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

Munnawar

Working in Surat Thani

Monthly Earnings 33,000

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

I work at a large government school in Surat Thani and get a salary of 33,000 per month.

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

In a town like Surat Thani I can save about 17,000 baht without much effort.

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

I live in a small town-house and pay 3,000 baht a month. It's got no air conditioning and nothing fancy but it does the job.

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

Transportation

I have a scooter that I top up with petrol once a week. Overall that costs me roughly 300 baht a month

Utility bills

Water and electricity is less than 500 a month combined. My internet is about 500 baht (one of the few things that is actually cheaper back home in the UK).

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I could get away with spending about 120 baht a day on food but I love to go to the local fruit stall and spend quite a bit, overall i would put my food spending at 180 baht a day

Nightlife and drinking

I am not a drinker or smoker so my nights out are very cheap. If I don't eat I don't spend more than 100 baht on a night out. I'd say 400 baht a month

Books, computers

I tend to borrow books from other foreigners in town in exchange for books of my own, and my gadgets I try to buy from back in the UK whenever I go.

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

Fantastic quality of life for what I pay, and definitely enough to save for a rainy day.

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

Food and rent. If you lived a very basic minimalist lifestyle, you could get away with spending barely anything at all.

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

To live a bare bones life, I'd say around 11,000 baht.

Phil's analysis and comment

I wouldn't fancy trying to live on 11,000 baht a month - even in the peaceful town of Surat Thani - but if anyone could manage it, it sounds like Munnawar could. He lives a simple life but seems very happy with it at the same time. 

I'm always impressed by how cheaply you can run those scooters as well. While there's no way you would ever catch me riding any sort of motorcycle on the streets of Bangkok, I would be very tempted to zip around on a scooter if I lived in a small town with quieter roads. Economical, easy to park, convenient - they make perfect sense.


Dan

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 68K - 88K baht

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

I work full-time in a government school English program and my salary is 58,000 baht a month. I can earn an extra 10-30K from part-time work.

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

Usually between 20,000 and 30,000.

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

I pay about 10,000 baht a month including bills. It's a 35 sqm studio apartment with a nice view over Sukhumwit Road. The building has a very good swimming pool and also a gym and steam room..

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

Transportation

150 baht a day (a combination of BTS and motorcycle taxis)

Utility bills

Electricity is 400 baht to 2,000 baht a month depending on the time of year.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My vegetarian food is usually cheap. 20-100 baht a dish on average but I've noticed that shopping is getting more expensive. I don't budget as much anymore though and I buy what I want in terms of Western brands.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't drink or smoke so nightlife isn't so expensive. Non-alcoholic drinks are the same price but you don't tend to down as many of those on an evening out.

Books, computers

Books I buy second hand at Dasa Bookstore on Sukhumwit Road. Computers last for years. My internet at home is around 600 baht per month.

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

Simple but very convenient. I love my studio apartment with access to a great big swimming pool. It's perfect for a single guy with no kids.

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

I would say taxi fares, certain foods, massages and also clothes can be reasonable.

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

To survive, I would think about 15,000 per month but for a decent standard of living in Bangkok, you would need to be earning 40,000 up.

Phil's analysis and comment

Another teacher who says that you need to earn in excess of 40,000 baht a month in Bangkok - and I totally agree with him. The 30,000 baht salary just doesn't cut it anymore if you want to live somewhere decent and stash some money away for those unexpected bills, weekends away, etc.

Dan doesn't need to worry though. Even the low-end 68K is very decent money for a single guy living in a Sukhumwit bachelor pad.

Dan mentions that he buys second-hand books from Dasa Bookstore on Sukhumwit. In case you haven't been, it's near BTS Prompong, and well worth a visit. Check out their website.


John

Working in Hat Yai

Monthly Earnings 32,000 baht

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

My full-time salary from a government school is 32,000 baht

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

About 20,000. Sometimes even a bit more.

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

I rent a two-bedroom townhouse for 3,500 baht a month.

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

Transportation

I have my own scooter so depending how many miles I do, my gas costs are between 200 baht and a thousand.

Utility bills

Usually less than 400 baht a month - even when I turn the air-conditioning on.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I mostly eat out but as I am in a small non-touristic area, I would put my daily food expenses (including supermarket shopping) at a "high" 150 baht a day so 3,000 - 4,500 for the month.

Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife is cheap in these parts and a beer only costs 50-100 baht, so about 2,000 for the month

Books, computers

I don't buy books and haven't bought a computer in a few years.

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

I live in a small town but I go to the city on weekends to see friends and hang out. Due to the nature of my living environment, I live a simple and relaxing life with the ability to go "wandering" into nature with my motorbike. I manage to save about 60% of my salary without even trying or missing out on much. The money I save I spend on going long weekends whenever there is a school holiday.

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

Obviously food is the biggest bargain followed by clothing. I smoke only one pack a week or so but I would also add cigarettes into the "bargain" category - especially if you are a heavy smoker.

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

To survive? About 50 baht a day.

Phil's analysis and comment

Saving 20,000 baht from a 32,000 baht salary is impressive to say the least. So that means John manages to rent a house, run a motorcycle, feed and clothe himself and enjoy a beer or two - all on 400 baht a day. The man's a walking miracle!

And well done John for giving a shout out to the smokers! 

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 so you've got no excuses. Come on! What are you waiting for?


Mick

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 30,000

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

My agency pays me 30,000 baht a month less a few hundred for tax.

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

Hahahahaha. That's a good one.

