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

Thomas

Working in Buriram

Monthly Earnings 34,000

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

I work at a government secondary school and my full-time salary is 34K

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

At least 15,000

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

I pay 3,500 baht a month for a very nice one-bedroom cottage by the river.

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

Transportation

500 baht

Utility bills

500 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I like to eat healthy so food comes in at about 6,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

This is Buriram so there's little or nothing in the way of nightlife. I don't have one of those expensive girlfriends either.

Books, computers

Nothing

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

My standard of living is simple but great. I do not make a lot of money but I do not spend a lot either. For summer vacations or mid semester breaks I always go away to either another country or to the islands in southern Thailand. I do not blow my money on mindless partying or expensive girl friends which an eat up a huge amount of one's salary.

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

Rent is a huge bargain. The place I am renting now back home would go for at least 20,000 baht or more. Transportation cost are a real bargain in Thailand and you can always find nice inexpensive hotels or resorts to stay at. Food cost is very reasonable too and I can get a big bag of laundry done for just a 150 baht, about the same cost as the detergent back home! Oh yeah I get a weekly Thai massage for 150 baht and you cannot beat that.

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

It all depends where you live in Thailand. I live in a rural area of Thailand so you can get by on 15,000 but then you could not save any money. But on at least 30,000 baht you can live comfortable outside of say places like Bangkok or Phuket as long as you do not have any expensive habits.

Phil's analysis and comment

We don't get many teachers describe their abode as 'a cottage by the river'. It sounds wonderful! I would love to see some photos. 

This is a teacher living the simple life out in rural Thailand. It's not a life that suits everyone but Thomas seems happy enough. He's managing to save half of his salary as well. This is what happens when you don't have the temptations and the bright lights.


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. 


Sam

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 85,000 baht

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

My base salary is 45,000 after taxes and I make another 40,000 from private tutoring six days a week.

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

45,000 - 50,000

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

I live in a condo on Rama 9 Road and the rent is 13,000 baht a month.

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

Transportation

I spend about 1,200 baht a month. I try to keep all my private tutoring to within the same area to avoid any long commutes.

Utility bills

My girlfriend pays the utility bills and I pay the rent. That's the arrangement. On average 1,700 baht for electric, 150 for water, 1,100 for TV, internet and two phones with minutes and internet packages through True.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We will cook at home 4-5 days a week and eat out on the other 2-3 days. The monthly spend would be in the region of 10K for the two of us.

Nightlife and drinking

My girlfriend and I don't go out too much but if we do, we typically go and have a decent dinner, a couple of drinks and go play pool. A typical night out would be 1,500 - 2,000 baht for both of us

Books, computers

I don't buy many books but if I do, I go to Chatuchak Market and look through the second-hand collection. Other books are purchased for students for private tutoring which I purchase at DK.

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

My standard of living is excellent and I have been able to save quite a bit of money, but you need to be willing to work hard and treat teaching as a career and not a holiday.

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

Rent, Thai food, and entertainment like going to the movies is quite a bit cheaper than in the USA, but other expenses like traveling abroad and drinking are just as expensive, which can be difficult on a lower salary.

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

Different cities require different wages. To live in any level of comfort and to be able to afford meals other than noodles every day, 30,000 is about the lowest I would recommend with 35,000 being a bit more manageable. 5,000 baht makes a huge difference per month in Thailand, especially when a starting salary can be very low.

Phil's analysis and comment

This is a survey from one extremely hardworking teacher but when you're young and enthusiastic, you don't mind working all those hours if you're managing to stash 40K away each month. It comes at a price though because I'm guessing Sam does quite a bit of private tutoring on either Saturday or Sunday and probably only gives himself one day off a week. And one day off is never enough! Good to see someone making decent money from private teaching though.


Chris

Working in Rangsit

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

I get a salary of 50,000 baht from my full-time job at a language centre

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

10,000 -15,000

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

My apartment costs 5,000 baht a month

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

Transportation

3,000 baht

Utility bills

2,500 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

10,000 baht

Nightlife and drinking

10,000 baht

Books, computers

Nothing

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

Very comfortable with easy access to all mod cons.

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

I would say street food

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

Depends on your budget and requirements.When I first arrived here 12 years ago, I was living on 20,000 baht a month quite comfortably.

Phil's analysis and comment

Not really a great deal here to get my teeth into. 50,000 baht a month out of a language centre is certainly not too shabby. For those who aren't familiar with Rangsit, it's a district about 40 kilometres north of Bangkok and has always been something of a hotbed of TEFL opportunities. I've met a number of teachers down the years who have lived out that way and done well, especially with private students. We actually have one of our region guides devoted to the area.


