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.

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Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 19th September 2020

฿31 to one US Dollar
฿40 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿23 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Stephen

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 73,000

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

73,000 baht a month teaching IGCSE maths and physics in an international school in the middle of Bangers.

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 pay 3,400 baht a month for a Thai-style apartment near Praram 9 MRT where I am the only westerner.

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

Transportation

200 baht a month on fuel for my motorbike to ride the 3kms each way to school and about 500 baht a month on taxis and public transportation when I'm mincing around town.

Utility bills

Electric and water are 100 baht a month each and I use the free internet at school.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Roughly 5,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

20,000 baht

Books, computers

300 baht for a couple of paperbacks.

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

I want for nothing but I live a very simple, minimalist life. I aim to retire in 2013 shortly before my 40th birthday hence the huge savings. See www.earlyretirementextreme.com.

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

Food. You can still get chicken on rice with soup for 30 baht - and no dishes to wash either. Bangkok taxis are cheap too!

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

I have lived in Thailand for over three years. I've lived in rural areas and in cities and tourist traps. I would say out of all of them, Bangkok is the priciest.. In the sticks, 15K a month would be survival and you'd live like a king on 40k. In Bangkok you need 20K to just about survive and 100K to live like a king.

Phil's analysis and comment

When I read that Stephen earned 73,000 baht a month and spent less than 4,000 baht of it on rent and only a hundred baht on electricity (and let's not forget the use of free internet at school) I did wonder if we had finally found the man who switches his windscreen wipers off when he's driving under a bridge. Is this a man who only breathes in? Is this a man who would find a wooden crutch in the attic and go downstairs and break his son's leg? Then I read about his plans to retire at a ridiculously young age and the whole scenario fell into place. Well it kind of fell into place I suppose. It's certainly a very minimalistic lifestyle but who am I to knock it?

20,000 baht a month on nightlife though eh Steve? And he also offered this advice in his e-mail to me - "If you want to save cash here stay away from the local women. Thai women are the fastest money-reducing agents known to man!"

Steve, I'm putting two and two together and definitely coming up with four. 


Ben

Working in Rayong

Monthly Earnings 78,000

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

78,000 baht a month

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)?

I pay 10,000 baht a month for a big 3-bedroom house. It's old but really spacious and comfortable to live in. My three cats love it as they can run everywhere!

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

Transportation

I have 12,000 baht car payments that finish in September. I also spend 4,000 a month on petrol. In addition to the car, I rent a motorcycle that costs about 2,500 baht a month with gas. So a total of about 18,500 baht.

Utility bills

About 3,600 baht in total. My electric bill is 2,000 baht, my internet 750, water is 200, and I pay 500 baht a month to the laundry lady.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

When you add up both supermatket shopping and restaurant bills, it must be at least 10,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

About 10,000 baht.

Books, computers

No more than a thousand a month.

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

I have everything I need except for savings. My problem is that I tend to impulse buy. I could save much more but I just need to be more disciplined. This will happen once my car loans have been paid off. I have already reduced my outgoings by getting rid of the maid (2500 baht a month) and cable TV (1800). I want for nothing and also enjoy regular scuba diving trips but money does seem to just slip through my fingers. In England I was a saver but here I'm a spender.

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

KFC. I can get a bucket of chicken here for the price of a single meal in England. Cinema tickets and popcorn are also cheap. Everything else seems reasonably cheap but it still saps my money.

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

To survive – 25,000 if you don’t mind living in a little place and only having a motorbike to pootle around on. Probably 40,000 to have a good lifestyle but not be able to make big rash purchases or be able to afford to go home. 60,000+ to be able to buy want you want when you want and not really worry too much.

Phil's analysis and comment

Ben believes in enjoying life - there's no doubt about that. When I first started to read his figures, my initial thought was 'how the hell is one guy and three cats getting through 68,000 baht a month In Rayong? But surround yourself with flat-screen TVs, the latest Apple technology, maids, cable TV, new cars, motorcycles and regular scuba-diving trips, and I guess it's easily done. 