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

I live in a 5,000 baht a month studio in the posher part of Klong Toey. It's basically a concrete block with rooms fashioned into it. There are no facilities of note. I would just be happy if the lift worked more often. I'm surrounded by Thais sharing three and four to a room. Hardly any of them seem to work. They sit in the corridors and stare at me with blank expressions as I make my way to work each morning. I know not what they want only I probably can't give it to them.

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

Transportation

Just a return fare on the BTS every day so probably about 2,000 baht a month. Once I get to the other end, I can walk to school from there. Well actually it's more of a shuffle than a walk.

Utility bills

I try to avoid using the air-conditioning if I can. It's an old machine and makes strange noises and I'm sure it uses up twice as much leccy as a modern unit. Unfortunately I live on the second floor, so I don't have the benefit of a breeze coming in from the balcony, Just a strange smell from the outside drains if it's a particularly hot day. My water, electricity and phone bill rarely cost more than a thousand.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try to budget for about 100 baht a day on food so I survive on a diet of street food and ham sandwiches from 7-11. I get a subsidized lunch at school, which is edible if you keep your eyes closed and your expectations low. So I guess 3,000 baht a month on food. I eat quite a lot of fruit from a nearby fresh market as well.

Nightlife and drinking

I go out once a week on a Saturday. A small group of us hit the local happy hours and finish off with beers at an open-air Thai restaurant. I avoid the touristy areas because you can just hemorrhage cash if you're not careful. I spend about 4,000 baht a month on going out and drinking, which I don't think is excessive.

Books, computers

Nothing. I use the internet at school and I download free books off the net.

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

It's definitely just survival. I've told my agency that either they offer me 40K when the next school year starts or I'm walking. I don't think 40K jobs in Bangkok are hard to find but time will tell.

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

Food and transportation.

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

I hate the word 'survive'. Honestly, who comes here to just 'survive'? You are not asking to live in the lap of luxury but you should be able to treat yourself now again. On 30K a month, you can't even do that. Once my accommodation, utiliity bills, transportation, entertainment and food are factored in, I'm left with about 500 baht a day.

Phil's analysis and comment

30,000 baht a month in Bangkok? Forget it. Don't even go there if you have a choice. Even five years ago a 30K salary wasn't enough and I'm surprised each and every day at how much certain essentials have gone up in price.

As Mick rightly points out, he's left with 500 baht a day - and it's not as if he even spends a great deal on accommodation etc. That 500 baht a day has to cover laundry, dry-cleaning, toiletries, cleaning stuff, possibly health insurance, dentistry, clothing, weekends away (surely an unobtainable luxury) etc, etc etc.

I regularly chat to a bunch of Thai guys at my gym and the conversation often turns to money. When I ask them if 30,000 baht a month is enough for a single guy living in Bangkok, not one of them will answer without carefully choosing their words. That tells you everything. Even a Thai has to think twice about the prospects of surviving on that sort of dough in Bangers. 


Gareth

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 60,000

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

I take home 60,000 baht a month from my full-time job at a large Thai secondary school. I used to teach private students at the weekend and that added another 10-15K a month but I gave them up because I valued my free time and wanted my weekends free.

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

Usually between 10 and 15K a month and I mainly put that money towards the annual trip home to England and any unexpected expenses. There are always expenses around the corner. Only last week I had to fork out on a new laptop that cost me 20,000.

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

I know I go against what you are always preaching Phil but I was always brought up to believe that rent is 'dead money' so I don't splash out on accommodation. I live in a very basic studio apartment that costs me 5,000 baht a month. It's good enough for me. I'm a keen photographer so I actually like to spend a lot of time outside.

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

Transportation

I take an air-conditioned bus to work and back every day and I get the odd taxi at the weekend. Probably a thousand baht a month at most.

Utility bills

I'm not at home that often but the air-con is always on when I'm there. My electricity bill is about 3,000 baht a month and I pay a couple of hundred baht for water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is something I have great trouble organising and do worry sometimes that I don't eat well enough. Breakfast is a bowl of cereal and a couple of slices of toast (if I have time) Lunch is provided at the school canteen (the quality isn't great but it fills a gap) and I'll normally stop off at a mid-range Thai restaurant for what I consider my main meal of the day in the evening. I grab a few things from 7-11 rather than do supermarkets. I bet I spend less than 5,000 baht a month on food in total.

Nightlife and drinking

With having weekends off, Friday night and Saturday night are my drinking nights. I probably burn through 10,000 a month on beers with the boys. I've got a good set of drinking pals and they keep me sane when the going gets tough and Thailand gets on top of me (as it can do with all of us)

Books, computers

Just a replacement laptop every few years. I know every coffee shop with free wi-fi for miles around and I can use the free internet at school. I'm not a great reader. I prefer to watch movies or play computer games.

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

Very good. I should probably save a lot more money than I do but at the moment as long as I've got enough to travel home once a year I'm happy.

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

I think eating out is a bargain if you know where to go. I can get a great evening meal with a soft drink for less than a hundred baht. Obviously beer will always push the costs up but I don't touch alcohol during the week.

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

If you're only spending 5,000 baht a month on accommodation as I do, then I think you could live OK on an income of 40K. I've got used to earning 60,000 a month though and wouldn't want to drop below that now.

Phil's analysis and comment

A 60K salary with only 10,000 baht a month going on the essentials (apartment, food and transportation) means there's 50,000 baht left over. A single guy is always going to live well with that sort of disposable income. No wonder Gareth gave up the private students at the weekends. Sometimes that extra effort and losing one of your precious days off just isn't worth it to add another 10,000 baht to the coffers. Not if you are doing well enough as it is. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 398 total

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