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 17th December 2018

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿41 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.62 THB to one Philippine Peso

Erick

Working in Mahasarakham

Monthly Earnings 80,000

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

I make 69,000 from working on-line 24-26 hours a week plus I make 11-13,000 from one private student (four hours a week) dependent on if either of us take time off.

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

I could save around 30,000 but at the moment it is zero. My girlfriend is 7 months pregnant with twins so there are hospital visits to pay for. If she is working, she can make about 25K a month selling things on-line. We are also renovating a family house and I just bought a new car. Oh, and visa runs come to about 5,000 a month. If I tried harder, I could certainly save quite a lot.

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

Nothing. My girlfriend's parents gave us their old house. It's a typical two-story 100 sqm Isaan house and we've spent a good chunk of our savings on renovating it. Luckily, my girlfriend's grandfather is a builder so basic labor is free or 300 baht here and there and a couple of big Changs..

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

Transportation

15,000 a month. Maybe the Turbo diesel sports hatch that is both cheap to run and fun to drive is the cause. About 2,500 baht goes on fuel because we drive a lot.

Utility bills

Very cheap! Last month for both our house and her grandparents house it was 700 for electric (We just installed an air-con so we will see what it will be next month) 50 for water (two houses, garden, farm animals) 200 for delivered drinking water. Phones and internet connection add just shy of another 2,000.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Around 15,000. We eat cheap most days. Because my partner is pregnant, she is hungry all the time. We eat out a lot in Maha Sarakham or Roi Et but we also shop at local markets. Our kitchen is almost finished so when that's done, we will be cooking at home more. I’ll also use the garden space to grow some of the more expensive vegetables.

Nightlife and drinking

We spend 500 baht on a night out at the movie theatre and a netflix account adds another 400. I spend virtually nothing on nightlife per se because II almost never drink or go out anymore. Three years ago, nightlife would run me 15,000 - 20,000 a month.

Books, computers

I budget about 5-6,000 a month for electronics and books. I read mainly on-line and I also have to buy books for my private student.

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

Very well. Come on now, I am from California. How much do you think it would cost to live this way back there? I am preparing for twin babies. I am renovating a house. I am driving a new, fully loaded fun car. I can travel cheap. I work at home. I have very fast internet. I eat very well. I support my girlfriend and her ten-year-old brother. I pay for most of her grandparents' bills as well.

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

Services, Thai food, labor work, utilities, internet, transportation.

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

Erick has moved from Bangkok to live in the North-East. His lengthy comments are in the section below.

Phil's analysis and comment

That's a hell of a hectic lifestyle you have there Erick but it sounds like you enjoy it. Erick had the following to say on the subject of how much money one needs to earn in order to survive.

Just ‘surviving' is depressing and miserable but in the rural North-East, you can live comfortably on 30,000 a month. However, I would want a minimum of 40-50,000 personally. In Bangkok, 40,000 should be the minimum anyone strives for but I wouldn't want to live on less than 60-70,000 if I was single. 80-90,000 for two and 90-120,000 if you have kids.

Good schools are not cheap. I might upgrade my credentials so that I can get a job at a good school just for the free or cheaper tuition, especially because I will have twins and that doubles the cost. (Disclaimer: I like nice things, good food, a nice place to live, to travel and to be healthy.)

My life has changed dramatically in the last three years. I've gone from being single, living in a studio room with all my worldly possessions in two bags and going out every night, to a soon-to-be father of twins, a furnished house and a nice car. I would never go back to not having a car. It is convenient and gives your life more control and freedom. 


Brian

Working in Koh Samui

Monthly Earnings 40,000

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

I teach at hotels on the island and my full-time salary is 40,000 a month. I work from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm five days a week.

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

5,000 - 10,000.

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

I pay 8,000 baht a month for a newish house with a pool and garden.

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

Transportation

I bought a motorcycle for 6,000 and gas costs me about 500 per month.

Utility bills

1,500 for electric and 600 for water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend about 5,000 a month on supermarket shopping and another 5,000 eating out at local restaurants. You get free 4-star lunches when working so that also brings down costs. But my wife and I feast each day. That's kind of our thing. We love food. We should open our own small restaurant with the amount of food she cooks up.

Nightlife and drinking

Nine years ago (before I met my wife) I could spend 20,000 on nightlife but now that's down to a couple of thousand. The wife only drinks soda so she's a cheap date! I'll still put a few beers away though if we are watching Thai boxing.

Books, computers

I spend about 300 baht a month on wi-fi.

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

It's much more carefree and easy and I can go out to eat as often as I want.

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

Thai food, beach rentals, motorcycles, clothing and beer.

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

You could do anything really. People are givers and takers. I'd recommend 30,000 as a solid livable figure though.

Phil's analysis and comment

This is the dream job for many people - teaching at hotels on some tropical island and zipping around on your motorcycle. Hotel work has something of a reputation though for being quite low paid but 40,000 is OK, especially when you factor in free meals. But I bet there's a huge temptation to do what the tourists are doing and hit the bars and party. My one concern would be the sustainability. How many years will it possible to live on 40,000? Eventually you're going to have to put more money away for the future. Hotel work in paradise always sounds to me like a young man's game - and something you might do for perhaps just a couple of years. Great experience though!  


Paul

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 37,000

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

I teach at a private Christian school and my full-time salary is 37,000 baht. I don't do any extra teaching to boost my income.

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

I try to save 10.000 baht or more each month.