One enormous saving grace though is that Ben knows exactly where he's going wrong and he knows exactly what he has to do to put it right - start saving a little more. I've worked with people who just like Ben, tended to surround themselves with endless material possessions - but never saw it as a problem - even when they would run out of money well before the month's end.


Brian

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 55,000

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

35,000 baht from my regular salary and about 20,000 from private teaching.

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

I try to save all the money I earn from private teaching and survive on my 35K monthly salary.

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

I live in a small rented apartment in a quiet suburb of Bangkok. It costs me 6,500 baht a month.

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

Transportation

I'm lucky inasmuch as I live about a 5-minute walk from my school so there's no need to deal with buses or taxis. I generally use taxis at the weekend though to go shopping or to go out and meet friends. But I'm guessing my monthly 'taxi bill' rarely tops 1,000 baht a month

Utility bills

Obviously I've noticed a big increase this month because the weather has got so hot and I'm blasting out the air-con all the time. In the cool season when I don't need the a/c on, my bills can be as low as 800 baht but last month was well over 2,000.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I like to have a mix of Thai food in local restaurants or maybe take-aways from the local street vendors and a splurge in a 'farang restaurant' once or twice a week. My weekly supermarket bill comes to about a thousand baht. I guess altogether food costs me about 10,000 a month. That might seem excessive for one person living alone but I've always thought that food is one thing you should never skimp on.

Nightlife and drinking

I'm not a big drinker at all. I go out a couple of nights a week and I'll enjoy three or four beers each time. I don't go to the kind of places where - cough! - there are too many temptations. Put me down for about 3,000 baht a month for this category.

Books, computers

I like reading so I'm often to be found in the second-hand bookshops around town. I'll probably spend 1,500 a month on books. And I pay just under a thousand baht a month for high-speed internet at my apartment.

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

I'm very happy with it but I make 55,000 baht a month only because I top up my regular salary with private students. I certainly couldn't and wouldn't survive on my base pay. I worked that out a very long time ago. If I look at my overall lifestyle, I probably don't enjoy enough weekends away or short holidays in Thailand - but that said, I'm not a beach or island person so trips don't appeal to me all that much.

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

Prices are definitely increasing here right across the board. I would say taxis are still an amazing bargain though. How those taxi drivers make money I'll never know!

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

In Bangkok? I wouldn't like to survive on less than 40K a month. In fact I'm beginning to think 50K is becoming closer to the mark. I don't know how much you could survive on in the rural areas. I've never had any desire to work there anyway. I'm a city boy!

Phil's analysis and comment

Sensible guy. Very sensible guy. Brian doesn't earn a great fortune but then again, he doesn't do anything to excess. It's a case of everything in moderation, leaving him 20,000 baht a month to stash away for a rainy day. I would like to have known a bit more about Brian's privates (ooh er missis) and how the numbers stack up. If he's earning 20,000 baht a month and I assume charging at least 500 baht an hour, then that's 40 hours of private teaching a month or 10 hours a week. That's quite a lot. I used to do about 6-8 hours a week with private students and found that more than enough. Sometimes you do your regular job from say 9am - 4pm and then a couple of hours in the evening, it can make a very long day indeed. Still, if you want to cream in the wonga, you've got to put in the effort!  


Simon

Working in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Monthly Earnings 30,000 Baht

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

30,000 Baht

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

Generally it will be around 10,000 a month but if I were really trying to save then I could definitely save half my wage and still live reasonably comfortably.

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

I live with a friend in a good sized 3-bedroom house about 15 minutes drive from my school. Rent is 6,000 a month, so I pay 3,000 a month.

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

Transportation

I have a Suzuki moped which I bought for 16,000 bht and generally spend around 140 bht a week on fuel

Utility bills

Utility bills Bills are split in half so monthly I spend 315 baht for internet, 150 baht for electricity and 40 baht for water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

As Nakhon Si Thammarat is not at all touristy, prices aren’t inflated so food tends to be very cheap. In fact I generally eat out 6 nights out of 7 as it is cheaper to eat out. I’d say 4,000 bht a month is an over estimate

Nightlife and drinking

There is a really good social scene in Nakhon amongst the farang teachers and there is generally something going on. Most weeks/weekends there are bbqs and parties and we generally do trips to waterfalls/beaches at least two weekends out of four. I’d say on average I spend around 10,000 baht a month on this.

