunshine, handicrafts, art, education, patience, nature and housing.

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

In my opinion, to survive - nothing other than making genuine connections with the locals. Seriously - TIT. But for those just starting out, you can survive on 15k-20k anywhere (for better or worse - it's up to you; and there are so many ways to earn more when you desire to make a sacrifice of your time)

Phil's analysis and comment

Sarah's response to the 'summarize your standard of living' question was quite lengthy and so wouldn't fit into the field. This was her answer,

My standard of living is incredible. I have happily adopted a more frugal and simple lifestyle due to cost of living being incomparable to the USA.

I do share my expenses with my husband, which maximizes my potential standard of living. The first 10 months in Thailand I lived in Bangkok and earned more (35K salary + 14k extra lessons) and I enjoyed trips to Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Samed, Koh Phangan, plus the holiday to Chiang Mai which convinced me I'd found HOME.

I worked really hard as a brand new teacher and left Bangkok with a reputation that has now resulted in ample private contracts directly with private schools, clubs, colleges, and now connecting me to the locals in my neighborhood who are all helping to give life to the Chiang Mai Community House.

My health and happiness has radically improved the more I focus on what is essential to me, and redirect extra finances into supporting the sustenance of just that. This does mean that I cannot predict when my visit back home will be, but the flip side is that my family and friends back home are so inspired by what I'm working on that they are flying out here to visit. So it's really win-win all around.


Bear

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 36,000 - 46,000 baht a month

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

I have been working for a private charity school for the last six years. Prior to that I worked in government schools and language centres. I earn 36,000 nett from my school and between 8-10,000 from private or extra classes on weekends or at school.

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

My wife has a part time catering business/venture which brings in anything from 5,000 to 25,000 a month. We have an eight year daughter who goes to a private school. We 'usually' save the money from my private classes and her cooking. I guess about 15,000 a month.

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

We live in a two-bedroom town house near Minburi and Fashion island. Rent is 3,500 per month. We have been here for six years and the rent has not changed. The house was part furnished, but now it is more than fully furnished. Anybody with children will understand what I mean!

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

Transportation

For transportation I spend about 60-80 baht a day. I get an air-con bus and then a van for 27 baht. Coming home the same. But sometimes the free bus comes!! If it's raining, I'll get a taxi from Minburi which is about 70 baht.

Utility bills

Our electric is about 2,400 a month. I like to have the air-conditioning on at night. Water is 300 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My wife has lots of herbs and vegetables in our back yard. As my wife is a chef, we don't eat out much. I get to eat five star food at home! We have a brilliant market five minutes walk away where you can buy fillet steak for 180 baht! Having a family, supermarket shopping is probably the most expensive thing for us. I would say about 8.000 baht in total but we do eat well!

Nightlife and drinking

As regards nightlife I have a family now - so been there, done that! But we have a great relationship with the people in our 'moo baan' and many times we all cook and sit outside. I usually have a couple of beers then go home and have dinner.

Books, computers

I pay 600 baht a month for True wi-fi and cable and I get everything on-line.

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

Excellent. I can afford everything I want. But I don't have any family overseas, so I am not worrying about flights and holidays etc. If you have a kitchen and you are not scared of cooking, then you can save a lot of money. Thai street food is fantastic for lunch, but there is nothing better than sitting down with friends and family having a great BBQ and cheap beer!

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

Market food - fresh fish and seafood especially. Also taxis and house rent. If you spend the time looking it is easy to get a house or town house for a great price.

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

Everybody has different ways of 'surviving'. Some people need 20,000 to go and party every night. Having been here 16 years and not seen any salary increases, I would say about 37-40k to have a comfortable life. Maybe less outside of Bangkok. And that does not mean you have to live like a Thai!!

Phil's analysis and comment

Bear sounds like a real foodie. It must be great to have a Thai wife who's so good in the kitchen and knows where to shop for all those wonderful fresh salads and vegetables at bargain prices.

Rent is 3,500 per month. We have been here for six years and the rent has not changed.

This is interesting because I lived in a house on a moobarn for five years and my rent never increased in that time either. In fact, I can go one better than that. I once worked with a teacher who had lived in Thailand for 20 years - in the same house! And he was still paying the same 5,000 baht a month that he paid when he first arrived in the country. At that time it felt expensive but it was a beautiful house the teacher used to tell me. Twenty years later and 5,000 baht a month had become one of the biggest bargains in Bangkok. The house was worth millions but the owner seemed to have no desire to sell it.  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 427 total

Page 57 of 86


Featured Jobs

Native English Teachers

฿50,000+ / month

Bangkok


Multiple Teaching Positions

฿35,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month

Thailand


Part-time Teachers for Weekends

฿330+ / hour

Bangkok


Native English-Speaking Nursery Teacher

฿60,000+ / month

Bangkok


Native English-Speaking Kindergarten Teacher

฿60,000+ / month

Bangkok


Featured Teachers

  • Christine


    Filipino, 28 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Analyn


    Filipino, 45 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Sheller


    Filipino, 28 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Jamila


    Italian, 47 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Barry


    Australian, 59 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Liam


    British, 33 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


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?


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

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


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.


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.


The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


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.