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

I live in an apartment for 4,000 baht per month. It's rather old and low end, but it's larger than most other apartments I've seen and has a great location.

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

Transportation

I spend about 1,800 baht on transportation each month. I own an old (and rather inefficient) motorbike and very rarely use Grab.

Utility bills

I pay around 400 baht for water and electricity, 250 for my data/calling plan, and also 500 for my gym membership, totalling 1,150 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend about 5,500 baht on food each month. I make breakfast at home and receive a free lunch at school, which saves a lot of money. I typically eat cheap dishes (60baht) for dinner unless I am eating out with friends.

Nightlife and drinking

It's difficult to tell because I've cut down on my alcohol consumption quite a bit recently. I believe 1,800 baht each month is a good estimate.

Books, computers

Nothing on these.

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

My standard of living here is great. My money goes quite a long way so I can afford to eat out and travel without having to worry about my savings dwindling.

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

Food, accommodation, and most medical services are quite affordable.

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

It's quite possible to survive off of 15,000 baht, as many Thais do. I think 20,000 baht each month is enough to live modestly but comfortably.

Phil's analysis and comment

37,000 baht a month up in Chiang Mai doesn't sound too bad and Paul clearly lives well within his means. It's good to see that he can survive quite comfortably on what I'd assume is a Monday to Friday job. It's always nice to be able to take those Saturday and Sundays off and not need to rely on extra work- but I'm sure it's there if he wants it. 


James

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35-40,000 baht

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

I work at a private school and my salary is 30,000/month. Our school offers a Friday class that is additional for an additional 50-minute period and is pay me 500, so that earns another 2,000 baht. It also offers a Saturday class (4x50-minute periods) so that can make me another 8,000 a month.

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

I can save 15,000 - 20,000 baht/month. That is my salary less all my expenses here and the money I am sending back to the Philippines. I usually send back about 5,000 a month.

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

I am paying 3,500 for my apartment. Its just a small air-conditioned room with a bathroom, sink, a queen-size bed, a wardrobe, a chair and a table.

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

Transportation

I only spend 100-250/month for transportation. My apartment is just in front of the school. Shopping malls are just one bus ride away. Supermarkets (Tesco, Tops, etc) are just walking distance from my apartment.

Utility bills

100 for water, 500-700 for electricity, 1000 for my post paid plan with DTAC.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Our school offers free breakfast and lunch. I only spend at most 150/day every weekday and 300-500/day on Saturdays and Sundays.

Nightlife and drinking

I rarely drink.

Books, computers

I dont spend any amount of money on that. I got a laptop from our school.

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

Living here in Thailand is so much more comfortable than in the Philippines. It's so cheap here.

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

Thais are so friendly and helpful. I haven't had a problem since I arrived here last year and the foods is cheap.

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

In my opinion 15,000 is enough to survive, but if you want to have a comfortable stay here then 20,000-25,000 is better.

Phil's analysis and comment

Sounds like you've got things well organised there James. A good enough base salary of 30K (given the lifestyle you enjoy) but the chance to add another 10,000 a month to that with a bit of extra work. And I bet 10,000 baht a month makes a huge difference. 

I'm not sure I would fancy living right on top of the school but it certainly saves on the daily transport costs and the hassle of getting stuck in the infamous Bangkok traffic jams. Free breakfast and lunch at school is also a big bonus. You've only got an evening meal to find. You're working the system - and working it well! 

 


James

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 81,000 (after taxes)

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

I work at a mid-level international school and my salary is 81,000 (which includes a housing allowance)

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

My goal is to save at least 30,000 per month. This is after all monthly expenses, travelling every school break, and a trip or two back to the US each year.

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

I pay 7,500 baht for a new one-bedroom condo on the edge of the city. It is fully furnished and includes great wifi and TV and a pool. It is small, but perfect for me.

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

Transportation

Transport is probably 1,500 a month on taxis, BTS/MRT and motor-cycle taxis.

Utility bills

My electric and water bill is always about 1,200 baht per month. My phone bill is another 500 baht. I have a gym membership that is 1,500 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I get free breakfast and lunch at my school. Most weekdays I eat Thai food or pick up something from Villa or Tesco. On the weekend I tend to eat more expensive food, sushi, hamburgers, etc. I would say I spend about 12,000 a month on food.

Nightlife and drinking

I rarely drink during the week except for maybe a few beers with buddies or coworkers. I do enjoy going out a few weekends a month on Sukhumvit or elsewhere. An average month is probably 10-15,000 baht, depending on if I am planning for a trip.

Books, computers

I am an avid reader and can easily spend 1-2,000 on new and used books.

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

I have a fantastic standard of living here. I don't earn a fortune, but it goes much farther than it would in the US. The school I work at is a wonderful place to work and I am free to travel like I never would be able to if teaching in the US.

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

Accommodations, taxis, phone plans, Thai food, travel, Airasia.

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

I think 30,-35,000 would be good to survive. 40-50,000 and you can live well, travel, and not worry about affording that trip home each year. At least 60,000 if you want to start saving for the future.

Phil's analysis and comment

James is clearly very happy with his lot. 80K is a decent salary and when you are not even spending 10K of that on accommodation and utility bills, there's plenty of spending money going into your pocket each month. Can you just imagine for a second living in The West and spending just 12% of your salary on putting a roof over your head and your bills. It's crazy when you think about it and highlights what a real bargain Thailand can be if you hit it right. And James certainly does by the sound of things.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 272 total

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