Books, computers

Once again the social side means that there is a book club/pool of books to read so I’ve yet to buy any books while living here. If we go to Samui or a touristy place I might buy a book but it’s rare. So I’d say 200 baht maximum. I have my laptop as well and we're always swapping movies on our hard drives so once again very little is spent on this.

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

Excellent. Nakhon Si Thammarat is a quiet place but still has a good social scene. I play football and frisbee. I go to the gym (free) regularly and there are many places to relax and enjoy a glass of wine. During the weekends I’m always doing something fun and different. So to sum things up I have a great life with a great standard of living here.

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

Food, fuel and most definitely rent considering the size of house that you can get for your money.

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

You could survive on 15k, but I’m not sure how much you’d enjoy yourself. My salary enables me to save some money but in all honesty I don’t consciously try to save, as long as I don’t go crazy it’s pretty easy to save a third of your wage. On 30k it allows you to enjoy life, enjoy Thailand and still have a little left over..

Phil's analysis and comment

We seem to be hearing more and more good things from teachers about Nakhon Si Thammarat. It's certainly becoming a place to check out down south and you can't grumble with paying 3,000 baht a month to share a 3-bedroom house. The vibrant social scene sounds interesting too. Getting together with friends for a bike ride or a barbecue and a few beers certainly doesn't need to cost you a lot of money. Not sure about surviving on 15,000 baht a month though. Anywhere in Thailand. It amounts to 500 baht a day. I couldn't do it.


Brent

Working in Nakhon Nayok

Monthly Earnings 60,000 – 65,000

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

30 000 Baht for 18 hours of teaching ( 8 a.m – 4 p.m Mon-Friday). My girlfriend works at the same school and we live together so our joint salary is 60 000 Baht. With private lessons we each bring in an extra 1000 – 2000 Baht.

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

One full salary – 30 000 Baht.

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

I live in a one bedroom studio apartment with a fridge,cable TV,free WiFi and shower @ 5000 Baht/month

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

Transportation

I rent an old vacuum cleaner resembling Honda for 900 Baht now. I used to rent a Yamaha Mio for 1500/month until it was stolen. Petrol costs 400 Baht/month.

Utility bills

900 – 1000 Baht for electricity, 350 Baht for water and about 500 for the use of the washing machine.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

6000 – 9000 Baht a month. It ranges around 6 – 7000 when we stick to Thai food and cook at home once or twice a week. Goes up to about 9000 when we go to Bangkok for Western meals and splurge on snacks at 7-Eleven.

Nightlife and drinking

I don’t really go out and prefer saving my money for travelling. The occasional beer at home amounts to about 200 baht.

Books, computers

I set aside 1500 – 2000 every month in case I see something I like.

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

I’m home by 4:10 p.m everyday and have not stressed about anything work related...EVER. – That should sum it up.

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

Food, clothes and general necessities.

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

Well, in order to survive, 25000 – 30 000 if you live outside of Bangkok and 35k upwards if you live in the major cities. Where I live, there’s nothing to do really, no Western food temptations or anything like that. My girlfriend and I save one salary clean every month, which means that two people are surviving off 30 000 Baht a month and living very comfortably.

Phil's analysis and comment

I've been through Nakhon Nayok several times. It's the quietest of backwaters. When I first read that Brent earned 60-65K a month to teach in Nakhon Nayok, I almost fell off my chair, but as you read into the survey, you will see that that amount of money is the result of two salaries. Brent's life sounds incredibly stress-free but he lives in a place where there is absolutely nothing to do. From his answers here, it even sounds like 'buying snacks from 7-11' is something of a treat. But I'm certainly not going to knock it. Each to his own and all that. Brent and his partner are saving 360,000 baht a year for travel and other things - and that's a tidy sum of money in Thailand. I think some teachers would love living in such a quiet location but it would drive other teachers crazy. I couldn't live there personally.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 337 total

Page 59 of 68


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