Ed

Working in Bangkok (probably)

Monthly Earnings Hopefully 35,000 baht at least

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

At the moment I'm not teaching, I just finished a contract in Cambodia and I am settling into Bangkok life with my girlfriend. I need to go home in a few weeks so realistically I can't find and start a job before then.

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

Not applicable

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

I pay 4,000 baht a month for for apartment with gym. It's very comfortable. Admittedly it's not very big but it has everything I need.

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

Transportation

Probably between 600 baht and a thousand baht a month for the BTS.

Utility bills

Bills are included in the 4.000 baht a month rent.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I would say about 200 baht per day, I love Thai food and the street food is amazing and so accessible, so mostly I eat on the street. Western food is too expensive and not great quality so I tend to avoid it.

Nightlife and drinking

I go out maybe once or twice a month at the moment and spend about 3000 baht in total.

Books, computers

I spend 599 baht on my mobile phone.

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

It's relaxed. Not hugely eventful at the minute but enjoyable. I spend a lot of time just walking around, researching online and relaxing at home. I'm quite content really and while I don't have a job yet I estimate I can earn 35k+ when I come back. I find it strange when many people say you can't live comfortably on that salary here. Currently I'm spending less than half that even with a couple of nights out. How are people struggling on 35K?

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

Food and accommodation are just amazing, 150 baht massages ain't too bad either. As I said above, how can a 35K salary not be enough. You don't have to be paying a big rent and if you can enjoy Thai street food and smaller restaurants (95% of which are awesome) then living here is very inexpensive.

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

I think people can easily survive in Bangkok on 20K if they eat and live in local Thai areas, entertain themselves with all the sights, sounds and differences of life here and avoid impulse purchases. This you can easily live on and find ways to be happy. When you add visas, travel, partying into the equation you need a bit more but again not a huge amount if you're smart.

Phil's analysis and comment

Ed's is an unusual survey inasmuch as he's not actually working at the moment but he's looking for a teaching job. Or rather he will be once he returns from wherever 'home' is.

I rather suspect that Ed is going through what I call 'the honeymoon period' at the moment. Everything in Bangkok is wonderful. What an amazing city! We've all been there. The big question is how long can you make it last?

Plenty of foreigners arrive here with notions of being able to 'live like a Thai'. The 4,000 baht studio apartment is perfectly adequate as is the constant diet of Thai street food. But for most of us it wears off.

Before too long, we're looking for nicer and more spacious accommodation and we want some of those 'Western treats' that we see other foreigners enjoying. There is always that human desire to 'move up the ladder' and better your lifestyle. 

If or rather when Ed gets a teaching job and manages to earn a 35K salary (and that certainly isn't setting your sights too high) it would be interesting to chat to him a year down the line and see if his opinions have changed. I suspect they might.


Jay

Working in Pattaya

Monthly Earnings 37,000 baht

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

I earn 35,000 baht from my regular school job as well as an extra 2,000 per month from private tutoring

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

Virtually none. It's difficult to live in Pattaya on a teacher's salary unless you live like a monk

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

None, as I live with my girlfriend and her mother. It's a typical Thai-style townhouse with cold water and no air conditioning. It was difficult to adapt to but it would be harder to survive with rent to pay.

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

Transportation

We have a car and spend approximately 3,000 per month on petrol

Utility bills

Nothing, as I live at my girlfriend's mother's place. Mother pays the bills.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is my biggest expenditure by far. I don't like Thai food so eat international food most days which eats up a considerable chunk of my salary. If I could eat Thai food without gagging, I know I would save a lot more

Nightlife and drinking

Once or twice a month I'll go down walking street but I don't drink alcohol so tend to sip on cokes instead of boozing and partying hard.

Books, computers

Nothing at all.

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

Pretty mediocre at the moment but with my plans to relocate myself and my wife away from Thailand, our only option is to live frugally

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

In Pattaya? Not a lot of things can be considered a "bargain"

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

Teachers could get by on as low as 30,000 but I wouldn't recommend it, especially with the lights and temptations of Pattaya. I recommend a minimum of 35-40 thousand

Phil's analysis and comment

The first of two cost of living surveys from the nation's favourite seaside resort - Pattaya. A place that has always struck me as one of the worst cities in Thailand to try and make it as an English teacher.

Jay. You're in Pattaya. You're living in your girlfriend's mom's shophouse with no air-con and no hot water. A night out is you sipping a Coke and watching everyone else having the time of their lives as you stumble from one overpriced farang meal to another.

Run! Jay run! Run as fast as your legs will carry you and don't look back. There has to be a better life out there for you than this. Oh Pattaya, you tormentor of men. You stealer of souls.


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 427 total

Page 59 of 86


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